Why Carl Sagan Matters
On November 12, 2011, a large theater in Northwestern’s downtown campus became packed with Chicagoans who came to honor the life and legacy of Carl Sagan. The event featured apple pies (made from scratch apparently), flying spaghetti monster cupcakes, COSMO[S]politians (for those 21+), and lots and lots of people from the skeptical/secular community. Jen Newport from Chicago Skeptics gave a talk on Sagan’s contributions to skepticism, and Dan Abramov from Northwestern talked about the enormous strides in space exploration since Sagan’s death. There was also a screening of an episode of Cosmos.
So who was Carl Sagan, and why, more than a decade after his death, does he matter so much?
Carl Sagan, an alumnus of the University of Chicago, was an astronomer who made the Universe come alive in the human imagination. He had a vision of human flourishing, of human solidarity, and of peaceful space exploration that transcended tribes, races, nations, and religions. He was a great communicator and teacher. He was a skeptic and a philosopher who articulated the benefits of science and the dangers of superstition. He connected to the hearts and minds of people around the world. He was “the people’s scientist”.