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Sagan, Carl

  • A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.
  • A central lesson of science is that to understand complex issues (or even simple ones), we must try to free our minds of dogma and to guarantee the freedom to publish, to contradict, and to experiment. Arguments from authority are unacceptable.

  • But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

  • I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive.

  • 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?

  • In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

  • Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.

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

  • The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.

  • 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.

  • Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science?

  • We are prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small, persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs.

  • e live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.

  • 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.