Saturday, June 12, 2010

Carl Sagan, "The Demon-Haunted World, Science As A Candle In The Dark"

Carl Sagan book, "The Demon-Haunted World," is a book that argues Science vs. Superstitions. Sagan goes on to talk about how without science and the appreciation for it the world will soon rather than later go into the "Dark Ages" again. He believes that knowledge is the greatest power anyone can have. The main question that he brings up is "Can the proper use of skepticism and critical thinking keeps us away from the brink and ensures that the promises of reason and science are actually fulfilled?" In other words if we teach only the finding and product of science, no matter how useful or inspiring it might be, without communicating its critical method, how can the average person possibly distinguish the difference between science and pseudoscience. Carl Sagan believes that there is no dumb question that with every question there is an answer. This book is a personal statement of his lifelong love affair with science.

Sagan take many discussions that people might talk about, specific irrational beliefs and ideas, he explains the concept than refutes it. The primary difference between science and superstition, according to Sagan, is that science relies on rigorous process of observation, proposed answer and an open mind to decide whether statement and facts are true or false. He takes stories and experience from average people, and even experiences from his childhood, and either agrees with the story or refutes it. He believes that everything is usually assumed to be correct until proven otherwise. He also draws strong lines between the oldest of demon stories in human history and modern paranormal claims such as alien abduction and ghost.

The part of the story that I found most interesting was chapter six, "Spoofing and secrecy." Sagan talks about alien abduction or UFO's in almost every chapter. I think that the topic comes up most frequently because he works mainly with plants and has a huge interest in extraterrestrial life, which we know as "Aliens." In the chapter he goes on to explore the idea about auroras and crop circles. He lays out the question to see if it a hoaxes or it these claim are really from the "Little Man with Big Eyes." Also in the chapter he begins to talk about hallucinations. He wants the reader to keep an open mind about the idea and to not just judge at face value. He doesn't draw the line between reality and imagination. He wants the reader to make up their mind using the facts that he wrote.

Sagan was a member of the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board committee that investigated the Air Forces’ UFO studies. So I guess that’s where the fascination started. He goes on to say that there is a part in our front temporal lobe which is where your forehead is, thats where our hallucinations might occur. People can't tell the difference between the dream world and real life. The symptoms that might occur are lost of time, sexual abuse, and experimentation. People can't remember these events on their own so they seek help with professional therapist that specializes in UFO sightings and alien abductions. Sagan believes that in most cases the therapist usually puts the idea in the patients head about most of the "experience."

I thought that this book was a very interesting story. I stayed very interested in the story even though it was over 400 pages. Sagan really makes his readers think about a problem or question in so many different ways. Instead of jumping to conclusions he shows how to sort through the information and come out with a understanding of the topic. He urges people to take into account how important science and technology is to the world and planet. He believes that this world we're living in is heading towards the dark ages again if people don't stay educated and interesting in learning more. Sagan take on the science as candle in the dark is very inspirational. I look forward to reading more about Sagan and maybe even another book.

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