Carl Sagan: Science is more than a body of knowledge…

“Science is more than a body of knowledge
It’s a way of thinking,
a way of skeptically interrogating the universe,
with a fine understanding of human fallibility.
If we are not able to ask skeptical questions,
to interrogate those who tell us that something is true,
to be skeptical of those in authority,
then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan
political or religious, who comes ambling along.”
~ Carl Sagan, 1996


Sagan: “My feeling Charlie, is that it’s not that pseudoscience and superstition and new age, so called beliefs and fundamental zealotry are something new. They’ve been with us as long as we’ve been human.”

Sagan: “But, we live in an age based on science and technology with formidable technological powers”

Rose: “Science and technology are propelling us forward at an accelerating rate”

Sagan: “That’s right and if we don’t understand it, by we, I mean, the general public. If it’s something that ‘oh I’m not good at that I don’t know anything about it’ then who is making all the decisions about science and technology that are going to determine what kind of future our children live in?”

Sagan: “Just some members of Congress? But there is no more than a hand full of members of Congress that have any background in science at all. And the Republican Congress has just abolished its own office of technology assessment. The organization that gave them bipartisan competent advice on science on technology. They say: ‘We don’t want to know. Don’t tell us about science and technology.'”

Rose: “Surprising. What’s the danger of all this? I mean this is not the thing.”

Sagan: “There are two kinds of dangers. One is, what I just talked about: that we’ve arranged a society about science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology. And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces. I mean, who is running the science and technology, if the people don’t know anything about it?”

Sagan: “The second is, science is more than a body of knowledge. It’s a way of thinking, a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility.”

Sagan: “If we are not able to ask skeptical questions to interrogate those who tell us something is true to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan political or religious, who comes ambling along.”

Sagan: “It’s a thing that Jefferson lay great stress on. It wasn’t enough he said to enshrine some rights in a constitution or a bill of rights. The people had to be educated and they had to practice their skepticism and their education, otherwise we don’t run the government, the government runs us.”

Leave a Reply