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One of Carl Sagan's last speeches

I've just finished listening to a Point of Inquiry podcast featuring Ann Druyan (widow of Carl Sagan). That would have been interesting in its own right but this episode also features Carl Sagan’s last public address for CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal).

While I've always enjoyed Sagan's work, I found this speech particularly interesting. In it, he makes a number of very accurate prophecies about the slow backwards slide America seems to have been taking in its understanding of scientific topics. What I find most amazing is that he could be skeptical of pseudo-science and still be so understanding of people who subscribe to these erroneous beliefs. In this speech, he urges skeptics everywhere to be more understanding of the individuals on the other side. We must learn to separate the erroneous belief from the believers. Education, not ridicule, is the proper response.

He also manages to sneak in a few jokes at the expense of those who believe in alien abductions and crop circles. Why would a race sufficiently advanced to have traveled such long distances waste time making circles in wheat fields? It seems a bit silly when put that way, eh?

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