(If you’re in a hurry, skip the Carl Sagan biography, and scroll down to Carl Sagan Quotes.)
Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American astronomer, astrochemist, broadcaster and author
Carl Sagan was born into a Russian Jewish family on November 9, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Sam, worked as a garment factory manager and his mother, Rachel, was a housewife.
Five years later, when Carl’s sister was born, the Sagan family moved to New Jersey. At the New Jersey public high school, Carl was voted “class brain” and most likely to succeed.
He wanted to design spaceships, but his family couldn’t afford that kind of education. So Carl accepted a scholarship at the University of Chicago, where he earned a doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics.
Despite being only 27, Carl came across as credible when he first appeared on television to talk about space exploration. At the time he was a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, but he had been connected with the American space program since its inception in the 1950s.
One of Carl’s many duties during his tenure at NASA included briefing Neil Armstrong and the rest of the Apollo 11 crew before their flight to the moon. And together with another American astronomer and astrophysicist, he worked on developing an unalterable, universal message for spacecraft to show extraterrestrial intelligence outside our solar system who we are.
Carl had a gold-anodized aluminium plaque made, with several symbols to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft, and a nude male and female human being. The plaque was attached to the space probe Pioneer 10, launched in 1972. Pioneer 11, also carrying a plaque, launched in ‘73. The religious right was definitely not amused, and denounced a waste of taxpayers' money to send smut into the universe.
Unperturbed, Carl continued refining his idea. The most elaborate message he helped to develop and assemble was the Voyager Golden Record—with sounds, pictures and music from all over Planet Earth—that went out with the Voyager space probes in 1977.
That same year, NASA awarded Carl the Distinguished Public Service Medal (pictured here).
Carl worked at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1962 to 1968. He also lectured as an associate professor and did research annually at Harvard University, while continuing to popularize science on U.S. television.
Passed over for tenure at Harvard, Carl moved to Cornell University in New York in 1968. Becoming a full Professor at Cornell in 1971, he directed Cornell’s Laboratory for Planetary Studies. From 1972 to 1981, Carl was Associate Director of the Center for Radio Physics and Space Research at Cornell.
Always the humanist, he was also the faculty adviser for Cornell Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. And hundreds of students applied each year to take his course on critical thinking, even though only 20 could attend each semester.
In addition to his numerous appearances on television, Carl Sagan became world-famous for writing and publishing more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles, and for authoring, co-authoring or editing more than 20 books.
Carl presented, and co-wrote with his third wife, writer Ann Druyan, the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Seen by more than 600 million people in more than 60 countries, Cosmos is the most widely watched PBS program in history.
His book Cosmos, which reflected and expanded on some of the themes in the TV series, became the best-selling science book ever published in English.
In his life Carl received more than two dozen awards and honours for his many achievements.
After his marriage to Ann Druyan in 1981, Carl became more politically active—particularly in opposing President Ronald Reagan’s escalation of nuclear weapons. When U.S. anti-nuclear and peace activists staged a series of protest actions at the Nevada Test Site in 1986, continuing through ‘87, Carl was arrested on two separate occasions as he climbed over a chain-link fence at the site.
In a cruel blow of irony, this rare individual contracted a rare and deadly disease, myelodysplasia, a bone marrow stem cell disorder. Despite three bone marrow transplants, Carl Sagan died of pneumonia at the age of 62.
CARL SAGAN QUOTES
Carl Sagan Quotes on Animals
- Humans—who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals—have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain.
- A sharp distinction between humans and “animals” is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them—without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret. It is unseemly of us, who often behave so unfeelingly toward other animals, to contend that only humans can suffer. The behavior of other animals renders such pretensions specious. They are just too much like us.
Carl Sagan Quote on Ann Druyan
- In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with Annie. (His third wife)
Carl Sagan Quote on Astronomy
- It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Attitude
- Credulity kills.
- Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
- It means nothing to be open to a proposition we don't understand.
- We can find a resonance, a harmony, between the way we think and the way the world works.
- If you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of sceptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones.
- It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: The most sceptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas.
Long Carl Sagan Quotes on Attitude
- Too much openness and you accept every notion, idea, and hypothesis—which is tantamount to knowing nothing. Too much scepticism—especially rejection of new ideas before they are adequately tested—and you're not only unpleasantly grumpy, but also closed to the advance of science. A judicious mix is what we need.
