Happy Sagan Day, everyone! To mark the occasion, I made this video. The problem with correcting misconceptions is that some studies suggest that people will often walk away remembering the misconception but not the correction. To get around this, I came up with five “misconceptions” that you will probably not get wrong in the future. Enjoy, and don’t forget to also check out this Pale Blue Dot tribute by our sister site, Mad Art Lab!
Note to my deaf/hard-of-hearing/video-averse friends: I don’t have a transcript handy as I did this one sans script, so I’ll summarize:
Misconception 1: Carl Sagan’s real name was Jennifer, but he was forced to change it by a Hollywood producer.
Truth: Carl was named after a woman – his maternal grandmother, Clara.
Misconception 2: Carl Sagan liked pot.
Truth: Carl Sagan fucking loved pot.
Misconception 3: Carl Sagan lived in an Egyptian-themed tomb overlooking a 200-foot gorge, which was once owned by a secret society.
Truth: That one is true, actually.
Misconception 4: “Carl Sagan” was actually an elaborate hoax by Andy Kaufman.
Truth: Nothing to do with Andy Kaufman. But, Sagan was once a professor at Harvard but he left after being denied tenure, most likely because Harvard was annoyed at his popularization of science (as opposed to actually doing hard research). Cornell was looking for a superstar scientist so they snapped him up.
Misconception 5: Carl Sagan was a founding member of the Men’s Rights Movement.
Truth: Carl Sagan was a staunch feminist ally. His mother was a rebellious, skeptical badass who Carl pointed out was held back by society’s attitudes toward women; his only work of fiction featured a strong female protagonist based on an awesome female scientist (Dr. Jill Tarter); he wrote an essay on the science of the abortion debate, at the end of which he supports Roe v. Wade; and he wrote a passionate letter to The Explorer’s Club arguing for the inclusion of women (which they shortly instituted).
Enjoy a Sagany weekend!