‘Cosmos’ and Carl Sagan’s legacy: An interview with SETI Sagan Center Director David Morrison

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David Morrison and Carl Sagan in 1980.

David Morrison and Carl Sagan in 1980. Photo courtesy David Morrison.

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David Morrison, Carl Sagan's first doctoral student and current Director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute, speaks with RNS about Sagan's legacy, what it was like to be one of Sagan’s students, the “Cosmos” reboot, and more.

  • Thank you Chris. It was Sagan’s book, “The Demon-Haunted World…,” that started me in my adventure to produce and promote science-based media. I began by co-founding the radio talk show of the SETI Institute and launching the podcasts of New Scientist magazine. Today, I produce the podcasts and other audio material of Cell magazine…and produce the yet-to-be-announced-to-the-general public podcasts of a group very near you. The takeaway for me is this: critical thinking is vital for humanity’s survival and I’m grateful to the work of Carl Sagan for helping me to understand it.. Personally, agnosticism is a conclusion, not a belief. 🙂 Much success to you and your organization and thank you again for a good interview.

  • Larry

    Carl Sagan is newsworthy again!


  • Santanu sasmal

    Describing Cosmos as fantastic would be an understatement. It was a book which made me think “what we are, how do we know”. Seldom do we see a movie better than book. The TV version of cosmos was equally good. I would be eagerly waiting for the cosmos reboot.

  • Atheist Max

    May everyone follow Carl Sagan’s wise advice to question
    the Dragon in the garage.

  • Pingback: Our place in the 'Cosmos': Carl Sagan's Humanism in 5 quotes | Faitheist()

  • P Myska

    Unfortunately, the new Cosmos remake in its very first episode continues with Sagan’s biased views on religion, more specifically with the Catholic Church when Neil deGrasse Tyson misinforms viewers on the heresy trials of former monk, Giordano Bruno – not unlike Carl Sagan’s misinformation on Galileo Galilei.

    Historical scholars have in fact acknowledged that Bruno was acually tried and sentenced to death for his heretical views on the Trinity rather than anything to do with Copernicanism, and had Bruno avoided trying to live and teach in a Catholic country at the time, he would never have been arrested for his views.

    Sagan’s earlier misinformation was in portraying Galileo “in a Catholic dungeon threatened with torture” for his “heretical view that the earth moved about the sun”.

    Author Dinesh D’Souza debunks this view: “Contrary to what some atheist propagandists have said, Galileo was never charged with heresy, and he was never placed in a dungeon or tortured in any way. After he recanted Galileo was released into the custody of the archbishop of Siena, who housed him for five months in his magnificent palace. Then he was permitted to return to his villa in Florence. Although technically under house arrest, he was able to visit his daughters at the convent of San Matteo. The church also permitted him to continue his scientific work on matters unrelated to heliocentrism, and he published important research during this period. Galileo died of natural causes in 1642.”