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Carl Sagan Quotes

CARL SAGAN QUOTES

Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, cosmologist, and science popularizer. He was born on November 9, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York, and died on December 20, 1996, in Seattle, Washington.

Sagan’s interest in science began at an early age, and he went on to study physics and astronomy at the University of Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics in 1960 and went on to work at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Sagan became a professor of astronomy and space science at Cornell University in 1968 and held the position for the rest of his career. He was instrumental in the design and planning of numerous space missions, including the Viking missions to Mars and the Voyager missions to the outer solar system.

Sagan was also an influential science communicator and popularizer, hosting the television series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” which aired in 1980. The series covered a wide range of scientific topics, including the history of the universe, the origins of life, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

In addition to his television work, Sagan was a prolific writer, publishing over 600 scientific papers and several popular science books. His best-known book, “The Dragons of Eden,” won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1978.

Sagan was a passionate advocate for science education and scientific inquiry. He was an outspoken critic of pseudoscience and paranormal claims and was particularly critical of the use of science for military purposes.

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Sagan’s contributions to astronomy and his work as a science communicator have had a significant impact on the field of science and on popular culture. He was a strong advocate for the use of scientific knowledge to improve the human condition and to promote peaceful cooperation among nations.

Sagan’s legacy continues to inspire and influence scientists, educators, and science communicators today, and he is remembered as one of the most important figures in the history of science.

Embark on a cosmic journey of enlightenment with these profound Carl Sagan quotes about the cosmos, universe, and the wonders of science.

Famous Carl Sagan Quotes

1. “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

2. “Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”

3. “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.”

4. “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. - Carl Sagan

5. “One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”

6. “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

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

8. “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

9. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

10. “Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?”

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11. “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

12. “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

13. “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”

14. “We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.”

15. “It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.”

16. “The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”

17. “We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”

18. “You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”

19. “Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors.”

20. “I don’t want to believe. I want to know.”

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21. “I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.”

22. “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. - Carl Sagan

23. “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

24. “Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.”

25. “The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.”

26. “The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.”

27. “The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.”

28. “The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.”

29. “we make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers”

30. “Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.”

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31. “I consider it an extremely dangerous doctrine, because the more likely we are to assume that the solution comes from the outside, the less likely we are to solve our problems ourselves.”

32. “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”

33. “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

34. “The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.”

35. “The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.”

36. “She had studied the universe all her life, but had overlooked its clearest message: For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

37. “If I finish a book a week, I will read only a few thousand books in my lifetime, about a tenth of a percent of the contents of the greatest libraries of our time. The trick is to know which books to read.”

38. “If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.”

39. “It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English – up to fifty words used in correct context – no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.”

40. “Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.”

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

42. “The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.”

The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas. - Carl Sagan

43. “In all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.”

44. “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.”

45. “In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with Annie.[Dedication to Sagan’s wife, Ann Druyan, in Cosmos]”

46. “You have to know the past to understand the present.”

47. “But I could be wrong.”

48. “But nature is always more subtle, more intricate, more elegant than what we are able to imagine.”

49. “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy”

50. “Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.”

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51. “People are not stupid. They believe things for reasons. The last way for skeptics to get the attention of bright, curious, intelligent people is to belittle or condescend or to show arrogance toward their beliefs.”

52. “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

53. “Books are like seeds. They can lie dormant for centuries and then flower in the most unpromising soil.”

54. “The chief deficiency I see in the skeptical movement is its polarization: Us vs. Them — the sense that we have a monopoly on the truth; that those other people who believe in all these stupid doctrines are morons; that if you’re sensible, you’ll listen to us; and if not, to hell with you. This is nonconstructive. It does not get our message across. It condemns us to permanent minority status.”

55. “We all have a thirst for wonder. It’s a deeply human quality. Science and religion are both bound up with it. What I’m saying is, you don’t have to make stories up, you don’t have to exaggerate. There’s wonder and awe enough in the real world. Nature’s a lot better at inventing wonders than we are.”

