Tag Archives | Carl Sagan

How Carl Sagan Ruined Science

I am a Carl Sagan fan from way back. His 1980 TV miniseries “Cosmos” hit me at just the right age and inflamed a lifelong love of science. But we’ve had nearly forty years to assess the long-term impact and see how Sagan unwittingly contributed to a trend that has served to muddle public understanding […]

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Carbon Offsets for Book Burning

The Portland public school board is going to need to buy some carbon offsets to compensate for their new book-burning campaign. Well, OK, they’re not planning to actually burn the books, so they’re in the clear on the emissions. Perhaps they will use a more ecologically sensitive solution like composting. Either way, the Politically Incorrect […]

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The Varieties of Scientific Experience

Some years ago, a posthumous collection of Carl Sagan essays were published under the title The Varieties of Scientific Experience. The title was a play on William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience. Despite his popularity among today’s atheists, Sagan was more of a pantheist, equating God with the universe, and his essays were an […]

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Bill Nye the Anti-Science Guy

I’ve never been a fan of Bill Nye “the Science Guy.” Partly it’s because I’m from a different generation. I grew up with Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan as my introduction to science, and Nye always struck me as a cheap substitute. I find something condescending in his hyperkinetic manner, as if science couldn’t actually […]

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What I Learned from the Geeks

You know how old I am? I’m so old I can remember when “geek” was still an insult. Today, of course, it’s a boast. It has become cool to be a geek, precisely because so many people who had that insult thrown at them went on to do big, important things—and generate billion-dollar fortunes along […]

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Science Is as Science Does

I have to admit that I missed out on the ascendancy of Neil deGrasse Tyson. In my era, the nation’s beloved “scientific communicator” was Carl Sagan. And he had many of the same flaws. As I’ve written about elsewhere, Sagan spoke eloquently about need to follow the evidence wherever it goes, without regard for your […]

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The Original Sin of Global Warming

It might seem strange to say it, but I am a global warming skeptic because of Carl Sagan. This might seem strange because Sagan was an early promoter of the theory that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are going to fry the globe. But it’s not so strange when you consider the larger message that […]

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