Getting permission turned into a convoluted trail of dead ends, but I finally did get through to the Asimov estate -
That's where my luck ended as Asimov's daughter seems focused on making money and my silly request was dismissed - though she offers a slightly different excuse, one that to my eyes has about as much substance as a three dollar bill:
Regarding your request to reprint my father's essay on your blog, unfortunately I cannot give you permission.
The internet, while wonderful in many ways does make it easy for pieces of work to be reprinted in places that may not be ideal. While I understand your good intentions, those who will reprint from your site may not nor would they have the conditions that I ensure when I do give permission.
This is what both my lawyer and I concluded.
Thank you for seeking out my permission though sorry this did not work out.
Asimov Holdings LLC
Dear Robyn Asimov,
I'll admit, I'm disappointed by your conclusion.
This short 2,5000 word essay by Isaac was intended to stir public discussion and thought, not to be treated like a sacred painting stuffed in a distant dusty corner of some church. I believe your father would also be quite disappointed by your narrow interpretation.
I wish I could ask you to reconsider, but I imagine that would be more futile dreaming.
Sincerely, Peter (CC)~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Predictably I've received no further communication - so the matter is closed. Which still leaves me with 'fair use' and keeping my direct quotations to <250 words which I have done. In-between I describe what Isaac had written with my own words. Though large swaths are missing (Isaac did like to digress and add layers) so I encourage the curious to link to Isaac's much richer full version at:
By Isaac Asimov
¶4 - ... having quoted me, (he) went on to lecture me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern "knowledge" is that it is wrong. ...
¶5 - My answer to him was, "John, when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
¶7 - ... It seems to me that right and wrong are fuzzy concepts, and I will devote this essay to an explanation of why I think so.
¶32 - ... living in a mental world of absolute rights and wrongs, may be imagining that because all theories are wrong, the earth may be thought spherical now, but cubical next century, and a hollow icosahedron the next, and a doughnut shape the one after.
¶33 - What actually happens is that once scientists get hold of a good concept they gradually refine and extend it with greater and greater subtlety as their instruments of measurement improve. Theories are not so much wrong as incomplete. ... If something more than a small refinement were needed, then the old theory would never have endured.
¶42 - Naturally, the theories ..., but in a much truer and subtler sense, they need only be considered incomplete.
I hope this has provided enough incentive for you to go and read Isaac Asimov's complete essay at
The Skeptical Inquirer, Fall 1989, Vol. 14, No. 1, Pp. 35-44