carl sagan

carl sagan bw

first intro’d to Carl via pale blue dot via Michael.

Carl on Charlie Rose, 1996?

if we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tells us something is be skeptical of those who are in authority .. then we are up for grabs

Jefferson – wasn’t enough to enshrine some rights in constitution… people have to practice their skepticism..

pale blue dot:


more on Carl:

wikipedia small

According to biographer Keay Davidson, Sagan’s “inner war” was a result of his close relationship with both of his parents, who were in many ways “opposites”.

My parents were not scientists. They knew almost nothing about science. But in introducing me simultaneously to skepticism and to wonder, they taught me the two uneasily cohabiting modes of thought that are central to the scientific method.

Sagan was associated with the U.S. space program from its inception. From the 1950s onward, he worked as an advisor to NASA, where one of his duties included briefing the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. 

He is also the 1994 recipient of the Public Welfare Medal, the highest award of the National Academy of Sciences for “distinguished contributions in the application of science to the public welfare”.[20] He was denied membership in the Academy, reportedly because his media activities made him unpopular with many other scientists.

Sagan also wrote books to popularize science, such as Cosmos, which reflected and expanded upon some of the themes of A Personal Voyage and became the best-selling science book ever published in English;

Sagan also wrote the best-selling science fiction novel Contact in 1985, based on a film treatment he wrote with his wife in 1979, but he did not live to see the book’s 1997 motion picture adaptation, which starred Jodie Foster and won the 1998 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

He wrote a sequel to Cosmos, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, which was selected as a notable book of 1995 byThe New York Times. 

Sagan was a critic of Plato. Sagan said of Plato: “Science and mathematics were to be removed from the hands of the merchants and the artisans. This tendency found its most effective advocate in a follower of Pythagoras named Plato.” and “He (Plato) believed that ideas were far more real than the natural world. He advised the astronomers not to waste their time observing the stars and planets. It was better, he believed, just to think about them. Plato expressed hostility to observation and experiment. He taught contempt for the real world and disdain for the practical application of scientific knowledge. Plato’s followers succeeded in extinguishing the light of science and experiment that had been kindled by Democritus and the other Ionians.”

interesting – plato – that learned under compulsion won’t stick..

As a humorous tribute to Sagan and his association with the catchphrase “billions and billions”, a sagan has been defined as a unit of measurement equivalent to a large number of anything.

When Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared a unilateral moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons, which would begin on August 6, 1985—the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima—the Reagan administration dismissed the dramatic move as nothing more than propaganda, and refused to follow suit. In response, USanti-nuclear and peace activists staged a series of protest actions at the Nevada Test Site, beginning on Easter Sunday in 1986 and continuing through 1987. Hundreds of people were arrested, including Sagan, who was arrested on two separate occasions as he climbed over a chain-link fence at the test site.

Isaac Asimov described Sagan as one of only two people he ever met whose intellect surpassed his own. The other, he claimed, was the computer scientist and artificial intelligence expert Marvin Minsky.

On atheism, Sagan commented in 1981:

An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.


“Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist” (Carl Sagan)

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