The post-modern physician Carl Sagan advances the argument in his absolutely captivating tract A Candle in the Dark, that the more retro-elements of the late 20th / early 21st Century, are both consciously and unconsciously driving human civilization towards a neo-medieval age. Although the book appeared a few years ago, many political thinkers wisely associate many leaders around the globe with this phenomenon.

Sagan’s book leads the audience through, amongst other themes, a scientific skepticism of much of the rising faith in mysticism -a factor in the possible decline of Western Intellectualism? Yet,  Sagan proposes the exploration into, and of, strange & inexplicable phenomena such as the psychic kind, that is, under certain controlled conditions.* Nevertheless, he makes a strong case for what I would refer to as the rigorous implementation of the scientific method. That, and the moral imperative of softly forcing more scientists and, thus, their research for less, well, let’s say, destructive purposes.

Of the myriad themes, the most compelling is the evident repression of scientific research in many, if not all, sectors, except the military-industrial. He drives forth a powerful, if not entirely unflawed, argument.  But his aim is clear: Western society is falling far short of incentives for more, open-minded, university graduates, especially in the sciences and mathematics fields.

At the time that Sagan published his tract, it was most uncool to even seem like you liked sciences and math. Sagan even implies that the US systematically kept the vast majority of US youth far from those fields; thus, creating a crop to recruit from the more isolated & lowly socially-skilled individuals. These early versions of the ñoño were then easily lured into lab-rat, high-paying military-industrial research jobs. Without much of a social life, the young men and women were then induced to work for military purposes, exclusively. In other words, the top minds were and are busy plotting destruction, not construction. This may sound like scene out of a weird, sci-fi flick, but when you think about it… top scientists from Einstein to those involved in the Manhattan Project have always been recruited for highly-secretive military missions. It is significant that in the Cold War Era, many scientists from the recently defeated German racist regime were divvied up between the Soviets and the CIA for their military machines and human experimentation programs. Yes, even Alfred Nobel, he of the Nobel prizes, was catapulted into human consciousness for his dynamite discoveries.

Since Sagan thought through these controversial, yet intellectually stimulating ideas, the world has changed… and then some. The most popular show amongst many Colombians is The Big Bang Theory where the geeks get the good-looking, albeit disoriented, girl. It’s cool to be a fool, you could say. Nonetheless, we need to attract more humanity-oriented students for the sciences. This, in order to begin to scientifically find solutions to combat the global crises like temperatures, extinguishing species, endemic  diseases, natural disasters & armed conflicts, which are all on the rise. Humanist-driven students seek shelter in psychology, sociology, history, languages & the arts. The result being a specific decline of intellectual activity within the development of crisis-management projects which we so desperately world to combat global warming and those already mentioned.


Ultimately Sagan (and this writer) may not yet fully contemplate the impact of the Tech-Age brain-child, those of the Steve Jobs or Bill Gates variety. Yet his point is still worth considering since these are just a handful of the brilliant minds in the Western World. What are other the top scientists and geniuses working on, I wonder?

*For those more interested in this psychic-phenomenon make sure to catch Altered States. The film documents the isolation tank experiments of the late ‘60’s & Carlos Castañeda’s work with the Northern Mexican Tatamahurara tribe and their shamanistic Indian rituals. (For fans of William Hurt, he plays the lead.)





  1. Nicolás Moreno dice:

    Es vital para el país, que se estimule a los jovenes a estudiar ciencias y matemáticas. Es un asunto del que depende la posibilidad de mantener tasas de crecimiento positivas. El grueso de los ingresos del país durante los próximos 15 años provendrán de la minería (incluyendo la explotación de petróleo), pero es claro esto no es sostenible.

    Paises como Brasil se la han jugado a fondo desde hace decadas por la inversión en ciencia y tecnología y ahora lideran, por ejemplo, el mercado mundial de aviones (!!!) de corto alcance. De hecho hace poco volé a Cartagena en uno de los muy modernos aviones Embraer, 100% brasileros. Nuestro país debe proponerse metas similares, vivir de la exportación de nuestra propia tecnología e ideas científicas. Nuestros recursos naturales pronto se van a agotar y entonces ¿De qué vamos a vivir?

    Es necesario que el gobierno invierta en programas de ciencia y tecnología (becas, inversión directa en las universidades) y que desde los colegios se estimule y se logren los cambios en la actitud de los estudiantes hacia las ciencias. Es un gran reto.


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