Hayley is a Ghost

Sagan and Snooki

Posted on: December 18, 2011

I have no idea where graphic A originated from, but I’ve seen it numerous times in my Facebook feed as it is shared by my friends. It has always bothered me because up until a few years ago I didn’t know who Carl Sagan was either. Yet, I don’t consider myself to have been what was wrong with society.

People are capable of learning, and rather than being smug and blaming then for being “stupid” enough to not know who Carl Sagan is by sight, we could instead explain it to them. Share the knowledge we have and inspire people with the amazing things that we, ourselves, have learned. So I’ve redesigned it.

Don’t just embrace the cosmos, spread the love!

*edit* After posting this on Facebook I discovered that some people would prefer to punish people and call them out for being unaware of Sagan/science than just, you know, sharing. Punishing people for not being aware of things is wrong and offending them wont make them listen to you when you tell them they need to learn more. Trust me – I’m a ghost hunter who has been told she is stupid and pathetic for the beliefs I held. I didn’t listen to those people.

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31 Responses to "Sagan and Snooki"

Well, I recognised Sagan straight away, having enjoyed his series Cosmos the first time round, and from which I became aware of his preference for rollnecks, but I really don’t know who the person on the right is (and I’m not being pseudy here).

I agree, the original is smug.

Thank you so much for the de-smugification! These have been popping up in my newsfeed in various forms and I’ve been frustrated at their tone of self-righteous superiority. If you have a genuine concern for society’s lack of education then it is YOUR responsibility to encourage others to fill that gap. You’re damn right.

I think, perhaps, you just might be too good of a person. Please wait until the world stops completely before exiting.

Seriously, though, I wish I had seen the image before you posted it here. I don’t Facebook much so somehow I missed it. Of course I know who Carl Sagan is. In fact, I’ve even read one of his books. (Cosmos.)

Even so, I don’t know if I would recognize that photo or not. It’s not like I have a photo album of the dude or watched a lot of movies with him in it. Either way, I never got a chance to take this particular test.

I understand the oh-so subtle point being made in the original version of the image. We live in a society where the likes of Snooki is vastly more important than thinkers like Carl Sagan. For some reason, this concept is, at least to me, very reminiscent of the Robert Heinlein short story, The Roads Must Roll. That story, among other things, explores the idea of a idiotic society supported by a small percentage of elite thinkers and doers.

So which is it gonna be? Snooki or Carl Sagan? This just might be an important decision.

Thanks Hayley!
I think it is important to remember that being snarky might be funny to a few, but it really doesn’t help or teach anyone else.

Kate Beaton ( http://harkavagrant.com/ ) does it right! She makes comics featuring characters from history and literature and just assumes the reader will get the references. Often I don’t, so I look it up.
Kate Beaton has taught me a lot of history in this way.

Is this some kind of meta joke? Where I (being the butt of the joke) accuse you of being foolish for not getting the obvious joke thus exposing myself as being the fool for not getting the overarching humour?

…or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

No it’s not a joke. I guess I don’t get “the obvious joke” – probably because jokes are meant to be funny.

Then why do you think it has been shared so often by your friends on Facebook? Someone must be getting the joke. And how often do you think your version is going to be shared?

My version isn’t going to be shared. I am aware of that and I didn’t intend it to be.
The reason the original is shared by so many people is because it is funny to them, but only if you know who Sagan is, or if you’re interested in science. Those posting it also identify with the feeling of frustration when people don’t know who Sagan is, or don’t feel as passionate about science as they do – but post about things like Jersey Shore, Big Brother and other dull things.

Yes I get that it’s funny, but it is still a patronising cartoon for anyone who doesn’t know who Sagan is. Sharing the picture just spreads a bad attitude. There are people on my friends list, for example, who don’t know who Sagan was or what Cosmos was. They don’t deserve to be patronised for that.

It’s your right to post jokes like this if you want – I wasn’t saying that it isn’t, but I’m just pointing out that I don’t think it’s a great way to communicate if you really are fed up with people not knowing more about things like Cosmos.

What I’m trying to say is that if people really wanted to make a change they’re wrong to think offending people is going to work.

If you recognise that the original will be shared, but yours won’t, which do you think will have more people asking about that guy in the turtle neck?

Who is the most succesful at bringing about change if not the troublemakers like Randi, or Hitchens or Rosa Parks?

How would the original bring about change when it doesn’t even state who Carl Sagan is?

Like i wrote in my last reply, “which do you think will have more people asking about that guy in the turtle neck?”

From personal experience, neither. Don’t feel you have to justify posting the original if you have. I personally don’t care – this blog post is just my opinion. If you think I’m wrong, that’s your choice.

