Friday, August 2, 2019

Book Report Post: The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan was an astronomer and physicist who aimed to teach society the importance of education. He believed that improving our critical thinking skills is not only crucial to the betterment of our lives but that of societies, and believing in such fallacies would only hinder that. In his book, "The Demon-Haunted World," he talks about the relationship between pseudoscience and scientific logical reasoning. He mentions the many fallacies in today's world such as the UFO sightings, hallucinations, therapies, witchcraft, crop circles, and much more, that people fall into due to their lack of scientific understanding. Throughout the book, he continuously encourages the reader to have a more open mind towards science. What I've noticed about the book is that he presents his points in such a compassionate and informative matter instead of ranting or spewing his believes at us. He instead aims at broadening our knowledge.

One of my favorite chapters is chapter 9, the "Therapy" chapter. I find this chapter to be the most interesting because this is where the author starts to vent and show his passion towards the UFO "fallacy." I did mention how he presents his idea in a compassionate way, but he isn't consistent. Carl Sagan mentions how hypnotists and psychotherapists specifically John Mack, a psychiatrist he's known for many years, becomes emotionally drawn to the stories of abductees encounters with aliens. John Mack describes it as completely persuasive because of the emotional power of the experiences. Carl Sagan then begins to explain how it seems highly hypocritical that these hypnotists and psychotherapists believe the abductees encounters with aliens, but not comparable experiences such as encounters with gods, demons, saints, angels, and fairies. He also believes that these alien abduction accounts are disguised memories of rape and childhood sexual abuse. In my opinion, that seems like a stretch as if he's reaching for an answer. He even states how he is surprised that alien abduction therapists find so few cases of sexual abuse. If Carl Sagan is encouraging open mindedness towards science then why can't he also be open minded about possible alien abductions? This is also my favorite chapter because when you think about it, this book has been written over 20 years ago. During those 20 years so much has changed and occurred. To multiple alien abduction encounters, to even proof of UFO sightings. Would Carl Sagan's opinions change now? This chapter also mentions false memories as we touched on in lecture 7. Carl Sagan mentions how false memories can be seen in sexual abuse cases. The therapist is advised to stay steady in the belief that the client was abused even if the client is unsure if such events occurred. With this in mind, Carl states that "If some people can with great passion and conviction be led to falsely remember being abused by their own parents, might not others, with comparable passion and conviction, be led to falsely remember being abused by aliens."

Besides false memories, Carl Sagan's book, "The Demon-Haunted World," also includes many other concepts discussed in the slides. One of the concepts that ties into the book is cryptozoology. We discussed mythical creatures such as the chupacabra, the jersey devil, bigfoot, and the loch ness. This correlates to the book and the topic of UFO's because these are also fallacies that Carl Sagan believes to be far fetched.

Personally, I do believe that Carl Sagan's book, "The Demon-Haunted World," can help solve real world problems. Although I may not agree with every little thing that Carl Sagan states, this book does provide useful information for people who are opened to learning more about science. I do agree with Carl Sagan in that critical thinking is important to society, but unfortunately there are many people who disregard science and believe in completely illogical far fetched ideas. Yes, I may have my own beliefs, but I am also logical. For example, I am not going to go quit my job if someone claims that the world will end tomorrow.

Below is an informative video of a male youtuber reviewing Carl Sagan's book.

(3:42 - 5:17)

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