Carl Sagan’s Forecast From 1995

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

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20 Responses to Carl Sagan’s Forecast From 1995

  1. It is ironic that the man who was most instrumental in championing the ‘greenhouse effect’ as the reason for the high temperature of Venus, should warn against pseudo science and superstition.

    However, he did inspire a generation of scientists, and his many other achievements excuse him from this, albeit persistent, lack of judgement

    • Russell Cook says:

      Dr Sagan was peculiar that way when it came to guessing about some things, as opposed to exploring the actual science. Remember the Kuwait oilfield fires that Saddam Hussein set? Sagan was asked about the lasting effects of the smoke, as was another scientist we all know. It was Sagan who did the face-plant on his prediction (video archive of that ironically provided by a source that still seeks to this day to trash the credibility of the other scientist): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM9SNjRXIxs&t=1010

  2. Peter Carroll says:

    This will very quickly make number one on the list of books, to be burned. No worries.

  3. gregole says:

    He sure got that right about the media. Yes we are slipping softly and silently into a joyless, ignorant dark age. I’ve been watching it happen for a long time – way before Covid, even before the MannMade Global Warming craze.

    The first one I saw through was the overpopulation scare. And it just sort of went away. No one really made the point that in retrospect it was all BS. I found that amazing after all the PR that Holden and Erlich got; heck, Holden even was the Obama “science czar”, I’ll bet that gig made some nice money.

    And now the powers that be are actively suppressing truth; Covid is the blossoming of the poisonous fruit of mass ignorance and superstition coupled with tyranny. The tyranny of the government, the tyranny of the mob – the Covid Karens – the Klimate Klowns in the academia / government complex. The list goes on and on.

    And all the lies, nonsense, and harm incessantly blared out from every “news” outlet on the planet.

  4. Torgo says:

    We remember that Sagan’s boss at Cornell (the late Thomas Gold) agrees with the entire Russian/Ukrainian geology establishment in believing hydrocarbons inside Earth to be of abiogenic origin. As opposed to the myth of “fossil fuels” spread by so many, including the otherwise treasured Tony Heller. Gold even wrote a book titled “The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels” explaining the evidence and his reasoning. And Russia knows a thing or two about hydrocarbon energy extraction.

    • tonyheller says:

      I worked on abiogenic methane studies at Los Alamos more than 40 years ago and have made many videos discussing methane on other planets. You might want to more careful with your ridiculous assertions.

      • Torgo says:

        “have made many videos discussing methane on other planets”

        Fair enough. I’ve watched many of your videos and it trust your judgment because you always provide evidence and history, but I must have missed these videos on methane. I’ll try to find them and learn a thing or two. Keep up the good work!

        • arn says:

          I have no clue about abiogenic hydrocarbons(though i fully support such a scenario as it would mean(almost) endless supply of oil and gas),but there are several things that don’t fit.

          1) Noone really cares wether you believe in them or not.
          Usually there is a system to protect a fake scenario and shame and intimidate critics.
          2 )They’d be literally everywhere in the ground = noone would need to import them
          3) Are there even enough gases and other components inside earth to create liquid stuff like oil
          4)There should be gas leaks everywhere around the globe poisoning water and air,as such an endless process would lead to enormous amount of hydrocarbons ,especially after earthquakes.
          And earthquakes should happen far more often,as those underground gaschambers would collapse frequently.

          6 ) is a bit of a logical problem i have
          with the biotic and abiotic.
          Groundwater.
          Its surface should be contaminated with biotic liquids from above that follow gravity.
          And groundwater would be a natural barrier fot the liquids to sink further.

          Abiotic gases would contaminate the groundwater from below.

          If i remember correctly the abiotic oil theory orginates from the USSR .

  5. dearieme says:

    Did he foresee the election, or pseudo-election, of a dementia patient as President?

    Or, even worse, someone who ought to be a dementia patient but may be going without the care he needs.

    Washington is a notorious city of blabbers: how come so little has leaked out of the White House about Bonehead’s health?

    (In this context perhaps I should apologise for the unfortunate use of “leaked”.)

  6. arn says:

    The biggest problems of the USA as service and information economy without manufacturing are
    that even the own opinion(of many people) has been outsourced and became a service
    by those who control the information.
    And with the lack of manufacturing(that is being systematically outsourced by the information controlers and guys like Brandon)
    even the longterm survival is at stake
    as one can not survive with service and informations alone
    when there is nothing manufactured that can be served.

    And if the outsourcing goes on
    the onpy thing left that is being manufactured is the climate propaganda.

    • Reid says:

      Fortunately the US is number 1 at food production which is the most important of all economic activities. Modern farming is a manufacturing activity and it is completely dependent on fossil fuel products. Eliminate fossil fuels and mass starvation and death will follow.

  7. Jeff L. says:

    Prescient observation by Sagan. Here’s a great video for context about science often being wrong:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8V8rtdXnLA&t=902s

  8. Conrad Ziefle says:

    In the end, Sagan was just a TV physicist. When I heard him make the comparison of Venus to Earth regarding CO2, I had to wonder did he just read what was handed to him without the slightest thought? Venus’s surface pressure is something 92 bars, or roughly 92 times our surface pressure, and 80% of its atmosphere is CO2. The partial pressure of CO2 on Venus is 92x.8= 73.6 bars and ours is 1x 4/10000= or .0004 bars. Venus’s CO2 content is only 180,000 times more than ours! Venus’s surface pressure is like being 2400 feet underwater. There is nothing comparable about the two.
    My apologies to Leonardo DeCrapio.

  9. Windsong says:

    Carl Sagan speaks of the dumbing down of America. Look no further than your local public schools. My oldest granddaughter has always attended a parochial school. When she was younger, her elementary teacher that year recommended extra math tutoring over the summer. When my daughter took her to the local math prep storefront location, they tested her and reported she was in the top quartile of her grade level for the local school district (their benchmark). They suggested my daughter save her money and not enroll her.

    About the same year, was in a waiting room at the local car dealer while an oil change was done on my car. Chatting with the guy next to me revealed he was from Somaliland, and his two children had recently joined him here after living in Africa. I asked how they liked US schools. He said they both thought schools here were a joke, and that the middle-school age child was in a math class two years behind the level where he had been in Africa. He wanted them out of their schools.

    If you travel around the upscale eastern suburbs of Seattle on a weekday morning, you will see large groups of children at the school bus stops. At some locations when the public school bus arrives less than half the kids board the bus. A parade of private school buses pick up the remainder. Highly paid engineers at some of the region’s large tech firms do not have to tolerate the dumbing down their children may be exposed to. Parents from Africa and Asia now in this country can see the lack of rigor in our public schools.

  10. DaveN says:

    Was it just my imagination, or do I recall Sagan being (or becoming) a climate alarmist? It contradicts his own teachings, much like Scott Adams does on a daily basis.

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