Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Report on The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World gives the reader a sense of what is real and what many hope to be real. Sagan explains in detail the pseudoscience that plagues our world and the science that debunks it. He focuses on the subjects of UFOs, alien abductions, demons, witchcraft, and faith healings. Instead of completely bashing the sometimes-absurd beliefs, he instead explains why they are so commonly believed. Also, why it is necessary for some humans to believe in magic to get by. The most interesting part of Sagan’s book is how he explains the science that proves these beliefs wrong. While doing so the reader not only understands why these beliefs are wrong but also learns something new about science that they might not have already known.

Sagan emphasizes the importance of scientific knowledge and how it affects society. In the beginning of the book he explains how during the Middle Ages science not only failed to progress but also back peddled. This caused such calamities as the witch-hunts and bogus medical procedures like trepanation. With a declining number of people who are considered literate in the sciences, it is alarming to think that society could go back to the dark ages.

The most interesting part of Sagan’s book would have to be when he discusses alien abductions, UFO’s, and the hoaxes people have played on the world. The parallels he draws between current societal issues and what the aliens warn their abductees about is fascinating. He states that people back in the 1950’s would claim that aliens would warn them about nuclear war whereas people who are abducted recently say the aliens warn them about goal warming.

As a psychology major I find the entire chapter about hallucinations very intriguing. Sagan explains how most people claim to be abducted while just entering sleep or just waking up. This is explained by the hallucinations some people face while under sleep paralysis. Here a person’s body cannot move but they remain anxious. This on top of suggestive hypnosis can make a person believe that he or she has actually been abducted. However there are people who purposely trick the world into thinking they have experienced an alien encounter. The most entertaining explain Sagan gave was of Doug Bower and Dave Chorly who for 15 years made crop circles without getting caught. They had this art down to a science and would even change the way they made the circles when people began suspecting they were man made. However, this task grew tiring and eventually they confessed to the whole hoax.

The Doug Bower and Dave Chorley hoax got me thinking about how easy it would be to create an alien encounter. So here is a short film of my dog, Dinkus, being abducted by aliens.

Doug Bower and Dave Chorley Interview

Dinkus Abduction!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Melissa! This is exactly why I won't get a dog :) Very funny!