Cosmic Apprentice

Dorion Sagan: Cosmic Apprentice: Dispatches from the Edges of Science (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013)

Sagan - Cosmic Apprentice
Dorion Sagan certainly has a famous father and he isn’t the least bit afraid of playing on that connection. I don’t know if he would like the comparison, but it seems to me, after reading his book, that whereas his father was adept at writing science, Dorion writes about science. He loves to include the names of famous persons in his book and tell about how he met those people or what he has in common with those people, but he is a bit less substantive in describing what expertise he has for his conjectures.

Frankly, I don’t find the sense of “edges of science” to be about the cutting edge or the areas of newest discovery. What makes these writings “dispatches form the edges of science” is that it is much more about pseudo-science than science itself.

Dorion Sagan is well read in both science and philosophy and he is good at dropping quotes, but the field of the philosophy of science seems to be somewhat missed in his writing. Perhaps this book could be generally labeled philosophy of science, but I couldn’t avoid the sense that Sagan was playing around with ideas rather than making commitments to positions and ideas.

The book is a good read, but I suspect not a significant contribution to the literature of either science or philosophy. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the book ended up disappointing me. I suggest that we stick with the father and don’t pay too much heed to the son in this case.