Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? There isn’t a religion on the planet that doesn’t long for a comparable ability-precise, and repeatedly demonstrated before committed skeptics-to foretell future events. No other human institution comes close.


“The military establishments of the United States and the Soviet Union are, I am afraid, establishments with vested interests in war. They are meticulously trained for war; in time of war, there are rapid promotions, increases in pay, and opportunities for valor that are absent in peacetime. Where eager readiness for warfare exists, the likelihood of intentional or accidental warfare becomes much greater. By virtue of their training and temperament, military men are often not interested in other sorts of gainful employment. There are few other ways of life with the perquisites of power of the military officer. If peace broke out, the officer corps, their services no longer as necessary, would be profoundly discomfited. Premier Khrushchev once attempted to cashier a large number of senior officers in the Red Army, putting them in charge of hydroelectric power stations and the like. This was not to their liking, and in something like a year most of them were back in their old jobs. In fact, the military establishments in the United States and the Soviet Union owe their jobs to each other, and there is a very real sense in which they form a natural alliance against the rest of us. At equally strong vested interest in and maintain equally strong lobbies for the maintenance of the warfare state. Barring some awesomely atypical epidemic of reason, is there not some way that this powerful collection of vested interests could be moved toward more peaceful activities?”

—Carl Sagan, “Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective,” 1973 

“In warfare, man against man, it is common for each side to dehumanize the other so that there will be none of the natural misgivings that a human being has at slaughtering another. The Nazis achieved this goal comprehensively by declaring whole peoples untermenschen, subhumans. It was then permissible, after such reclassification, to deprive these peoples of civil liberties, enslave them, and murder them. The Nazis are the most monstrous, but not the most recent, example. Many other cases could be quoted. For Americans, covert reclassifications of other peoples as untermenschen has been the lubricant of military involvements, where other human beings, military adversaries but inheritors of an ancient culture, are decried as gooks, slopeheads, slanteyes, and so on—a litany of dehumanization—until our soldiers and airmen could feel comfortable at slaughtering them. Automated warfare and aerial destruction of unseen targets make such dehumanization all the easier. It increases the “efficiency” of warfare because it undercuts our sympathies with our fellow creatures. If we do not see whom we kill, we feel not nearly so bad about murder. And if we can so easily rationalize the slaughter of others of our own species, how much more difficult will it be to have reverence for intelligent individuals of different species?”

—Carl Sagan, “Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective,” 1973 

(Source: america-wakiewakie)

I hope no one will consider me unduly cynical if I assert that a good first-order model of how commercial and public television programming work is simply this: Money is everything.
Note to self:

Whenever the state of things have me feeling down, remember to re-read” The Path to Freedom” chapter of TDHW to be reminded of important it is to not only be educated but also how important it is to teach others.

Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.
In a world in transition, students and teachers both need to teach themselves one essential skill-learning how to learn.
There are still about 6 hours left on this tee. Go get ‘em. 

There are still about 6 hours left on this tee. Go get ‘em. 

(Source: pennyfornasa)

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the Unites States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
The cure for a misuse of science is not censorship, but clearer explanation, more vigorous debate, and making science accessible to everyone.
The Science of Deduction: The Demon Haunted World or Some Reasons Explaining Why I am an Atheist


I’ve been reading a lot lately. School just started but during the break, I’ve managed to read half way through about three books. One of which is Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World”. Before I begin talking about this book, I feel as though I need to give some background…

Ted Turner:Do you think that we can get rid of these nuclear arsenals and how do you think we should go about doing it?
Carl Sagan:Well, you gotta ask what they're for.