Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

Dagnabbit, I missed Carl Sagan Day yesterday. A scientist and writer, he filled the much needed role of science popularizer and did it engagingly without compromising what science has been telling us and can tell us. There's a big Carl Sagan shaped hole in the world today, at least in America. This is from "The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" , an apropos quote I thought:

But there's another reason: science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

The plaque designed by Carl Sagan sent on Pioneer 10

and 11 just in case it ran into little green men.

Socks and Underwear: Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

Dagnabbit, I missed Carl Sagan Day yesterday. A scientist and writer, he filled the much needed role of science popularizer and did it engagingly without compromising what science has been telling us and can tell us. There's a big Carl Sagan shaped hole in the world today, at least in America. This is from "The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" , an apropos quote I thought:

But there's another reason: science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

The plaque designed by Carl Sagan sent on Pioneer 10

and 11 just in case it ran into little green men.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noah, how right you are. I do miss Carl Sagan. We do have Stephen Hawking and Freeman Dyson, but they don't have Sagan's charisma. As a scientist, I miss him a lot. B

November 7, 2010 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger Noah Prescott said...

You know, Cosmos is floating around the Peace Corps media cloud. I'm sure you could snag it from somebody at Thanksgiving to get a little Sagan fix.

November 8, 2010 at 10:13 AM  

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