Carl Sagan on Dystopia, Fake News & Big Tech

Om MalikChristopher Michel

Reprinted in its entirety from, Om Malik’s blog

Happy birthday, Carl Sagan. Thanks for leaving a legacy and the gift of your writings. In his 1995 book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, noted writer, astronomer and philosopher Sagan noted:

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

It is good that he is not here to see the future, and it is a shame he is not here to tell us about the future. But his birthday should be a reminder of why we need to learn and evolve with science, and not shun it.

h/t Steve Crandall

Sometimes the Dead Need a Primary Care Physician

Photo NOT from this story

❝ He was found dead in the doorway of a restaurant, under a tarp, huddled in the rain. He came to my office because his death was in public view. We didn’t even know his name. A search of the police fingerprint database gave him an ID and revealed he was homeless, a veteran, and had no living next of kin. We found no medical records under his name. His body was a testament to hard living on the street. The dirt was so ingrained into his palms and soles that even when I laid into it with soap and an abrasive kitchen pot scrubber (looking for injuries or track marks) my efforts barely managed to uncover his natural flesh color. His face carried wrinkles beyond his 57 years. Dead people generally look like they are sleeping. This man looked worn.

❝ The autopsy was one of the strangest I have ever performed. When I cut into the flesh, there was no passive blood flow. Instead of red fluid, his veins and arteries contained … pink noodles. His circulatory system was filled with what looked like spaghetti — the blood had congealed inside the vessels, in thin branching ropes. He had a moderately enlarged heart and a bit of black pigmentation of the lungs, and his toxicology report came back clean of alcohol or any drugs of abuse. The answers came to me under the microscope. His blood had been replaced by large white cell progenitors. It was ropy because it was mostly white blood cells, and not normal ones, either, but blasts. He had leukemia…

❝ Little did I know that by going into forensic pathology, a subspecialty of a subspecialty, I was going to end up practicing primary care medicine. My patients are frequently the under-treated and under-diagnosed, the uninsured and under-served — which is why they end up on my autopsy table. We don’t autopsy those who have had medical attention and who are under the care of a physician who is willing and able to sign a death certificate for a natural cause. We bring in and autopsy those who die suddenly, unexpectedly, and violently. This includes those who die at home or on the street and those we can’t identify. They include the drug-addicted and the homeless, and those who are too poor to seek medical care. Sometimes I am the only doctor my patients have ever seen.

A worthwhile read, my friends. Please click the link – and read on.