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The Demon-Haunted World [Hardcover]

Carl Sagan , Sagan
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 1996
Are we on the brink of a new Dark Age of irrationality and superstition? In this stirring, brilliantly argued book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Dragons of Eden and Cosmos shows how scientific thinking can cut through prejudice and hysteria and uncover the truth, and how it is necessary to safeguard our democratic institutions and our technical civilization.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 457 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (Mar 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039453512X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394535128
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.7 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 604,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sagan was Dir. of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies & David Duncan Prof. of Astronomy & Space Sciences at Cornell University.He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking & Voyage expeditions to the planets & was a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for literature. He died in 1996.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Carl Sagan muses on the current state of scientific thought, which offers him marvellous opportunities to entertain us with his own childhood experiences, the newspaper morgues, UFO stories and the assorted flotsam and jetsam of pseudoscience. Along the way he debunks alien abduction, faith-healing and channelling, refutes the arguments that science destroys spirituality, and provides a "baloney detection kit" for thinking through political, social, religious and other issues. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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As I got off the plane, he was waiting for me, holding up a scrap of cardboard with my name scribbled on it. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At night a candle's brighter than the sun... 15 Jun 2007
By Sir Barnabas VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The blurb on the back cover says; "...Sagan examines and authoritatively debunks...witchcraft, faith healing and UFOs" - this he does but it is not really the main point of the book.

Sagan never sets out to trash some compendium of "new age" beliefs or all the paranormal and paraphyschological bunk that is currently doing the rounds. Instead, he uses examples such as UFOs, alien abductions and faith healing to instruct the reader in how such myths and pseudoscience can become so believable to so many. Helpfully he also equips the reader with the mental tools necessary to examine such claims for themselves in a sceptical and rational manner, his so called "baloney detection kit". This kit includes various tools for sceptical and scientific reasoning as well as how to recognise common fallacies of logic and rhetoric.

If you read this book expecting to be spoon fed arguments against various pseudoscientific, quasi-religious (or just plain-religious) and other paranormal beliefs then you are going to be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you want to be able to critically analyse theories and ideas (scientific or otherwise), if you want to be able to think for yourself and if you want to be able to recognise when you are being fed fallacious and fraudulent arguments then you can't go far wrong with this book.

Please read this book if you get the chance, it is marvellous piece of work, erudite and compassionate without ever being patronising and should be compulsory reading in every school, for pupils, teachers and parents.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why science is essential 2 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Carl Sagan's book makes clear that human ignorance can lead to some pretty weird, and potentially dangerous, belief systems, such as the belief in alien abductions, or the belief in witches. What is actually frightening is that people hold on to some of these beliefs, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. The book contains some sobering examples of human ignorance, plus some of its causes. The book also contains a sample of some remarkable letters Sagan has received in the past few years, and a D.I.Y. baloney detection kit.
I found the book a highly accessible and passionate defence of scientific thinking. Sagan's take home message is that science does not necessarily rid the world of its beauty. On the contrary, a scientific perspective can reveal some truly amazing things that we can not perceive with our senses, such as the structure of the atom. I can recommend the book to everyone; I actually read it twice.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an impassioned and intelligent call 11 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback
One of the observations I have of reviews of books such as these is to note how many of the negative reviews contain anguished accusations of the author's arrogance or sneering and, with apparently no sense of irony, how 'closed-minded' the author must be.

Sagan however avoids sneering and avoids high handed righteousness too. Instead we get an impassioned and intelligent call for a very human rationality and 'common sense'. He points out the inherent flaws in thinking that people often make, especially in ascribing inconsistent and unnecessary meaning to things that can be explained in much more eloquent and interesting ways. he also highlights the corresponding, baffling, disregard some people have for the beauty and wonder that is available through knowledge obtained with human intelligence and confirmed by scientific rigor.

You can sense Sagan's bewilderment, sadness and fears regarding the surprisingly large mass of people who casually subscribe to ideas that are either demonstrably false or unfalsifiable and yet are suspicious of things that can be demonstrated and are falsifiable and therefore subject to rigorous tests.

In the end the fact that this book was written, the fact that it was a best seller, gives hope.

If you want to read an intelligent book that explores these ideas in a way that is both very insightful and contains a very human wisdom, free of sneering and arrogance, then Sagan is your ideal guide.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb read 22 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I view this book as Sagan's "Last will and testament". Its a superb collection of essays, challenging the pseudo-science and superstitious nonsense of today. If you want to find out why scientific thinking and rational thought are so important to our civilisation and liberties, then you must read this book. Awe-inspiring, and extremely thought provoking. Carl - we'll miss you...
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book, more than any other on this theme, subjects many of the popular delusions and superstitions that hold back and threaten the very existence of human society, against the "gold standard" of rational, scientific thought and method.
According to Sagan, our heads are full of confusion and misinformation and there are forces that wish to keep it that way. Unfortunately, the status quo is dangerous.
To wake from a slumber of indoctrination, media propaganda and self-delusion, read this book, in one sitting, as the perfect antidote.
I enjoyed this book so much that I have read and re-read it many times over. I've given copies to my dearest friends. This is an intellectual tour-de-force of a book. With every reading, I muse on how preciuous and rare clear and incisive thinkers with a voice that can reach everyone are. Carl Sagan is sorely missed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A students cast off
A students cast off, there are so many notes in the book you can not form your own thoughts or opinions.
Published 3 months ago by matthew hindle
5.0 out of 5 stars A touching defence of science
Although slightly dated now, this book was an enjoyable and quite illuminating read as to the ridiculous and hideously ignorant thought that went on through the ages throughout... Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. Neaves
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect capture of a passion for science
Few people capture love and passion for science in such a way that Carl Sagan do - both in his personality on stage or on video, and here in book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kalo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
What is there to say about this book thats not been said already? I'd heard so much about it already & had been waiting to read it for ages. It didn't disappoint, excellent read. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. N. J. Houchin
5.0 out of 5 stars Time for a new edition
Grateful as I am to have this grand work in the shelf, surely some kind publisher will reprint with an intro from Dawkins or some such luminary.
Published 9 months ago by Manc Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Very informative. Best of its type in print. I would definately reccommend this book to all who have an interest in the subject
Published 10 months ago by C. Philpott
5.0 out of 5 stars Carl Sagan, we still miss you
A great communicator and advocate for Science, Carl Sagan has left a void not yet filled today. This book should be on the shelf of everyone and a mandatory reading in schools.
Published 10 months ago by Tomarchio Salvatore
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring book.
An amazing read . I think this is a great companion book to keep on the shelf with the God delusion ( by Richard Dawkins). Read more
Published 13 months ago by A. M. Mc Neil
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Apart from have grown watching the Cosmos series of videos, I've read quite a few books from Carl Sagan. He was the ultimate science writer of all times. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Matías Herranz
5.0 out of 5 stars The demon haunted world
Science is full of wonder but so is pseudoscience. How can one tell the difference? Sagan did a brilliant job of spelling out the answer in this book, a distillation of a... Read more
Published 20 months ago by F Henwood
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