- If you are only sceptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being sceptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress.
Carl Sagan Quote on Books
- Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors.
Short Carl Sagan Quotes on The Cosmos
- We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself.
- No matter what number you have in mind, infinity is larger.
- The loom of time and space works the most astonishing transformations of matter.
- In the vastness of the Cosmos there must be other civilizations far older and more advanced than ours.
- It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
- In the fabric of space and in the nature of matter, as in a great work of art, there is, written small, the artist's signature.
- The cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths, of exquisite interrelationships, of the awesome machinery of nature.
- If there is life on Mars, then I believe we should do nothing to disturb that life. Mars, then, belongs to the Martians, even if they are microbes.
Longer Carl Sagan Quotes on The Cosmos
- The Cosmos is all that is or ever 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 of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.
- In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival.
- Those worlds in space are as countless as all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the Earth. Each of those worlds is as real as ours and every one of them is a succession of incidents, events, occurrences, which influence its future. Countless worlds, numberless moments, an immensity of space and time.
- The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise.
Long Carl Sagan Quotes on The Cosmos
- Those afraid of the Universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centred 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.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Democracy
- In a democracy, opinions that upset everyone are sometimes exactly what we need.
- That kind of sceptical questioning—don't accept what authority tells you attitude of science—is also nearly identical to the attitude of mind necessary for a functioning democracy. Science and democracy have very consonant values and approaches, and I don't think you can have one without the other.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Early Democracy
- Athens in the time of Plato and Aristotle had a vast slave population. All that brave Athenian talk about democracy applied only to a privileged few.
- Eratosthenes was the director of the great library of Alexandria, the Centre of science and learning in the ancient world. Aristotle had argued that humanity was divided into Greeks and everybody else, whom he called barbarians, and that the Greeks should keep themselves racially pure. He thought it was fitting for the Greeks to enslave other peoples. But Erathosthenes criticized Aristotle for his blind chauvinism, he believed there was good and bad in every nation.
Really Long Carl Sagan Quote on Early Democracy
- Alexandria was the greatest city the Western world had ever seen. People from all nations came here to live, to trade, to learn. On a given day, these harbours thronged with merchants and scholars and tourists. It's probably here that the word Cosmopolitan realized its true meaning of a citizen not just of a nation, but of the Cosmos—to be a citizen of the Cosmos. Here were clearly the seeds of our modern world, but why didn't they take root and flourish? Why instead did the Western world slumber through a thousand years of darkness, until Columbus and Copernicus and their contemporaries rediscovered the work done here? I cannot give you a simple answer, but I do know this: There is no record in the entire history of the library that any of the illustrious scholars and scientists who worked here ever seriously challenged a single political or economic or religious assumption of the society in which they lived. The permanence of the stars was questioned, the justice of slavery was not.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Education
- 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.
- Education on the value of free speech and the other freedoms reserved by the Bill of Rights, about what happens when you don't have them, and about how to exercise and protect them, should be an essential prerequisite for being an American citizen—or indeed a citizen of any nation, the more so to the degree that such rights remain unprotected.
Carl Sagan Quotes on the Future
- The choice is with us still, but the civilization now in jeopardy is all humanity.
- The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
- Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos ancient and vast from which we spring.
- Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide-awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.
- I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.
- We face a critical branch point in history; what we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants.
Long Carl Sagan Quotes on the Future
- It is well within our power to destroy our civilization, and perhaps our species as well. If we capitulate to superstition or greed or stupidity we could plunge our world into a time of darkness deeper than the time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian Renaissance. But we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet.
- We on Earth have just awakened to the great oceans of space and time from which we have emerged. We are the legacy of 15 billion years of cosmic evolution. We have a choice: We can enhance life and come to know the universe that made us, or we can squander our 15 billion-year heritage in meaningless self-destruction. What happens in the first second of the next cosmic year depends on what we do, here and now, with our intelligence and our knowledge of the cosmos.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Global Warming
- The world scientific community has begun to sound the alarm about the grave dangers posed by depleting the protective ozone shield and by greenhouse warming, and again we're taking some mitigating steps, but again those steps are too small and too slow.
