Talk:Carl Sagan/Archive 5

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Archive 1 Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5 Archive 6


Poverty of critical sources

I've removed a section sourced to Stanton Friedman, a conspiracy nut. I've removed a statement that Sagan "Sagan spent very little time researching UFOs", sourced to somebody called Westrum, because it's shown to be clearly false by material already in the article. --TS 18:24, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

I've reinstated the section because this is not justification; the criticisms and justifications are sourced, cited and genuine. To slur character immediately implies non-neutral POV. Please consult NPOV. Please also read the sources by Friedman and referred to by Friedman and argue against them on a proper basis (your personal views of Friedman are not such a basis, I have similarly dim views of Sagan when it comes to this topic). Cheers Holon (talk) 00:22, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
It's not a matter of my personal point of view, but of Friedman's. Reading our article on Friedman, I see that he is educated to Masters level in physics but terms himself an "expert" in UFOs. He believes that some UFOs are visitors from other planets, and that members of the government are aware of this but conceal it. He is therefore a conspiracy theorist by defintion and holds other fringe views. --TS 18:14, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
You referred to Friedman as a "conspiracy nut". That is not neutral. You state it is Friedman's view, but provide no sources whatsoever. Friedman has argued members of government have concealed information, but also that this was justified to some extent. Please consult definition of conspiracy. It's debatable and to me a moot point; many conspiracies are fact. The problem is that you used the clearly non-neutral term "conspiracy nut". Have you consulted the sources? If your position is not verifiable as a mainstream one, it is simply opinion, not verifiable as requred. Holon (talk) 01:06, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Aunt Entropy, can I ask you please elaborate on what you consider a "fringe view" regarding, as specifically related to the material you deleted, before any further deletion. Cheers Holon (talk) 01:13, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

The article is about Sagan - not ufology. WP:Weight applies as well as WP:RS and WP:Fringe. Put in the ufology article perhaps. Vsmith (talk) 01:25, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

The section is about Sagan's views on UFOs and so your argument makes no sense to me. The quote is directly relevant to those views and I actually have no idea what the objection is to a verifiable criticism (verifiable as a both a primary source and a source that references a second primary srouce; namely a high-profile USAF report. Please detail what you consider the relevance of WP:RS and WP:Fringe. In the interests of assuming good faith, I will leave this for a while to see whether there is a satisfactory reason for avoiding. Cheers Holon (talk) 02:28, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

This Westrum fellow and Friedman are appalling sources to use. They're basically ufologists, fringe individuals in a field that Sagan investigated as part of his academic work in astronomy and space science. Their opinions hold no weight. It is hardly a problem for Wikipedia that I refer to Friedman as a conspiracy nut, any more than it's a problem that I refer to Fleischmann and Pons as proponents of fringe science. Writing with the neutral point of view requires us to evaluate sources, not to pretend that all sources are equal. --TS 06:55, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
Sagan did not investigate UFOs. His is the fringe opinion. Have you read the sources you dismiss? I have read Sagan. When it comes to UFO research, Sagan is not mainstream. Astronomers do not study UFOs. You cannot have it both ways: saying that ufology is fringe then claiming Sagan has expertise in fringe science! SETI is not, by definition, UFO investigation. As I'm sure you're aware, the point is not whether Sagan's or Friedman's views are true, the point is whether they are verifiable and prominent. There is a whole section on Sagan and UFOs. I suggest either the whole section is reduced to an absolute minimum, or it contains balanced views, including those from prominent sources on the topic. Sound fair? Holon (talk) 09:40, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
See WP:FRINGE for an explanation of why Ufologists don't define what is mainstream and what is not. --TS 17:04, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
Strawman and disingenuous. Sagan's opinion on UFOs is in the minority on that topic. Seems my question is beyond you. To repeat it: does that sound reasonable? I'll assume from continued lack of response that either (i) it does sound reasonable or (ii) you have no grounds for claiming it to be unreasonable. Holon (talk) 00:37, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
The article is a biography. Suppose we write an article about someone who is pro-life. Should the article include mention of their pro-life beliefs? Certainly. Should we include rebuttals from pro-choice writers? No - it's a biography, not an argument. We're simply recording on this page the facts about Sagan and his beliefs / positions. It's certainly worth mentioning in a sentence or two if an expert of similar notibility to Sagan has publicly disagreed with his conclusions, but ultimately if people want to learn about UFOs and read debates about UFOs, there are many detailed articles that provide that information. If Sagan's views on UFOs are worth including on THOSE pages, that is where the rebuttal should happen - not on this page. You initially said that you would leave the issue for a little in order to assume good faith, but immediately responded to TS accusing him of making disingenuous strawman arguments and asserting that your opinions were beyond his understanding, which does not seem to me to be assuming good faith. I think TS is being very dismissive of what you've said, so I can understand your irritation, but please be careful with your wording - without cues like tone of voice and body language, it can seem to have a belligerent edge. (talk) 05:24, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
Apologies, but this just repopped on my watchlist due to 152 above - ArbCom has discredited Holon's line of argument - "The prominence of fringe views need to be put in perspective relative to the views of the entire encompassing field; limiting that relative perspective to a restricted subset of specialists or only amongst the proponents of that view is, necessarily, biased and unrepresentative." The encompassing field for UFO research is either astrophysics or aerospace engineering. In either, Sagan's opinion on UFO's is in the vast majority. Hipocrite (talk) 13:08, 25 February 2009 (UTC)


The article states, "Carl Sagan was born in the gay city of Brooklyn", Ive no idea if this is a small bit of vandalism , or whether thats truly a name for Brooklyn. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:15, 3 March 2009 (UTC)


Much of Sagan's work, combined with mythology and ideas from Qabalah, makes it possible for person's seemingly less gifted to comprehend some of the deeper thoughts of vocabulary within the cosmos. Cybertronics75.248.44.137 (talk) 21:48, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Sagan's beliefs

Hi DreamGuy, I'm wondering how you decide what constitutes trivia? Do you have a clear definition? Cheers, Blippy (talk) 13:39, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Not so clear that people with histories of adding POV content advancing a specific cause would agree to if it meant their favored opinion couldn't be mentioned, no. But the info in question clearly does not fit there, as we're talking about how he's considered a skeptic, then suddenly focus on very specific information going against the main skeptic but getting more space devoted to it than the main skeptic info (WP:UNDUE violation), and then switches to basically saying that despite him maybe thinking these paranormal ideas might not be total nonsense (not discussing all the ones he thinks are) he's not strictly an atheist, which doesn't flow at all. DreamGuy (talk) 14:34, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
I see what you mean about the break in flow - although that was there before my edit. Perhaps the bit about not being an atheist should go above the CSICOP bit to flow directly from the quote about god. I think it's quite notable that Sagan made these comments - in fact I was a bit shocked to discover that they don't seem to be anywhere in WP that I could find. So I'd say that under his Personal Life & Beliefs would be the ideal spot, and I don't think a 1% inclusion could be considered WP:UNDUE!! Unless you can direct me to where WP:UNDUE specifies the exclusion of notable comments I'd have to say that I think inclusion is both important and appropriate. In any case I think we can agree that it isn't a trivial comment - he distinctly published it, it wasn't just an offhand comment - which arguably the god quote was (where did that come from BTW?? I just noticed that the ref doesn't provide the detail). Thoughts? Cheers, Blippy (talk) 15:07, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Link to The Nuclear Winter

Hello, Sagan's bibliography includes 'The Nuclear Winter', a pamphlet published in 1983.

Would it not make more sense to have listed The Cold and the Dark, the much more extensive 1984 book he co-wrote with Paul Ehrlich? —Preceding unsigned comment added by TheDirtyDigger (talkcontribs) 00:41, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

500 million or 600 million?

Resolved: Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 12:32, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

In the first part of the article:

He is world-famous for writing popular science books and for co-writing and presenting the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which has been seen by more than 600 million people in over 60 countries


According to the NASA Office of Space Science, it has been since broadcast in more than 60 countries and seen by over 500 million people.

