14 years ago today, I began reading Carl Sagan‘s book, The Demon-Haunted World, after reading an excerpt of it in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Three days later, I learned that Sagan had died and it was a sad day for me and for the cause of science and rationality as a whole. I wrote about this a few years ago, but I was thinking about it this morning, especially in light of my recent post on Isaac Asimov’s science essays.
Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, and Martin Gardner formed a kind of intellectual triad for me, people who I admired for many reasons, but especially for their promotion and defense of reason, rationality and science in an increasingly scientifically-illiterate world. (Stephen Jay Gould and James Randi formed a kind of second tier to this list as well.) It’s rather depressing to think that of the five men, only one of them (Randi) lives on. It’s even sadder to me when I realize that there really hasn’t been anyone of equal intellectual courage to take up their fight.