Friday, July 15, 2011

The Demon-Haunted World

In Carl Sagan's New York Time's bestseller The Demon-Haunted World, Sagan challenges his readers to be more skeptic and investigate the scientific method. Throughout the book Sagan explains the difference between science and pseudoscience with multiple arguments and examples that leaves the reader only wanting more information. He covers a large variety of topics from UFO visitations and crop circles to hallucinations and reality. In doing so, Sagan motivates people to use critical thinking when thinking of these topics and how they relate to science. Sagan only wants his readers to truly understand that if the questions and ideas that they pose can't be explained with valid science then they are in need of much more research and experimentation. In the book Sagan also disputes the education system in the United States and compares it to other systems around the world. Sagan emphasizes the importance of science in education and states that if we don't take action now and encourage future generations to take it more seriously the future of our entire nation is at risk.

Here I have a video of Sagan discussing his book:

My favorite part of Sagan's book is his argument for the improvement of our education system. I took a class last semester titled Schools of the Future in which we heavily debated the areas of improvement needed in our education system if we are to compete with other leading nations in the future. Sagan's arguments in this book, written nearly 15 years ago, only proves that our education system is in dire need of improvement and has been for some time. In the book, Sagan points out the importance of a fundamental skill needed in life: reading. He discusses the story of Frederick Douglass, a man born into slavery that, while enslaved, learns to read and escapes to freedom to become a social reformer and writer. This story of Douglass points out the importance of an education and what can achieve with one.

Sagan's book heavily relates to this class because he speaks about many of the topics that our discussed in out text Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Sagan addresses these topics and explains that there is no valid science to back them up. Although he uses science as a way to distinguish between what is real and what isn't, Sagan is always quick to say that although there is no scientific evidence to back up some of these arguments now, that does not mean that they are not possible and one day there is a possibility that science may explain them.

This is such a good read and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in science and pseudoscience. I originally wanted to read James Randi's book for this report but came upon this first. I have no regrets what so ever and have already lent the book out to a friend. Job well done, Carl Sagan.

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