Reagan & Sagan: Parallels in Communication
Were Ronald Reagan and Carl Sagan the dominant communicators of the 1980s? Watching this past week the PBS American Experience biopic on Reagan reinforced in my mind the parallels between the president and the astronomer that I have mentioned at this blog before and during Q&A at talks.
The Great Communicator and the Showman for Science coined the dominant metaphors of the 1980s, Reagan referring to the Soviet Union as the "Evil Empire" and Sagan re-casting the strategic arms race in terms of "nuclear winter."
In the years before cable television fragmented Americans into ever smaller viewership groups, both men took advantage of the broadcast television networks to communicate directly to a mass audience. Reagan would make speeches during prime time from the Oval Office such as his 1983 call to scientists to develop the Strategic Defense Initiative. "I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete," declared Reagan.
And before The Daily Show or The Colbert Report turned late night comedy into platforms for scientists such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sagan would appear as a regular on Johnny Carson reaching tens of millions of viewers. The astronomer was so familiar to American audiences that Carson would even affectionately impersonate Sagan in skits (clip above.)
Both also understood the need to reach out to religious publics to achieve strategic goals. Reagan, a believer in biblical Armageddon, gave his famous "evil empire" speech to a meeting of Evangelical leaders, calling on them to "speak out" in their churches against a nuclear freeze.
The atheist Sagan, in advocating his "nuclear winter" hypothesis, traveled with a delegation of scientists to the Vatican to give a research briefing for Pope John Paul, who subsequently issued a statement against nuclear build-up. Based on the meeting's success, Sagan came away convinced of the need to emphasize the common goals between scientists and religious publics in solving world problems. Later he would use the same strategy in calling attention to global warming.
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
No, depression is not just a type of 'affluenza' – poor people in conflict zones are more likely candidates
- Often seen as typical of rich societies, depression is actually more prevalent in poor, conflict-ridden countries
- More than one in five Afghans is clinically depressed – a sad world record
- But are North Koreans really the world's 'fourth least depressed' people?
America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.
- Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
- Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
- Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
- Oumuamua, a quarter-mile long asteroid tumbling through space, is Hawaiian for "scout", or "the first of many".
- It was given this name because it came from another solar system.
- Some claimed 'Oumuamua was an alien technology, but there's no actual evidence for that.
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