56. “The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

57. “One glance at (a book) and you hear the voice of another person – perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millenia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time.”

58. “We are all star stuff.”

59. “We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. 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.”

60. “Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our ignorance about ourselves.”

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61. “My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody who doesn’t believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I’m agnostic.”

62. “If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.”

63. “You are worth about 3 dollars worth in chemicals.”

You are worth about 3 dollars worth in chemicals. - Carl Sagan

64. “We are star stuff harvesting sunlight.”

65. “An extraterrestrial being, newly arrived on Earth – scrutinizing what we mainly present to our children in television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, the comics, and many books – might easily conclude that we are intent on teaching them murder, rape, cruelty, superstition, credulity, and consumerism. We keep at it, and through constant repetition many of them finally get it.”

66. “A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.”

67. “The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.”

68. “Across the sea of space, the stars are other suns.”

69. “We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands.”

70. “Your religion assumes that people are children and need a boogeyman so they’ll behave. You want people to believe in God so they’ll obey the law. That’s the only means that occurs to you: a strict secular police force, and the threat of punishment by an all-seeing God for whatever the police overlook. You sell human beings short.”

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71. “There are native questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

72. “Observation: I can’t see a thing. Conclusion: Dinosaurs.”

73. “It’s hard to kill a creature once it lets you see its consciousness.”

74. “A blade of grass is a commonplace on Earth; it would be a miracle on Mars. Our descendants on Mars will know the value of a patch of green. And if a blade of grass is priceless, what is the value of a human being?”

75. “Every aspect of Nature reveals a deep mystery and touches our sense of wonder and awe. Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries.”

76. “Atoms are mainly empty space. Matter is composed chiefly of nothing.”

77. “There are wonders enough out there without our inventing any.”

78. “We have designed our civilization based on science and technology and at the same time arranged things so that almost no one understands anything at all about science and technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster”

79. “It is said that men may not be the dreams of the god, but rather that the gods are the dreams of men.”

80. “If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.”

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81. “For me, the most ironic token of [the first human moon landing] is the plaque signed by President Richard M. Nixon that Apollo 11 took to the moon. It reads: “We came in peace for all Mankind.” As the United States was dropping 7 ½ megatons of conventional explosives on small nations in Southeast Asia, we congratulated ourselves on our humanity. We would harm no one on a lifeless rock.”

82. “National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.”

83. “Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

84. “Sailors on a becalmed sea, we sense the stirring of a breeze.”

85. “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

86. “Not explaining science seems to me perverse. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.”

87. “An organism at war with itself is doomed.”

An organism at war with itself is doomed. - Carl Sagan

88. “There are no forbidden questions in science, no matters too sensitive or delicate to be probed, no sacred truths.”

89. “Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe. It is, in a way, the opposite of Chaos. It implies the deep interconnectedness of all things. It conveys awe for the intricate and subtle way in which the universe is put together.”

90. “Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgement, the manner in which information is coordinated and used.”

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91. “The visions we offer our children shape the future. It _matters_ what those visions are. Often they become self-fulfilling prophecies. Dreams are maps.”

92. “The visions we offer our children shape the future. ”

93. “Any faith that admires truth, that strives to know God, must be brave enough to accommodate the universe.”

94. “When we look up at night and view the stars, everything we see is shinning because of distant nuclear fusion.”

95. “We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose.”

96. “The lifetime of a human being is measured by decades, the lifetime of the Sun is a hundred million times longer. Compared to a star, we are like mayflies, fleeting ephemeral creatures who live out their lives in the course of a single day.”

97. “We can’t help it. Life looks for life.”

98. “But I try not to think with my gut. If I’m serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble.”

99. “Those at too great a distance may, I am well are, mistake ignorance for perspective.”

100. “We humans look rather different from a tree. Without a doubt we perceive the world differently than a tree does. But down deep, at the molecular heart of life, the trees and we are essentially identical.”

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