The Great Sagan

BookI am reading again of Immanuel Velikovsky, this time of his public interactions with Carl Sagan, widely regarded as a go-to source in the field of astrophysics. I am reading a book by Charles Ginenthal, who apparently had low regard for Sagan. I have read much of Sagan’s popular work, and would not call him a fraud. However, he did not put actions behind his words, and that is Ginenthal’s complaint, as will be apparent below.

Ginenthal published Carl Sagan & Immanuel Velikovsky in 1995, and so knew of the transparency of the Sagan figure long before I even knew of Velikovsky. I take heart that Sagan, who died in 1996, must have known of Ginenthal’s work, published a year earlier. But of course, being Sagan, he would have smugly set it aside. (Ginenthal has also written Stephen J. Gould and Immanuel Velikovsky and Newton, Einstein and Velikovsky. Hallelujah! I’ve been dying for fresh reading material.)

What interests me most in the Velikovsky matter is how few people accessed him directly rather than via Sagan and others. We are dealing with the phenomenon of reliance on authority figures. It is understood that the general public runs to supposed experts to form opinions on everything from astrophysics to zoology*. The news of our day is littered with “experts” called to weigh in on every subject. Hardly any are truly expert, so that the regime of so-called experts is nothing more than another means by which the public is kept in a state of dark ignorance.

In the Velikovsky matter, Sagan took a front and center posture, and it wasn’t just the public that hid behind him. It was the scientific community as well. Velikovsky was viciously attacked by prominent people who had not read his work and would refuse to do so. But most relied on Sagan to put him in his place.

The Velikovsky figure has caught my attention not because of his work, most of which I have read. I am not qualified to pass on it, but I have also read those who are so qualified. The work has withstood a lot of criticisms over time and many of his theories have been shown to be reliable, such as the temperature, rotation, and surface features of Venus, and the fact that even today it has a comet’s tail, though it is not visible to us. Further, Earth and Venus appear to be tidally locked, that is, when they reach their closest points in their respective orbits, we always see the same face of Venus. That means, I am told, that they were once very close.

That is all above my pay grade, but I love the intrigue. The truth is that Velikovsky appeals to me because of his contrarian views. He’s my kind of guy. I don’t truck with the ‘go with the flow’ crowd, never have.

Looking back I now see that Carl Sagan was set up to be the voice of science, given wide public exposure via the means most often used to control the herd, television. His Cosmos series caught the public mind. The images and science of that series is so deeply ingrained now it is regarded as the ‘real’ science of our existence in space. This was the Great Sagan at his best.

That shows me that much of science is a confidence game. I have come to know and understand that Stephen Hawking, the real man, died in 1985, and was played for decades thereafter by actors. Why? At least in part it is because the Hawking name had a Snopes quality about it, a place where people would go for the “final answer.” (Snopes is fake too, I know.) When Stephen Hawking spoke, the world listened. They needed to keep that image alive, and so kept the man alive in our minds.

Here is a story that has been bugging me for some time now:

“At the end of the day, he drove me back to the bus station. The snow was falling harder. He wrote his phone number, his home phone number, on a scrap of paper. And he said, “If the bus can’t get through, call me. Spend the night at my home, with my family.”

I already knew I wanted to become a scientist, but that afternoon I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become. He reached out to me and to countless others. Inspiring so many of us to study, teach, and do science. Science is a cooperative enterprise, spanning the generations.”

[Neil deGrasse] Tyson eventually went to Harvard for his undergrad, but he says: “To this day I have this duty to respond to students who are inquiring about the universe as a career path to respond to them in the way that Carl Sagan had responded to me.”

Tyson, with the help of Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow, has redone the Cosmos series, though I do not sense it has caught on like the original. He has also become the public voice and face of science. He proudly proclaims to all within shouting distance that “I am an astrophysicist.” Such bravado is, to me, off-putting. I wonder why he is so assertive about something that is well-known about him. Hmmm.

I have long wanted to delve into the deGrasse Tyson figure, as I suspect that like Sagan, he is more a public voice than a public mind. I don’t question that he has the education and credentials he is cited as having. That would be too cynical. I don’t doubt that, like Sagan, he has a high IQ. But the story told above about snow and a bus stop and Sagan inviting him to his home that night … reads like apocrypha. I don’t buy it. I don’t think it happened. I think it is merely a means by which DeGrasse Tyson supplanted the late Sagan as the public face of science, a connection dreamed up by writers to assist Tyson in stepping into Sagan’s shoes. It is a tale written as back story to give him credibility.

