Friday, July 15, 2011

The Demon Haunted World-- Science as a Candle in the Dark

Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World explores society’s increasing misconception of the world of science, in which he conveys precisely in his opening conversation with his driver, Mr. Buckley, as well as the importance of skepticism in science. Throughout the novel, Sagan investigates well-known fallacies such as UFOs and aliens, witchcraft, demons, etcetera in a way that is appealing to his readers. Carl Sagan uses his own experiences to bring about each topic creating an empathetic feel for his readers rather than a demeaning one towards the pseudoscientific beliefs that are so notorious for ages in our world; he lets the readers know that he too held such high hopes for certain myths at one point in time.

Along with his sympathy, Carl Sagan uses science to convey the irrationality of each misconception in order to prove to his readers these commonly known topics are simply just a part of pseudoscience. Time and time again, Sagan stresses the importance of the scientific method and how science “invites us to let the facts in.” With his wit, the author helps us to understand that the more we want something to be true just means that we will have to dig harder with the use of science in order to prove it true.

The largest amount of information on any of the topics seemed to be on UFOs and aliens, being that there were several chapters dedicated to this specific subject. Throughout these sections of the novel, Sagan gathered a large amount of testimonials from those who have been abducted by aliens, have spotted UFO, or even seen crops circles due to “alien communication.” In doing this, he states all information as if it were true, providing the testimonials, and then disproving them. In disproving them, it was interesting to find that many statements given were part of a hoax. Many of the UFO cases had pictures of small models attached to a noticeable thin thread.Now take the crop circles. In 1991, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley admitted to creating these crop circles on their own for fifteen years! This was just one deception of many. Also, when it comes to UFOs, it was interesting to find just out easily a UFO sighting can be a discredited by a natural phenomena such as unconventional or conventional aircraft, high-altitude balloons, luminescent insects, and optical mirages just to name a few; in fact Sagan names about fifteen situations that could produce a “UFO sighting.”

Overall, The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan provided the readers with a new taking to these now known myths of pseudoscience. This text directly relates to our class being that the novel clearly illustrates many pseudoscientific believes that can be disproven with the use of science. The book clearly lives up to its intentions and proves that science is more than just a body of knowledge; it shows us the facts and brings us back to reality. Although it is nice to believe that there are aliens and witches out there, these aspects of our world can only be found in fiction novels, movies, and television—for now.


  1. I also did my report on The Demon-Haunted World. I really enjoyed how Carl Sagan had very bold evidence to his theories. However, I am a big fan of shows relating to paranormal and things like demons and aliens because I find them so captivating. Did you agree or disagree with Sagan?

  2. I also did my report on Sagan's book and I found it to be very interesting and insightful. I can say that I agree in a large part to all of his arguments. He has definitely sparked a much greater interest in pseudoscience in me.