Ann Druyan evokes the passion of science – Editor’s Note – Editorial
As soon as Ann Druyan spoke, I knew I wanted to share her words with you. Her informal talk came at a small conference, “The Assault on Reason,” opening the auditorium at our new Center for Inquiry-West in Los Angeles. Her words ring with a passion for science and a determination to share with others the emotional uplift of learning about the wonders of the cosmos. And she wonders why we leave to religion that sense of awe that many of us find in scientific discoveries about our origins, the depth of time, the vastness of space, and out connections to it all. Her article based on that talk leads this issue.
She speaks of “the great bifurcation” that happened four or five hundred years ago when churches agreed to stop torturing scientists and scientists “pretended that knowledge of the universe has no spiritual implications…. There is a great wall that separates what we know from what we feel.” She writes of reaching people by combining “rigorous science with that soaring, uplifting feeling” when we encounter beautiful revelations about how we are all part of “this greater fabric of life.” You can see for yourself what I am talking about.
If in anything you read there you find yourself recalling some of the grace and evocative prose you remember reading Carl Sagan, it is no accident. For twenty years, Ann and Carl shared their lives, personally as wife and husband, and professionally as collaborators on books and the majestic television series Cosmos. She shared bylines with him on Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and Comet and was a credited contributor to at least four other books, including his final two. It is clear they shared a poetic embrace with the universe. They both have a cosmic perspective, and a facility of expression that brings its wonders to us with a power that few others have been able to evoke.
Their works always combined soaring prose with inspiring visuals–emotionally evocative photographs and artist’s paintings. So it is a pleasure to present immediately following Ann’s article an essay on art and science by Stephen Nowlin. He discusses how some artists have gained a new interest in science and how “in combination art and science can forge a kind of nonsupernatural spirituality–a deep appreciation for the beauty and untamed complexity of the real.”
The next two articles also closely complement each other. Chris Mooney, a new SKEPTICAL INQUIRER contributing editor, probes into the regrettably credulous fascination with the paranormal of CNN’s Larry King. In his nightly CNN show Larry King Live, King usually does legitimate journalism and plays it straight, but when it comes to psychics and other pseudoscientific matters the proponents get a mostly free, uncritical ride. Bryan Farha investigates one particular King favorite, “spiritual medium” Sylvia Browne. He documents how Browne has repeatedly reneged on her on-camera promises to submit her claims to testing. Over and again, on the King show, she has promised to accept the challenges, then refused to follow through. Yet King’s producers keep bringing her back to spout the same old discredited stuff. That’s behavior not befitting a King.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group