The following from a Quora thread by a fellow named Mark Eichenlaub, listed only as having studied at Johns Hopkins. Credentials aside, I loved his ability with prose.

“Tyson is a science popularizer, and one of the few good ones active today.

The main job of physics popularizers is the same as it is for any celebrity: get more famous. Most do this by finding increasingly mindfucky things to say that are just barely justifiable in modern physics, if you turn your head and squint hard enough. So you get sound bites from Brian Cox saying that when he moves some crystal around, all the electrons in the universe respond instantaneously and the whole universe is all one big connected web, or Lawrence Krauss telling us there’s definitely no God because the whole universe popped out of nothing, or Hawking declaring that philosophy is dead, or Michio Kaku saying that cyborg hypercube superhumans will mindmeld with topological aliens made out of dark energy Calabi-Yau manifolds (or whatever he’s talking about these days). Theoretician popularizers who refuse to go down this road (Steven Weinberg, Sean Carroll, Scott Aaronson, Kip Thorne) don’t seem to reach the same level of popularity.

Tyson finds his voice elsewhere. He’s effective at talking about science. He stays on top of astronomy and planetary science news, understands the fundamentals of physics and astrophysics, and is good at explaining them. However, his message is not primarily about the content of scientific discoveries. Instead, it’s rooted in science as a shared human endeavor. Tyson tells a story of cooperative discovery and exploration, like Sagan did. He recounts history (accuracy of Cosmos notwithstanding), talks about modern space exploration, and looks towards where we will go next. That tack separates Cosmos from the endless modern physics documentaries with the fundamental message “Shit be trippy, yo!”

I’ve taught astronomy to teenagers at a summer camp the last two summers, and they all knew and liked Tyson. He inspires children and young adults, advocates for science in society, and is a strong voice on the issues of equity and access for people from all backgrounds that science struggles with today, and will continue to struggle with for a long time. (see Neil deGrasse Tyson on stereotypes, societal expectations, and women and minorities in science). He’s grounded in a time when so few others are, and he makes it work.

I saw Tyson speak sometime when I was in college, maybe a decade ago. He wasn’t a household name at that point; I didn’t know who he was. It was only some time after he became one of the leading American science popularizers that I realized I had seen him speak.

At the time, I found his delivery offputting. He walked out from behind the podium during his talk, bent over at us with his hands on his knees, and practically shouted when he wanted to emphasize a word. The level and delivery of the talk didn’t fit the setting, but ultimately he was effective. I don’t remember what the precise event was, who any of the other speakers were, or what they said, but I remember Tyson. He said huge expensive projects like going to the moon or building the pyramids have always been driven by war, religion, or insane dictators. Since there’s no war right now, religion doesn’t want to go to Mars, and the US doesn’t allow insane dictators, we won’t be going to Mars. He was almost right, but what he didn’t see coming was Elon Musk privatizing insane dictatorship.

I don’t see much point in evaluating Tyson as a research scientist, although I understand it’s inevitable that physicists will do that. Physicists aren’t his audience. He doesn’t have Nobel-worthy technical chops or the sparkling creativity of Richard Feynman or George Gamow (or Randall Munroe, for that matter), but that’s not the role he’s trying to fill. He’s a public figurehead for astronomy and space exploration, and he’s doing it very well.”

In my view, considering that we have yet to reach the moon, talk of going to Mars is but another scam to loot the public treasury. Public scams need popular advocates. John F. Kennedy must have known in May of 1961, when he made his famous statement about putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade, that he would by then be a fallen hero whose words would create enormous public support. He was part of the scam.

I digress, as always. Eichenlaub did not like the way Tyson presented in public, found him off-putting. I find him to be glib and easy and well-spoken. He has a sense of humor, and can own a room. This does not fit with my image of a scientist, as the nerdy Sagan did. He is more like a master of ceremonies cracking easy jokes between boring speeches.

