Have Carl Sagan’s 1995 Predictions of America’s Future Come True?
by Ashley Dreiling
More than 25 years ago, Dr. Carl Sagan’s book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, made some eerily accurate predictions about the future that have gone viral. Many believe his dystopian forecasts about humankind’s advancements in science giving rise to superstition and pseudoscience, have already come true.
The late astrophysicist Carl Edward Sagan is best known for his scientific research on extraterrestrial life, specifically the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation. Sagan was also an astronomer, cosmologist, astrobiologist, and prolific science communicator.
One passage of Sagan’s book includes disturbing familiar references about what will happen to the United States if the pursuit of science is no longer for the purpose of peace, reason, and open-minded thinking. In it, he seems to specifically reference the rise of big tech and misinformation in the social media area.
• “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy.”
• “When nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries.”
• “When awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues.”
• “When the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority.”
• “When clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”
Carl Sagan didn’t have a time machine, but his foresight in 1995 when science was merging with technology and the internet was just beginning, is certainly nothing short of impressive.