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Carl Sagan, Socialist Jerk

A friend on an email discussion mentioned Carl Sagan and noted he was good on skepticism of pseudoscience and mused about whether he was good on politics. Alas, no. As is typically the case of engineers and scientists brainwashed with scientism (The Trouble with Libertarian Activism, Libertarian Activism-comments, Yet More on Galambos, Engineers’ Syndrome and C.P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures” and Misesian Dualism), he was a clod on this issue. From a review of one of his books:

My second critique is with regard to Sagan’s contradictory political views. On the one hand, he argues against authoritarianism of any sort, he points out government waste, discusses how the government shouldn’t be anti-choice, and is upset that politicians only work for the short term since they are only working to get elected again. I agree with his assessment to this point. However, then he seems to argue out of the other side of his mouth that the government should be there to provide ever larger social safety nets (i.e., welfare, social security, entitlements, etc.), collect more taxes in some cases, give U.S. tax dollars to other countries, and fund projects that don’t justly benefit those doing the funding (taxpayers). I don’t understand how someone can reconcile the seemingly opposed views. If the government can’t do its current jobs well, why give it more to do inefficiently and ineffectively? If individuals should be the responsible party, why shift all the burdens (in the form of more tax dollars and more government spending) to governments?

And another friend stumbled across this amusing anecdote, which illustrates what a statist and/or arrogant jerk he was. From the Wikipedia entry on Sagan:

In 1994, Apple Computer began developing the Power Macintosh 7100. They chose the internal code name “Carl Sagan”, the reference being that the mid-range PowerMac 7100 should make Apple “billions and billions.” Though the internal project name was never used in public marketing, it did come up in Usenet postings and news of the name grew from there. When Sagan learned of this he sued Apple Computer to force the use of a different project name. Other models released conjointly had code names such as “Cold fusion” and “Piltdown Man“, and Sagan was displeased at being associated with what he considered pseudoscience. (He was at the time writing a book discrediting pseudoscience.) Though Sagan lost the lawsuit Apple engineers complied with his demands anyway and renamed the project “BHA” (for Butt-Head Astronomer). Sagan promptly sued Apple for libel over the new name, claiming that it subjected him to contempt and ridicule, but he lost this lawsuit as well. Still, the 7100 saw another name change: it was finally referred to internally as “LAW” (Lawyers Are Wimps).

This reminds a bit of the story in Shades of Galambos!

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Joe November 6, 2009, 12:30 pm

    You, sir, are a simpleton. I understand that it probably hurts you that such an intelligent and caring man disagrees with you politically, but seriously… to even suggest that Sagan was an arrogant jerk is extremely arrogant and jerky.

    I probably should not need to point out the obvious- but don’t you think it is a bit arrogant to discount Sagan because his thoughts on politic do not match your views? I mean, its not like you have any scientific evidence to support the idea that Libertarianism works better than Sagan’s proposals.

    Worshipping Ayn Rand does not make you an expert on macroeconomics, human nature, or anything for that matter. I think it is probably clear to you that you hold a belief in a system of government (er, non-government) that is likely not:
    1. attainable
    2. maintainable
    3. makes assumptions about human nature that are clearly not supported by evidence

    I will take this moment to assume your possible responses as I won’t likely be compelled to return to see your post. Sorry for the hit and run. I’m sure you can decide what my reply would be to your reply.

    • Ken January 5, 2013, 10:45 pm

      Anyone who calls him/herself an “atheist” and follows in the blithering of khazar, humanist/ socialists who’s main goal is to lie, cheat and steal {with his fellows} from all goyim is a poor fool and a simpleton.

      Read the talmud and give yourself an education.

    • Karl February 15, 2013, 10:19 am

      “Worshipping Ayn Rand does not make you an expert on macroeconomics”

      Strawman argument on at least 2 levels. Kinsella does not seem to be a Rand worshipper of any sort. Her name is not even on his front page or any subsequent pages that directly come from it.

      Also, Kinsella never claimed to be an expert with Macroeconomics.

      If you are going to make a sarcastic and angry response – you might want to make sure there is actually some relevance to it.

      “I think it is probably clear to you that you hold a belief in a system of government (er, non-government) that is likely not:
      1. attainable
      2. maintainable
      3. makes assumptions about human nature that are clearly not supported by evidence”

      This is interesting, because the state has existed for only some 5000 years. And not even consistently across the world during that time, even going into modern times. However, humanity has existed for at least 100,000 years. Even civilization itself, or the early versions go back at least 10,000 years.

      So history, prehistory and archaeology, even the basics, refute your ignorant claim.

      • Amy August 12, 2017, 10:42 am

        Good reply, and I am so entertained by your “Her name is not even on his front page or any subsequent pages that directly come from it.” HAHAAHAHAH… I must have dry humor.

  • Angurse November 6, 2009, 6:14 pm

    Stephen, I suggest you just give up now. Joe nailed you. In fact, he nailed you, all of libertarian-anarchism, and completely obliterated your Sagan/Jerk theory.

