Tag Archives | Carl Sagan

Did Carl Sagan Believe in Reincarnation?

Death FirstbornNeurologica’s Dr. Steven Novella writes about Carl Sagan and whether he believed in reincarnation:

Off stage I found Raymond Moody to be a very nice guy. He is a philosopher of logic, and in general seems to understand a great deal about skepticism. He rejects the pseudoscience of ESP and other paranormal claims. Yet – he seems to have a soft spot for claims of the afterlife. Not surprising since he wrote the book on NDEs in the 1970s.

via NeuroLogica Blog » After the Afterlife Debate.

Eben Alexander was also very friendly, as I expected given his interviews and everything I have read about him.

Although interesting, debates are terrible venues for carefully dissecting the evidence. There is no time to look up references and check claims. Two times Eben Alexander and I came to an “impasse” and had to simply move on.

One such impasse (the one that seemed to generate the most internet discussion) was when Alexander cited Carl Sagan as believing in reincarnation.

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Cosmos: Creationist Version

If you’ve been watching the new version of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, now presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson, you’ll have noticed that Tyson goes out of his way to put down creationism’s idea that the universe is 6,000 years old, evolution is false, etc. It’s not exactly balanced in its approach, so Funny or Die decided to set that right and make a creationist version of Cosmos:

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The Return of Cosmos – Tonight

The legendary TV series Cosmos is being rebooted with Neil deGrasse Tyson taking the reins from his famous predecessor Carl Sagan. The first episode in the new series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” debuts in the United States tonight, March 9 at 9 PM (8 Central) on Fox.

cosmos

Many disinfonauts grew up with the original and will want to check out the new series. You might also want to check out a similar PBS special, Journey of the Universe, co-directed by David Kenner, a director of the original Cosmos series.

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The Library of Alexandria and the Martyrdom of Hypatia

hypatia_2via chycho

I first heard about the Library of Alexandria when I was in high school. Unfortunately, being a captive of our current education system I really wasn’t given the opportunity to ponder the implications of the creation of the largest library - at the time - known in human existence or its eventual destruction. I was herded into the next classroom and forced to change my train of thought to whatever subject matter was at hand.

I had intended to look up the history of Alexandria further when I had more time, but youth being what it is, I never got around to it, not until I was reminded to do so through Carl Sagan’s thirteen-part television masterpiece “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”.

“It covered a wide range of scientific subjects including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe…. The series was first broadcast by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1980, and was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television until [1990]….

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Growing Up with John E. Mack

JOHNMACKShould be noted that the day after I posted my critique of Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World, in which I defended the work of the late Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack, Aeon magazine posted an interesting article by Alexa Clay about growing up with him as her surrogate step dad:

“But as a kid largely ignorant of grander sociological forces, aliens were only one thing: scary. They had large black eyes and androgynous forms. And they were real — like ghosts and witches and monsters. In daylight, I was sceptical (the good little rationalist), but night-time brought with it a tide of magical thinking. I used to lie in bed and worry that maybe I would be abducted. I would even make supplicating promises of better behaviour in the hope of bartering with these outsiders — ‘I’ll be good, just leave me alone.’ In my secular progressive household, aliens offered a moral disciplining authority, an invisible spectator to police my actions.… Read the rest

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A Universe Not Made For Us: Carl Sagan on religion, geocentrism

I’d like to share this with you, even though some may choose to take the words of a celebrated, successful, and dead  person as a threat to their perspective. If you are open to what he had to say, you may notice the open nature of the use of may. His words on subjectivity, may not be viewed as a shut down, but as a warning.

via haveabit.com

A Universe Not Made for Us

Video by Callum Sutherland

Our ancestors understood origins by extrapolating from their own experience. How else could they have done it? So the Universe was hatched from a cosmic egg, or conceived in the sexual congress of a mother god and a father god, or was a kind of product of the Creator’s workshop—perhaps the latest of many flawed attempts. And the Universe was not much bigger than we see, and not much older than our written or oral records, and nowhere very different from places that we know.

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The Dumbass Haunted World – When Propaganda Masquerades as Science

sacredsigilservitorBecause last week’s reblogging of Robert Anton Wilson’s rather harsh critique of Carl Sagan resulted in a rather spirited dialogue on my Facebook page (friend me), I did something weird. I decided to take some of my fans advice and actually read a bit of Sagan’s work, which I admitted in the post that I’d never truly done. Sadly, since I spend half my life working a soulless day job, I don’t normally have much time to commit to researching things I intentionally avoid for impromptu rants. But I quite quickly found a PDF of the Demon Haunted World, which is the book several people over the years have told me I absolutely need to read, because it WILL convince me I’m not psychic or something. Ugh, I don’t know what to tell you. I got through eight chapters or so and found myself utterly perplexed and a bit disgusted.… Read the rest

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Robert Anton Wilson Trashes the Unbridled Arrogance of Carl Sagan

305px-Carl_Sagan_Viking

NASA (PD)

You know, I’ve never been a Carl Sagan fan. Not that I’ve read a whole lot of his stuff outside of some opinion pieces that have shown up online after his death. I guess the reason I’ve never been a fan is because I’ve frequently run into people arguing against the legitimacy of neo-spiritual/Occult concepts who reference his book The Demon Haunted Universe, which I’ve admittedly never read. You know why I haven’t read it? Because I have no idea why I would read a book about spirituality or altered states of consciousness written by an astronomer. Not really his area of expertise now, is it? What I didn’t know until just recently is that Robert Anton Wilson not only thought he was an arrogant douchebag, but wrote an entire chapter about that very topic in his book Cosmic Trigger III: My Life After Death:

“If anybody possesses all the qualifications necessary for a fully ordained Expert in America today, Carl Sagan certainly has that dizzying eminence.… Read the rest

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The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking

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Public Domain: Pioneer 10 plaque designed by Carl Sagan

In consideration of the nature of myriad interests of Disinfonaughts, and the possibility of nefarious sources. I offer this upon the alter of grounded, personal, and collective progress.

via Brain Pickings

Necessary cognitive fortification against propaganda, pseudoscience, and general falsehood.

Carl Sagan was many things — a cosmic sage, voracious reader, hopeless romantic, and brilliant philosopher. But above all, he endures as our era’s greatest patron saint of reason and common sense, a master of the vital balance between skepticism and openness. In The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (public library) — the same indispensable volume that gave us Sagan’s timeless meditation on science and spirituality, published mere months before his death in 1996 — Sagan shares his secret to upholding the rites of reason, even in the face of society’s most shameless untruths and outrageous propaganda.

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The Natural History of the Incorporeal Garage Dragon

dragonSkeptics, believers. Lay down your shotguns and knives. Take a moment to bandage and reload, and I will explain to you why an incorporeal garage dragon means that you should not be fighting. As much.

This strange beast, and its fantastical properties, are described in The Demon Haunted World, by Carl Sagan.

“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage,” he begins, “…Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself.”

You do, but you can’t. The dragon is invisible. You could spread flour on the floor to capture its footprints, but, alas, it also floats. You offer to fetch your infrared camera, but, sadly, its fire is heatless. Perhaps a can of spray paint, then, to make the dragon visible? Oh, right. Incorporeal.

You see where he’s going: “Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless,” he writes, “the only sensible approach is to tentatively reject the dragon hypothesis, [but] to be open to future data…”

The garage dragon is a straightforward parable about the scientific value of a non-falsifiable hypothesis, but it contains an important nuance.… Read the rest

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