- If we keep on with business as usual, the Earth will be warmed more every year; drought and floods will be endemic; many more cities, provinces, and whole nations will be submerged beneath the waves—unless heroic worldwide engineering countermeasures are taken. In the longer run, still more dire consequences may follow, including the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, and the inundation of almost all the coastal cities on the planet.
Very Long Carl Sagan Quote on Global Warming
- Those who are sceptical about carbon dioxide greenhouse warming might profitably note the massive greenhouse effect on Venus. No one proposes that Venus's greenhouse effect derives from imprudent Venusians who burned too much coal, drove fuel-inefficient autos, and cut down their forests. My point is different. The climatological history of our planetary neighbour, an otherwise Earthlike planet on which the surface became hot enough to melt tin or lead, is worth considering—especially by those who say that the increasing greenhouse effect on Earth will be self-correcting, that we don't really have to worry about it, or (you can see this in the publications of some groups that call themselves conservative) that the greenhouse effect is a "hoax."
Carl Sagan Quotes on God
- 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.
- In many cultures it is customary to answer that God created the universe out of nothing. But this is mere temporizing. If we wish courageously to pursue the question, we must, of course ask next where God comes from. And if we decide this to be unanswerable, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always existed?
- Some people think God is an outsized, light-skinned male with a long white beard, sitting on a throne somewhere up there in the sky, busily tallying the fall of every sparrow. Others—for example Baruch Spinoza and Albert Einstein—considered God to be essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe. I do not know of any compelling evidence for anthropomorphic patriarchs controlling human destiny from some hidden celestial vantage point, but it would be madness to deny the existence of physical laws.
Carl Sagan Quotes about Humans
- We are made of star stuff.
- We are star stuff that has taken its destiny into its own hands.
- We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it's forever.
- For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
- Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still.
- As the ancient mythmakers knew, we are children equally of the earth and the sky.
- Every one of us is precious in the cosmic perspective. If a human disagrees with you, let him live.
- For most of human history we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Who are we? What are we?
- We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.
- It is our fate to live during one of the most perilous and, at the same time, one of the most hopeful chapters in human history.
Long Carl Sagan Quotes about Humans
- There are not yet any obvious signs of extraterrestrial intelligence and this makes us wonder whether civilizations like ours always rush implacably, headlong, toward self-destruction.
- For the first time, we have the power to decide the fate of our planet and ourselves. This is a time of great danger, but our species is young, and curious, and brave. It shows much promise.
- The cosmic calendar compresses the local history of the universe into a single year. … We humans appear on the cosmic calendar so recently that our recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31st.
Very Long Carl Sagan Quotes about Humans
- In our tenure of this planet we've accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage—propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders—all of which puts our survival in some doubt. But we've also acquired compassion for others, love for our children and desire to learn from history and experience, and a great soaring passionate intelligence—the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity. Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of the small planet Earth.
- Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group. Initially our loyalties were to ourselves and our immediate family, next, to bands of wandering hunter-gatherers, then to tribes, small settlements, city-states, nations. We have broadened the circle of those we love. We have now organized what are modestly described as super-powers, which include groups of people from divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds working in some sense together—surely a humanizing and character-building experience. If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth. Many of those who run the nations will find this idea unpleasant. They will fear the loss of power. We will hear much about treason and disloyalty. Rich nation-states will have to share their wealth with poor ones. But the choice, as H. G. Wells once said in a different context, is clearly the universe or nothing.
Carl Sagan Quote on Ignorance
- Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our own ignorance about ourselves.
Carl Sagan Quote on Imagination
- Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Knowledge
- History is full of people who out of fear, or ignorance, or lust for power have destroyed knowledge of immeasurable value that truly belongs to us all. We must not let it happen again.
- What counts is not what sounds plausible, not what we would like to believe, not what one or two witnesses claim, but only what is supported by hard evidence rigorously and sceptically examined. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
- The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge and there is no place for it in the endeavour of science. We do not know beforehand where fundamental insights will arise from about our mysterious and lovely solar system, and the history of our study of the solar system shows clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources.
Carl Sagan Quote on Leadership
- Widespread intellectual and moral docility may be convenient for leaders in the short term, but it is suicidal for nations in the long term. One of the criteria for national leadership should therefore be a talent for understanding, encouraging, and making constructive use of vigorous criticism.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Libraries
- I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.
