Food for Our Minds & Spirits: Baloney

Sometimes it is hard to tap into our spiritual selves or find time to nurture our intellectual curiosity. Here is a section that reflects on some nourishing materials from around the web and related media channels in order to get us thinking, get us feeling, and get us reflecting on the lives we are living in this big, beautiful world. Some Adult/Mature Themes May Appear in Links and Other Attached Material

The Baloney Detection Kit

Carl Sagan became concerned with the state of our social discourse later in his career. Specifically, he was anxious about how reasoned discourse was disappearing. And people’s tendency to listen to spurious claims, conspiracies and pseudo-science became part of his focus in his public writing. He famously wrote in 1995 a chilling prediction:

“Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. 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.”

The pursuit of knowledge through reason is one of the baselines in UU culture––something so foundational it goes even beyond our principles. This requires us to be careful and critical in all that we do. Because speaking truthfully and caring about the truth matters a great deal. Beyond his quote, Sagan wrote a mostly forgotten book about this that was remembered at BrainPickings.Org. You can read it all here. But it is a good reminder, in the midst of a pandemic, how much taking the world for what it is matters. Because without the criterion of “truth” we will forever be in the dark.

Allan T. Georgia
M.Div., M.T.S., PhD
Director of Religious Education (Lifespan Faith Development)
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland