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Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence

Carl Sagan

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Those at too great a distance may, I am well are, mistake ignorance for perspective.”

“In general, human societies are not innovative. They are hierarchical and ritualistic. Suggestions for change are greeted with suspicion: they imply an unpleasant future variation in ritual and hierarchy: an exchange of one set of rituals for another, or perhaps for a less structured society with fewer rituals. And yet there are times when societies must change.”

“And after we returned to the savannahs and abandoned the trees, did we long for those great graceful leaps and ecstatic moments of weightlessness in the shafts of sunlight of the forest roof?”

“As a consequence of the enormous social and technological changes of the last few centuries, the world is not working well. We do not live in traditional and static societies. But our government, in resisting change, act as if we did. Unless we destroy ourselves utterly, the future belongs to those societies that, while not ignoring the reptilian and mammalian parts of our being, enable the characteristically human components of our nature to flourish; to those societies that encourage diversity rather than conformity; to those societies willing to invest resources in a variety of social, political, economic and cultural experiments, and prepared to sacrifice short-term advantage for long-term benefit; to those societies that treat new ideas as delicate, fragile and immensely valuable pathways to the future.”

“Once intelligent beings achieve technology and the capacity for self-destruction of their species, the selective advantage of intelligence becomes more uncertain.”

“And reading itself is an amazing activity: You glance at a thin, flat object made from a tree...and the voice of the author begins to speak inside your head. (Hello!)”

“The price we pay for the anticipation of our future is anxiety about it.”

“While ritual, emotion and reasoning are all significant aspects of human nature, the most nearly unique human characteristic is the ability to associate abstractly and to reason. Curiosity and the urge to solve problems are the emotional hallmarks of our species; and the most characteristically human activities are mathematics, science, technology, music and the arts--a somewhat broader range of subjects than is usually included under the "humanities." Indeed, in its common usage this very word seems to reflect a peculiar narrowness of vision about what is human. Mathematics is as much a "humanity" as poetry.”

“Russell commented that the development of such gifted individuals (referring to polymaths) required a childhood period in which there was little or no pressure for conformity, a time in which the child could develop and pursue his or her own interests no matter how unusual or bizarre.”

“Much of the difficulty in attempting to restructure American and other societies arises form this resistance by groups with vested interests in the status quo. Significant change might require those who are now high in the hierarchy to move downward many steps. This seems to them undesirable and its resisted.”

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Book Keywords:

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