This is a book I need to read by Carl Sagan…”The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.” Some quotes appear below. I will add to them over time…

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries.”

“…when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues.” “When clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”

It is better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying & reassuring.

“Without the courage to question, interrogate, and challenge authority, we risk falling prey to the whims of charlatans—be they political or religious—ready to exploit our complacency.”

“If intelligence is our only edge, we must learn to use it better, to sharpen it, to understand its limitations and deficiencies-to use it as cats use stealth, as walking sticks use camouflage, to make it the tool of our survival.”

Hippocrates wrote: ‘Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.’ Instead of acknowledging that in many areas we are ignorant, we have tended to say things like the Universe is permeated with the ineffable. A God of the Gaps is assigned responsibility for what we do not yet understand.

Edmund Way Teale in his 1950 book Circle of the Seasons understood the dilemma better: It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.

all the atoms that make each of us up – the iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the carbon in our brains – were manufactured in red giant stars thousands of light years away in space and billions of years ago in time. We are, as I like to say, starstuff.

If we teach only the findings and products of science - no matter how useful and even inspiring they may be - without communicating its critical method, how can the average person possibly distinguish science from pseudoscience? Both then are presented as unsupported assertion.

The method of science, as stodgy and grumpy as it may seem, is far more important than the findings of science.

Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us - then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.

Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which best fit the facts. It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous sceptical scrutiny of everything - new ideas and established wisdom. science has built-in, error-correcting machinery at its very heart. …every time we exercise self-criticism, every time we test our ideas against the outside world, we are doing science. When we are self-indulgent and uncritical, when we confuse hopes and facts, we slide into pseudoscience and superstition.

the history of science - by far the most successful claim to knowledge accessible to humans - teaches that the most we can hope for is successive improvement in our understanding, learning from our mistakes, an asymptotic approach to the Universe, but with the proviso that absolute certainty will always elude us.

if the ideas don’t work, you must throw them away. Don’t waste neurons on what doesn’t work. Devote those neurons to new ideas that better explain the data.

Science, Ann Druyan notes, is forever whispering in our ears, ‘Remember, you’re very new at this. You might be mistaken. You’ve been wrong before.’ Despite all the talk of humility, show me something comparable in religion. Scripture is said to be divinely inspired - a phrase with many meanings. But what if it’s simply made up by fallible humans?

Which leaders of the major faiths acknowledge that their beliefs might be incomplete or erroneous and establish institutes to uncover possible doctrinal deficiencies? Beyond the test of everyday living, who is systematically testing the circumstances in which traditional religious teachings may no longer apply? (It is certainly conceivable that doctrines and ethics that may have worked fairly well in patriarchal or patristic or medieval times might be thoroughly invalid in the very different world we inhabit today.) What sermons even-handedly examine the God hypothesis? What rewards are religious sceptics given by the established religions - or, for that matter, social and economic sceptics by the society in which they swim?