Not long before he died in 1996, Carl Sagan gave his last interview with Charlie Rose, and seemed to give a dire warning about the rise of religious fundamentalism in America and its war on science.
Long before likes of famed freethinkers like Richard Dawkins, Sagan was already at the forefront making the case for scientific thinking, arguing that it’s essential for progress. During the interview, he made the point that religious zealotry and pseudo-science have been around for ages and are nothing new. But if society loosens its hold on scientific thinking, it’s the ignorant politicians and fundamentalists that will step in and replace it.
“We’ve arranged a society based on science and technology, in which nobody understands anything about science and technology,” Sagan said. “And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces.”
“Science is more than a body of knowledge,” he continued. “It’s a way of thinking, a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility. If we are not able to ask skeptical questions to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan, political or religious, who comes ambling along.”
[The headline of this article has been updated] Featured image via screen grab