Carl Sagan had remarkable skills in use of language. He was not funny, but he was skilled in wrapping words around ideas, polishing the science of his time and giving it credibility due to gravitas of his verbiage. Take, for example,

“Scientists, like other human beings, have their hopes and fears, their passions and dependencies – and their strong emotions may sometimes interrupt the course of clear thinking and sound practice … The history of science is full of cases where previously accepted theories and hypothesis have been entirely overthrown, to be replaced by new ideas that more adequately explain the data. While there is an understandable psychological inertia – usually lasting about one generation – such revolutions in scientific thought are widely accepted as a necessary and desirable element in scientific progress.” (Broca’s Brain, a quote I clipped from Ginenthal’s work.)

This is where I have the problem with Sagan – not that he was not an effective public salesman for science, not that he did not write and speak with eloquence. The question here is not the validity of his statement, which is dead-on. It is whether he lacked self-awareness, or was knowingly providing window dressing for his colleagues. In the Velikovsky matter he was the leading force in suppressing the new ideas, the revolution that is only now (and slowly) gaining more traction.

The problem with Sagan, and perhaps Tyson as well, is that in performing their duties as public spokesmen for science, that they, whether knowingly or not, give us the wrong image. Science is not at all as they preach to us. It is not open to new ideas. It is a club that is hostile to outsiders. Sagan only softens that notion with his words a above. Scientists went to great lengths to destroy Velikovsky because he was not in the club. As Ginenthal points out in the pages of Carl Sagan & Immanuel Velikovsky, Sagan went beyond mere unfairness, and introduced misrepresentations and even outright lies into his attacks on the man. He cannot be both the the man who wrote the quote above and the man that so scurrilously demeaned Vilikovsky. He was not genuine.

That shit not be trippy.


*I remember listening or reading Noam Chomsky one time. He was listening to sports radio, and was impressed at how callers and hosts routinely criticized players, coaches and owners and questioned decisions both on and off the field. That does not happen, he said, in other areas of this American life.

25 thoughts on “The Great Sagan

  1. Och, Brian Cox, the ex-popstar-cum-boffin, who’s strike me as just another BBC puppet scientist. They even have a large black woman talking sound bites waffling on about nothing and looking self-satisfied (a BBC-type giveaway).
    https://realclimatescience.com/2016/08/brian-cox-shows-exactly-how-science-isnt-done/
    “Brian Cox smugly pointed to a NASA graph, and said that it must be accurate because it was made by the people who put men on the moon. He said that anyone who disagreed with him probably didn’t believe we ever put men on the moon.”

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  2. On Neil DeGrasse Tyson; I never felt he was intelligent or insightful and I highly doubt he is trained as an astrophysicist. Maybe some introduction classes and then trained to become the actor he is. I am Neil DeGrasse Tyson, b*tch!:

    Note that ODD is a Flat Earther, unfortunately, but apart from that I like his material and how he approaches things, this video summarizes what a masonic actor Tyson is.

    John le Bon also made a video interviewing people outside a venue in Australia where DeGrasse Tyson was speaking for an attendance fee of like 50 Australian dollars or so. A good video too, only accessible for (free) foundation members.

    “The Great Sagan” I have seen much less of, before my time, but he was obviously pushing the alien agenda and the Global Warming-now-rebranded-as-Climate Change BS.

    Sagan joined the Ryerson Astronomical Society, received a B.A. degree in laughingly self-proclaimed “nothing” with general and special honors in 1954, and a B.S. degree in physics in 1955. He went on to earn a M.S. degree in physics in 1956

    A “degree in nothing with special honors”, how does that work? And since when do Bachelor and Master degrees take just 1 year? Well, scripted (masonic) actors of course get them handed on a plate like that.

    Sagan had a “Top Secret” clearance at the U.S. Air Force and a “Secret” clearance with NASA. While working on his doctoral dissertation, Sagan revealed US Government classified titles of two Project A119 papers when he applied for a University of California at Berkeley scholarship in 1959. The leak was not publicly revealed until 1999, when it was published in the journal “Nature”. A follow-up letter to the journal by project leader Leonard Reiffel confirmed Sagan’s security leak.

    I imagine such a thing indeed may have happened by accident in 1959, it is the “40 year anniversary publication” that is the controlled narrative I think. Reinforcing the Nuke Hoax too, as if his Space Travel, AGW and SETI stuff was not enough culture creation already:

    In 1958, the two [Kuiper, of the Kuiper belt, and Sagan] worked on the classified military Project A119, the secret Air Force plan to detonate a nuclear warhead on the Moon.

    He was admittedly jewish on both sides, which is not necessarily a problem, but his curious family name comes from Zagan. His jewish family, completely shown on Geni, came from western Ukraine and Poland and I suspect the surname hails from the tiny town of Żagań.

