4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Sharpen your critical reasoning skills,
This review is from: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (Paperback)
It's hard enough to understand how Sagan could know as much about astronomy as he did, let alone the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. But that his range of knowledge was also as wide as this book demonstrates on pseudo-science and supernaturalisms is stunning, even more that he could write so well on all these topics.
I wasn't aware just how evil the treatment of witches was: I'm glad Sagan spared at least some of the details. That chapter alone was worth the book for me. Nor was I aware to what extent people actually did believe that demons were real. The attitudes and behavior about witchcraft and demons truly makes me feel I do not understand at all the mindset at the time of Rome or even during the Middle Ages. The chapter on James Randi's Carlos hoax I'll treasure: next time someone tries to sell me on telepathy or reincarnation, I hope I think of this immediately. Good information and examples here as well about hypnoisis, UFO's, hallucinations and a good deal more. This book amounts to an implicit course in choosing a scientific outlook and becoming, as Sagan would have said, a "baloney detector".
It is appalling how small a percentage of people in the U.S. accept evolution and natural selection. Have we really needed brilliant scientists like Sagan and Dawkins to have wasted time trying to convince people of just how well-founded evolution is? And yet reading in this book about how many people believe in UFOs, telepathy, ghosts, astrology, it puts the unwillingness to acknowledge evolution into perspective. Scary? Or do you doubt that it is? In either case, this easy to read book is packed with reasons to prefer a scientific approach to life. Sagan's lectures in
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
provide good reasons not to feel threatened by science but rather feel welcome its help in enhancing our sense of wonder about our lives ... and turning to knowledge instead of being distracted by foolish beliefs.