Written by Ashley Feinberg (Gizmodo)
Carl Sagan is arguably science’s biggest rockstar—the ultimate champion for logic and reason. Which makes it all the more painful to find out that his son is a vehement 9/11 truther.
In a recent interview for a radio show called 9/11 Free Fall (already off to a great start), Jeremy Sagan—the younger son of Sagan senior and his first wife, fellow scientist Lynn Margulis—went off on all us closed-minded sheeple. In response to a prompt asking when he first “woke up,” Sagan remarks:
Well, on first seeing it—anyone seeing it can see that there’s something suspicious about it. I think it was New Year’s 2002, I was at a friend’s house, and they were saying Bush could never do something like this because he was incompetent. But in retrospect, now that I think about it, it’s true. I don’t think Bush could really do it, but that’s why they had him skirted off into Florida, to get him a little bit out of the way. In retrospect, you look at that and its obvious it was a controlled demolition.
Obvious indeed. But what evidence does Sagan, a computer programmer, have to support these supposedly manifest claims? Little more than the usual inside job truther fare, saying, “I think the visual evidence is the most compelling. You have molten steel coming out of the building. [Obviously], also the evidence of thermite is very compelling. The other thing I should say, if you look at building 7, the way everything was known before it happened. And the way it was reported in the media before it happened, that doesn’t happen. You know?”
In the latter case, Sagan is referring to an aspect in the “controlled demolition” conspiracy that asserts some people had prior knowledge that the buildings were about to fall. This idea is supposedly supported by the fact that a BBC reporter announced the building at 7 WTC’s collapse 20 minutes before it actually happened. Of course, the BBC reporter referred to it as a “very honest mistake,” and news stations have a rich and vibrant history of getting facts very, very wrong in high stress situations.
Perhaps even more surprising than Jeremy Sagan aligning with the paranoid ranters of the world is the fact that, apparently, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. No, not Carl Sagan (dear god not Carl Sagan). We’re talking about his mother. Yes, Lynn Margulis, Jeremy Sagan’s mommy dearest herself was also a crusader for 9/11 Truth.
Margulis was only married to Sagan senior for eight years (from 1957 to 1965), but apparently it was enough to pass off the paranoia gene at least once. If Dorion, her other son with Sagan, has followed in his mother’s and brother’s footsteps, he’s stayed understandably quiet about it.
And while Jeremy seems to have just now come out, Margulis was all in from the start. On the site Scientists for 9/11 Truth, she claimed:
Certainly, 19 young Arab men and a man in a cave 7,000 miles away, no matter the level of their anger, could not have masterminded and carried out 9/11: the most effective television commercial in the history of Western civilization. I suggest that those of us aware and concerned demand that the glaringly erroneous official account of 9/11 be dismissed as a fraud and a new, thorough, and impartial investigation be undertaken.
In addition to her Truth-seeking, she also came out as an AIDS denier in a 2011 interview with Discover magazine, saying, “Our claim is that there’s no evidence that HIV is an infectious virus, or even an entity at all. There’s no scientific paper that proves that the HIV virus causes AIDS. Kary Mullis said in an interview that he went looking for a reference substantiating that HIV causes AIDS and discovered, “There is no such document.”
The problem here is that, though Margulis certainly was a pioneer in the fields of microcopy and microbiology and made some incredible advances, it seems as though a potent combination of ego and old age had gotten the better of her. As Tara Smith explained in response to the 2011 Discover article:
While confidence is certainly an important trait in a scientist, so is the ability to twist your ideas around, look for the holes, test them, revise them, lather rinse repeat. You can’t let your ego blind you to the fact that, hey, *you might be wrong.* Margulis not only refuses to consider this, she admits that she has “no interest in the diseases” she’s discussing, even while she claims to know more about their causes than the scientists who have spent decades studying them. In a lot of ways, this makes Margulis worse than the creationists she dismisses.
While Margulis, as Sagan notes, was “much more open to talking about [her beliefs regarding 9/11],” Sagan at least knows enough to be ashamed:
I don’t really talk too much about it. I’m wary of other people, but I do talk about it if I get a chance to. Usually most people are believers in the official story, unless I’m at a 9/11 convention or something. Then I’m more likely to talk about it. People are afraid to—they have a nationalism.
Carl Sagan, who died in 1996, was never alive to see this particularly paranoid side of his son and ex-wife’s delusions. And while Sagan senior was a firm believer that “somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known”—this sure as hell ain’t it.