It would be nice if someone fixed this with the correct information. (I do not fix it myself because I do not know the correct figure.) Thanks in advance. (old request accidentally erased)--Antonielly (talk) 17:53, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

And a year and a half later... Two different refs give 500 million, so I've updated this article and Cosmos: A Personal Voyage accordingly. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 12:32, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Disagreement in sources?

According to this source: [1], shows that Sagan had BS and MS degrees, whereas this reference: [1] shows that the degrees are AB and SM degrees. Which is "correct" or which should we use? Hires an editor (talk) 20:15, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

  1. ^ Spangenburg, Ray; Moser, Diane (2004). Carl Sagan: a biography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. xv. ISBN 0-313-32265-1. 

Second reference is from the University of Chicago, his alma mater. Further digging produces [2] which says S.B. etc. I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that the University who awarded the degrees probably know which they are. (talk) 21:45, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

Ok, I asked a simple question, and didn't get a great answer, except for snarkiness, which wasn't necessary. There should be some extra explanatory note about why UChicago lists its degrees that way, since it's unusual, in spite of their elite university status. Hires an editor (talk) 12:45, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Source of Star Trek related Quote

The Quote in the Star Trek Episode Terra Prime "Whatever the reason you're on Mars, I'm glad you're there, and I wish I was with you." is mentioned. Does anybody know whether Sagan actually said that? And if anybody has a source it would be nice to add it. And if the quote is fictional, I think this could be mentioned. --Maweki (talk) 16:36, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Carl Sagan left a message on the Phoneix Lander, as part of the "Messages from Earth" element of the project. The quoted passage is right at the end of Sagan's speech. You can find a copy of the message at: I'll see if I can add the source to the article soon. Icemotoboy (talk) 04:52, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

National Academy of Sciences membership

Why isn't this controversy covered in the article? Viriditas (talk) 10:46, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure what controversy you're referring to, but it doesn't seem to be discussed in the talk page archives, so I'd guess it's not covered because no-ones added coverage yet. Feel free to do so, remembering WP:UNDUE, of course. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 05:46, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
There is only one controversy concerning Sagan's NAS membership and this topic is covered in great detail in RS. I'm frankly surprised that it isn't mentioned, and that makes me question the accuracy of the article in general. Viriditas (talk) 07:51, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Could you explain what it was? ---Irbisgreif-(talk | e-mail)-(contribs) 00:45, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
I could, but it might take me a while, due to the amount of biographical data on the subject. In a nutshell, he was denied membership. Viriditas (talk) 04:39, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Okay. Get togeather some of this stuff, RS and such, and add it. ---Irbisgreif-(talk | e-mail)-(contribs) 05:51, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Power Macintosh 7100

Speaking of "undue weight" the material regarding the Power Macintosh 7100 is not only poorly written, but poorly sourced. Devoting this much material in a biographical article to two sources, one of which is The Mac Observer and the other a primary source interpretation of a court case (Sagan v. Apple) is ridiculous. Also, the editorial opinion consisting of "the point was entirely lost on him" is neither neutral nor encyclopedic. Viriditas (talk) 08:39, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. I've removed the sentence you quoted but that section certainly needs to be further trimmed. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 11:55, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I have not previously read about the Apple/Sagan issue, but I just checked the online refs (including Notable litigation of Apple Computer#Libel dispute with Carl Sagan) and found zero confirmation of the claims currently in the article. Have any current editors verified the text? Note that ref 30 has a totally different interpretation of the event, with a quote from Sagan saying "My endorsement is not for sale" (nothing about pseudo science). Johnuniq (talk) 01:50, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I am not sure of the way about this but the line "This was intentional as Apple engineers had used the names from what they felt were the three greatest science frauds of the twentieth century." seems very suspect (to me at least), especially since it is not cited. Seems to be an opinion. I would like to vote to have it removed. Protesilaus (talk) 16:46, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
That entire paragraph was vandalized by (talk · contribs).[3] I'm correcting it now. Viriditas (talk) 09:05, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Vandalism on the subject of Marijuana

Why are there so many vandalous edits about Sagan and Marijuana? Is this the face of some conspiratorial [on whose part?] attempt to blacken his character? Or, much more likely, did Sagan ever make some sort of statement prone to misinterpretation? This is an issue that needs to be addressed. RadicalTwo (talk) 03:54, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Can you be specific with regards to the "vandalous edits", maybe provide a diff? Carl Sagan admitted to marijuana use and contributed to "Marihuana Reconsidered" [sic] under the pseudonym "Mr. X". That information is indeed included in this article, sources and all, under "Religious stance and social concerns". —BorgHunter (talk) 14:54, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Look to the recent (reverted) edits. Quite a few concern this. RadicalTwo (talk) 21:37, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Viral Video

Why is the Sagan viral video "Glorious Dawn" not considered suitable for this page? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:47, 28 September 2009

Needs a reliable source. Youtube is not a reliable source. Vsmith (talk) 19:00, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
For commentary on Sagan, it is not a RS. For noting the existence and ratings of the video itself, it is an RS. However, there is no need to mention that video in this article anyway. Irbisgreif (talk) 16:30, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
Why would there be no need to mention the presence of the video and song in an article about Carl Sagan (or Stephen Hawking's article for that matter). Using the words of two brilliant scientists to create a song and music video is a pretty significant example of their impact on popular culture and continuing influence in today's world. I don't think it needs a great deal of mention, but a note in a section of Carl Sagan and impact on popular culture would be relevant. (talk) 22:33, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
Oh, I agree, it's an awesome video, I love that song. It's just not “mainstream” enough to warrant inclusion. Irbisgreif (talk) 22:55, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Not mainstream enough?! Dude, it's playing here in AUSTRALIA. When you cover the globe with it, I think you're mainstream enough without a record contract! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:05, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Then please, feel free to find WP:RS that verify it being well known. Irbisgreif (talk) 06:18, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
Fine then. Wired Magazine, and NPR's "All Tech Considered". [4] and [5]. I believe that will suffice. (talk) 03:57, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Okay, so it seems even with sources there are editors that do not want this included. So, I'm going to make my case: The properly sourced content was included, and then reverted, because the editor feels "not every mention of Carl Sagan should be included, it's not helpful". I would tend to agree. However, this is a case highlighting Carl Sagan's impact on modern day popular culture, more than a decade after his demise. The section is sourced, is relevant, and is legitimate. All hurdles for inclusion have been met, except for battling personal opinions. I will revert the removal, with a note to see this explanation in the talk page. (talk) 23:40, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

