09 December 2015


by Andy Weddington
Wednesday, 09 December 2015

Already readers familiar with commentary format are wondering, "Where's the tone-setting opening quote?"

There is a quote but it's too long for offer as opening. 

Today's quote is the book - from first word to final punctuation mark, 'Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

Simply, Dr. Sagan brilliantly contrasts science and its practitioners and pseudoscience and its practitioners.

And "brilliantly" is grossly understating his thoughts and translation (into prose). Regrettably, no matter how good, something is always lost - words are not thoughts but (agreed upon) symbols thereof. 

I know many scientists. 

And I know many artists. 

Alas, an artist's not scientist's eye is mine. 

I see not arts and sciences but sciences inclusive in arts. For there is no pseudo art. 

Further, I see pseudoscience as art, too.

Though a painter, I know a little something about sculpture and pottery. 

Some sculpture I own. One piece, a bronze by a long-time friend, I marvel at daily - always seeing and thinking something anew. It's a figure of a nude woman seated awkwardly. It's beautiful. Spectacular, I think. Acquired in a trade, for a portrait, it was - a treasure. 

Too, I own pottery. A lot of pottery. Some thrown for purposes beyond mere decoration but the decorative my favorites.

The sculptor and the potter are artists indeed but they are scientists, too.

Casting a bronze proof.  

The potter throws pottery with aim of firing without cracks. There's a lot of science, like casting a bronze, behind the process. 

Though pots with cracks, too, have inherent beauty but are typically appreciated not by the masses. What do they know? 

And then there's crackpots. Crackpots - those deemed eccentric maybe even nuts, crazy, or insane. But whom is really qualified to make such definitive declarations? 

Scientists (a subset of artists, in my mind) believe pseudoscientists to be crackpots. 

All crackpots are artists. And artists, more so than scientists proper, see the merits of crackpots - as necessary to sorting untruth from truth. Though the untruth is art. 

So in pseudoscience there is both scientific and artistic value, as strange and as confusing as it may seem. 

What is truth? 

What is untruth? 

To spoil Dr. Sagan's book, I'll not offer thoughts.

Then what is the point of today's commentary?

To recommend 'Demon-Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark'

It's an important book! Pardon the pun, it's enlightening. 

The intellectually curious and starving will not delay getting and devouring it. And thinking about it. 

The hungry will wait.

The ignorant will ignore, clinging to their pseudo world. For ignorance, too, is a protected condition in America (encouraged and even mandated in some parts of the world) as is its consequential behavior manifested in thinking, speaking, and acting stupidly. 

But to all, before opening Dr. Sagan's book, I again recommend as primer, 'Semantics and Communication' by John C. Condon. 


Because our world is one great big puzzle - of which we see little and understand less. If not first schooled in how to "see" you cannot see truth amidst untruth. That is, to be sane amongst the unsane.

Though not opening with a quote now one by the good Dr. Sagan, "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."


Life is art

Art is life

Now, how best to punctuate, if at all, those two three-worders is my closing question?

Post Script

I regret not having had opportunity to meet Dr. Sagan and swap thoughts over a cup of coffee. How grand it is that man's a time-binder and we have his words forever (however long that may be) captured. Now not to waste - and stay in the dark. 


Anonymous said...

I am a scientist in its truest form. I have always had an inclination for investigation and interpretation. In this I have been schooled from my youth, by the marine Corps as an intelligence analyst, in college, and as a practitioner during by work history as a research chemist. I can tell yo, I have met many crack-pots during that time.

Anonymous said...

I have read and commented on errors and anti-science in several of Carl Sagan's books, even sending my remarks to his publisher. Sagan replied to me in a letter simply asking me to buy his newest book. I never bought one of them, but checked them out from the library. Sagan was a smug liberal hypocrite. His books have the ring of science, but when carefully scrutinized, fall short for a number of reasons. He mocks and ridicules Ronald Reagan, conservatives, Christians, Jews, and plays fast and loose with facts. If the author would contact me, I would provide him with details on Sagan's serial ignorance, condescension, and errors.