Rebel with a Cause
|Photo: Victoria Reay|
Although my father, Carl Edward Sagan (1934-1996), is still far more famous for being a scientist and popularizing it, I believe that future historians will gauge my mother, Lynn Petra Alexander Margulis (1938-2011) to have made the greater contribution to human knowledge.
Photo: Roshi Joan Halifax
When your parents are famous and they die it must, I think, be different than if they're not. Perhaps it is that way for everybody: instead of expiring, vanishing into the shadows never to return again, they become bigger, their presences enlarge. Living matter, which I take to be a complex open thermodynamic system at Earth's surface, one whose intelligence not only dwarfs but contains humankind, has been saving aspects of its information, memorizing itself as it were, for 3.8 billion years. Indeed, this is part of what my mother studied—she studied the “earliest stages of evolution” because, she said, “in this way I can lay low and not be ‘name-called’ . . . [for example] ‘denialist’ . . . because I ask hard questions and require solid evidence before I embrace a particular causal hypothesis. Indeed, is not my attitude of inquiry exactly what science is about?”
Here she was talking about the AIDS-HIV connection, which she had investigated and she found was full of holes and unanswered questions. It also didn’t pass the smell test: If the science was there, and good, why the ad hominem attacks, the obfuscation, the pillorying of those who would ask questions.