I'm in no hurry and will leave the text for now, but putting three links for trivia is over doing it (and somewhat promotional) in my opinion. The "Popular Culture" section adds no encyclopedic information about Sagan. The links confirm that someone is promoting their talent using Sagan; the links do not confirm that the event is notable or helpful in this article. Johnuniq (talk) 23:56, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I disagree. Even a decade after his death, Sagan is influencing popular culture. I have no doubt though that the artist behind this does intend to promote his talent, however that is not what the inclusion is about. The three links was done to satisfy sources requirement, and they were done as references to keep from being promotional (fewer people are going to go through the references to locate the link). It has been removed, and I won't be reverting it or adding it again, unless it becomes a topic that graces the pages of the worlds largest newspapers, the network news, and other news. However, even at that time I feel getting the group of editors that patrol this page to agree upon its inclusion will be next to impossible. (talk) 19:17, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the video belongs here, and I believe that the IP user makes a valid point. It has been noted in reputable, noted, respected sources. What more need there be? Hires an editor (talk) 19:55, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Erm, some actual evidence for that assertion? Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 17:02, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Would you mind explaining what you believe to be "Actual Evidence"? Because if you're looking for "actual evidence" that the creation of song and video are not influences on popular culture, I unfortunately don't think there would be anything that could be said to sway you, because from my interpretation you've missed the point that production itself highlights an influence into popular culture. Perhaps I'll also research the number of views the production has encountered on YouTube to help illustrate impact. (talk) 00:50, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't think this is the right approach. The fact is, 3 newsy type sources doesn't seem an unreasonable number to need. I don't know why 3 isn't enough. They fit the definition of reliable source, and by that definition make it notable. Hires an editor (talk) 01:36, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
I would say that we now have WP:RS. Feel free to include the information. ---Irbisgreif-(talk | e-mail)-(contribs) 04:52, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
The only reliable sources shown so far confirm that an artist has made a rapper video by manipulating images of Sagan. Naturally the daily news outlets with a science interest will report the matter, but that is no reason to think that it should be included in this article. See WP:TOPIC. Johnuniq (talk) 07:16, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
If I may make a correction to your argument: The production in question is not a "Rapper Video", as it is neither Rap, nor is it done in that style. Furthermore, you assert that the inclusion of news articles thereby indicates it is being included simply for news notoriety. Much like the style of music, you miss the reason for the recommended inclusion, as I have stated repeatedly above. Furthermore, as of this time 1,269,773 views have been recorded and counting. Carl Sagan was known for attempting to popularize science, and more than a decade after his demise he is still working on that goal, through others. If not needing it's own section, perhaps it should be mentioned in the section about his attempt to popularize science? (talk) 08:54, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Jack White released it on vinyl last month. That's gotta be worth something.--Tylerelliott (talk) 06:04, 4 December 2009 (UTC)


The attempts to list multiple religions, as well as the claim that Sagan was an atheist (not a humanist), MUST be sourced. If a WP:RS can't be found that shows this, I'm going to remove it again in the next couple of days. Him seeming like an atheist does not mean we can categorize him as such. ---Irbisgreif-(talk | e-mail)-(contribs) 05:22, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

Apologies Irbisgreif, I hadn't realised your edit was a reversion to the long-standing version. I was only reacting to your edit summary (humanism and agnostic atheism are perfectly compatible). I agree with you and Finell that humanism is a much better summary and more consistent with cited sources, so I've reverted myself and added a <!-- note asking for no further changes without gaining consensus at the talk page. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 06:02, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
Had I started the discussion myself, it wouldn't have been an issue. Do you think a source for Sagan as a Humanist could be found? It's a good idea to source that. ---Irbisgreif-(talk | e-mail)-(contribs) 06:50, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
Would this be a valid source? I am looking for others. Protesilaus(talk 16:21, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Just a comment: for anyone who does not take a religious stance, would it be better to list their religion as "None," "N/A," or something similar? I wouldn't call Humanism a religion (if, as in Carl Sagan's case, it's Secular, rather than Religious Humanism that one subscribes to). I also wouldn't call agnosticism or atheism religious views or a religious stance. Might it be better if we just listed "None (Humanist)" or "None (Atheist)" for those who lack religious views? --Alexc3 (talk) 13:50, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
The present usage is consistent with the current guidance at Template:Infobox scientist. If you want to discuss this it would be best to keep discussion consolidated at Template_talk:Infobox_scientist#Religion. There are links to past discussions in that section. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 14:03, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

Nuclear Winter

I note no comment on the fact that this Nuclear Winter hypothesis turned out to be entirely false. Once you run the numbers it turns out that is you assume the worst about every factor, you still don't get a significant nuclear winter scenario. Jokem (talk) 23:38, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

The Wikipedia article on Nuclear Winter seems to disagree with you. (talk) 22:05, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it is there as a superficial treatment, and not in this article. Jokem (talk) 08:13, 5 December 2009 (UTC)


If Prophesy in modern media should evolve, please let me know... Wikipedia Cyberspace: Dictionary, Cybernetics. A.I. Atmospheric Integration75.201.176.177 (talk) 22:16, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Whaa...? -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 22:34, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Involvement in NASA

This article states "[Sagan] attended the University of Chicago, where he participated in the Ryerson Astronomical Society[5], received an A.B. with general and special honors (1954), an S.B. (1955) and an S.M. (1956) in physics, before earning a Ph.D. degree (1960) in astronomy and astrophysics."

The article then goes on to say "Sagan was a scientist connected with the American space program since its inception. From the 1950s onward, he worked as an adviser to NASA."

Given NASA was created was in 1958 it is ambiguous if not misleading to write "from the 1950s onward, he worked as an adviser to NASA."

I suggest also that the terms S.B., S.M. and Ph.D. be spelt out. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:20, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

I would agree to spelling out S.B. and SM Most people know what a Ph.D. is but may not know what a S.B. is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Willbennett2007 (talkcontribs) 20:21, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

He is clearly an atheist

The definition of atheist is "someone who does not believe in a god or someone who does not make the positive claim that he exists", since this is the consensus view on the wikipedia atheist page we should use this definition. Using Agnostic is completely incorrect, firstly it has nothing to do with belief only with knowledge and secondly Carl Sagan has not stated that he thinks it is impossible to determine the existence of god or gods, which is a moot point because then he would be an agnostic atheist.

I am aware he has said that "An atheist has to know a lot more than I know." and that he claim that he was an agnostic, but a rabbit claiming to be a wolf is still a rabbit.-- (talk) 15:03, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

This is not so clear to all, IP-210.... And a rabbit could never do such a thing. Humans, on the other hand, make claims all the time. We must respect the claims Carl Sagan made about himself, and at the same time we must also respect that his actions at least seemed to support his personal claim. In any case, encyclopedias are all about facts. And the nearest this encyclopedia can come to the facts about Sagan's personal religious views are supportive of his being an agnostic humanist. Not an atheist. If you can furnish evidence supporting your claim that Sagan was an atheist, then by all means let's see it. Otherwise, you are practicing what Sagan truly loathed: You believe something based solely upon faith, and not upon evidence. So I'm afraid your claim is original research per WP:OR, and it was removed from the article.  .`^) Painediss`cuss (^`.  03:08, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Unlike most religions, atheism is not "self-declared". Atheism is not a religion, but a property or characteristic of a person (like baldness.) Carl Sagan can claim anything he likes about what he thinks he is or what he thinks atheism is. But if he does not believe in god, then he is atheist. --Qed (talk) 07:05, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Right and i suppose that if a guilty man claimed he was innocent but was found guilty we should respect the claims he made about himself. No because wikipedia is about FACT as you so rightly stated, Just because he got the definition of agnosticism wrong doesn't mean we should respect it.
Anyway you asked for evidence and I shall deliver
Why Carl Sagan could not possibly be an agnostic
def: A person who claims that they cannot have true knowledge about the existence of God
Carl Sagan in The Demon Haunted World p.278 argued that the idea of a Creator of the Universe was difficult to prove or disprove and that the only conceivable scientific discovery that could challenge it would be an infinitely old universe.
-This is significant because he does believe that certain facts about the universe could disprove a god, making it impossible to believe the contrary agnostic position, ie that if we discovered an infinitely old universe.
"If some good evidence for life after death were announced, I'd be eager to examine it; but it would have to be real scientific data"
- not directly to do with god but you get the picture I'm sure there are more quotes of this nature around too
Evidence that Carl Sagan got the definition of an agnostic wrong in his life time.
"An agnostic is somebody who doesn't believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I'm agnostic."
-again this is not the definition of agnostic
"The question [Do you believe in God?] has a peculiar structure. If I say no, do I mean I'm convinced God doesn't exist, or do I mean I'm not convinced he does exist? Those are two very different questions."
-again this is not the definition of agnostic, this is in fact the exact definition of a weak atheist
Evidence that Carl didn't at least believe in the traditional 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"
In an interview with The Humanist magazine conducted after Sagan's death, his wife, Ann Druyan, said that neither she nor Sagan believed in a traditional God or an afterlife.
He is clearly an atheist —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:17, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
bah i can't be bothered getting in a editing war, but consider that the term agnostic is misleading and implies something else than Carl Sagan's meaning. (talk) 05:24, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, IP 210..., that's good! Because neither you nor anyone else has been able to come up with verifiable facts (per WP:Truth) that Sagan was an atheist.  .`^) Painediss`cuss (^`.  06:48, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Who changed it to Atheist? Sagan said explicitly that he was not an atheist and did not take sides because there were not enough facts. He referred to both believers and nonbelievers in the 3rd person. He is agnostic. I am going from the horse's mouth. I am changing it. This article also says Sagan isn't an atheist and it is listed under an agnostic section.

Savagedjeff (talk) 16:36, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

Carl Sagan wasn't a SELF-DECLARED atheist. That doesn't mean he's not an atheist. It doesn't matter what he says he was, it matters what he believed. --Qed (talk) 07:05, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

(out) What matters is what can be verified. I doesn't matter what he says he was, nor does it matter what he believed. All that matters to Wikipedia is what can be reliably verified about what he said and what he believed.
 —  .`^) Paine Ellsworthdiss`cuss (^`.  07:10, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

QED, you are amazing. You're getting emotional over nonsense. You simply picked a definition of agnostic that you felt worked for you. Agnostic can be used to express a lack of certainty in the existence of non-existence of God, or it can more strongly posit that the existence of God cannot be proved or specifically demonstrated. The quote you give does not show that he believes that the existence of God could be disproved; he claimed it could "challenge" the existence of God. Ultimately, however, it challenges a particular conception of God, and not the existence of God per se.

As an FYI, logically, the existence of an infinitely old universe doesn't itself preclude the existence of God, because you are still thinking of causes in linear time (and then you have to ask, what caused time?), whereas someone like Aristotle, who believed in God (although, not the Abrahamic god) followed in the Greek tradition in his belief in the eternity of the Universe. Furthermore, theologians will tell you that the Universe does not in fact require a beginning in time (time is also a concept which is murky, and thus cannot be applied simplistically as you might want to conveniently do so), even if you are to interpret Genesis literally. In fact, the single, most central characterization of God in Judaism, unique in this respect in an explicit way, is highlighted in the statement "I am that I am" which elevates the notion of God to the existential principle, "to be". (However, the definition many operate on is a Cartesian-Kantian take most likely). --~~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:17, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

I'm going to try to bring this article to featured status again

Between Dec 20 and Jan 2 I'm going to start making changes to make this article Featured again, since it lost its status. Anyone who wants to help me during that time just give me a shout. I know it's a big task bring an article to featured in 2 weeks, but I'm going to try.--Everyone Dies In the End (talk) 08:46, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

Guess I'm all alone here.--Everyone Dies In the End (talk) 08:15, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
You're not totally alone :-(
Bringing an article like this to FA is a lot of work, and most contributors probably don't want to commit to too much over Christmas. Why not try to improve this article as much as you can over that time, paying special attention to the issues raised in the last review, then re-assess in the new year?
Real life commitments stop me from writing much, but I'm fairly familiar with WP:MOS and I'm an ok copyeditor, so I can help a little in those areas.
Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 13:54, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
If you want to bring it up to snuff... start with this sentence:
Whilst Sagan was outspoken about political issues, the popular perception of his characterization of large cosmic quantities continued to be a sense of wonderment at the vastness of space and time as in his phrase "The total number of stars in the Universe is larger than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the planet Earth", however this famous saying was widely misunderstood, as he was in fact referring, in his Cosmos series, to the world being at a "critical branch point in history where our actions will propagate down through the centuries" as in the following quote from Cosmos: A personal Voyage: Episode 8: Journeys in Space and Time: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:59, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Snake chopped; thank you. Feel free to be bold and fix such things yourself. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 03:42, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Extraordinary Claims & Evidence

I feel like it's difficult to know where this idea started, but it seems strange to suggest Laplace. Hume might be a better choice ("No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact which it endeavours to establish") but I'd suggest just removing it (talk) 07:19, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Truzzi sites both the Hume quote and Laplace as the origin (plus "later writers") and links forward to Sagan. The question of origin is referenced. Rather than keep adding quotations, something like "drawing on ideas going back to Locke and Hume" might be in order.Novangelis (talk) 12:45, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Carl Sagan’s Indigo Children

The last sentence of the lead currently says: "He remains a respected figure for many people in the generation growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s" with a reference to someone's fan club blog. I do agree with the respected figure statement, but deducing it from this source looks like inappropriate wp:SYNTH from a questionable source. So I boldly removed the statement. If someone can find a proper source for this, please undo... DVdm (talk) 20:50, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

I put in the statement and the reference. The post linked to describes a generation well into their forties now, that the Wikipedia reader may or may not identify with, and expresses concerns similar to the ones leading Sagan to write The Demon Haunted World. I find it extremely surprising that user DVdm dismisses the site as someone's fan club blog in a clear indication that no close look was really made. Otherwise, and because someone's fan club blog will be fan of something or someone, maybe DVdm will be forthcoming with the what or who the site is a fan of. The other objection is that the source is inappropriate or questionable under a Wikipedia directive ludicrous in what concerns the post. I would very, very easily concede the source is unreliable had DVdm come up with sentences like "the post states so and so, and that cannot verified," or "the post states so and so, and that is false," or "the post states so and so, which experts agree is untrue." Any of these would do. Instead, in the absence of a federally funded Texas Board of Education approved, list of reliable sources, or even a blacklist of unreliable sources, it seems user DVdm labeled the source unreliable for the simple fact that DVdm never heard of the writer... which would also obviously mean anyone DVdm never heard of cannot carry a valid argument because DVdm never heard of the person. Of course, I will accept DVdm labeling of unreliable when and if DVdm does get to read the post, and comes up with inaccurate statements and errors of fact. Deep Atlantic Blue (talk) 17:36, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
Being a long time fan of Carl Sagan myself, having read all his books, having seen Contact three (or was it four?) times, I had a look at this webste with the intention to verify the source (you know, like in WP:V). Alas, nowhere did I find anything that could directly (or even indirectly) warrant the statement "He remains a respected figure for many people in the generation growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s". Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that this is a 100% true statement, but this site is not a source for this statement. If I overlooked something, please show me. But even then... the text is signed by an anonymous author going by the name "Catch 22". And there is a little test where we can check whether we belong to the club. I scored 8 out 10, so count me in as a representative specimen of the club. And the remainder of the text looks like a --sorry-- fan club letter to the members. And then there are four responses from surfers, just like in any blog. Now, I am sorry if my choice of words has offended you in any way. That was not my intention. But really, if you have a look at our core policies, I don't think there is any way that this can be a reliable source for the statement. Surely, there must be tons of wiki-better sources for this? DVdm (talk) 18:13, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for taking notice of my comment and answering to it. If you check my userpage you also notice that edit disputes are not my thing, but if we are taking fact I will engage. So let's take your objections one by one. You say 1) "I had a look at this website with the intention to verify the source" so you agree the statements are there to be read and are indeed verifiable; 2) "nowhere did I find anything that could directly (or even indirectly) warrant the statement: [...]" you mean apart the title, the description of a demographic and cultural references, you concede you belong to? If describing Carl Sagan as a central iconic figure for a whole generation does not validate the statement "He remains a respected figure for many people in the generation growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s" I wonder what would; Perhaps "iconic" would be more to the point than "respected." 3) You state that the author is some anonymous "Catch 22." If you click Catch 22 to the /author/ page there's a real name there. There's a real name in the whois for the domain too. So what exactly do you object to? That Sagan is central to a whole generation of people that share many cultural references that go beyond just Sagan's books, to include other people that he worked with or knew personally? Was the description of that generation incompetently done, the shared values not the ones that apply, that you even identify with to some extent? Exactly what do you object to? Allow me to suggest (in somewhat dry humor), that your true objection to the specific post is that it was not written by Stephen Hawking. Had it been an absent-minded pronouncement by Hawking about some subject he did not think much into, and perhaps people would be jumping all over the place with excitement. Otherwise, it seems, sentences that can be read, sentences that can be understood, have no reference value, so you think it seems. Deep Atlantic Blue (talk) 20:34, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
As to your implication of the site being some club or something, did you check in it anything other than that specific post? Perhaps, say, homepage... would have you rethink the whole fan club thing? Deep Atlantic Blue (talk) 20:36, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
I will make this short and clear. I went to the website to verify whether the statement (bolded, see above) can be found in the source. It cannot be found in there. So it was a "falsely sourced statement", which is not acceptable on Wikipedia. Moreover, the source really does not qualify for Wikipedia. Do have a careful read of the policy Wikipedia:Verifiability and the guideline Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources. I'm sorry, but that is the way it works. DVdm (talk) 21:26, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

