Carl Sagan leaves us . . .

James Randi --- Wizard (randi-hotline@ssr.com)
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 10:50:41 -0500

We've lost Carl Sagan, and I can't quite adjust to the fact. When
Asimov went, it was bad enough, but now that both these bright lights
have gone out, I'm desolated.

Up until the end, he was confident, cheery, optimistic. Despite the
ravages of his illness and the obvious, visible effects of the therapy
he was undergoing, he made every public appearance he could. He was
brave in the face of his demise, and went like the warrior he was.

I urge you, if you have not yet read "The Demon-Haunted World," his
last book, please do so. Many months ago, I received a bound galley
of that book, with a cautionary note not to prepare a review based
closely upon it, since there were many planned changes due. When I
eventually received the final version, I noted many instances where
Carl had strengthened his language, upgraded and fortified his
adjectives, and in general harded his language. I had the chilling
thought that perhaps he felt this might be his last statement about
the pseudoscience, crackpots, frauds, and quacks that he so resented.

I feel his loss acutely. He had the ability to captivate with his
words, spoken or written. His students at Cornell worshiped him, and
though his colleagues were often pedantically annoyed at his high
public profile and expressed opinions that he should return to
astronomy, he ignored that pressure -- happily for us -- and continued
to be the great teacher of critical thinking that the world came to
know and respect.

A giant has fallen. We can only celebrate his life and continue to
listen to him through his writings.

(Please excuse the rambling nature of this rather self-indulgent note.
It's early in the morning, and I'm having a hard time with this
matter.)

James Randi.