Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Beautiful Words From A Beautiful Mind

I'm finally getting to start on Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark, and I thought I'd drop a quote in from time to time as I read. I'm not looking for profundity here, just whatever strikes my fancy. In that vein, here's the first one, from pages 26 & 27:

I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us – then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls.

The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.

I would say that the US has had quite a few "challenges to national self-esteem" lately and that our "national prejudices" have been aroused in the last five years. And lo & behold, the Chimperor, that God-fearing, Bible-thumping, anti-science bullshit artist still reigns supreme. We need some Carl Sagans in politics. Sadly, all we have are John McCains.

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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain

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Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu