It is the responsibility of scientists never to suppress knowledge, no matter how awkward that knowledge is, no matter how it may bother those in power; we are not smart enough to decide which pieces of knowledge are permissible, and which are not. ...

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan

Profession: Astronomer
Nationality: American

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It is precisely our plasticity, our long childhood, that prevents a slavish adherence to genetically programmed behavior in human beings more than in any other species.

The Cosmos is rich beyond measure—in elegant facts, in exquisite interrelationships, in the subtle machinery of awe.

The cognitive abilities of chimpanzees force us, I think, to raise searching questions about the boundaries of the community of beings to which special ethical considerations are due.

Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.

Each star system is an island in space, quarantined from its neighbors by the light-years. I can imagine creatures evolving into glimmerings of knowledge on innumerable worlds, every one of them assuming at first their puny planet and paltry few suns to be all that is. We grow up in isolation. Only slowly do we teach ourselves the Cosmos.

Religious sects, established and marginal, and some newly invented for the purpose, were dissecting the theological implications of the Message. Some thought it was from God, and some from the Devil. Astonishingly, some were even unsure.

As in all such technological nightmares, the principal task is to foresee what is possible; to educate use and misuse; and to prevent its organizational, bureaucratic and governmental abuse.

Natural selection has served as a kind of intellectual sieve, producing brains and intelligences increasingly competent to deal with the laws of nature.

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.

Are we willing to tolerate ignorance and complacency in matters that affect the entire human family?

The chief danger of adopting a credible pose of irrationality is that to succeed in the pretense you have to be very good. After a while, you get used to it. It becomes pretense no longer.

It's hard to imagine an American sports team named the Diarrheas (Gimme a ‘D' …).

The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard, who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by 'God,' one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.

We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.