Over 25 years ago, Dr Carl Sagan made an eerily prophetic prediction about the future, appearing to foretell the rise of big tech, misinformation, and astrology Twitter.
Sagan is best known as a preacher of science, communicating complex ideas with passion and poetry like no other, but the late astrophysicist was also a dab hand at sharp insights into humanity.
In his 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Sagan explains how the scientific method has helped to illuminate many of the universe’s gloomiest corners. However, he believes that the pursuit of peace and truth is being undermined by humankind’s old friends: superstition and pseudoscience.
Within a passage of the text that frequently goes viral, Sagan set outs his pessimistic vision of where the US will go if it loses its admiration for reason, rationality, and open-minded thinking.
Worryingly, it looks like we might have already arrived at this dystopian destination – horoscopes and all.
It reads: “Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. 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 key 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.”
For more insights from this wise soul, you might want to check out his “secret” essay about the benefits of marijuana use.