In the very first paragraph, Dr. Sagan discusses how we grossly overestimate ourselves when we promise to tell the truth and nothing but the truth in a court of law. Given all that we have learned in this book over the last month, what does Dr. Sagan mean by this? Why does he think this is too much to ask of us?
1. Dr. Sagan meant that the statement is non-relative truth -concept and ambiguous. He argues that there are multiple truth-concepts since they think that the word true must-have varied meanings applicable to various propositions kinds; mathematical, ethical and scientific. He refutes the opinion that the statement is relative to the conceptual schemes and theory. Dr. Sagan thinks that it is too much to ask since the concept has some ideological humbug.
2. In this chapter, Dr. Sagan discusses with us the dangers of what he calls “silent assent” to even apparently harmless mysticism and fanatical thinking. He shares an analogy of a prejudiced cab driver and a crossroads at which we arrive in deciding whether and how to respond. In light of the discussion, what are the options and their consequences? How would you handle such a situation and why? What if the situation was different: you are a leader and the unfounded truths are coming from one of your followers upon whom you rely in order to keep your team functioning. Is your response any different? Why or why not?
In silent is assent it is assumed that when one fails to object, then it is taken to mean one has accepted something. Therefore, if one does not approve of the actions of an entity, then he needs to speak up. Failure of which, people will get the idea that there is no objection. If the unfounded is coming from one of my followers, I will not act any different because for one to protect his surrounding it is required to speak up and loudly. There are certain things if done against our will and approval we can never remain silent.
3. Some of the potential negative side effects that Dr. Sagan describes with respect to rigorous skepticism are 1) the creation of polarity (us vs. them mentality), 2) a perception of arrogant superiority or contempt, and 3) personally offending those whose beliefs are scrutinized by skepticism. How does Sagan suggest that we avoid these pitfalls? Does he think that some ideas are too silly or fantastic to be worthy of investigation? Dr. Sagan describes three ESP-related claims, which he states “deserve serious study”. What reason does he cite for this support? Does he believe the claims are valid? Even if the claims are invalidated, what benefits might the exploration yield for the investigators and the claimants? How does this dynamic relate to a leadership paradigm? In other words, how can a leader avoid perceptions of arrogance among his or her followers, and how can a leader ensure that followers feel that their opinions and ideas are respected?
According to Sagan, one can avoid the pitfalls through trying something new, thinking about things that will make someone behave in a superior manner, and shunning from knowing it all assumption. Sagan thinks that some of the ideas are too basic to be worth an investigation he regards them to be a waste of time and money. The claims deserve serious studies because they have a valid impact on the life of people especially the claimers and investigators. A leader can avoid the perception of arrogance by shunning from condescending his followers.
4. What are the two tenets that Dr. Sagan has been trying to impress upon us throughout this entire book? (Hint: read the chapter title). Define each of these two concepts in your own words, based on what you have learned. How are they inter-related? With respect to your future career as a hospitality professional and as a social scientist, how will you apply these concepts to your perspectives on work and life?
The principles that Dr. Sagan has impressed in the whole book are science and religion. Religion resides in space sheer vastness where he says that there are over billion stars in the galaxy. That universe measure 47.5 billion years across and has a total of 10-80 atoms. That the wide universe scale, with no western religion and religion, has been considered. Under the religious principle, he imagines how the creator dictated his art to prophets in ways that will make an impact on the moderns. His concept is applicable to my work and life. It cements the belief that God needs to be accepted as truth. In addition, everyone that follows the truth must do it on faith alone.
5. These two tenets aside, a third overarching theme of Dr. Sagan’s writing has been humility. Recall that we opened class with an anonymous quote: “the wisest among us always have more questions than answers.” Countless times, throughout these readings, have we witnessed Dr. Sagan finish a thought with “but I could be wrong.” How often do we hear other public figures share this disposition? Celebrities? Politicians? Theologians? What does this say about one’s character? Why is this so important and integral to what we have been learning? Do you find yourself saying, “I could be wrong” a lot in conversation? Will these teachings change your tendencies (or lack thereof) on this point? Why or why not?
It is quite rare for celebrities, theologians, and politicians to accept they are wrong because they are not always humble. The teachings are integral because it prepares and teaches humility. After the reading, I am happy to find myself saying I am wrong with ease. The teachings changed my mind because it costs nothing to exercise humility.
Sagan, Carl. The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark. New York: Random House, 1995. Print.