— Neil DeGrasse Tyson
When a child asks you a question that stumps you, instead of being irritated and embarrassed, thank them, take them by the hand and go with them in search of the answer. Carl’s mother, Rachel, did that for him and look where it led.
Learn everything you possibly can about a subject that truly interests you. As Carl used to say, “When you’re in love you want to tell the world.” You can’t fake it. But if you really feel it, chances are you will infect someone else with the passion to know more.
Don’t lie to children. Don’t doom them to perpetual infancy. Nature is wondrous enough as it is. Our pathetic fantasies are not supernatural —they are sub-natural. Lying to your children only really communicates that reality is not good enough. I’m convinced that’s how we end up with leaders who tell us that “trees cause pollution” or that “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.” They destroy untold lives and are never held accountable for the damage they do because we are inured to lying from childhood.
What I’m saying is you can’t expect to have a science based society when science is compartmentalized into a boring 45 minutes of class time a couple of days a week, while in our inner lives, we cherish a collection of baseless ideas. Science is a way of thinking. If we instilled the wonder of life, the glory of nature from day one and abjured magical, non-sensical thinking —not humorlessness, mind you, there’s plenty of room for that and nobody had a better, fuller, greater laugh than Carl— but if we could bring ourselves to actually take the revelations of science to heart, we might begin to change in the ways we need to in order to get our species, and many others, through this current phase of our technological adolescence."
— Ann Druyan, late wife of Carl Sagan, co-writer of Cosmos, President of the NORML Foundation Board of Directors, and co-author of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, The Demon-Haunted World and Billions & Billions
“The history of feminist interventions into most disciplines follows a common pattern. Feminist inquiry begins as a critique of accepted disciplinary methods, assumptions, and canons. As it matures, it develops constructive projects of its own. The history of feminism and science follows this pattern. In the empirical sciences, the pattern helps us see how feminist epistemology negotiates the tension between the two poles in the paradox of bias that lies at the core of the feminist empiricist project. Feminist science critics focus on identifying androcentric and sexist biases in the actual practice of science. This practice began by representing bias as a source of error. But as philosophers and historians of science joined the practice of feminist science criticism, they developed a more sophisticated way of understanding some biases as epistemic resources. Advocates of feminist science develop this theme in seeking to practice science in light of and in the service of feminist aims and values. They thereby represent feminist biases as epistemic resources.”
This sense of offense has––I’m only speculating––deep psychological roots. Part of it is, I believe, an unwillingness to come to grips with the more instinctive aspects of human nature. But I believe it is essential to understand this id we wish to survive. I think ignoring that, imagining all humans are rational actors in the present phase, is an enormously dangerous idea in an age of nuclear weapons. […]
Then, in the early part of [the 20th] century, there was still another such assault, which came with special relativity. Because one of the central points of special relativity is that there are no privileged frames of reference, that we are not in an important position or state of motion. […]
This insight was obtained by a young man who was opposed to privilege in the social sphere. If you look at Einstein’s autobiographical writings, I think it is quite clear that his opposition to privilege in the social world was connected with his opposition to privilege in fundamental physics."
— Carl Sagan, “The Retreat from Copernicus: A Modern Loss of Nerve” from “The Varieties of Scientific Experience”