virus: Billions

Reed Konsler (
Sat, 18 Oct 1997 18:45:26 -0400 (EDT)

>No, he definately did say [billions and billions], a lot.
>Did you see the mini-series Cosmos
>about 15 years ago?

In Cosmos, Sagan often said "billions" with just the
sort of emotional energy that lead Carson to
parody him:

"...billons of stars in billions of galaxies..."

There isn't any record of Sagan saying
"billions and billons" as three sequential words
untill AFTER Carson's parody. Sagan was
a humorous person and not above laughing
at his own demonstrative style. In doing
so he was making reference to Carson's
caricature of him as if to imply, "yes I
am a little melodramatic". In other words,
Carson's parody changed Sagan's speech interesting example of self-
fulfilling prophecy.

This is thus an argument of technical "fact"
vs. general feeling. The thing that made
Carson's parody so funny is that it engaged
the general feeling of his melodramatic
depiction of astronomy and cosmology. It's
certianly true, and Sagan admitted it himself,
that the style was like that.

It is the human ability to recognize a gestalt
(or create one) out of insufficient or non-existent
facts that makes Artificial Intelligence such a


Reed Konsler