Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”

“You have to know the past to understand the present.”

“We are star-stuff.”

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

“… the use of our intelligence quite properly gives us pleasure. In this respect the brain is like a muscle. When we think well, we feel good. Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.”

“Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgment, the manner in which information is collected and used.”

“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think its forever.”

“We are the product of 4.5 billion years of fortuitous, slow biological evolution. There is no reason to think that the evolutionary process has stopped. Man is a transitional animal. He is not the climax of creation.”

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”

“A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.”

“The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.”

“I believe that the extraordinary should be pursued. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

“It’s better to light a candle then to curse the darkness.”

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

“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”

“A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.”

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

“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.”

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

“There are many hypotheses in science which are wrong. That’s perfectly all right; they’re the aperture to finding out what’s right. Science is a self-correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny.”

“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.”

“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”

“The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good. Understanding is joyous.”

“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself”

“The well-meaning contention that all ideas have equal merit seems to me little different from the disastrous contention that no ideas have any merit.”

“It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

“Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.”

“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”

“When you make the finding yourself – even if you’re the last person on Earth to see the light – you never forget it.”

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

“Personally, I would be delighted if there were a life after death, especially if it permitted me to continue to learn about this world and others, if it gave me a chance to discover how history turns out.”

“A galaxy is composed of gas and dust and stars – -billions upon billions of stars.”

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

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

“If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?”

“The wind whips through the canyons of the American Southwest, and there is no one to hear it but us – a reminder of the 40,000 generations of thinking men and women who preceded us, about whom we know almost nothing, upon whom our civilization is based.”

“I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true.”

“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. From it we have learned most of what we know. Recently, we have waded a little out to sea, enough to dampen our toes or, at most, wet our ankles. The water seems inviting. The ocean calls. ”

“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.”

 

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