If there is a science popularizer whose love for science has crossed all geographic, thought, and belief barriers, it is undoubtedly Carl Sagan.
With his great intellect to navigate between the most complex aspects of science and the simplicity of human curiosity, Carl Sagan managed to generate a special connection with his audience through Cosmos.
But he was also a prodigious writer, and in 1995 he published his book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, where he addresses everything from spiritual questions to his argument against pseudoscience. But recently what has caught the public’s attention the most from his publication is a descriptive quote of what he predicts a future America, which is eerily similar to the present we have arrived at.
Sagan always conveyed his enthusiasm for science, and in a sense, most of his views were optimistic; still, he always saw reality with objective eyes. Even in another of his books, he talked about how extraterrestrial contact would transform humanity, and far from posing a catastrophic scenario, he was hopeful that mankind would realize its unjustified wars and the importance of moving towards a united humanity.
Carl Sagan’s prediction
Sagan speaks of a possible dystopian society dominated by darkness fueled by welfare in the hands of the few. He believed that the future of humanity was heading towards a grotesque divide, as the limiting gap between the most privileged and those at the edge of the social system would grow ever wider.
The most immediate consequence would be an almost ridiculous authority sustained by the decline of critical thinking, as no representative would be able to understand the real social problems due to the great class gap. Of course, such actions would have consequences in all corners of humanity, from political posturing to science in decline heading towards obscurity again. This is what Carl Sagan wrote in his 1995 book:
“Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a premonition of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when America is a service and information economy; when almost all key manufacturing industries have gone to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a few, and no one representing the public interest can even understand the issues; when people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowingly question those in authority; when clutching our glasses and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels right and what is true, we slip, almost without realizing it, back into superstition and darkness.”
A blinded humanity
What is truly disturbing is that many of the premises that Sagan addresses in his quote are palpable today. Tycoons like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos hold in their hands practically the destiny of humanity thanks to their mastery of astonishing technological powers.
But not only that, the world’s authorities are distracted by power and capitalist economics, without even looking at the real problems that afflict humanity. So much so, that we have not been able to leap over paper environmental policies and start a real action to save the planet.
It is strange to think how, from his own time, Carl Sagan could envision a dystopian future that, although we may not like it, is eerily similar to our present. One can only wonder what his views would be when observing blinded humanity like one of our days.
Story originally published in Ecoosfera