- The library connects us with the insights and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Nationalism
- National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space.
- Fanatical ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support 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.
- Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused—in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us—then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Nuclear Arms
- (The nuclear arms race is like) two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.
- Every thinking person fears nuclear war and every technological nation plans for it. Everyone knows it's madness, and every country has an excuse.
- We've reached a point where there can be no more special interests or special cases; nuclear arms threaten every person on the Earth.
- We have heard the rationales offered by the nuclear superpowers. We know who speaks for the nations. But who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for Earth?
- Even after the summits and the ceremonies and the treaties, there are still some 50,000 nuclear weapons in the world—and it would require the detonation of only a tiny fraction of them to produce a nuclear winter, the predicted global climatic catastrophe that would result from the smoke and the dust lifted into the atmosphere by burning cities and petroleum facilities.
- Our global civilization is clearly on the edge of failure and the most important task it faces, preserving the lives and wellbeing of its citizens and the future habitability of the planet. But if we're willing to live with the growing likelihood of nuclear war, shouldn't we also be willing to explore vigorously every possible means to prevent nuclear war? Shouldn't we consider in every nation major changes in the traditional ways of doing things, a fundamental restructuring of economic, political, social and religious institutions?
Really Long Carl Sagan Quote on Nuclear Arms
- Fundamental changes in society are sometimes labelled impractical or contrary to human nature—as if nuclear war were practical or as if there's only one human nature. But fundamental changes can clearly be made; we're surrounded by them. In the last two centuries, abject slavery which was with us for thousands of years has almost entirely been eliminated in a stirring worldwide revolution. Women, systematically mistreated for millennia, are gradually gaining the political and economic power traditionally denied them. And some wars of aggression have recently been stopped or curtailed because of a revulsion felt by the people in the aggressor nations. The old appeals to racial sexual religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalist fervour are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the Earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet. One of the great revelations of the age of space exploration is the image of the Earth finite and lonely, somehow vulnerable, bearing the entire human species through the oceans of space and time.
Carl Sagan Quote on Patriotism
- Real patriots ask questions.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Planet Earth
Listen to Carl reading from his book, The Pale Blue Dot:
- There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
- The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Carl Sagan Quote on Progress
- Advances in medicine and agriculture have saved vastly more lives than have been lost in all the wars in history.
Carl Sagan Quote on Purpose
- If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Religion
- A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.
- In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed"?
- In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Science
- Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.
- There are many hypotheses in science that are wrong. That's perfectly all right; they're the aperture to finding out what's right.
- If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?
- Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.
- A central lesson of science is that to understand complex issues (or even simple ones), we must try to free our minds of dogma and to guarantee the freedom to publish, to contradict, and to experiment.
- It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works—that white light is made of colours, that colour is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Space Travel
- How lucky we are to live in this time—the first moment in human history when we are in fact visiting other worlds.
- The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. Recently we've waded a little way out, and the water seems inviting.
- The vast distances that separate the stars are providential. Beings and worlds are quarantined from one another. The quarantine is lifted only for those with sufficient self-knowledge and judgement to have safely travelled from star to star.
Carl Sagan Quotes on Technology
- Virtually every major technological advance in the history of the human species—back to the invention of stone tools and the domestication of fire—has been ethically ambiguous.
- 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.
- Our science and our technology have posed us a profound question. Will we learn to use these tools with wisdom and foresight before it's too late? Will we see our species safely through this difficult passage so that our children and grandchildren will continue the great journey of discovery still deeper into the mysteries of the Cosmos?
- That same rocket and nuclear and computer technology that sends our ships past the farthest known planet can also be used to destroy our global civilization. Exactly the same technology can be used for good and for evil. It is as if there were a God who said to us, “I set before you two ways: You can use your technology to destroy yourselves or to carry you to the planets and the stars. It's up to you.”
Carl Sagan Quotes on Truth
- Sceptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
- We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. But to find the truth, we need imagination and scepticism both. We will not be afraid to speculate, but we will be careful to distinguish speculation from fact.
- 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.
- Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practise these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us—and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.
- 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 is simply too painful to acknowledge—even to ourselves—that we've been so credulous. So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.