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Who said: “I was going to record talking... the foil was put on; I then shouted 'Mary had a little lamb',... and the machine reproduced it perfectly.”
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Thumbnail of Carl Sagan (source)
Carl Sagan
(9 Nov 1934 - 20 Dec 1996)

American astronomer, exobiologist and writer remembered for popularizing astronomy and science, especially with his public television series Cosmos. Its accompanying book spent seventy weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. He was an adviser to NASA for the Mariner, Voyager, and Viking unmanned space missions.

Carl Sagan
“Advances in medicine and agriculture”

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Carl Sagan quote Advances in medicine and agriculture
A bean farmer checks her crop in Congo. Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT). CC2.0 (source)
“Advances in medicine and agriculture have saved vastly more lives than have been lost in all the wars in history.”
— Carl Sagan
In The Demon-Haunted World (1996)

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Carl Sagan in his book Demon-Haunted World named the first chapter, “The Most Precious Thing.” He begins by recalling a conversation in which he disabused an inquisitive man of his notions of extraterrestrials, Atlantis, astrology and such, about which he seemed well-read but uncritical. Although intelligent, the person with whom Sagan conversed was woefully uninformed of modern science. Too much pseudoscience snares the gullible. The problem, says Sagan, is:

“Science arouses a soaring sense of wonder. But so does pseudoscience. Sparse and poor popularizations of science abandon ecological niches that pseudoscience promptly fills. If it were widely understood that claims to knowledge require adequate evidence before they can be accepted, there would be no room for pseudoscience.”

So Sagan adeptly summarizes the advance of knowledge from the time of Hippocrates of ancient Greece to our modern successes for reducing infant mortality, epidemics and treating disease. He also acknowledges,

“I know that science and technology are not just cornucopias pouring gifts out into the world. Scientists … conceived nuclear weapons… Physicians in Tuskegee, Alabama, misled a group of veterans into thinking they were receiving medical treatment for their syphilis, when they were the untreated controls. The atrocious cruelties of Nazi doctors are well-known. Our technology has produced thalidomide, CFCs, Agent Orange, nerve gas, pollution of air and water, species extinctions, and industries so powerful they can ruin the climate of the planet.”

Sagan understands that “The sword of science is double-edged.” Yet, it still remains true that, on balance:

“Advances in medicine and agriculture have saved vastly more lives than have been lost in all the wars in history. Advances in transportation, communication and entertainment have transformed and unified the world.”

To illustrate his point about advances in medicine, which was the subject quote opening this page, Sagan provided a footnote:

“At a large dinner party recently, I asked the assembled guests - ranging in age, I guess, from thirties to sixties - how many of them would be alive today if not for antibiotics, cardiac pacemakers, and the rest of the panoply of modern medicine. Only one hand went up. It was not mine.”

Text by Webmaster with quotes from The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996), 11. (source)

See also:
  • Science Quotes by Carl Sagan.
  • 9 Nov - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Sagan's birth.
  • Carl Sagan - context of quote A Subject Called Chemistry - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Carl Sagan - context of quote A Subject Called Chemistry - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Carl Sagan - context of quote “Advances in medicine and agriculture” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos, by William Poundstone. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Carl Sagan.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)

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