Respectful Insolence

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.

Comments

  1. #1 James
    September 19, 2006

    Am I the only one who thinks CSICOP should change its name to the “Panel for Scientific Investigations Into Claims Of the Paranormal” just so they would be called PSICOP?

    Maybe they could get Walter Koenig as a patron :)

  2. #2 somnilista, FCD
    September 19, 2006

    Am I the only one…

    No.

  3. #3 Robert
    September 21, 2006

    I also listened to this podcast (this morning, while driving), and agree with your assessment – not only about the poor, poor audio of Ann Druyan, which was almost unlistenable, (POI, can you not use an internet connection, a local studio, or a better phone line?), but how fantastic it is to hear Carl Sagan’s open, natural style of speaking, and how good he is at communicating the wonders of science. Made me fall in love with his speaking and writing all over again. Thanks for noting it in your blog — this is the best point of inquiry I’ve heard yet.

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