- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (1 Mar. 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345409469
- ISBN-13: 978-0345409461
- Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.1 x 20.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 82 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Paperback – 1 Mar 1997
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"A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought."--Los Angeles Times"Powerful . . . A stirring defense of informed rationality. . . Rich in surprising information and beautiful writing."--The Washington Post Book World "Compelling."--USA Today "A clear vision of what good science means and why it makes a difference. . . . A testimonial to the power of science and a warning of the dangers of unrestrained credulity."--The Sciences "Passionate."--San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
From the Inside Flap
"A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought."
*Los Angeles Times
"POWERFUL . . . A stirring defense of informed rationality. . . Rich in surprising information and beautiful writing."
*The Washington Post Book World
How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don't understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the pursuit of truth but to the very well-being of our democratic institutions.
Casting a wide net through history and culture, Sagan examines and authoritatively debunks such celebrated fallacies of the past as witchcraft, faith healing, demons, and UFOs. And yet, disturbingly, in today's so-called information age, pseudoscience is burgeoning with stories of alien abduction, channeling past lives, and communal hallucinations commanding growing attention and respect. As Sagan demonstrates with lucid eloquence, the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong turn but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms.
"A clear vision of what good science means and why it makes a difference. . . . A testimonial to the power of science and a warning of the dangers of unrestrained credulity."
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*San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
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There are two keys aspects to this book:
1. A detailed analysis of unsubstantiated beliefs
2. An exploration of critical thinking
Sagan describes all sorts of unusual beliefs such as demons and witches which were once held with absolute certitude by the masses. He details outrageous claims of alien abductions and all sorts of unusual apparitions. This is all sprinkled with all sorts of interesting facts and anecdotes. Whether it's the story of innocent people being found guilty for child abuse by using confession under hypnosis as evidence or the fact that there have been over a million UFO sightings since 1947, the reader is kept in engaged along the way.
Inevitably Religion gets a mention. Sagan points out how scripture was used to justify some inhuman activities such slavery and racism
However Sagan is fair here. He points out that mainstream Religions accepts mainstream Science, such as Darwinian evolution and it is really only the fundamentalists who cannot deal with Scientific findings.
He also describes the story of the Jesuit priest, Friedrich von Spee, who turned whistle blower, detailing the abject fallacy and idiocy of witchcraft trials.
Of course no book on critical thinking would be complete without a discussion on what constitutes critical thinking. Sagan is is succinct in his explanations. He details scientific and evidence based methodologies. He explains various logical fallacies which consistently make humans think something is true when it is actually not.
Sagan is not also to afraid to point out the imperfections of Science. He discusses the tentative nature of Science and he questions of some of bad aspects that have manifested from a usage of it. Atomic and Hydrogen bombs, two obvious examples.
Sagan explores the inescapable reality that Science has failed to capture the masses. Why is it only 75% of American don't know antibiotics kill bacteria not viruses? He explores some of the reasons for this as well as different ways of teaching Science and critical thinking.
He is only too gracious and bashful to recommend everyone should read this book, but I would have no problem doing that!
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