    That village looks very suspicious, for a small place it almost has the status of a Cambridge (but then without university) or Langley…

    Curiously, the last Peculiar Plot “happened” in… Zagan! From “The Great Escape” to “The Great Sagan” in just 2 clicks…

    And who spent the last 2 years of his life there? Astronomer Johnny Kepler, what are the odds!?

    Also, the last member of the powerful Hohenzollern dynasty in Europe was born in the castle of Sagan/Zagan and “LGBT activist” Ilse Kokula, Nazi Richard “Club” Kunze and illusionist (“magic artist” in German) Wiljalba Frikell were also born in this spooky town.

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    1. Wow! Great addition to this post.

      Regarding the video, it is unfortunate that he is FE, as it ruins his credibility with me, but then, take what is good, discard the rest.

      I hesitated to attack Tyson, the man, because he is black. There, I said it. In the same manner Obama was able to advance so much of the agenda of the corporations and the right wing because he was black (Democrats, feeling themselves above mere mortals, refused to take him on and went along because he was black). So I feared that if I went after Tyson as having a fake education and being just an actor, I was setting myself up for accusations of racism. So I left it be.

      I am wondering, however, as Sagan, Tyson, Hawking are all hiding something, maybe in the case of Sagan and Tyson, unknowingly. Hawking we know to be an actor. What is it? It is not that the earth is flat. But it is something about the nature of space, the cosmos, the solar system … maybe that we are prisoners on this planet due to the radiation belt, and have never gone further than 350 miles up. Maybe that secret is so important that we need guys like Tyson to protect it at all costs. Could it be that simple?

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      1. Consider where the whole Space Travel “meme” came from. It started with “science” fiction. It is no secret the drivers behind NASA and the Space Travel hoax were fiction author Arthur C. Clarke and Walt Disney. Preceded by the ones in the early 20th and late 19th century; H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, George Méliès’s Voyage dans la lune and many others. And what about the admitted hoax of 1835, propagated by “respected” astronomer John Herschel, son of William, the “discoverer” of Uranus (that had been observed long before but not described as such), and archived at The Museum of Hoaxes, a must-read website I shared before here? It is Chris Kendall’s favorite hoax, he covered it in a Hoax Busters Call.

        Coincidentally, fellow HBC’er Adam Miller, whom I talked with last night, uploaded a video about Sagan a couple of days ago. His blog I linked at mine, maybe an idea to link in the blogroll here too?

        I don’t believe even 350 miles is possible, Mark. The Kármán line, set at 100 km/60 miles probably is the very highest possible; it is the “boundary” (zone) between atmosphere and space. I have elaborated on this topic in detail at various sites, you can find a summary of my views about this on my blog, linked as “Impossibility of Space Travel”.

        “THE purpose” is a hard nut to crack I think, because there never is just one purpose and the various purposes may differ in importance, depending on your personal views. The “Space Race” only kicked off after WWII and together with the Nuke Hoax they served to instill a huge dialectic in the minds of the people; the great “awe” of what beautiful achievements mankind could make to travel in space (I fell for this big time, in a similar way as ODD admits in his video), combined with the great “terror” of the achievement to destroy Earth with enormous bombs and lethal radiation till the end of days (“duck and cover”).

        Confuse and conquer.

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          1. Brian May is also responsible for this:

            I once read that both he and Roger Meddows-Taylor (the drummer) still did the Lottery, which according to one old rock star was ‘a tax on the stupid’.

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      1. Roger Meddows Taylor is also fishy, I should I say Fysh-y. One of his distant relatives was called Thomas Christmas Fysh, who had two sons marry Taylors whilst a third Charles would have a daughter who married a Hickman who married Roger’s papa.
        The Fysh family are at – http://www.ballfamilyrecords.co.uk/earl/I261.html
        Roger Taylor’s line is scrubbed for some reason.
        ‘Queen had been playing the club and college circuit in and around London for almost two years when the band had a chance opportunity to test out the new recording facilities of De Lane Lea Studios. ‘ (‘Chance opportunity’ from wikipedia).

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    2. @Gaia

      Thank you for the positive mention of my video about NDT. I have just now modified that page to be available to Free Members of the site, so anybody who is interested can watch the video for themselves, without having to pay the USD $14 to sign up to the site.