I am sure you will be glad to learn that all references I know of linking to that specific site, which in your expert opinion is a "source [that] really does not qualify for Wikipedia" have been removed. I pledge not to make any more edits whatsoever in Wikipedia because I know expert editors like you are all over the place, improving Wikipedia in ways my feeble understanding does not grasp. "I'm sorry, but that is the way it works." Point taken. Deep Atlantic Blue (talk) 23:14, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

I have to confess your last statement did make me go ballistic, for reasons I'll clarify. Notice that you pointed out a few reasons to disqualify the site as a source that either were wrong or that I straightened out in a claim by claim basis. Additionally, I supplied to you a few specific reasons you could use to do the same, or think up your own in the same lines. To this you neither concede you were wrong in the specifics, nor come up with new ones. Notice for instance your claim that "the statement [cannot] be found in the source" thus it cannot be used, if it were a criteria in the rigorous absolute way you adamantly say it is, the whole Wikipedia, every single entry, would consist of a string of quotations. In response to the specifics I was talking about, you produce the categorical statement "the source really does not qualify for Wikipedia," throw in two Wikipedia directives, without bothering to go to the specifics of them and state exactly how they backup your categorical statement. Going into the specifics of them, however you'll find that some things are allowed, some are disallowed, there's a line between them, and more importantly, there's a reason why there's a line between them. One thing about identifying reliable sources, for instance, is that your own personal tastes and opinion about content should not be the underpinning of your assessment. Yes, that's what I said: your assessment. That takes understanding and it was the whole point of Sagan's work in his latter years. Anyway, you didn't bother with the specifics of the directives, because your categorical belief and the existence of the rules completely prove your case. There's that saying about nothing is worse than an educated idiot with a Rule Book but I wouldn't know if this applies here. If my statements still do not make it through to you, I suggest we file in a Dispute Resolution ticket within Wikipedia. Deep Atlantic Blue (talk) 18:37, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
I will have to show you a few more Wikipedia directives, but this time I will bother to go into some specifics:
  1. Look at WP:BURDEN, which is part of WP:V to which I pointed earlier. It says: The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation. Read the remainder of the section as well.

    So there really is no dispute to be resolved. There is a statement to be backed up by a real reliable source (as in WP:RS), not by someone's personal website.

    Now today I actually spent a few hours trying to find such a source. I failed. As one example, Google Books finds five books mentioning both "Carl Sagan" and "Indigo Children". If you can show that one of these books supports the bolded statement (see above), then we can take it on board. So, please do your best. Carry the burden and find that source. I would really like to have the bolded statement in the article, but it must be properly sourced, otherwise it has no place in Wikipedia, because, which brings me to the other directive:

  2. Look at WP:V where it says in the first line: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true."
  3. Look at WP:POINT, example 3. That is what you did earlier when you went "ballistic". That is called disruptive behaviour. It also says: Such tactics are highly disruptive and can lead to a block or ban. Please note, that it was not I who made you go ballistic. It was Wikipedia's policies who did it. If these policies are not compatible with your personality, philosophy or style, then perhaps Wikipedia is not the best suited place for you to make contributions.

    Anyway, I notice that you have restored the lot. One of these days I might have a look at some of them to check whether they qualify. If there's a problem, I'll let you know on your talk page before I revert. There is no need to discuss those on this talk page.

So, I did my share of the work today, looking for a good source and going into some specifics of the core policies. Your time to do some work, not to question or fight the policies, but to go out and find that source. Cheers - DVdm (talk) 19:48, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

It is a bit hard to carry the burden of proof, when there acoustic vibrations in air, they impress your eardrums but you still say you're not listening. Did I carry the burden of proof? I did. Is the source verifiable? It is. Is the statement appropriate? You agree it is. Does the source validate the statement? It does. Is there any reason to distrust the source? I can't see one but you are welcome to pinpoint any. This said it seems we both have too much time to sit on our heads, and we're going to a pretty pointless discussion, the likes of which, I really abhor. Let's agree on two ground rules. They are sensible, and I think you will accept them. 1) STICK WITH YOUR POINTS. This means that if you think something and state it, you'll recognize you took a hit and acknowledge refutation when refutation is produced. Otherwise, you'll be doing the Apollo Hoax, 2012 stunt, of responding to refutation by going off into a completely different direction, being refuted again resulting in new, fresh and wilder claims. 2) DEFINE A THRESHOLD BY WHICH YOU'LL ACCEPT YOU ARE WRONG. By this point in the discussion the items of disagreement should be clear to you, and refutation of all of them will mean you are wrong. Right?

About other links to the site under dispute. You seem to think you are making sort of a naughty threat about them as in "One of these days I might have a look at some of them to check whether they qualify," but you fail to notice that if you decree the specific site unreliable here (and I am talking of reliable only) the site is unreliable everywhere in Wikipedia. You need not bother yourself removing the links, because I'll remove them myself. Ain't that what I did when going ballistic? Perhaps one hindrance with them though, is that instead of hinging on your own personal sense of taste and style, those other links deal with mathematics and physics, abiding by the usual standards of proof, that anyone with a bit of knowledge of math and physics can check.

So let's get back to Carl Sagan's page. I would think the issues here would be 1) Is the statement appropriate and does it enrich Wikipedia? 2) Does the source validate the statement in ways that enrich Wikipedia? 3) Is the source reliable? It seems I carried the burden of proof of all three. The first you agree with. The second I disposed of when asking about if description of demographics and shared cultural values did not carry the day for you. The third is in the statement, that you did not challenge, that the only reason you have to consider the source unreliable (I assume you did not find anything objectionable by reading the post, and I trust you read the post to have an informed opinion) is that you never shook hands with the author. Otherwise, you got angry with the Hawking reference, but what if the author was Klutzitky Randomor who happens to have a PhD in Sagan Studies, as all educated people know? Don't you think that if there was anything unreliable in the specific post the community would notice, BY READING IT? Did you get to read it, anyway?

This seems not to be enough for you and there are the issues of process, so let's throw away any hint of common sense. If you demand the statement to be a direct quote, a huge fraction of all Wikipedia is out. If you find improper a link to a Internet source, roughly half (my estimate) of all links are out too. You demand it to be verifiable. It seems you may not know what verifiable means. Perhaps in your version of the English language, verifiable may mean something else, but verifiable means you can check it. You don't go beating round the bush with diversionary issues, because verifiable means you can check it. Anyone can verify and attest to this, even if only those belonging to the exclusive club of who understands English. So is the source verifiable? Well, can you read?

