Quotes from Demon-Haunted World

Highlights and discussion available on Goodreads.

"Every question is a cry to understand the world"

--Carl Sagan

"One of the oldest short essays in human history... laments that the young are disastrously more ignorant than the generation immediately preceding."

--Carl Sagan

"We can pray over the cholera victim, or we can give her 500 milligrams of tetracycline every 12 hours."

--Carl Sagan

"Advances in medicine and agriculture have saved vastly more lives than have been lost in all the wars in history."

--Carl Sagan

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

--Carl Sagan

"If we resolutely refuse to acknowledge where we are liable to fall into error, then we can confidently expect that error - even serious error, profound mistakes - will be our companion forever. But if we are capable of a little courageous self assessment, whatever rueful reflections they may engender, our chances improve enormously."

--Carl Sagan

"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 key 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."

--Carl Sagan

"Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge. It's just the best we have."

--Carl Sagan

"...has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science?"

--Carl Sagan

"Compare as many doctrines as you can think of, note what predictions they make of the future, which ones are vague, which ones are precise, and which doctrines - every one of them subject to human fallibility - have error-correcting mechanisms built in."

--Carl Sagan

"Which leaders of the major faiths acknowledge that their beliefs might be incomplete or erroneous and establish institutes to uncover possible doctrinal deficiencies?"

--Carl Sagan

"The difference between physics and metaphysics... is that the metaphysicist has no laboratory."

--Carl Sagan

"Science is a way to call the bluff of those who only pretend to knowledge."

--Carl Sagan

"Every age has its peculiar folly; some scheme, project, or phantasy into which it plunges, spurred on either by the love of gain, the necessity of excitement, or the mere force of imitation. Failing in these, it has some madness, to which it is goaded by political or religious causes, or both combined."

--Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

"Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion."

--Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651)

"... 'demon' means 'knowledge' in Greek - especially about the material world."

--Carl Sagan

"Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder."

--Carl Sagan

"Who cares which breakfast cereal has more vitamines when we can take a vitamin pill with breakfast?"

--Carl Sagan

"Inuring us to lies lays the groundwork for many other evils."

--Carl Sagan, with attribution to Thomas Paine

"Of course many religions - devoted to reverence, awe, ethics, ritual, community, family, charity, and political and economic justice - are in no way challenged, but rather uplifted, by the findings of science."

--Carl Sagan

"In the way that skepticism is sometimes applied to issues of public concern, there is a tendency to belittle, to condescend, to ignore the fact that, deluded or not, supports of superstition and pseudoscience are human beings with real feelings, who, like the skeptics, are trying to figure out how the world works and what our role in it might be. Their motives are in many cases consonant with science. If their culture as not given them all the tools they need to pursue this great quest, let us temper our criticism with kindness, None ofd us comes fully equipped."

--Carl Sagan

"One of my favorite cartoons shows a fortune-teller scrutinizing the mark's palm and gravely concluding, 'You are very gullible.'"

--Carl Sagan

"Many pseudoscientific and New Age belief systems emerge out of dissatisfaction with conventional values and perspectives - and are therefore themselves a kind of skepticism."

--Carl Sagan

"The world of the paranormal may appear less as a silly turn toward irrationalism and more as an idiom through which the segments of society express their conflicts, dilemmas, and identities..."

--Carl Sagan

"We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free."

--Epictetus, Discourses

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?"

--Ronald Reagan, 1980

...

"There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."

--George Washington, 1790

"Where there is doubt, there is freedom." Latin Proverb

Trends working at least marginally towards the implantation of a very narrow range of attitudes, memories, and opinions include control ov major television networks and newspapers by a small number of similarly motivated powerful corporations and individuals, the disappearance of competitive daily newspapers in many cities, the replacement of substantive debate by sleaze in political campaigns, and episodic erosion of the principle of the separation of powers. It is estimated (by the American media expert Ben Bagdikian) that fewer than two dozen corporations control more than half 'of the global business in daily newspapers, magazines, televisions, books and movies.' The proliferation of cable television channels, heap long-distance telephone calls, fax machines, computer bulletin boards and networks, inexpensive computer self-publishing, and surviving instances of the traditional liberal arts university curriculum are trends tha might owk in the opposite direction."

--Carl Sagan

"It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error."

--Robert H. Jackson, US Supreme Court Justice, 1950

"Nevertheless, to a certain and often useful degree, policy ideas can be tested. The great waste would be to ignore the results of social experiments because they seem to be ideologically unpalatable."

--Carl Sagan

[Thomas Jefferson] argued that the cost of education is trivial compared to the cost of ignorance..."

--Carl Sagan

"I ... wish that the Pledge of Allegiance were directed at the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as it is when the President takes his oath of office, rather than to the flag and the nation."

--Carl Sagan

... the cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.

--Carl Sagan

"Stuart Mill argued that silencing an opinion is 'a peculiar evil.' If the opinion is right, we are robbed of the 'opportunity of exchanging error for truth'; and if it's wrong, we are deprived of a deeper understanding of the truth in 'its collision with error.'"

--Carl Sagan

"... a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion."

-- Justice Black, Supreme Court, Engel v. Vitale, 1962

Broader Topics Related to Quotes from Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

Book Notes and Reviews

Notes, quotes, reviews, and summaries of books I've read

Carl Sagan

Information about Carl Sagan

Science

The most rigorous system of epistemology

Quotes from Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan Knowledge Graph