January 24, 2017
Carl Sagan giving a speech in Rockefeller Hall, 1995.
Cornell University Faculty Biographical Files.
Courtesy of the Cornell University Archives,
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections,
Cornell University Library
Sharon Bennett (photographer).
He was also a prolific writer and in 1995 wrote the book "The Demon-Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark" that touches on a variety of topics, from debunking hoaxes like alien abductions to spirituality, but ultimately serves as a passionate argument for science and the scientific method.
What's noteworthy is that a quote from the book has been picked up recently all over social media, based on its description of a future America that is eerily similar to its current state.
While Sagan generally projected optimism, the quote talks about a possible dystopian society, with much division, confusion, mistrust of authority, a growing gap between the haves and have nots under an increasingly authoritarian leadership.
Of course, you might quibble with some parts of this based on your political leanings, but there are even shades here of Trump's own dystopian Inauguration address.
Here's what the inimitable Carl Sagan wrote:
Dr. Carl Sagan poses with a model
of the Viking lander in Death Valley, Calif.
Image credit: NASA
The quote was initially shared by
the director of the public radio show
"Science Friday" Charles Bergquist
Notably, in the chapter that includes the quote, Carl Sagan continued talking about some American cultural debacles of that time (from his point of view) like the TV show "Beavis and Butthead" and the movie "Dumb and Dumber".
He uses these as examples of the "dumbing down" of America. One can only wonder how he would update his take on America's future if he was alive today.
You can read the selection from Carl Sagan's book and the rest of the chapter here.
Here's Carl Sagan talking about the future of humanity in "Cosmos" (1980):