Sent in by Lindley Turnbull
A Science Icon Died 17 Years Ago. In his Last Interview, He Made A Warning That Gives Me Goosebumps.
by Rajiv Narayan, upworthy.com
Carl Sagan inspired a generation of scientists with his work in and out of the classroom. But he didn’t always present science with cheer. In this clip, he passionately defends science with a grave warning. It’s something we all need to hear.
Extract from an Interview with Charlie Rose, 27 May 1996
(text transcribed by the editor of blog:
Sagan: …We live in an age based on science and technology with formidable technological powers.
Rose: Science and technology are propelling us forward at accelerating rates.
Sagan: That’s right, and if we don’t understand it, by “we” I mean the general public – “ if it’s something I’m not good at, I don’t know anything about” then, who’s making all the decisions about science and technology that are going to determine what kind of future our children live in? Just some members of Congress? But there is no more than a handful of members of Congress with 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 and technology. “We don’t want to know. Don’t tell us about science and technology.”
Rose: What is the danger of all this?
Sagan: There are two kinds of dangers. One is what I just talked about, that we’ve arranged a society based on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces. Who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it?
The second reason that I’m worried about this is that 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 are up for grabs for the next charlatan, political, or religious who comes ambling along.
It’s a thing that Jefferson laid great stress on. It wasn’t enough, he said, to enshrine some rights in the Constitution or the 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 →