I’ve never seen the picture before you put it on your blog, I am tempted to ask if you really think that Rosa Parks had no more impact than people who just went to the back of the bus, but I think that the conversation has run its course.

I’m really tempted to ask if you really think posting a sarcastic photo of facebook is on the same par as the things Parks, Randi and others have achieved. Hint: the answers no.

I have no idea what point you think you have just made, but I notice you didn’t actually address the question, who do you think had the most impact Parks, or the people who shuffled to the back of the bus?

Or here’s another idea, why don’t you just credit other people with the sense of humour which you extracted from the original picture?

Are you saying that posting this picture on Facebook is a civil rights issue?

Er… where the heck did you get that idea from?

It’s the insistent repetition of the Rosa Parks question.

I can’t believe you are still going on about this, the best part of a week later. Really.

Hey, that’s not fair. I just found a link here this afternoon.

Sorry, I got confused with all the comments in reply to other comments. I see your original post was aimed at TwentyTrees now. I also thought I was replying to TwentyTrees too. Ignore that comment.

I had no idea who either of them were. Of course I knew who Carl Sagan was, but don’t remember if I had ever actually seen a picture of him. The woman? No idea. But then, maybe she is a UK “personality”. Does it matter that I couldn’t name the face? Nope.

What’s wrong with the world today is the prevalence of smug sceptic types who think that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is stupid. I’m sceptical of most organised sceptics. They are sounding more cult like and fanatical with every passing day.

What annoys me about the original version is that it completely misses the point of why Sagan was valuable – he was not a scientist slaving away in obscurity against the tide of public opinion. He was a STAR (pun noted but not intended). But most importantly, his fame (one of the best rating television shows of the year it was on) peaked THREE DECADES AGO. The reason why we remember Sagan so fondly is because he popularised science while he was alive, but what you’re really doing by posting this graphic is putting people down for not being 40+ years old.

So why not put a picture of someone like Adam Savage or Kari Byron or Lisa Simpson instead? Because you won’t get to feel quite so superior.

And do you really imagine there are many people who will bother to google ‘guy in turtleneck’, maybe with the additional text ‘wrong with the world’? Even if they tried, they’re never going to end up better educated about science.

Why is everyone taking this so literally?

Snooki is just symbolic of people who draw our attention to the vulgar and the banal, Sagan is symbolic of those who want to draw our attention to the majesty of the universe. The power of the image is in the juxtaposition of the banal with the majestic. I’d imagine the reason that Sagan was chosen as the image is not because he makes people feel superior or that the originator is smug, but is because Americans have a special affection for him and if this was made in the UK, perhaps it would be a picture of David Attenborough.

To be honest, I don’t think the point of this is to teach anyone anything about science, it’s a mutual cry of frustration at the prevalent triviality of society.

I don’t agree. If it was a mutual cry of frustration it wouldn’t be speaking directly to those deemed as what is ‘wrong’ with society.

…and if your car doesn’t start before an important meeting, where else would you direct your frustration but at the car?

[…] Hayley Stevens has a very good point about the fantastically unhelpful and unkind way in which some people vent their frustration with […]

Disclaimer: I always came across Carl Sagan in the form of voiceovers so I couldn’t identify the face myself.

It seems to me like the kind of thing someone who just happens to know what Carl Sagan looks like would say rather than a genuine comment on the state of the world. There’s no way the person who made the smug original doesn’t know who the person on the left is.

Your right.

People are capable of learning
I think the operative word often omited in statements like this is “some”. This is really a case of “if the shoe fits…”

Let’s face it; there are those among us who loathe knowledge in general. I don’t think the original really applies to people who, given the opportunity, would have actually ignored Carl Sagan.

I wouldn’t have known who Sagan was or what he looked like if Arthur C. Clarke wasn’t residing in Sri Lanka (my country of origin). Clarke was a very famous person in there too and people tended to listen to what he had to say. He had refered to Segan on many occasions so I wanted to find out who this person was when I was a kid.

I wouldn’t have known who Philip K. Dick was either until someone said he died the same year I was born. So I started finding out more about him.

I can’t say if original was being smug or just generalizing, but sometimes it takes exposure to foster one’s own intellectual curiosity. I’m pretty sure the original caption is really meant for those who don’t have one and relish ignorance.

Also, I agree with DavidH, in that someone closer to Snooki’s generation as a comparison would have been more appropriate and not condescending to the under-40 crowd.

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Hayley is a ghost

Hayley Stevens is an advocate for science-based research into seemingly paranormal experiences and occurrences. With a background in the pseudo-scientific research into ghosts, Hayley offers a unique insight into the strange world of ghost hunting through her experience.

She describes herself as 'a ghost hunter who doesn't hunt for ghosts' and this is her personal blog where she writes about ghosts, people, and other interesting things. Read more here.

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