Monday, August 10, 2015

The Demon-Haunted World (Book Report)

In the book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan expresses his feelings and views on science and society today.  Sagan states in the book how religion and politics have an influence on the way we think and believe.  Science on the other hand, has changed the game of those beliefs.  Sagan believes that the evolution of science is the candle in the dark that brought the idea of scientific methods out from the darkness over centuries. Sagan believes that a scientific approach to life rather than a superstitious approach. He speaks of how in the dark ages the beliefs of people were very different than they are today.  For example, Sagan suggests that the demons that plagued the people during the dark ages have been replaced by our fascination of alien invasions.  Both to which have not been proven. The book continues on about an array of different topics and views of the author with much emotion.

In chapter 9, Sagan debates with his longtime friend John Mack.  Mack, a Harvard Psychiatrist, wrote a book about people that have come forward about being abducted by aliens.  This was my favorite part of the book.  Sagan put Mack on the spot about asking where the skepticism was rooted from.  The nice part about this chapter is that Sagan examines the psychological state of the self- proclaimed abductees. The abductees are in a fantasy state of mind that is influenced by other extrinsic factors. This influence was covered in our readings in previous chapters. For instance, the topic of hypnosis and the manipulation of the mind. What we are indirectly told leads us to believe that it really happened, creating a false memory of a non-existent event.

The book was an emotional read, but a great one.  It really opened my mind as to how the evolution of people and beliefs has influenced the way we see and perceive things.  I enjoyed Sagan’s defense of the scientific world from everything from politics to religion to culture in itself. During the read there was information that made you look a multifaceted sides of ideas that cannot be validated such as UFO’s, aliens, witches, fairies. Even though there is no concrete evidence does that mean that they don’t exist? 
Sagan, C.(1995). The Demon-Haunted World:Science as a Candle in the Dark. Random House. ISBN 0-394-53512-x.


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