It seems that AGAIN I carried the burden of proof. What exactly are you objecting to, not covered here? I would suggest this go to Dispute Resolution. I think it is an incredible waste of both our time, if I have to yet again tell what words mean, how they get organized in sentences, and what you are supposed to understand from written speech. Ordinary speech or Wikipedia directives, same thing. If you do not know the meaning of ordinary words, there's no point in discussing what the Wikipedia directives say, wouldn't you agree? So let's agree to disagree and call arbitration. Unless for you this is an ego dispute, in which case I am not participating. Heh, you could win... Deep Atlantic Blue (talk) 00:02, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

I think we are talking about this edit which added "He remains a figure of reference for the generation growing up in the late 1970's, early 1980's." (btw the apostrophes should be omitted) with this as the reference. While the statement is undoubtedly correct in some sense for some people (e.g. those who often edit this article), the statement is far too vague and overly generalized for use here (what is a "figure of reference" exactly? what proportion of the generation are we talking about?). Then there is the awkward issue that the statement is an interpretation of a blog (a rather good blog, I actually read one interesting page), and it is synthesis to extract this statement from that reference. Also, it would be very hard to have this blog accepted as a reliable source. The wisest action would be to drop the issue. Johnuniq (talk) 00:47, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with Johnuniq.
Deep Atlantic Blue, I will show you one more thing on this talk page. Please look carefully.
Yesterday user Larrycz removed a statement about the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Click here and look at the statement, the source, and the edit summary. Now I knew for a fact that Sagan had done something in relation to this film, so I went looking. Click here to see the result. Look at the statement, the sources, and the edit summary. How did I find this? The first thing I did was a Google Books search: Click here and look at the search string and the results. See the first result? Compare with the first part of my edit. Then I had a look at the article 2001: A Space Odyssey (film) to see what they had about Sagan. They had a statement and a source. No problem, but I decided to look for another source that could be verified by people who don't have the book at hand. It did'n take long before I found another Google Books hit offering the page from which the statement was drawn. That resulted in this edit to the film's article. Then I took over a little part of the statement and added it to this article, resulting in the second part of this edit.

So you see what happened there? Someone removed a statement. Someone else did some work and improved the article in a Wikipedia-sense. That is the kind of work Wikipedia expects from you. Simple, no? DVdm (talk) 08:44, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

Hie DVdm. I was writing what follows while you made your edit. I can't right now, but I will coming to review in detail your example.
Thanks Johnuniq for your advice and input. Concerning the actual statement, I had already thought that after clearing things up with DVdm, I would rephrase it into something in the lines of "He is an iconic and inspirational reference for the generation growing up in the late 1970s, early 1980s." Adding "to some of the generation" should clear your objection about the absence of stats. But that's not the really important issue here. The fact is that it is ethically improper from me and from Wikipedia to declare that the (you call it blog) site is not a reliable source here, but then find that the links and statements in "Inertia Coupling" or "Alexander Abian" are significant enriching contributions to the users of Wikipedia, and the sourced site is reliable there. BTW, in these two and the few other topics the source is mentioned, the statements leading to the source links would qualify as synthesis. It would be highly objectionable from Wikipedia to keep those links unchallenged for the time being, and when someone gets around to rewriting the original material in the specific blog posts, the links will be trashed out. At this point 1) The sentence being vague and inaccurate can be corrected. 2) It seems that if you articulate a sentence validated by some sort of source that is not a direct quote, in most cases some synthesis is involved. 3) There is still the issue of the site being a reliable source. It seems to me that the Wikipedia efforts to keep the wackos with weird theories at bay, is leading editors to substitute verifiability, intelligibility and common sense by arguments of authority. This would set me going into a long winded argument about what is happening to Wikipedia, once lauded as the place "to come as you are," becoming stiff, purely factual and tight in such a way that it carries a lot of knowledge but no understanding. This in turn carries into a discussion about public education, and the work that Carl Sagan is known to the general public for. Cosmos was not about this marble statue said so but instead these are the reasons why we think so. To me the posts in the disputed site I linked to are interesting (but that maybe just my own personal opinion) and Wikipedia users having them available is positive, constructive and enriching for Wikipedia, and that's the reason I linked to them in the first place. Throwing them out, all of them, seems like excluding a whole plethora of good things, the baby with the bath water, because a Wikipedia directive says so, just because it does, not noticing the directives were written to prevent bad things from happening, it would seem to me, not to exclude good things by statute. So the reliable source rules are something I would like to discuss a bit more at length. Deep Atlantic Blue (talk) 09:35, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

Stop hand nuvola.svg Warning. Deep Atlantic Blue, you say: "So the reliable source rules are something I would like to discuss a bit more at length." Do not do that here. This talk page is for discussing the article. If you want to "discuss the reliable source rules", then you go to Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources or to Wikipedia talk:Verifiability, which are the appropriate talk pages for that kind of discussion. Bringing that here is against talk page guidelines and is considered talk page abuse. Any further inappropriate discussion you conduct here will be reverted. Please take it where it belongs. Thank you. DVdm (talk) 10:14, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

I have left a similar warning on your talk page. DVdm (talk) 10:22, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

Hie DVdm. Thanks for your warning. I would appreciate it more though, had you written it as your own personal assessment and not as a Supreme Court decision with penalties for those infringing it. Given that the challenge to the reliability of the source was produced here, I would think here would be the appropriate place to discuss it, but I concede it makes some sense to do it in Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources. The problem is that there, I will not have the context already laid down here. My workload in writing will be increased by at least a factor of two or three, just describing the context of my arguments. In all likelihood I will be doing that, but it will take me some time. In any case, and as I leave the discussion in this page, I did not get any feedback and therefore cannot be sure that my statements that posts I linked to, were even examined within the Wikipedia entries were they are, and if anyone agrees they enrich Wikipedia for its readers. Anyway, we'll take the follow through of the discussion in the Identifying Reliable Sources talk page. Deep Atlantic Blue (talk) 00:28, 6 June 2010 (UTC)
The discussion is now being written in Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#Carl_Sagan.27s_Indigo_Children Deep Atlantic Blue (talk) 06:12, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

Personal life and beliefs typo

The section includes the following: "In 1996 Sagan briefly served as an adviser on Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey.[4] Sagan proposed that the film would suggest, rather than depict, extraterrestrial superintelligence.[55]"

This must be incorrect as the film was made circa 1968! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Please sign your talk messages with four tildes (~~~~)? - Thanks.
Good catch. It was 30 years off. Removed the year altogether. See Google book search. DVdm (talk) 09:30, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

Unfinished project

Ann Druyan revealed in a 2009 video of a Cornell University guest-lecture that Carl worked in 1992 on a new film project that was ultimately abandoned. The film was a series of conversations with the Dali Lama, and according to the question period, there are over 35 hours of footage, which the filmer may put up on youtube (@35:50). Source: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:44, 11 June 2010 (UTC)

Carl Sagan was not a believer according to his wife

Sagan, however, denied that he was an Gnostic atheist: "An atheist has to know a lot more than I know."[1] In reply to a question in 1996 about his religious beliefs, Sagan answered, "I'm agnostic."[2] Sagan maintained that the idea of a creator of the universe was difficult to prove or disprove and that the only conceivable scientific discovery that could challenge it would be an infinitely old universe.[3]. He ,however, never admited to believe in any deity (Agnostic atheism).According to his wife he was not a believer

When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me—it still sometimes happens—and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don't ever expect to be reunited with Carl.