    • Karl February 15, 2013, 10:26 am

      The only thing Joe had to say worthwhile was that it was kind of petty to call Carl Sagan a jerk for disagreeing with him politically. I would say that Carl was uninformed and naive in regards to politcs. Probably not more so that the average person though.

      Carl seemed to assume that politicians were beneficial and benign managers, rather than power hungry people, who according to psychologists, typically lack empathy.

      The goals of politicians are to get elected and re-elected. This allows them to exercise power. I greatly respect the contributions of Carl Sagan, I just thought it would have been nice if he applied the null hypothesis to the state much like he did with religious gods.

  • josh henry November 14, 2009, 10:15 pm

    You should be ashamed of yourself to speak of a brilliant scientist in such a way. Sagan is in no way a politician and his views on politics have no relevance to you. To call a man who spent his life helping others a jerk makes you the biggest jerk of all. You should change the title of this review it is very offensive.

  • Sean November 19, 2009, 12:09 am

    You should be ashamed to condemn such an incredible person like Sagan just because you don’t share his political views.

  • Mark Fulwiler November 19, 2009, 3:43 am

    Ha, ha, the previous comments are priceless.

  • JAY November 30, 2009, 7:40 pm

    WTF is wrong with you?
    Like you know politics.
    Read Albert Einsteins, why socialism.

    • Ken January 5, 2013, 10:54 pm

      You don’t need to know “politics”, just “human nature”….if you don’t know the background and history of those whom you propose to support with such vigor and believe what they espouse is actually the “truth” and in your favor you are an imbecile of the highest degree and deserve what your betters in the “new society” have in store for you.

      The men who founded this country may not all have been saints yet, they certainly knew what they were doing when they broke from English rule….you would do well to discern their intentions and follow suit.

  • Alex Libman December 31, 2009, 12:00 pm

    Many scientists, while brilliant in some areas, remain childishly naive when it comes to political philosophy and economics. Sagan is one such example, Einstein (likely a front for other scientists) is another. They become institutionalized into the government-controlled academic culture, which warps their view of the world into a sense of socialist entitlement. This is why the real application of the scientific method is impossible under a criminal power monopoly known as government (Ayn Rand, being a Minarchist, was wrong about this as well), and can only come from the private sector, where capital can only be allocated on the basis of tangible merit.

    • Sean May 5, 2010, 7:59 pm

      Well said, Alex. Sagan has it right in “Who Speaks for Earth”, “there is no record… that any of the illustrious scholars [in Alexandria] and scientists ever seriously challenge a single political, or economic, or religious assumption of the society in which they lived. The permanence of the stars was questioned, the justice of slavery was not…. So when the mob came to burn the place down, there was nobody to stop them.”

      Yet, Sagan stops far too short, like Aristotle praising slavery, when he praises both science and The State – both reason and force.

      Does that make him a “Socialist Jerk”? Sure, why not.

      Would he hold the gun, himself, to collect taxes from you? I don’t know, but he praised it.

      I graciously refer readers to: http://www.FreedomainRadio.com
      … and you’re welcome.

  • fatcat December 31, 2009, 8:27 pm

    You didn’t do a very good of showing what a jerk Sagan is.

    And the commenters are just being childish douchebags.

    Since you made no substantive reason for why he’s a socialist jerk, they’re simply whining because they don’t like someone they like being criticized, for whatever reason, which is the antithesis of free thought and critical thinking.

    “WAAA! Carl Sagan is brilliant and that means if you say bad things about him your bad. DONT CALL HIM A JERK!! YOUR THE JERK!” etc

    I much prefer the quote that Libman showed me.

    “If there is life on Mars, I believe we should do nothing with Mars.
    Mars then belongs to the Martians, even if the Martians are only microbes.” – Carl Sagan

    If I get to mars, first thing I’m going to do after opening a strip mine and a strip club, is carve CARL SAGAN in 500 foot letters into the martian regolith.

    fucking weak ass human hater. The kind of douches who think “nature” is something separate from humans, that beavers should build their dams, termites should build their hives, and all animals can fuck with whatever other animals they want.

    except humans. we should leave everything pristine as if we were never here. WE shouldn’t make an impact or change anything, even though we have the most wondrous capacity for it.

    fuck that. put my body on the LHC when i die and blast me into an endangered eagle.

    • Karl March 5, 2013, 9:24 am

      definitely one of the top 5 comments here

  • RWW January 8, 2010, 8:39 pm

    Fuck yeah.

  • Seitan Spike February 21, 2010, 6:12 am

    FatCat is named well. The cholesterol from his meat-laden diet has impaired his memory. The actual quote it this:

    “If there is life, then I believe we should do nothing to disturb that life.
    Mars then, belongs to the Martians, even if they are microbes.”