      For those who don’t have time/inclination to watch the 13-minute video, basically here is what happened: NDT toured Australia in the middle of 2017 and his show in Brisbane was at an open-air venue, which meant that people like myself could listen to his presentation without paying the $100 (yes, $100!) ticket price to get a seat. So this is what I did: I listened to his performance, and watched the audience reaction in real-time.

      And that is exactly what it was: a performance. The dude is a comedian, his act is a well-scripted and well-rehearsed comedy routine. I don’t personally find his comedy funny, but I give him credit for having his set down pat: the man is good at what he does (even if I don’t believe that he does is in and of itself good). He speaks calmly, confidently, and with a certain gravitas which appeals to people on a fundamental level.

      Basically his set is structured like this:

      a) Go through a list of numbers, from small to large, and interject with Scientism claims which are supposedly relevant to the numbers e.g. millions of stars in the galaxy, billions of cells in the human body, blah blah blah.

      b) Inject some normie-tier humour (no different to the Big Bang Theory TV series i.e. only a moron could genuinely find it ‘funny’) at every opportunity.

      c) Throw in the occasional criticism of non-believers.

      Seriously, it is like a cross between a ‘science’ ‘lesson’ for children, a lame comedy act, and a religious sermon. And the audience LOVED it. I can’t stress this enough. They were on the edge of their seats. Their reverence for NDT has to be seen to be believed.

      Previous to this, I did not realise just how religious modern Scientism really is. I understood the concept of ‘science = religion’ in theory, but this was my first exposure to it in this kind of setting, among the devout believers, in person, up close, at one of their ceremonies.

      I also managed to get a man-on-the-street interview which was fun.

      Anyway, thanks again for the mention, Gaia. Much appreciated. Hopefully a few people check out the video and get a better sense of what I am talking about here. So far as I can tell, having seen what I have seen, there is no stopping Scientism, the believers absolutely LOVE it, and their grand priests are treated like gods on earth.

      What a time to be alive.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “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.”

    I wonder what he was talking about specifically?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Regarding Carl Sagan, it has only been in the last year or so that I have become more familiar with the impact of his work on the masses circa 1980s, especially via his ‘Cosmos’ series.

    Mark wrote:
    “Looking back I now see that Carl Sagan was set up to be the voice of science, given wide public exposure via the means most often used to control the herd, television. His Cosmos series caught the public mind. The images and science of that series is so deeply ingrained now it is regarded as the ‘real’ science of our existence in space. This was the Great Sagan at his best.”

    Indeed. For one example, have any of you guys looked into the so-called ‘Library of Alexandria’? The story goes that a great repository of information existed in the form of a tremendous library in the long long ago, but it burned down or otherwise disappeared, and with it went so much valuable scientific and historic progress, setting mankind back hundreds if not thousands of years.

    I decided to investigate that story for myself, and soon discovered that one of main propagators of this story is none other than Carl Sagan.

    By tracing back through the sources of the story, I soon came to learn that the ‘Library of Alexandria’ is in fact a HOAX. It never existed. The story of the Library only came into being in the past couple hundred years. Before that, nobody had ever head of it, because it never existed. The entire story is fiction, believed by the masses because the masses believe authority.

    See this simple flowchart to get a better understanding of how the Library of Alexandria myth came into being:

    The overlap between official ‘science’ and establishment ‘history’ is much greater than it may at first appear. The cultural impact of Carl Sagan provides a case study in this regard.

    What a time to be alive.

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  5. Professor Brian Cox has just been on the TV namedropping Sagan, and how he put him aside for ten years to pursue other stuff (pop career) and then rediscovered him. He looked like he was wearing a Queen tshirt underneath his hoody – It’s a kinda Magic?

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    1. I saw Dr. Brian May plugging his new book alongside co-author David Eicher, ‘Mission Moon 3-D’ on ‘Going Underground’ on RT last week. The story tellers said that man landed on the moon in the year of ’69, ecc. , and spoke of how those brave souls learnt to take pictures so quickly and in sequence in their cumbersome spacesuits to enable 3D images to be produced for their new book nearly 50 years later. Incredibile.
      They must have missed this:

      Like

      1. This is one of the reasons for the fake voices of science, the Hawking’s, Cox’s, Sagan’s and deGrasse Tyson,’s … to reinforce the lies. If the smartest men in the world, which is how they are projected on us, believe we put a man on the moon, who’s to argue?

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