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Classic clip shows Carl Sagan explaining why parents should encourage their children to ask questions

Sagan says, 'They start out eager, intellectually wide-eyed asking extremely clever questions about the world.'

Classic clip shows Carl Sagan explaining why parents should encourage their children to ask questions
Cover Image Source: Twitter and Getty Images | (L) @Rainmaker1973; (R) Carl Sagan holding a globe model of Mars - Hulton Archive

Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 9, 2022. It has since been updated.

Kids always have the most intriguing and interesting questions to ask, their curiosity is something that adults often lack. However, Carl Sagan was one person who appreciated their thinking and saw them as an "intellectual resource." And to say the least, every word he spoke in an interview on the show, "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," on May 20, 1977,  stands true till date. In a small clip uploaded on Twitter, Sagan can be seen talking about children, "But the thing that I find striking is the enormous remarkable capability of virtually every small child for learning. They start out eager, intellectually wide-eyed asking extremely clever questions about the world."

Twitter | @Rainmaker1973
Twitter | @Rainmaker1973


He says that often "something happens which discourages them." "Tremendous waste of natural resources, for example, a kid asks mommy why is the grass green and very often you get an answer, 'Don't ask dumb questions or who knows.' When the fact is that it is an extremely profound question."

The host, Johnny Carson, interrupts, "Or why is the sky blue." Sagan responds, "In both those cases, it goes to the fundamentals of what is biology and the other what kind of physics."

Twitter | @Rainmaker1973
Twitter | @Rainmaker1973


He adds, "How much better would it be to say to the child that's a good question, I don't know the answer, maybe we can look it up or nobody knows maybe you will be the person to find out." Sagan also says that kids who get discouraged end up learning the wrong lessons. "I think kids who are discouraged from asking those questions, wind up learning the lesson that there is something wrong in using the mind we lose those resources and we need those intellectual resources because we are in very perilous times."

So encouraging children is important. "And I think the complex and subtle problems that we face can only have complex and simple solutions and we need people able to think complex and subtle thoughts. I believe that many children have that capability if only they are encouraged."

Carl Sagan Day was just a month back on November 9. He would have been 88 on his birthday in 2022. He was called the "astronomer of the people." Moreover, he was a cosmologist, astrobiologist, astrophysicist, science communicator, and TV host, as reported by KRLD NewsRadio 1080. He became famous for his show  "Cosmos" which was telecasted in 1980 on PBS. On the show, he spoke about the Universe and educated people about the cosmos. Reportedly, it was one of the most-watched shows.

Besides working on television, he was known for his work with NASA. He had joined them as a consultant in the 1950s and had apparently briefed the astronauts in the Apollo missions before their journey to the moon. He was also part of other missions at NASA. Dr. Torrence Johnson, a team member from NASA's Galileo mission said, "He was part of the original group that got together to promote the mission to NASA and he served as an interdisciplinary scientist on the mission team from the beginning. He was a great human being who shared with everyone his excitement about the exploration of the Universe." 

Moreover, he also won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, "The Dragons of Eden" in 1975, according to NASA



Unfortunately, he died on December 20, 1996, after suffering from a rare bone marrow disease called myelodysplastic. He was 62 years old.

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