free debate

November 9, 2011

Happy Sagan Day!

Carl Sagan was hugely influential in getting me interested in science and more specifically, planetary studies. His book "A Demon Haunted World" is still probably the best all around skeptical book I have read. If you haven't read it already, you really should read it. I think the book is a great introduction to critical thinking because he is able to give you the tools to think, without beating you over the head with them. There are so many wonderful quotes I could pick out of this book but here is one that I think gets to the heart of skepticism and isn't often cited.
As I've tried to stress, at the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes- an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive, and the most ruthlessly skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense. The collective enterprise of creative thinking and skeptical thinking, working together, keeps the field on track.
Have a great day and take some time today to look for that wonder in the world Carl was so magnificent at sharing.