Wise words from Carl Sagan

Zealots who devote their lives to a cause don’t want to admit they are wrong or even consider opposing points of view, because they would then have to admit they have wasted part of their lives on something that’s not true. So instead, they turn to violence, or in the case of anti-salmon farming zealots, they turn to shrill, personal attacks, juvenile and puerile attempts to get attention and refuse to admit they might not have all the facts. 

We wanted to share this great quote from Carl Sagan which is in his book “Cosmos.”

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous. (So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.)”

We read something recently which sounds a lot like Sagan. It is a comment in the judgment by Justice Elaine Adair in the defamation case Mainstream Canada brought against Don Staniford.

Mr. Staniford seems incapable of conceding he might be wrong on some things. He is devoted to a cause where salmon farming is thoroughly bad, with no possibility of redemption, and must be eradicated. To concede that salmon farming might have some value would mean that Mr. Staniford has wasted a good part of his adult life. He believes his own press, even when contradicted by other, contemporaneous documents.

When we as human beings are confronted with information that contradicts what we believe to be true, we have two options. We can take a serious look at it, and if necessary, reconsider our opinions. Or, we can ignore it and cling even harder to our beliefs.

The problem with option two is that as time goes on, and if we are confronted with more and more information which contradicts our beliefs, we must cling even harder and more defiantly to what we want to believe.

Such is the case with Staniford, and several other people we have encountered who passionately hate salmon farming.

There is no way to say this without sounding arrogant, so we will just say it. We are not blinded by our beliefs in salmon farming and are constantly considering new information. Every claim an anti-salmon farming activist makes, we investigate it and evaluate it and are open to the possibility that someday, someone may present new information which will completely change our minds.

There is always a little doubt in our minds. So we constantly follow the science, and see where it leads us.

That is normal and healthy for any critical thinker. You must be open to question your beliefs, and reconsider your opinions.

Staniford and his friends are not critical thinkers. They are zealots, fingers in ears, clinging to decade-old information and a word picture of a salmon farming industry which, if it ever existed, has long since moved on to more environmentally sound practices.

Their contributions to the global discussion about salmon farming, and aquaculture, are of no use to anyone. They have been bamboozled, and are no longer interested in finding out the truth.

Unless they are willing to acknowledge that they may be wrong, and that they may not have all the facts, their views are irrelevant, one-sided points of religious dogma and have no value in the global discussions about aquaculture.


5 thoughts on “Wise words from Carl Sagan”

  1. I guess that was a ‘No’ then ? lol. ….. reminds me of another Carl Sagan quote ‘ We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers’ …..please leave the schoolyard behind ! ….
    ps. perhaps you should read your own moderation policy ?

  2. Can you point me to the science that shows salmon farms in salmon migration routes co-existing just fine with wild stocks?

    1. Would you mind focusing your question a little more please?

      Also, can you provide any science that shows salmon farms are harming wild salmon productivity? Because all we can find are mathematical models which predict risk, and no real-world data making any correlation between salmon farms and wild salmon productivity.

    2. Try the Cohen Commission website for starters.


      I have the same question for you as Salmonfarmscience, Cam. However, try leaving out the correlative studies which do not prove causation. Try to keep in under 100,000 words. You might also want to tell me how pink salmon stocks are doing in the North Pacific, specifically here in BC (i.e. escapements, productivity, etc.). Check to see if your “Top 1%” biologist has a response to this.

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