Jack Catran

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Jack Catran
Jack Catran 1982.png
Born(1918-01-22)January 22, 1918
DiedJanuary 18, 2001(2001-01-18) (aged 82)
Riverside, CA
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
University of California, Los Angeles
University of London
OccupationEngineer, Psychologist, Linguist
Notable work
Is There Intelligent Life On Earth? (1980), How to Speak English Without a Foreign Accent (1986)

Jack Catran (January 22, 1918 – January 18, 2001) was an American industrial designer, behavioral psychologist, scientist, and linguist. He was a NASA human factors engineer on the first Apollo mission and was best known for his refutation of Carl Sagan's attempts to locate extraterrestrial life in outer-space.


Catran was born on January 22, 1918, to a Sephardic Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York.[1] He grew up in the neighborhood of Bensonhurst where he began participating in vaudevillian theater during the 1930s and 1940s,[2][3] and became interested in science as well. He had dropped out of high school but moved to Los Angeles in 1941 where he attended Chouinard Art Institute under the GI Bill.[1] He returned to school at USC and UCLA where he earned his master's degree in psychology.[1] He began teaching technical illustration and perspective drawing at the Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys Adult School, and San Fernando High School where he employed experimental psychology techniques in his methods.[4] He began his career as a technical and industrial designer for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles.[1] He later attended the University of London to obtain his doctorate in psychology.[1] He began working for the NASA Apollo space program as a human factors engineer.[1][5] Meanwhile, he was editor of the journal, Feedback. He also became president of the Beth Daiah Temple.[6] He became an instructor at the experimental Cal State University, Northridge[7] where he taught such controversial classes as "Charm and Sex Appeal."[8]

In the early 1980s, he wrote a series of articles in the New York Times,[9] the Chicago Tribune,[10] the Los Angeles Times,[11] Newsweek,[12] and the Humanist [13] in response to the attempts of some cosmologists, primarily Carl Sagan, to theorize and locate the existence of intelligent life in outer-space. In 1980, he wrote the underground classic Is There Intelligent Life On Earth [2][14] which thoroughly attempted to refute the whole idea of SETI. In the book he also argued that the global monetary system is the central cause of societal ills and that eventually the money system would give way to a moneyless technologically governed society that would eliminate waste, poverty, and crime.[1][15] He was also one of the few scientists to argue that humans are probably alone in the universe.[1] Catran appeared on radio and television arguing his point. A national television show attempted to arrange a debate between Catran and Sagan, but Sagan turned it down.[1]

He later became interested in linguistics and became a consultant for 20th Century Fox.[16] He trained such actors as John Belushi[17] and Richard Burton to speak with various accents.[2] He would eventually write a series of books and audio tapes entitled How To Speak English Without A Foreign Accent which provided exercises for speakers to lose accents across fifteen different languages. He became a prominent radio show host in the 1980s and 1990s in Los Angeles area,[17] hosting a show on KGIL where he assisted callers in eliminating their accents.[2][18]

Catran published Walden Three in 1988. Following on the philosophical and ideological orientation of B. F. Skinner's Walden Two, it was a 422-page science fiction scenario with occasional sections of biographical memoir, both of which centered on the life and philosophy of Jacque Fresco via pseudonymous protagonist "Jack Tedesco."[19][20]

Catran later hosted the midnight show, Brooklyn Bridge, featuring entertainers from the 1930s and 1940s.[21] He published his last book, a novel, in 1994. He died January 18, 2001 in Riverside, California..



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rolfe, Lionel (1998), "Unpopular Science", Fat Man On the Left, Los Angeles: California Classics Books, pp. 160–164, 170–171, ISBN 978-1-879395-01-5
  2. ^ a b c d Remy, Holly O. (June 9, 1993). "Accenting the Positive". The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, CA. pp. D1.
  3. ^ "Schwartz Play Will Continue". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. May 3, 1953. pp. IV3.
  4. ^ I. "Illustration Class Offered By Two Valley Schools". Van Nuys News. Van Nuys, CA. Feb 3, 1957. pp. VII5.
    II. "Youth Classes". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. May 14, 1959. pp. 14A.
    III. "Technical Writing Course Planned at Adult School". Van Nuys News. Van Nuys, CA. Jan 19, 1961. pp. 18C.
  5. ^ Stein, Mark (Aug 24, 1980). "Waste of Money, He Charges". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. p. 2.
  6. ^ "Beth Daiah Guest Talk Announced". Van Nuys News. Van Nuys, CA. May 12, 1967.
  7. ^ "Teacher Says Men Prefer Sexy Women". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. Nov 2, 1975. pp. V9.
  8. ^ Sahagun, Louis (March 7, 1982). "Experimental College Survives Odd Courses". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. pp. IX7.
  9. ^ Catran, Jack (Dec 4, 1980). "NASA Scientists In Orbit". New York Times. New York, NY. pp. 31A.
  10. ^ Catran, Jack (Sep 15, 1981). "A Word of Caution for UFOlogists". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. p. 27.
  11. ^ Catran, Jack (Aug 19, 1982). "Flushing Out Space Fallout". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. pp. II11.
  12. ^ Catran, Jack (Dec 20, 1982). "E.A. = Enough Already". Newsweek. New York, NY. p. 18.
  13. ^ Catran, Jack (Sep–Oct 1982). "Space Sneeze Causes Earth Colds: Evolution According to Hoyle". The Humanist. Washington, D.C. pp. 32–33.
  14. ^ Shuster, Fred (July 30, 1990). "Accent On Versatility For KGIL's Catran". Los Angeles Daily News. Los Angeles, CA. pp. L23.
  15. ^ Dorff, Ralph L. (Aug 24, 1980). "Is There Intelligent Life On Earth Review". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. pp. 8–9.
  16. ^ Beller, Miles (Dec 5, 1985). "Modern-Day Henry Higgins". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. p. 1.
  17. ^ a b Rutherford, David (March 19, 1986). "Former Radio Star Helps People Lose Accents". Los Angeles Daily News. Los Angeles, CA. p. 3.
  18. ^ "Linguist positive foreign accents". Houston Chronicle. Houston, TX. Nov 22, 1987. pp. III10.
  19. ^ Kirsch, Jonathan (June 15, 1988). "From Flawed World to a Flawed Utopia". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. p. 8.
  20. ^ Vier, Gene (Aug 7, 1988). "'Walden' Insightful But Overlong". Los Angeles Daily News. Los Angeles, CA. pp. L28.
  21. ^ "Radio Has Something For Everyone". Los Angeles Daily News. Los Angeles, CA. Jan 10, 1992. pp. L58.