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Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World" 
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Post Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
I thought this linked interview might add to the discussion.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8HEwO-2L4w
there's an add but you can skip it after several seconds, this is a PBS interview with Charlie Rose.



Last edited by Taylor on Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:37 pm
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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
What a magnificent fellow, and such a level head, I wonder if Sarah Palin has listened to Carl :P

People like Carl, may his gene pool increase, we can never have enough of that wonderful stuff.

Those who give you, not what you want, but what you need, some truth.

...and a sterling example of what that truth might do for you.



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Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:09 am
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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
Quote:
youkrst wrote:
Those who give you, not what you want, but what you need, some truth.


Carl Sagan is so clearly ill at the time of the interview, but plugging away none the less.



Sat Jan 17, 2015 7:51 am
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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
I was interested that he admitted to hearing his father's voice saying, 'Carl'. But told himself that it was just 'in his head'. There is no evidence for life after death, he says. Well, what kind of evidence does he require?

http://www.sshf.com/encyclopedia/index. ... iritualism

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The days are past, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle maintains, when the considered opinions of such men as Crookes, Wallace, Flammarion, Lodge, Barrett, Generals Drayson and Turner, Sergeant Ballantine, W. T. Stead, Judge Edmonds, Vice-Admiral Usborne Moore, the late Archdeacon Wilberforce and a cloud of other witnesses, can be dismissed as negligible. The time has come when "further proof is superfluous and the weight of disproof lies upon those who deny."


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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
I can hear the voice of Hitch in my head saying "watch the video again Pen"

Just kidding Penelope no malignant intent.

I listened to so much Hendrix I can channel him on a guitar but I won't believe it's actually him till he gives me next weeks lotto numbers ;)



Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:49 pm
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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
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yourkst wrote: I can hear the voice of Hitch in my head saying "watch the video again Pen"

Just kidding Penelope no malignant intent.


It's OK - I expected to be challenged on this one......but I had just read Sagan, saying science needs to be challenged with new ideas. Dissention is positively encouraged. So, whilst I like and admire the man, I am hereby dissenting,.

Sagan does seem to hesitate and deliberate over his reply to this subject and in fact he admits that his love for his parents makes him doubly wary of believing they are still around........he knows that his love and longing makes him vulnerable to illusion. So the barriers are up from the start.

OK, I have recently been reading/researching the beginnings of spiritualism in Victorian/Edwardian times. And have read quite a few books about the research on the subject by very eminent Victorian Physicists and Scientists.....using exhaustive scientific experiments to provide evidence. Now, whilst I realise that said scientists around the turn of the century - 1914-1917 - had lost beloved sons in the great war and were desperate to find some consolation, they were still scientists and their researches were carried out properly. There were so many of these young men, who having passed over, were desperate to let their parents know that they were still around. Now, before you all either ignore or berate me for spouting religious tosh, please realise that this is not, and was not about religion. It is about what it is to be human.....and was treated as a science as far as these men were concerned. Certainly all souls when they pass over don't become angelic and shining.....To a large extent, it seems, they remain very much as they were in life.....which is why messing about with the occult can be dangerous.....because not all souls are nice.

They don't begin to be able to see into the future and predict lottery numbers or race horse winners.

Sagan pokes fun at we British, saying that we are obsessed with Ghosts.....Well, we certainly were at one time. Now, there's only me!! LOL!! Anyway, Edgar Cayce was American, the best medium of them all.....and with a modicum of intelligence to boot. He never could understand why we should want to contact our dead relations for information, when there were entities of much higher intelligence to consult.

Sagan, does rather give us an either or situation as to praying when someone is ill. I give them medicine AND pray - for guidance as to how best to treat that person.......Nothing to do with chrystals or pendulums.......just to do with a humble request. He implicates that this is a lazy way of being, but there isn't always time to do medical research when you want to help/heal someone.

Anyway......as he notes in Chapter 1....it takes a very brave person to speak out against the general concensus. I am not so brave really, it is just that I feel I know you all well enough to play devil's advocate.


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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
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I know you all well enough to play devil's advocate.


excellent!



Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:56 pm
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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
I watched this interview, and it illustrates how Carl Sagan was such an admirably brilliant intellect.

This material raises basic philosophical challenges regarding the rational attitude towards things we don’t understand. I have been having a debate with an astronomer who maintains that his theory of reality is restricted to things he understands. I say that is a category mistake, because the concept of reality means everything that exists through all of time and space. Most of reality we don’t understand, but we can still say it is all real by definition.

Penelope’s comment about life after death illustrates this point well. If we agree with my scientist friend and say things are only real if we understand them, it leads us to a dogmatic view about things we don’t understand. I personally share Sagan’s belief that consciousness ends at death, but then the energy of the soul is such a mystery, we really have to be humble about such opinions.

Sagan reminds me of David Hume’s argument more than 200 years ago that belief in miracles is more likely to reflect wishful thinking than supernatural intervention. Rather than being patronising about such belief, it is actually a good thing to ask what the emotional comfort is that led to it.

The scale of death in the First World War is a good example, as reflected in the poem In Flanders Fields with its line 'we are the dead.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields#Poem A French boy read this poem at a ceremony for my grand uncle in Vignacourt last year. In this case, haunting may not be a literal thing, but the scale of carnage in the past certainly weighs on the present.

My other bugbear regarding patronising attitudes by skeptics is astrology. I do not personally believe in astrology in any unscientific way, but I constantly see skeptics parade their ignorance of the topic, often with a pompous arrogance that is little better than bullying.

I just read a fascinating book about Ancient Aliens by Philip Coppens, which features quite a bit of discussion of Carl Sagan and The Demon Haunted World. Coppens sadly died young last year. I have encountered people whose woo-meter goes off the scale at the mere mention of the History Channel, so I hesitate to even raise this topic. Coppens does a good job of explaining the cultural pathology around Von Daniken and Chariots of the Gods, and how despite the lack of clear evidence there are also many things that science cannot explain. I was particularly intrigued by his discussion of enormous rocks and the inability of modern technology to get even close to replicating the ability to move things in the way that was done in ancient times.

So the overall view Sagan is presenting here is that rationality also requires humility. Sagan makes the excellent point that science is generally far more humble than religion, because science is willing to change its views in response to evidence.


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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
Quote:
This material raises basic philosophical challenges regarding the rational attitude towards things we don’t understand. I have been having a debate with an astronomer who maintains that his theory of reality is restricted to things he understands. I say that is a category mistake, because the concept of reality means everything that exists through all of time and space. Most of reality we don’t understand, but we can still say it is all real by definition.


When you say, "the concept of reality means everything that exists through all of time and space," are you suggesting that past and future times are real, that they exist now? I can only access them through imagination whereas I can access the present through my senses. So my inclination is to say that what I experience now through my senses is *real*, what I remember from the past (through my imagination) *has been real* but isn't any longer, and what I project in the future (through imagination) is *not yet real* but may become so. So I would not include past and future events, even those that actually took place at a point in time as "real". I would say that historical figures like George Washington, who have been real, are not any longer because they are only accessible through memory/imagination. They are not real now.

To Penelope: having read the material about Victorian scientists studying spiritualism as scientists, I would encourage you to go on and read works by James Randi and his ilk to see how well-meaning, honorable scientists of impeccable integrity can be snookered into buying the most outrageous sleight of hand. It's not that they were not competent as scientists, it's just that they were not trained to catch charlatans and usually the most economical explanation of apparently supernatural events is someone pulling off a con game.


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Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:32 am
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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
Quote:
Robert Tulip wrote:

Sagan reminds me of David Hume’s argument more than 200 years ago that belief in miracles is more likely to reflect wishful thinking than supernatural intervention. Rather than being patronising about such belief, it is actually a good thing to ask what the emotional comfort is that led to it.


My other bugbear regarding patronising attitudes by skeptics is astrology. I do not personally believe in astrology in any unscientific way, but I constantly see skeptics parade their ignorance of the topic, often with a pompous arrogance that is little better than bullying.


