Quotations Weblog

Quotes of the Week: Carl Sagan

November 9th, 1997 by Laura Moncur in Biography

I like to think that my childhood is no different than that of my peers. I pretend that all children watched Cosmos on Saturday nights on PBS with their fathers, but I’m sure that is not the case. While I counted the days to Saturday to see Carl Sagan’s television show, other kids were counting the days to see Dukes of Hazzard. It explains much of my persona to know that I was raised with the ideas and philosophies of Carl Sagan.

Nearly a year ago, when Carl Sagan died, many news shows televised brief biographies of his life. It was then that I realized that I would never be able to do him justice on a single web page. Here are a few quotes from Mr. Sagan. I hope you can enjoy him as much as I have my entire life.

Introduction and quote compilation by Laura S. Moncur, Staff Writer.

“It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English — up to fifty words used in correct context — no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.”

“Prejudice is making a judgment before you have looked at the facts. Postjudice is making a judgment afterwards. Prejudice is terrible, in the sense that you commit injustices and you make serious mistakes. Postjudice is not terrible. You can’t be perfect of course; you may make mistakes also. But it is permissible to make a judgment after you have examined the evidence. In some circles it is even encouraged.”
The Burden of Skepticism, Skeptical Enquirer, Vol. 12, pg. 46

“In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.”
1987 CSICOP Keynote Address

“The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.”

“But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

“We have heard so far the voice of life on one small world only. But we have at last begun to listen for other voices in the cosmic fugue.”
Cosmos, One Voice In The Cosmic Fugue, pg. 31

For more information about Carl Sagan, try these links:

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