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Carl Sagan Collection

Since its creation in 1976, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly known as CSICOP - the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) has been honored by its association with founding member Carl Sagan, David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and the Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Peabody-winning television producer, and recipient of the National Academy of Science’s highest honor, the Public Welfare Medal.

Many of us first came to science and skepticism by way of Sagan’s PBS series, COSMOS, but his dedication to skeptical inquiry began long before we saw him on television. Early efforts to inform the public about science, pseudoscience, and the difference between them began in the late 1960s, and from them Sagan created one of the key principles of the skeptical movement: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. From his later work came the other pillar of skeptical inquiry: The Baloney Detection Kit. With these principles, his TV appearances, and his popular and prolific science writing, it’s no exaggeration to say that Sagan inspired an entire generation of scientists and skeptics, the very people who now carry the movement in his absence.

As this collection of articles, both by Sagan and about him, shows, Sagan was that rarest of individuals. He was a true scientist and researcher who was also adept at communicating scientific ideas to the general public, a person equally comfortable with solving strings of equations and creating strings of words, a skeptic who routinely disproved the unfounded and often dangerous beliefs of his fellow humans without ever losing his belief in humankind. We hope you enjoy this look back at Sagan’s work and are as inspired as we are to continue bringing his unique blend of skepticism and wonder into the future.

A Celebration of Isaac Asimov: A Man for the Universe

Skeptical Inquirer

Carl Sagan
September 1, 1992
Isaac Asimov was one of the great explainers of the age. Like T. H. Huxley, he was motivated by profoundly democratic...

Ann Druyan Talks About Science, Religion, Wonder, Awe . . . and Carl Sagan

Skeptical Inquirer

Ann Druyan
November 1, 2003
I've been thinking about the distorted view of science that prevails in our culture. I've been wondering about this, because...

Carl Sagan’s Life and Legacy as Scientist, Teacher, and Skeptic

Skeptical Inquirer

David Morrison
January 1, 2007
In remembrance of Carl Sagan, a noted planetary scientist and colleague recalls Sagan's contributions to planetary research.

Carl Sagan Takes Questions: More From His ‘Wonder and Skepticism’ CSICOP 1994 Keynote

Skeptical Inquirer

Carl Sagan
July 1, 2005
Carl Sagan takes questions at his CSICOP keynote address in Seattle Washington on June 26, 1994.

Controversies in Science and Fringe Science: From Animals and SETI to Quackery and SHC

Skeptical Inquirer

Lys Ann Shore
September 1, 1987
We asked Lys Ann Shore, who writes frequently for our News and Comment section, to cover the 1987 conference...

Does Truth Matter? Science, Pseudoscience, and Civilization

Skeptical Inquirer

Carl Sagan
March 1, 1996
Science has beauty, power, and majesty that can provide spiritual as well as practical fulfillment...

Night Walkers and Mystery Mongers: Sense and Nonsense at the Edge of Science

Skeptical Inquirer

Carl Sagan
March 1, 1986
In Greece of the second century A.D., during the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, there lived a master con man...

Sagan Honored with CSICOP Award

Skeptical Inquirer

The Editors
September 1, 1994
While it is true that one of CSICOP's primary roles is to provide critical examinations of paranormal and fringe-science...

Science’s Vast Cosmic Perspective Eludes Religion

Skeptical Inquirer

Carl Sagan
March 1, 2007
An excerpt from The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A personal View of the Search for God. by Carl Sagan

The Burden of Skepticism

Skeptical Inquirer

Carl Sagan
September 1, 1987
What is skepticism? It's nothing very esoteric. We encounter it every day. When we buy a used car, if we are the least bit...

The Carl Sagan Memorial Service

Skeptical Inquirer

Warren Allen Smith
July 1, 1997
An atheist’s memorial service held in a cathedral? Yes, Carl Sagan’s was held February 27 at New York City’s Cathedral...

The Darkened Cosmos: A Tribute to Carl Sagan

Skeptical Inquirer

The Editors
March 1, 1997
One of the world's strongest and most eloquent voices for science and reason has been silenced forever.

The Darkened Cosmos II: More Tributes to Carl Sagan

Skeptical Inquirer

The Editors
May 1, 1997
We continue the tributes to Carl Sagan begun in our last issue.

The Great Turning Away

Skeptical Inquirer

Ann Druyan
July 1, 2005
Our culture seems to be engaged in a great turning away from reality, seeking refuge in discredited myths and magical thinking.

The Ten Outstanding Skeptics of the Twentieth Century

Skeptical Inquirer

The Editors
January 1, 2000
Who are the outstanding skeptics of the twentieth century? We put that question to an elite group of scholars...

The Universe and Carl Sagan

Skeptical Inquirer

Keay Davidson
November 1, 1999
Few people ever extolled the wonders of science with more eloquence or were as effective in defending reason and campaigning...

Why We Need To Understand Science

Skeptical Inquirer

Carl Sagan
March 1, 1990
Ignorance of science threatens our economic well-being, our national security, and the democratic process. We must do better.

Wonder and Skepticism

Skeptical Inquirer

Carl Sagan
January 1, 1995
Science requires an almost complete openness to all ideas. On the other hand, it requires the most rigorous...