In one of his last interviews, Carl Sagan warned the public about questioning government officials who had no skill or capacity to lead a growing society.
Carl Sagan was highly respected for bringing the wonder of the cosmos to a mainstream audience. He balanced aspirations of human evolution with guiding advice about potential dangers to our existence.
Politics Are Obsolete
We live in an age based on science and technology with formidable technological power. And if we don’t understand it, and by we I mean the general public, if it’s a ‘oh I’m not good at that and I don’t know anything about it’. Then who is making all of the decisions about science and technology that will determine the kind of future our children live in, just some member of congress? There are only a handful of members of congress who have any background in science at all.
There’s two kinds of dangers, One is what I just talked about that we’ve arranged a society on science and technology in which no one understands a thing about science and technology. And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is sooner or later going to blow up in our faces. Who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people do not know anything about it?
We Must Question Everything
And the second reason I’m worried about this is science is more than a body of knowledge, it’s a way of thinking. A way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility, if we are not able to ask skeptical questions to interrogate those who tell us something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan political, religious who comes along.
It’s a thing Jefferson laid great stress on, it wasn’t enough he said to enshrine some rights in a constitution or bill of rights, the people had to be educated and had to practice their skepticism and their education otherwise we don’t run government, government runs us.