With regard to the first quote; I do think that very many of us are prone to superstition......It is very seductive and I personally need to guard against it all the time. I was brought up to abhore superstition in fact.....in that if you prayed in faith believing then God would be insulted, as it were, if you did all kinds of magic spells to help your prayer along.....and if you prayed for something in particular, then that was like burying a seed in faith....and the seed wouldn't grow if you keep digging it up to see if it is sprouting. Now, whilst this is a very simplistic attitude, I do think it is a very healthy one. Of course, Fraser, in 'The Golden Bough' explains our inclination towards magic and superstition as being caused through our sense of helplessness, and if we can become a powerful witch or magician, we have some control over the elements and turbulance of life's circumstances. Apparently, this is why the Harry Potter books are so popular with young people, how wonderful to have magic powers and some control over our fate.

As to the subject of astrology, well it is shamed by the daily horoscope thingy in various publications which make it look ludicrous from the first pitch. But when science enters the field, it does becomes extraordinary. Robert, I don't know whether it was you or Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code who pointed out that if you trace the orbit of the planet Venus, you get a perfect pentacle. Also the orbits of other planets produce perfect geometric shapes. Well Fibonacci mathematics uncovers many similar 'patterns' in the natural world. So I suppose it is natural for us to look for patterns in our behaviour, and daily lives.

As to your decision to believe that there is no consciousness after death of the body, since we cannot prove it otherwise, except to ourselves, it depends how important you feel it is. It doesn't matter if you are content to live your life as though there is no tomorrow, so to speak, but I am not willing to let go of the hope that is in me. Sure enough there are plenty of charlatans but the real convincing evidence comes from our own personal experiences, not from what somebody else tells us. However, I will say that the existence or not of alien life forms, or ghosts, or fairies.....or miracles.....pales into insignificance as far as I am concerned, when compared to the importance to the human psyche of ascertaining that we are infinite beings.

PS - I am very pleased that you are being involved in this debate.

Quote:
tbarron wrote:

to see how well-meaning, honorable scientists of impeccable integrity can be snookered into buying the most outrageous sleight of hand. It's not that they were not competent as scientists, it's just that they were not trained to catch charlatans and usually the most economical explanation of apparently supernatural events is someone pulling off a con game.



I agree that we can very easily be fooled. One really only needs to look at the likes of Derren Brown - a conjurer who, I believe is an expert practitioner of NLP - neuro-linguistic programming.........and other current magicians. I can't imagine how their tricks work and, in fact, I can't understand how NLP works to such a stunning degree......The things they perform seem impossible and it is only because Derren Brown keeps assuring us that what he is showing us is a trick, that we are not totally in awe of him.

I still say, that we look for patterns because there are patterns. Nature itself is not wasteful, everything recycles naturally and that is just one of the reasons that I am convinced that the learning and wisdom which we accumulate in this life cycle does not go to waste......


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Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:23 am
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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
tbarron wrote:
When you say, "the concept of reality means everything that exists through all of time and space," are you suggesting that past and future times are real, that they exist now?

“Real” does not mean “exists now”. The scientific record refers to what really happened in the past, whereas religious myths are imaginary. Time is real, exhibiting material causality. That means the past is real, even though it is different from the present and no longer exists except through its causal influence on the present. The reality of the future is not so simple since we do not know how deterministic our universe really is, but there are major facts, such as the stellar main sequence and galactic redshift, that can be strongly predicted.


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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
I've read Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and it was a good book but I don't remember it being extraordinary in any respect. Still a pleasant read but I'd rather see/hear Sagan than read him, I guess... No better scientific personality and has yet to be duplicated today. We have nothing... Tyson is garbage compared with Sagan but they still try and pump him up as if he's filling his shoes. Sad. :(



Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:54 pm
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Post Re: Carl Sagan interview "The Demon-Haunted World"
Particularly when NDT decides he has nothing better to do during the xmas holidays and decides one morning to troll the Christian community.


One wonders why on earth a scientist would have nothing better to do.
I guess that's what happens when a scientist becomes more celebrity than scientist.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/neil-degras ... as-tweets/



Last edited by ant on Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:41 pm
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