— [6]

"Carl Sagan And Ann Druyan's Ultimate Mix Tape" NPR interview with Ann Druyan February 12, 2010 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:23, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

WW2 and author Keay Davidson

From the article on Carl Sagan:

Davidson notes that "by shielding Carl's eyes from the ongoing apocalypse," she ensured that he "would grow up an optimist." But he adds, "Emotionally, that optimism would be his greatest strength; intellectually, it would be his greatest liability. It was a mental blinder that kept him politically naive until he was in his fifties, when he finally opened his eyes and faced the dragon in his mental Eden: the nuclear age and the threat of annihilation."[4]:15

^^^ Davidson's characterization of Sagan is too subjective as well as being inaccurate. It also directly contradicts this quote from the article's subsection entitled "Social Concerns": Sagan's deep concern regarding the potential destruction of human civilization in a nuclear holocaust was conveyed in a memorable cinematic sequence in the final episode of Cosmos, called "Who Speaks for Earth?" Sagan had already resigned from the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and voluntarily surrendered his top secret clearance in protest over the Vietnam War.[32] Carl Sagan talked extensively in his book and series "Cosmos" about the contemporary threat of annihilation through nuclear war. He addresses this in episode 13 as well as other episodes. He also mentioned other ways in which humanity threatened itself. In the series "Cosmos" Sagan made it clear though his personal worries he wasn't "politically naive". Carl Sagan was in his 40's when he created the book and series Cosmos, so to suggest that his optimism blinded him to the threat of nuclear war in his 50's is incorrect. The Davidson quote reveals more about Davidson's antipathy toward optimists than it does about Sagan, it also is inaccurate and should be left out of the article on Carl Sagan. Bondianwolf (talk) 18:43, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Carl Sagan Day date change

I recently changed the date for Carl Sagan Day from 9th Nov 2010 to 6th Nov 2010. The cited reference states the day is the 6th. The previous editor must have been confused with the anniversary of Sagan's birth, which is the 9th. Carl Sagan day for 2011 is the 11th of November, as per the reference. Panpanman (talk) 13:31, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

Friendship with Penn Jillette

Penn mentioned a friendship with Carl on Twitter. I don't know if this is significant/valid enough to add to the article but I sure thought it was cool. (Slartibartfastibast (talk) 17:47, 12 January 2011 (UTC))


Azimov's childish boasting should not be in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:27, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

I complained about the same before. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:43, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
It is still in the article on Marvin Minsky.
I have improved the baby talk about geniuses. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:39, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't think that this is the place to complain about such things. The way to go is (1) to write books and articles, (2) become as notable as Asimov, and (3) have someone cite you as a counterbalance to Asimov's view. DVdm (talk) 18:04, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
I have no intention of writing novels. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:21, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

WW II comments

The following is over the top and not encyclopedic in tone: "During World War II, Sagan's family worried about the fate of their European relatives. He also experienced warfare at the beach near his apartment, where Hitler's "wolf pack" submarines destroyed merchant ships within earshot of his neighborhood. Kids could walk along the beach and find debris, along with body parts, lying in the sand. Sagan, however, was generally unaware of the details of the ongoing war."

I haven't read any biographies of Sagan but is there any evidence that he personally "experienced warfare at the beach near his apartment" or that he personally "could walk along the beach and find debris, along with body parts, lying in the sand"?

If the preceeding details can not be documented, I recommend changing the start of this paragraph to the following: During World War II, Sagan's family worried about the fate of their European relatives. Sagan, however, was generally unaware of the details of the ongoing war.

Although I personally greatly admire Carl Sagan, the whole tone of the article is too "Golly Gee-Whiz, Mr. Science!" Seki1949 (talk) 03:59, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm going to go ahead and make the above changes 18:31, 15 March 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Seki1949 (talkcontribs)

On a different note: The article states that his parents had a hard time dealing with the reality of both the war and the Holocaust. I don't believe people back then were aware of the Holocaust as these crimes only emerged to public after the end of the war. -- (talk) 17:09, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Influenced Section

Should we create a section for people that were influenced by Carl Sagan? Perhaps the most obvious example is Neil deGrasse Tyson. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 19 March 2011 (UTC)


The Freemasons claim Sagan as one of their "famous Freemasons". Is there any evidence he was a Freemason? See Craigfis (talk) 21:16, 28 March 2011 (UTC)


Just read through the Early life section, found mentions of Playstations and Call of Duty. I stopped reading, doubting the accuracy, but I'm not experienced with wiki's so I fear I will mess up the format or something. Just letting you know. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 12:14, 30 March 2011

It's been fixed, thanks for the note. Vsmith (talk) 13:39, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Epic rap battles of history

They made fun of him on the Albert enstine vs Steve hawking saying that he baked raps from scratch after readin this i still have no clue what they ment by that. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:46, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

It's an allusion to this. It's beyond an encyclopedia's scope to include every memorable thing someone's said, though. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 01:29, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Images marked for deletion

Notice that two cover images are marked for deletion. The rationale is that they do not "significantly increases reader understanding." If anyone wishes to comment you can do so here. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 21:37, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

  • Encouraging people to voice their concerns if they agree with you violates Wikipedia:Canvassing. Please be neutral in future comments such as this. --Hammersoft (talk) 22:54, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
Fixed Please note that per guidelines, #3 of instructions, as stated in the template below, I took it upon myself to alert other editors:

The file above's purpose is being discussed and/or is being considered for deletion. See files for discussion to help reach a consensus on what to do. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 23:20, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Notifying is fine, if it's neutral. This wasn't. --Hammersoft (talk) 23:32, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Carl's grandmother's name

I'd like to mention that, according to the first chapter in Pale Blue Dot, Carl's grandmother's name was Chaiya, and that her name was anglicized to Clara.

"She disembarked in New York, was reunited with Leib, lived just long enough to give birth to my mother and her sister, and then died from "complications" of childbirth. In those few years in America, her name had sometimes been anglicized to Clara. A quarter century later, my mother named her own firstborn, a son, after the mother she never knew." (talk) 20:24, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Sagan "Pray to the Law of Gravity" quote - is there an actual source?

All over the Internet I find Sagan's quote "The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard" etc, ending up with an elipsis and the phrase about praying to the law of gravity. I have yet to find a definite citation for this quote, and what (if anything) was omitted at the point of the elipsis. This Wiki article (my current version, June 2011) shows reference "38" which links to a website containing a mere copy of the same paragraph, without any further reference at all. (talk) 14:55, 12 June 2011 (UTC) [Later:] Somebody thinks it might have come from but that link no longer works. (talk) 20:41, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

xxx xxx link works - see page 5. But already with the ellipses and no source citation except for attribution to Carl Sagan – among a whole page of Sagan quotes mostly with definite sources. (talk) 20:52, 12 June 2011 (UTC)


i think the following line (in Scientific Advocacy section) is misleading and therefore should be rewritten:

"Sagan also wrote the best-selling science fiction novel Contact, but did not live to see the book's 1997 motion picture adaptation, which starred Jodie Foster and won the 1998 Hugo Award."

As the related article on Contact says, Sagan was involved in the film's production. Actually the film idea came first, he wrote the treatment (with wife?) and then wrote the book when the film didn't get made in the 1980s. I leave it to others more familiar with the article and subject to consider how to better phrase this context. I also think the article would do well to better represent the book and movie as they meant a lot to Sagan, apparently. Thanks. -Anon98.92.. (talk) 02:43, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Rewrote sentence - mentioning wife and earlier screen treatment. --GroveGuy (talk) 04:09, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Carl Sagan Day

...Is November 9th. We already have Darwin Day, so we should also have Carl Sagan Day. See for details. Urhixidur (talk) 15:10, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

WWII ???

He was 10 years old!! The whole WW2 section should be removed. The war, as he said, did not affect him much. Totally irrelevant. Why was this section added? Either make a point or remove it. It adds *nothing* to the narrative. (talk) 13:54, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

Atheism quotation hearsay

User SmEdD removed the quotation about atheism being stupid three times now, twice without an edit summary, so I reverted, and once with the edit summary "There is no source that cites where Dr. Sagan said this and such is not fact but instead hearsay." The last removal was undone by user A13ean with edit summary "rv good faith edit -- appears in a published story in a major newspaper -- unless we have cause to doubt it it's a rs".

Now, I have been looking for the exact place where Sagan said this, but I couldn't find anything. I have also read all of his books and I can't remember anything of the sort. The string "By some definitions atheism is very stupid" can indeed be found all over the place on the web, but I think it is pretty clear that all these quoters are happily quoting one another. The only book-hit in which the string appears, seems to be this one (scroll to page 17), but it doesn't say where the quotation originated either, and the book dates 2010 —as opposed to 2006 by Achenbach in the Washington Post blog—, so I think we can assume that the author (Pafumi) was doing the same as the bloggers.

