Respectful Insolence

The Skeptics’ Circle: Dedicated to Carl Sagan

Yes, I know that skepticism and Christmas don’t exactly mix. After all, most people, even highly skeptical and unreligious ones, tend to enjoy at least a few, if not many, of the myths that accompany the season, myths such as Santa Claus. But we won’t let that stop us from having a bit of skeptical fun next week on Thursday, when the next Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle lands at Humbug! Online on December 21.

A while back PZ pointed out that December 20 just so happens to be the tenth anniversary of Carl Sagan’s death at the too young age of 62 and that a memorial blog-a-thon is being promoted, an idea that Carl Sagan’s son Nick has endorsed and for which he has even provided an update and a link to an article about it that appeared in the Cornell Chronicle. PZ thought that there might be some synergy there, and I agree. So I e-mailed this week’s host host Theo and asked him what he thought about it. This was his response:

So as was suggested, and hosted here, this Circle is going to be somewhat of a tribute to Sagan. I’ll figure out how to make it a tribute later – just send any skeptical posts my way:

In other words, if you want to submit posts about Carl Sagan and skepticism or something related to his critical examination of pseudoscience, that’s great, but it’s just as fine if you want to submit the usual posts about anything skeptical. I’m sure Carl would have wanted it that way. I’ll also make sure to include a link to the blog-a-thon in the announcements I routinely post for the Circle, both here and on the main Skeptics’ Circle site.

And, as always, if you you’re a blogger who tries to follow in the footsteps of the late, great Carl Sagan (or at least emulate his scientific and skeptical world view), why not volunteer to host a future edition of the Skeptics’ Circle? The schedule and guidelines are here, and additional information can be found here. Just drop me a line at


  1. #1 Infophile
    December 15, 2006

    So, our 50th entry will be on the tenth anniversary of Carl Sagan’s death, eh? Too bad we’re not allowed to believe in there being some meaning to this. Let’s just take it as a fortunate coincidence.

  2. #2 Marcia
    December 16, 2006

    Somehow I knew I’d never be psychic.
    ———————–Steven Wright
    the latest:
    the original and the best:
    With people like her, the Skeptic’s Circle will be around for a long time to come.

  3. #3 linen
    October 25, 2007

    Well… sometimes, as I’m sure we all know, skepticism can go too far and never resolve anything. Not sure in Carl Sagan’s case though. At any rate, this sounds great, and he does deserve some sort of a tribute… although, I do disagree with skepticism’s views. Am I allowed to do that? Am I, perhaps, the true skeptic – being skeptic of skepticism? And what about the guy who’s skeptic about being skeptic about skepticism? What is he? Probably a skeptic fundamentalist.
    I’m just rattling on, I guess. Still, I do sometimes wonder about the true merits of skepticism – when does it just become plain unreasonable?

  4. #4 Bronze Dog
    October 25, 2007

    How can a person be too reasonable that it lapses into unreasonableness?

    Skepticism is designed to be skeptical of itself: That’s why we demand replication and falsificationism. No one gets a free pass.

    Woo, by contrast, is purely destructive.

  5. #5 portrait artist
    October 30, 2007

    Honestly, this is the first time that I’ve heard about meetings of the skeptics. The first time I heard about skepticism was way back in high school and that was in our Science class. Since then on I’ve always wondered if there’s an organization out there that doubts and questions everything.