Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us — and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.
~ Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection February 1st, 1987
Prevalent beliefs that knowledge can be tapped from previous incarnations or from a “universal mind” (the repository of all past wisdom and creativity) not only are implausible but also unfairly demean the stunning achievements of individual human brains.
~ Barry L. Beyerstein, The Skeptical Inquirer
Well, well, well! Well if it isn’t fat stinking billy goat Billy Boy in poison! How art thou, thou globby bottle of cheap stinking chip oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if ya have any yarble, ya eunuch jelly thou!
~ Alex, A Clockwork Orange
If science were explained to the average person in a way that is accessible and exciting, there would be no room for pseudoscience. But there is a kind of Gresham’s Law by which in popular culture the bad science drives out the good. And for this I think we have to blame, first, the scientific community ourselves for not doing a better job of popularizing science, and second, the media, which are in this respect almost uniformly dreadful. Every newspaper in America has a daily astrology column. How many have even a weekly astronomy column? And I believe it is also the fault of the educational system. We do not teach how to think. This is a very serious failure that may even, in a world rigged with 60,000 nuclear weapons, compromise the human future.
~ Carl Sagan, The Burden of Skepticism, The Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 12. Fall 1987
The notion that science does not concern itself with first causes — that it leaves the field to theology or metaphysics, and confines itself to mere effects — this notion has no support in the plain facts. If it could, science would explain the origin of life on earth at once–and there is every reason to believe that it will do so on some not too remote tomorrow. To argue that gaps in knowledge which will confront the seeker must be filled, not by patient inquiry, but by intuition or revelation, is simply to give ignorance a gratuitous and preposterous dignity….
~H.L. Mencken, 1930