IN THIS SKEPTICS DISTINGUISHED LECTURE SERIES talk at Caltech from 1999, three science biographers take an illuminating look back over the life and legacy of one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated astronomers.
First, Michael Shermer analyzes Carl Sagan’s career to test common claims (such as the idea that Sagan’s popularizing interfered with his scientific research). Shermer reveals the true nature of the so-called “Sagan Effect.”
Then, William Poundstone (author of Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos) provides an entertaining look at Sagan’s lesser known interests — especially his marijuana use (and the media fascination with that revelation).
Keay Davidson (author of Carl Sagan: A Life) rounds out the event with a discussion of Sagan’s ideas about exobiology and nuclear proliferation.