Carl Sagan

En lille hyldest til Carl Sagan og skepticisme kan også snige sig ind. Jeg læste forleden denne artikel i Sceptical Inquiry, og blev således påmindet om at det er det værd at fortælle om hans syn på verden, som man blandt andet kan få en smag på her. Artiklen der er udgivet i januar/februar udgaven 2007 af Sceptical Inquiry tager det udgangspunkt i at ville fortælle en historie om skeptikeren Carl Sagan og er værd at læse. Og kan således også virke som en introduktion, hvis man vil gerne vil læse mere af Carl Sagan.

In addition to my own knowledge and insights about his scientific and skeptical contributions, I have made extensive use of the two excellent narrative biographies by William Poundstone (1999) and Keay Davidson (1999). Poundstone is stronger on Sagan’s science, Davidson on his personal history. Neither, however, emphasizes his role as a skeptic.

Sagans tilgang til verden er stadig meget relevant med alverdens forskellige former for overtro, der i mere eller mindre grad styrer folks liv på godt og ondt. Og ligeledes i tilgangen til hvordan vi skal anskue verden i mere håndbribelige omstændigheder; om nationalisme, ideologier, religioner. Men først og fremmest i forbindelse med at søge at forstå verden omkring os gennem en skeptisk tilgang, gennem en videnskabelig tilgang.

Sagan’s most important contributions in his final years were in the struggle against pseudoscience. Throughout the last decade of the millennium, this scourge of public irrationality grew, as astrology, alien abductions, alternative medicine, and any number of other New Age and “millennial” fads and cults gained in popularity. Sagan fought back, and after the death of his friend Isaac Asimov, his was the voice most often heard in defense of scientific reason in the United States.

The Demon-Haunted World, subtitled Science as a Candle in the Dark, was a passionate defense of science against pseudoscience and irrationality, as illustrated in the following quotes. “It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring [that may be]. . . . Superstition and pseudoscience keep getting in the way [of understanding nature], providing easy answers, dodging skeptical scrutiny, casually pressing our awe buttons and cheapening the experience, making us routine and comfortable practitioners as well as victims of credulity. . . . [Pseudoscience] ripples with gullibility. . . . The tenants of skepticism do not require an advanced degree to master, as most successful used car buyers demonstrate. The whole idea of democratic application of skepticism is that everyone should have the essential tools to effectively and constructively evaluate claims to knowledge. . . . But the tools of skepticism are generally unavailable to the citizens of our society. . . .Those who have something to sell, those who wish to influence public opinion, those in power, a skeptic might suggest, have a vested interest in discouraging skepticism”

Og så lige introduktionen til serien Cosmos:

~ af sorensvendsen på maj 9, 2008.

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