So, I think that SmEdD motivation makes good sense. Achenbach and the WP might by reliable sources, but to me it looks like this is indeed a severe case of hearsay, and the question is of course, hearsay by whom and why? So, lacking a real proper source, I wouldn't mind removing this thing after all. Thoughts? - DVdm (talk) 18:36, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Note — I just noticed that user SmEdD (talk · contribs) removed it again with edit summary "The newspaper was not in talks with Sagan nor is there any souce anywhere of Sagan saying/writing that quote. It is a misquote that gained traction". I fully agree with that, but be very careful, SmEdD, as this not how things are done here — see, for instance WP:BRD. Please discuss here before you revert again, or you will get blocked. - DVdm (talk) 18:44, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
I just finished going through the Lexis Nexis and ProQuest databases, and the first mention of it is a column by the same Joel Achenbach that appears in 1996 (if you don't have access to these someone posted it here: [7]). The context makes it sounds like it might be from the Demon-haunted world, but I actually just finished reading that and don't remember seeing it anywhere. (Also if it was someone would have already figured it out). I assume it's either from a old Parade essay which doesn't show up in the databases for some reason, or from an interview. I just emailed the author to try to clarify if there is some other source, but in any case his articles meet all the criteria for a reliable source. My personal guess is that it's actually a quote, although perhaps not his best choice of wording. Just like with FZ, most of his quotes are real gems, but there's a few that fall flat. a13ean (talk) 19:32, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
True. I have a searchable PDF-copy of Demon-Haunted World. I just checked, and it's definitely not in there. - I'll check in my other e-copies later. Have to run now. - DVdm (talk) 19:45, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
And although this borders on WP:OR the author just replied that Sagan said the quote during an interview he conducted with him in Seattle in 1996, so we don't need to look any further for other sources. I don't think there's any reason to remove the quote. a13ean (talk) 19:46, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Yes, I am new to this wiki editing so forgive me. Would you mind linking me the source of the quote, I'm just curious to read it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SmEdD (talkcontribs) 01:02, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

Indeed, perhaps slightly bording on WP:OR but I guess that if we agree that (1) the quoted sources are sufficiently reliable (wp:RS) and verifiable (wp:V) and (2) the thing is sufficiently notable (wp:N), we can keep it on board. I personally don't think it's all that notable, but I don't really care either way. I do however wonder how this would do at the Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard: a contributor says that the author of a source wrote them an email in which he confirms that an article in the WP was based on an interview with the author. I think the email-part would be found irrelevant, and they'd probably say like, if you think the WaPo is reliable, then keep it, otherwise dump it — or something. - DVdm (talk) 09:24, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm for leaving it off because news outlets are not often a reliable sources. The wording is also very out of character for Dr. Sagan, specifically for him to call anyone or group stupid. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SmEdD (talkcontribs)
Please sign your talk page messages with four tildes (~~~~). Thanks.
Perhaps, but let's see what other contributors think. - DVdm (talk) 14:04, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
Given the potentially continuing problems with the "Atheism is stupid" quote, I think we should just replace it with something similar. On page 70 of Conversations with Carl Sagan, there is a reprint of an interview from U.S. Catholic magazine, in which Sagan says: "An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed." Perhaps this would be better material for the article than the contested "stupid" quote? AzureCitizen (talk) 16:17, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
That is a very sound quote and well sourced. The other one reads like this quote would sound after is passed though a few people. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SmEdD (talkcontribs) 16:47, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that sounds like a good idea to me. - DVdm (talk) 16:50, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
Okay, I've implemented the addition as a replacement. Feel free to adjust it if need be. Regards, AzureCitizen (talk) 17:08, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

Naming individual winners of the Sagan Medal

Hi, there. I really don't see how listing one recipient of the Sagan Medal is relevant to Sagan's own article, even if there is a personal connection between Sagan and Grinspoon (the stated reason for user David_J_Johnson's reversion of my deletion, which I am re-deleting). At least two other recipients of the Sagan Medal (Squyres and Porco) had close personal connections to Sagan as well, yet it would be equally irrelevant to list their winnings of this award in this section. The title of the section is "posthumous recognition," so it is enough to plainly mention that the Sagan Medal is a recognition in the form of naming the award after Sagan. Mentioning one or more individual winners does not rightly fall under the category of "posthumous recognition" for Sagan...that is what the Carl Sagan Medal article is for. Girona7 (talk) 05:08, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

No mention of Project A119

Is there a particular reason why Project A119 is not mentioned and linked from this article ? (talk) 02:31, 27 May 2012 (UTC)

I was about to ask the same thing. It certainly seems relevant, both as an example of Sagan's early research and because he was responsible for the security leak. Modest Genius talk 10:30, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Discussion to restore Carl Sagan as a reliable source to Alternative medicine article

A discussion to restore the first 14 sources of this version, including content citing Carl Sagan as a WP:Reliable Source, is now going on here. ParkSehJik (talk) 02:57, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

influence of leftism in his writing

In "God is not Great" Hitchens says, that he/one could (with a marxist background) notice the influence of it in his writing...has anybody something on that?..thx
ps: it could be may be "Hitch22"
Paranoid Android1208 (talk) 16:11, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

Should Sagan be included in the List of Pantheists article?

Requesting input at Talk:List of Pantheists. An editor has recently added him to the list, and I do not agree that he meets the given criteria of persons who have been categorized as pantheists and have had a significant influence on Pantheism. KillerChihuahua 18:14, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

  • I agree with KillerChihuahua, I see no evidence, both personal and written, that Carl would considered a follower of Pantheism. Regards, David J Johnson (talk) 19:10, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

I'm copying this to the Rfc on the Talk:List of pantheists page. Will other editors please follow the link and add their views there, thank you so much! KillerChihuahua 19:48, 24 January 2013 (UTC)


With his attitudes of promoting scientific scepticism, wasn't Sagan the main promoter for the conference that finall debunked Velikovsky? AT Kunene (talk) 09:44, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

American Philosophical Society

In 1995 Sagan was elected to membership in The American Philosophical Society.
- BoringHistoryGuy (talk) 11:39, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Personal Life and Beliefs section

The second to last paragraph (beginning "In 1994, engineers at Apple Computer...") is out of place and excessively long compared to the rest of the section. It also seems to be a carbon copy of the relevant paragraph in the Apple litigation article (where it is far more appropriate). I would support deleting this paragraph entirely. Or, at the very least, it should be drastically shortened (to a sentence linking the Apple litigation article), and, if kept, perhaps moved somewhere else more appropriate within the article. (talk) 23:31, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes, it certainly needs trimming, at minimum. A single sentence with a link would be fine. I'm not sure where it would be best to put it though. AndyTheGrump (talk) 23:48, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

Oh, and he was also on this one TV special

The last one-sentence paragraph of the lead ("Sagan also appeared on a television special The Earth Day Special which aired April 22, 1990.") seems completely out of place there. It really should be placed somewhere in the main body of the article. Not sure where, though. Perhaps if I knew why this was significant enough to mention at all in our "Carl Sagan" article, I would know where to put it... - dcljr (talk) 16:35, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

I've removed the sentence. If anyone objects, please try to find somewhere in the body of the article to put it. - dcljr (talk) 05:01, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

Featured on "Cosmos", episode 1

As is fitting and thoroughly expected, Carl Sagan was featured in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, episode 1: "Standing Up in the Milky Way". His scientific contributions are highlighted. In addition, there's a sweet, heartfelt section on how, as a professor at Cornell, he invited 17 year old "future astronomer", Neil Tyson, to join him for the day. He even picked the boy up at the bus station, took him back at the end of day, and told Neil to call him at home if the bus was canceled due to heavy snowing. This appears at about 55 minutes into the episode. I admit it, my husband and I both teared up. Full episode 1: (expires in 55 days). Watch and enjoy, Wordreader (talk) 03:27, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

He's on The Colbert Report right now, again talking about this event in his life. Check the website tomorrow for a video of the episode. Wordreader (talk) 04:00, 11 March 2014 (UTC)