- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Headline Book Publishing (11 Jan. 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0747215545
- ISBN-13: 978-0747215547
- Package Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.4 x 4.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,244,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Demon-haunted World Hardcover – 11 Jan 1996
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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.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Imagine the increase in critical thinking, a world where people accept things on evidence rather than ideology
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5th time I order it, excellent book but if anyone borrows it from me, they always keep itPublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Absolutely fantastic book. I highly recommend this to everyone on the Earth.Published 18 months ago by Joel
I usually dispense with any book after I 've read it, but not this one. Without any doubt The Demon -Haunted World is a superb read by an author who keeps the reader engrossed from... Read morePublished 19 months ago by skeeter 62
It seemingly falls to me to be the very first to give this book a 3-star rating. Obviously I've got a bit of justifying to do! Read morePublished 23 months ago by Douglas Wood