Author Topic: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?  (Read 238 times)

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Offline Desert Fox

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Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« on: November 07, 2019, 04:46:23 PM »
Discussing with a friend via email and I wrote this:

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It is the shear weight of hypocrisy in the fossil fuel industry that gets me. Of course I feel bruised on all side. Neil deGrasse Tyson has been credibly accused of rape, for example. Several other prominent members of the skeptical community have been credibly accused of inappropriate activities with women as well, although not rising to rape.

He brought up something and wondering if anybody has any opinions, maybe somebody who had met him?

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On a different front, I was unaware of the allegations made against Tyson.  Not that I have any personal investment in the man.  I could never stomach his programs, which invariably seemed condescending in the way that they were pitched toward the less-than-educated.  Sagan tried to engage the reader or viewer rather more effectively.  Tyson's effusiveness and penchant for simplification would be cloying enough if he were dealing with children.  Combine that with his tendency to insert his opinions into unrelated subjects and the result is someone who grates on my nerves.  Not as badly as Michiu Kaku, but still, I have no investment in the man nor in his reputation. 

(Yes, I'm aware of the fact that Carl Sagan was a jerk as well as a raging egotist.  I'm referring to his ability to convey ideas, not his personality nor personal nature.  Truthfully, many scientists have been less-than-outstanding people.  That didn't diminish their scientific accomplishments, just as it doesn't diminish artistic accomplishments.  Dickens was monstrous toward his wife.  He was also a brilliant writer and committed social reformer.  Da Vinci was exceedingly mercurial and had a predilection for boys as well as being one of the most extraordinary minds in all of human history {based on factual accomplishments, not rumours/myths}.  Acknowledge the facts and move on.)

Was Sagan a jerk?

"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
— Robert G. Ingersoll

Offline John Albert

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Re: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2019, 04:57:15 PM »
Everybody is/was a jerk. Get over it.

Kill your idols.

Carl Sagan is not admirable for being a perfect moral being. He's admirable for his science advocacy and the valuable epistemological ideas he popularized.

Offline seamas

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Re: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2019, 05:02:57 PM »
More to the point is referring to Leonardo as "Da Vinci" (ARRRRGGG!!) and putting some rather sketchy centuries old accusations out as anything less than rumour = Bad.
There's no such thing as denial.

Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2019, 05:15:47 PM »
I find people who don't like what Dr Novella says think he's an egoist and a jerk. I don't find him to be that way at all, but so many people can't separate criticism of their opinions from personal criticism so...
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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2019, 05:05:38 PM »
Sagan certainly had his dirty laundry. It is not reasonable to expect anyone to be flawless.

See also this blogpost from Steve: Nobody’s Perfect – Dealing with Flawed Characters
"I’m a member of no party. I have no ideology. I’m a rationalist. I do what I can in the international struggle between science and reason and the barbarism, superstition and stupidity that’s all around us." - Christopher Hitchens

Offline John Albert

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Re: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2019, 05:14:25 PM »
I once heard a story that Richard Feynman was playing the bongo drums at a party at Los Alamos while Nagasaki was being bombed.

Don't know whether that's true or not, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility.

Offline Desert Fox

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Re: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2019, 06:13:41 PM »
This is what I wrote in return
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Looking online, those calling him a jerk appear to be libertarians and religious people who he appears to have called. Let us assume that Carl Sagan was a jerk though, there is a big difference between being a jerk and doing what Tyson is accused of doing. Being abrasive and quarrelsome should not be unforgivable. I do also have concerns that some of the skeptical community are cosying up to incels and other similar types. I do wish there were more solid female leaders in the skeptical community as well.
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
— Robert G. Ingersoll

Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2019, 04:06:00 PM »
I much happier that the skeptical jerks like Dawkins still manage to write thought provoking material that is intelligent.

Jerks from the other side, like Ken Ham, just spew more garbage to add to the shit pile they have created. (<-- Yes it's a pun)

Offline swan

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Re: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2019, 07:12:10 PM »
I once heard a story that Richard Feynman was playing the bongo drums at a party at Los Alamos while Nagasaki was being bombed.

Don't know whether that's true or not, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility.

Richard Feynman was a severely flawed person: At his worst, he'd even chewed out one of his graduate students and threatened to drop him if he didn't stay all night to re-do some work; but Feynman then went to the student's home to have sex with the guy's wife. It's not a stretch to think that she would have "been willing" to have sex with Feynman only to keep him from destroying her husband's career. Too bad Universities cared even less about ethics back then than they do today. (IIRC this was revealed in Genius by James Gleick, but it may have been part of No Ordinary Genius edited by Christopher Sykes.)

But are we going to rename Feynman Diagrams to Scuzzball Sketches just because he was a sexual predator? Doubt it. We're too addicted to the idea of heroes.

Jerks from the other side, like Ken Ham, just spew more garbage to add to the shit pile they have created. (<-- Yes it's a pun)



;)

Offline John Albert

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Re: Skeptical heroes being jerks (Carl Sagan specifically)?
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2019, 07:18:07 PM »
I once heard a story that Richard Feynman was playing the bongo drums at a party at Los Alamos while Nagasaki was being bombed.

Don't know whether that's true or not, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility.

Richard Feynman was a severely flawed person: At his worst, he'd even chewed out one of his graduate students and threatened to drop him if he didn't stay all night to re-do some work; but Feynman then went to the student's home to have sex with the guy's wife. It's not a stretch to think that she would have "been willing" to have sex with Feynman only to keep him from destroying her husband's career. Too bad Universities cared even less about ethics back then than they do today. (IIRC this was revealed in Genius by James Gleick, but it may have been part of No Ordinary Genius edited by Christopher Sykes.)

That is appalling. Even worse than playing the bongos, IMHO.