Listen to this episode of Point of Inquiry. It includes an interview with Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s widow, who cowrote Cosmos and Contact. That’s good enough (although the sound quality of her connection is not so good), but what will really get you fired up is the last half of the podcast contains last public address for CSICOP, from its conference in Seattle in 1994. Entitled “Wonder and Skepticism,” Sagan how he became interested in science and astronomy because of his sheer wonder at science and the stars, argues why science is the best way of looking at the world (his part about the predictive value of science compared to pseudoscience and religion, for instance), and discusses looming assaults on science and critical thinking. Twelve years later, his words sound eerily prescient.
I listened to the podcast on my flight to North Carolina, and, after all the depressing talk about declining NIH funding and decreasing success rates of grant applications, it gave my flagging enthusiasm for science a much needed shot in the arm and helped remind me why I do this in the first place. No wonder Sagan is missed.