    -Carl Sagan
    Cosmos, Blues For a Red Planet

    • Karl March 5, 2013, 9:25 am

      thanks for the corrected quote, but more modern nutrition has discovered that meat and animal based fat are good for you

  • jebediah February 25, 2010, 10:51 pm

    Your first quote is incredibly idiotic. In short it says, “Carl Sagan agrees with some of the political views I agree with. Yet he believes in things I don’t believe in. This makes him a hypocrite.” It really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. You should just stick to masturbating over Ayn Rand novels .

  • Joe March 21, 2010, 8:17 pm

    Carl Sagan wan an arrogant SOB. Not to mention most of what he did was regurgitate other people ideas and make it sound like it was all him. Then he’d go off on some tirade about ancient cultures beliefs or current sudo-sciences like astrology when he clearly had NO idea what he was talking about. He’d use a freaking newspaper to support his assumptions for crying out loud! That he treated politics in the same manner is no surprise to me. The guy was a douche, get over him already.

  • Jarvis June 13, 2010, 10:34 pm

    @Joe #13

    I’d like to see some credentials on your knowledge of astronomy and some actual evidence of how he was an “arrogant SOB” rather than the tripe you spewed out of your asshole for your last comment.

  • R. Russ August 6, 2011, 3:35 pm

    Petty, cheap pot shots at a man who did more to popularize science than the author here will ever do for his political leanings. This little piece reminds me more of the snarling of a shaky, snarling chihuahua.

    • Danielle May 10, 2012, 2:31 am

      Yeah, I’ll say. People may call him an offensive things, but he was a very rational and sceptical person; he would have been open-minded to change these claimed flaws.

      People get very angry at Carl Sagan’s way of thinking because not only the religious, but also the majority of people are stubborn and illogical when it comes to their ideology, and they find it hard to grasp the fact that there is objective truth when a context is set.

      Carl Sagan believed in the most logical of the silly world of politics; of cooperation. Before you go spouting s**t about what he believed, you should at least quote him. It seems perfectly logical to be against authority figures making big decisions as opposed to a majority of people (and no, current said-democracy does not provide this because governments ignore people)

      As for Apple, a company run by idea-thieving, sweatshop-running scumbags; good on Carl.

    • Vanmind February 16, 2013, 3:54 pm

      Popularizing scientism appears to be an important part of the NWO swindle.

  • Matheus Kiskissian February 26, 2012, 11:16 am

    Well, I like the Sagan’s work in turning scince something popular and all tha… but he was really a jerk.

  • truth aboutcarl September 2, 2012, 9:01 am

    Carl Sagan was a conceited douche bag who was wrong about almost everything out of his blathering mouth.

  • carl the pothead September 2, 2012, 9:03 am

    What did Carl Sagan ever really do other than write some lame books?

    • Eddie June 2, 2020, 6:12 pm

      Wow…you’re sincerely an ignorant person. Why don’t you use this tool named internet and find out what he really do humanity. Your question is based on laziness.

  • Adrien October 8, 2012, 3:27 am

    It could be that Carl Sagan was a humane and gifted man who hadn’t considered the contradiction in opposing political authority yet demanding measures that would enlarge the state. I’m inclined to think he may have appreciated the point.

    ‘Socialist jerk’ might not’ve been the best way to get it across tho’.

  • Ramiro October 24, 2012, 5:01 pm

    I see your point and I get it. But you are missing some more information: scientists, as you mentioned, are no good in politics, and it should be like that. Politics are based on conflicting stuff and sciences promotes the search of truth. They will always collide. That is why you may feel he (Sagan) has common opinions with you and some other not.

    Following that I don’t understand why you mention health care as a control issue. Taxes may be but health care? why?

    In the patent issue I’m not sure exactly why he did that… since that text doesn’t explain it all. But I’m assuming that (because we live in a comercial world) he was also not happy with a company using his name to boost sales. I’m against copyright but even I can see a major oportunity by using some famous person name. Most public people would fight with it… and most companies today would ask before, for the same reason of getting sued.

    • Vanmind February 16, 2013, 3:57 pm

      Sounds to me like he gave Apple more free publicity than the company would have received had he not cared about the internal project’s code name. Hell, even I would have considered buying an Apple if I had heard this story back then — and I loathe Apple.

  • AynRandSucks March 4, 2013, 7:52 pm

    Leave it up to an Anarcho-Statist to try and belittle one of the 20th century’s leading intellectuals. I actually read this being completely oblivious to your political views and as soon as I made it to the second paragraph I just had to stop and ask myself, “Is this another neo-libertarian with an overinflated ego?”. Well lo and behold, I decided to scroll up and confirm my suspicions.

    • karl March 4, 2013, 8:10 pm

      What is an “anarcho-statist”? I have known Kinsella for a couple years now and never heard himself call himself that. I think the term “anarcho-capitalist” was used, though.

      You complain about an overinflated ego, which is laughably ironic, considering the trollish nature of your commenting name and fact free insulting tone.

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