Podcast #69 – (Almost) Live from AAI 2009, Pt. 2

David gives us his second and final report from the Atheist Alliance International 2009 Convention, October 2-4 in Los Angeles (Burbank, actually), CA.  Another great line-up of speakers, including Lawrence Krauss, Carolyn Porco, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins.  Plus: Find out which city will be host to AAI 2010!

Announcements – We encourage you to leave feedback at AmericanFreethought.com.  We have a Yahoo Group, a Facebook page, an Atheist Nexus page, a Think Atheist page, and a Twitter feed.  If you pick us up via iTunes, please take a moment to leave feedback.

David continues to produce new installments of the Secular Nation Podcast.

Fans of science fiction can check out John’s other project on the web, SciFiDimensions.com.

Theme music by Body Found.

Recorded October 4, 2009.  Hosted by John C. Snider and David Driscoll.

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7 Responses to Podcast #69 – (Almost) Live from AAI 2009, Pt. 2

  1. Hey, I thought that Jill Tarter at SETI was the inspiration for Ellie Arroway, not Carolyn Porco.

    Also, except for you, I’ve heard it as “porko”, not “porso”.

    Dennis

  2. Dennis, I think you are right. I’m not sure where the wires got crossed, but my understanding is that, while Porco was one of the consultants on the movie Contact, Tarter herself was the direct inspiration for Ellie Arroway (which makes sense: Tarter works for SETI, after all).

    Thanks!
    John

  3. JHGRedekop says:

    I wasn’t at the AAI convention to hear Dawkins’s talk, but I do have to saw that I think the last chapter of “Greatest Show On Earth” was the weakest. I get the feeling that he came up with the idea of commenting on that famous closing paragraph of “Origin of Species” and thought it was just too good an idea not to do — but I don’t think it was strong enough to support a concluding chapter. Apparently it’s not really strong enough to support a conference talk, either.

  4. David says:

    Now that I have read up on it you are certainly correct that Jill Tarter at SETI was the inspiration for Ellie Arroway, not Carolyn Porco.

    Based on Wikipedia: Porco served as an adviser for the 1997 film Contact, which was based on a novel by the well-known astronomer Carl Sagan. The actress Jodie Foster portrayed the heroine in the movie, and Sagan reportedly suggested that she use Porco as a real-life model to guide her performance.

    Using Porco as a model for her performance must have been what was said in the introduction and I misunderstood it. Sorry for the confusion!

  5. if you’re still interested…

    i’ve had an email correspondence with carolyn porco which included a question by me regarding the above speculation and i thought you might appreciate the answer.

    as the character consultant for the movie ‘contact’, carolyn porco asked sagan about the basis for the character in the book and was told directly she was not based on any one person, and not based on tarter. he added that the `voice’ of arroway was his own, which is obvious.

  6. Folks…you have this completely wrong, and Wikipedia is wrong also. (You do know you shouldn’t trust Wikipedia, don’t you?) It is complete urban myth. There was no single individual who was the inspiration for the protagonist in Contact. I asked Sagan this in person, twice, when I was brought on as a character consultant. He specifically said that Arroway was NOT Tarter. The `voice’ of Arroway is Sagan himself, though that should be obvious, and many of those women close to Sagan at the time could easily find elements of Arroway that we feel sound like us. For example, Arroway went to Caltech for graduate school, as I did, and (as I recall) in her appearance in the book she is described as looking like me. Does that mean she was modeled on me? Of course not! But it’s easy for someone to feel that way. To associate the character in the book (or in the movie) with anyone is simply and fully incorrect.

    I corrected Richard Dawkin’s gracious, enthusiastic but incorrect introduction to my AAI talk here

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carolyn-Porco/116163229386?v=wall

    …if you’re interested.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but when something is incorrect, it should be corrected, and it’s time to put this rumor to bed.

  7. Carolyn,

    Thanks for the clarification! As you know, people say and write all kinds of things, and it’s hard to know sometimes who’s credible and who’s full of crap.

    John

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