Posts Tagged ‘carl sagan’

06.15.2010 – What “The Pale Blue Dot” means to me

So, over the last few years, Carl Sagan’s “The Pale Blue Dot” has become one of my favorite pieces of writing. All of Sagan’s writing is beautiful, but this particular section just hits me somewhere special. I find that it gives me some much-needed perspective when I’m feeling like life has started to get to me. It makes me back up and say to myself, “Look Self…there is SOOO much out there. Why do you think the universe is lined up to just make YOU miserable? That’s ridiculous and arrogant. Now get over it, and go make something of your life”. Or something to that effect!

Sagan had a way of wording things that not only explains complex topics, but beautifully describes them with deep descriptive text. I just love his style. It’s such a pity that we lost him so soon.

The transcript (mildly altered in the video, and this video isn’t done by me for the record. just one of my favorite versions) :

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe:, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.


08.13.2009 – Critical Thinking Update

August 13, 2009 1 comment

Well, I figured it was about time to just post an update as to the state of things in my own head. Kind of a ‘milestone’ marker for me to look back on and see how far I’ve come and how far there is left to go.

I’ve looked back recently on some of my earlier posts and just had to have a bit of a chuckle at some of the thoughts. When I first started this whole ‘Pursuit of Truth’ thing that I find myself on now, I obviously got sucked into a whole lot of conspiracy theory type BS initially. Ideas that the whole world was organized to destroy everyone in it except for an elite few. Or, if nothing else, enslave us all. The ‘New World Order’ bullshit if you will.

I now know how silly that all is. While I’m sure there is some level of secretive stuff going on in the world, I no longer believe that there is a global organized effort to bring on tyranny and keep all of us as peasants or slaves. The information that I found myself believing was based on blind assertions, non-sequiturs, and slipery slopes that had no real evidence to back it up.

I’m really starting to be proud of myself in the way that I am able to critically assess topics now and get to the root questions of their validity. Obviously, there’s always skills be to learned. There will always be practice needed, and I’m certain that at some point I’ll find myself believing something that didn’t really have all the evidence to support it. Hopefully, though, I now have the tools to recognize it and be able to re-think accordingly.

Most of my progress has come as the result of the various outlets that I’ve been reading and watching lately. The biggest help to me was reading Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World. His ‘Baloney Detection Kit’ seems to be the single most effective set of tools for getting to the crux of most claims and assertions. I hope to be able to apply more and more of these tools to my thinking arsenal for future use.

The other huge help to me has been listening to the podcasts from Point of Inquiry ( There doesn’t seem to be ANY topic of human interest that they haven’t discussed with the leading thinkers of our times. It’s been an amazing journey to go through all of the archives and listen to the discussions. Hearing HOW these amazing minds dissect topics and tear them down to their bases is very impressive and very helpful.

Also, the Atheist Experience TV show ( and the Non-Phophets ( are two shows that I really love. I look forward to each week of hearing what they will be discussing.

Anyway, that’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’m FINALLY reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (way overdue), and thoroughly enjoying it. I believe this may give me the confidence to no longer feel like I have to hide my atheism and stand by silently while the religious majority tries to force feed their beliefs to the non-believers.