Tag Archives: Carl Sagan

Facts and Truth.

EinsteinA few weeks ago, one of my favorite cousins posted something on Facebook that had questionable origins at best. The Internet has become a huge echo chamber for misinformation, maudlin parables, and a whole lot of cat videos. This particular story was an anecdote about Einstein and religion. It has no basis in fact. I put my husband on the case, a natural skeptic, fact finder and truth seeker. This is what he found:

First, this is obviously a fictional story written to support an opinion with junk logic. Modified versions of this same story are all over the web. Here’s a version featuring a Muslim student instead of a Christian: http://www.myiwc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-3067.html

It’s interesting to note that for each of the 10 different versions I found, none had a byline by a reporter, an author, or credited to a source of any kind.

 Second, the logic put forward by this fictional piece is outrageously flawed and it doesn’t require a big brain like Einstein to see through it. For example, to say that there is no such thing as cold, is absurd. Yes, we might conclude that cold is the word we use to describe the lack of heat, but that’s just splitting hairs over how the word ‘cold’ is defined! Let’s remember, the word ‘cold’ has uses beyond physics. It’s easier to say ‘it’s cold outside’ than to say ‘today’s atmosphere lacks heat at this altitude ‘. Further, we commonly use the word ‘cold’ as the opposite of heat because temperatures we consider cold or hot are on opposite ends of a continuous scale.

Third, this story posits that evolution has not been observed when, in fact, it has:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19733274/

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html

Fourth, this is a well known hoax, documented here:

http://www.snopes.com/religion/einstein.asp

Note: no biographical writing of Einstein mentions this event. Something as dramatic as this is intended to be would have made the pages of at least one of the thousands of Einstein biographical works made to date.

 Ultimately, this was written by someone who has no understanding of how science works. It’s really just a poorly conceived philosophical story without merit.

Okay then. The story is a manipulative pile of horse apples. However, please do not misunderstand me or vilify me: I am not just about exposing questionable parables for its own sake. Something can FEEL true, even when it’s not. My hope is that if one is seeking spiritual guidance, trying to answer the BIG questions in life, or needs some healing for the spirit, remember that tolerance for ambiguity is a good thing.

Scientists are not this “other” species who are seeking to destroy faith and belief systems. In fact, many of the most ingenious scientists have been those who are passionate in their quests for both facts and truth, such as Carl Sagan, Marie Curie, William Herschel, John Dalton, and Gregor Mendel, just to name a few. There is no real debate or argument between science and religion. It’s like a celebrity death-match; completely fabricated to keep our minds off of the real questions, to distract us from our own journeys. Humanity is too good and big for these petty tussles, and the universe can shoulder it, too.

Next time, find a real anecdote, quote, or fact to speak your truth.

I have always liked this one:

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

–Carl Sagan

Apple pie universal truths.

I *heart* Bill Nye the Science Guy.

It’s true. I have a little secret science crush on Bill Nye the Science Guy. (Yes, my husband knows. He has a small crush on Sandra Bullock, and we’re okay with that, too. His chances of actually meeting Sandra Bullock are an astronomical, exponential number.)

Bill Nye the Science Guy
Bill Nye the Science Guy

From The Writer’s Almanac, November 27, 2009: It’s the birthday of Bill Nye the Science Guy, (books by this author) born William Sanford Nye in Washington, D.C. (1955). He majored in mechanical engineering at Cornell, where one of his professors was Carl Sagan, and was working as an actor at a Seattle sketch comedy show when the host mispronounced the word “gigawatt”; he’d incorrectly said “jigowatt.” William Sanford Nye politely corrected the host of the television comedy show, and the host said, “Who are you?” and Nye said, off the top of his head, “Bill Nye the Science Guy?”

Between 1993 and 1997, he wrote, produced, and hosted 100 episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy, his educational program on PBS geared toward grade-schoolers. The 26-minute program, each featuring a distinct topic, was shown in classrooms across the country, and it still is broadcast on some public television stations. He’s written a number of children’s books, including Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Big Blast of Science (1993).

 

If one of his professors was Carl Sagan, well, maybe that explains some things, because I also think Carl Sagan, a physicist, said some incredible things, too:

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

So, as I ask some big questions, like my place in the universe, why am I here, am I only limited to my tiny mortal coil, restrictive and finite, I will also know I am in good company with others more intelligent than I–Professor Sagan, Bill Nye, and of course, my husband, whom I *heart* the most.

Check out Bill Nye the Science Guy’s website: http://www.billnye.com/flash.html

Pale Blue Planet

We are here: Pale Blue Planet

This is an homage to Carl Sagan’s famous speech about our little dust mote — we are so tiny, so insignificant, so small — and yet, we continue to dream big. I for one think that even though we are living and dying on something so small, what are our alternatives? Yes, we can and should take better care of each other and our world, because it’s the only one we’ve got.

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