Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

I chose to read The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by author Carl Sagan. I chose to read this book because I have read other Carl Sagan books throughout college such as The Dragon of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence. This book was very interesting to me because it talks about the science, and pseudoscience, involved in a broad range of things such as aliens, hallucinations, demons, witchcraft, and antiscience that are all discussed in their own chapters. The book also explains methods that help differentiate between what is science and what is pseudoscience.

The chapter that I thought was most interesting was chapter 20 called “House of Fire”. In this chapter he gives his opinion on the American education system and its decline in literacy rates, and science and math skills among children that are in school. He presents in the text letters he received from 10th graders in Minnesota who didn’t believe that there is a problem. They said they didn’t believe that they need to sacrifice their social time to do work and study for class. I’ll have to admit, I was most definitely one of those students who didn’t want to lose social time to study. While the students seemed to disagree with Sagan, adults that responded to him agreed that there is a problem with the education system. It is interesting to me because now that I am getting older I do also finally believe that there is a flaw in our education system.

One of Sagan’s quotes that I found to be most powerful in the book is found at the end. He says “If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power”. I believe what he means by this is that if we have an idea, or we disagree with a decision, that we need to stand up for what we believe in or else those who are in power will always win and mold our lifestyles for us.

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