Monday, April 27, 2020

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, book report

If someone wants to be informed and educated on how to make intelligent decisions or examine information given to them, the book The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan is a book to be pursued. Sagan does a good job at showing readers how to understand the differences between pseudoscience and actual proven science. I enjoyed the book a great deal and by the end I did feel more educated about the myths of pseudoscience and understanding true science. It was clear throughout the book that Sagan does not like the fact that more and more Americans are believing pseudoscience and not proven science. Which is why he touches on many pseudoscience subjects throughout the book like UFOs, alien abductions, dragons, witchcraft, the after life, and many more topics. My favorite three chapters in the book have to be chapter four “Aliens”, chapter ten “The Dragon In My Garage” and finally chapter seventeen “The Marriage Of Skepticism And Wonder”. 
Chapter four, titled “Aliens” was all about aliens, dreams, UFOs, and crop circle hoaxers. I enjoyed this chapter so much because of the beginning. Sagan puts the reader in someone else's place, and does a good job at describing just how terrifying and realistic dreams can really be. Because this chapter touches on the emotional strength of  dreams and how dreams can alter what we think and believe is true it makes it that much more interesting to me. Something that never truly happened to someone can feel like a real experience to them. To add, when the chapter started discussing crop circle hoaxers and how people across the country were starting to join in making “real” crop circles I thought that was very interesting. Random people would go through so much time and effort just to get people to believe that aliens were indeed true and leaving their mark for us to see. Only years later did some admit to making them. 

“The Dragon In My Garage”, chapter ten, discusses skeptical thinking. He begins the chapter by talking about his hypothetical fire breathing dragon in his garage. Obviously a normal person would know he is not telling the truth, and the fire breathing dragon is not real. Yet we still want to see if it is real, so Sagan “shows” us his garage. When no dragon is visible he claims he forgot to mention his dragon is invisible. When you try to see the dragon's tracks with flour he claims the dragon floats. You ask him to detect the invisible fire, “...but the invisible fire is also heatless” he says, and so on. The whole point of this is to show the reader that He claims that our inability to disprove him is not the same thing as proving it true. He ties in his example with people who believe in aliens or alien abductions. How they try to prove themselves true when there is no strand of evidence except for what is coming out of their mouth. 

Chapter seventeen “The Marriage Of Skepticism And Wonder”, as predicted discusses skepticism, as does the entirety of the book. It starts off the chapter by talking about telling the truth to the best of our ability, and how memories are fallible. Sagan even adds in there that scientific truth is really only an approximation. But our memory is false in so many ways no matter what our beliefs and feelings. He continues to talk about how in our world there are many skepticisms, for example in the world of paranormal beliefs. So many people are trying to figure out their spirituality, personal meaning, and ways of healing. People who are skeptical might find those people who are trying to figure out their spirituality, personal meaning as “delusional”. Sagan reminds us that all human beings are simply trying to find their places in the world and where they belong. 
In conclusion, I believe that this is a great book for anyone looking to be more educated and informed on how to have better judgment when it comes to myths and pseudoscience. The book The Demon-Haunted World should be seeked out by many in order to understand the differences between pseudoscience and actual proven science. Although the book was a bit repetitive I did enjoy it. Overall, I feel more knowledgeable about many subjects thanks to this book. Lastly, almost all of the topics discussed in this book have been heard about by most people so any reader can enjoy and in some way related to the content they are reading. 

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