David Grinspoon

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Dr David Grinspoon

Dr David Grinspoon is a planetary scientist and award-winning writer, funded by NASA to study the evolution of Earthlike planets elsewhere in the universe. He is particularly open-minded to the possibility that alien civilisations much older than ours could seem to us as "god-like" in their capabilities.


Grinspoon is the son of psychiatrist and well-known advocate of marijuana use Dr Lester Grinspoon. He grew up in a intellectually stimulating environment, with many friends of his father contributing to his growth. Two of those friends were the apparently diametrically opposed (on the alien abduction question) Carl Sagan and John Mack (amazingly, Mack and Sagan also won Pulitzer Prizes in consecutive years for their writing). In May 1995 he married documentary photographer and teacher, Tory Read.


Grinspoon is currently Principal Scientist in the Department of Space Studies at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and Adjunct Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado. He serves as an advisor to NASA on space exploration strategy, and has lectured and published widely. His technical papers have been published in Nature, Science, and numerous other journals. He was awarded the 2006 Carl Sagan medal.


As far as planetary scientists go, Grinspoon is remarkably open to spiritual thought:

Both scientific and spiritual progress are needed to survive natural disasters and avoid self-inflicted ones. So when we meet ET, or get a message from her, she may regard our making a distinction between the two as some primitive mental trap from which we need to be sprung.

And despite admitting his confusion at John Mack's research into alien abductions later in life, Grinspoon does hold a somewhat similar view to those that Mack espoused regarding what could be 'out there':

For reasons I discuss in "Lonely Planets," I think that "the immortals" are likely to be out there, and they might seem like gods to us if they ever decide that it's a good idea for us to meet them.


David Grinspoon has written two books. His first, Venus Revealed, was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. This book was followed by Lonely Planets, a well-received history of human thought about the possibilities of alien life. The book won the 2004 PEN literary award for nonfiction.


  • The Australian rock band Grinspoon took their name from David's family, due to Lester Grinspoon's advocacy of marijuana use.
  • Grinspoon is also an award-winning musician who has played guitar and "sung in several great bands destined for obscurity".

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