Sunday, April 26, 2020

Demon Haunted World Book Report

The book I chose for class was The Demon Haunted World: Science as Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. The honest reason I chose this book was because I thought it had the coolest name on the list and was gonna be about demons. After beginning to read, I quickly realized that I was wrong about the book being about demons, however, the book was still very interesting. The main ideas in the book mention crazy things that humans believe, like aliens, demons, witches, and dragons, and explain how slow thinking and science would help people understand them and how they even came about. My favorite chapters in the book were “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection”, “The Dragon in My Garage”, and “Real Patriots Ask Questions”, since they emphasize the most interesting topics/ideas to me. 
In chapter 12, “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection”, Sagan explains that every scientist has their “baloney detection kit”, that contains all the necessary tools for using skeptical thinking. The main goal of using the tools is to find true conclusions, rather than just ones that sound good or have likeable outcomes. Baloney is sometimes innocently risen, but the victims are usually trapped by emotions, which leads them to believe it and sometimes costs them money.He also explains that this kit is very important, because when governments and societies lose their sense of critical thinking, then they can get catastrophic results. 
In Chapter 10, “The Dragon in My Garage”, Sagan explores skeptical thinking by explaining the idea of having a “fire breathing dragon” in his garage. This, of course, seems very unlikely and he knows that someone would try to test this theory by asking to go see it. He then goes on to say that the reason no one can see it, is because it's invisible. More tests are brought up to see if the dragon is really there, but he debunks each by explaining that the dragon has special features, like that it floats, can’t be painted, and breathes heatless fire. There is no way to prove that the dragon is there, but there is also no way to prove that it isn’t, but this no way means that the dragon is real. This way of thinking may represent some cases of psychological problems in some people and why they believe the things they do.
My last favorite chapter is actually the last chapter of the book, chapter 25 “Real Patriots Ask Questions”. In this chapter Carl Sagan explains how the scientific method could be used to improve things around the world socially, politically, and economically. He states that we can use science by treating these things as experiments and that policies can be tested. He also mentions that it would be a waste to ignore the results just because they seem “ideologically unpalatable”. He then goes on to talk about Thomas Jefferson and where people like him are today in society and mentions how his ideas and inventions represented freedom. He believes that the world's corruption today comes from people failing to think for themselves, and that with enough healthy skepticism and science, we can make it better.
After reading the book, I would highly recommend the reading for people who believe in stuff way too easily or to people who love science, in which I easily fall into both categories. I would also recommend trying out other readings by Carl Sagan because I’ve heard they are just as good. The thing i most liked about the book is that it gave me a new way to think and how to go about in a healthy but skeptical way.

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