Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Demon Haunted World - Book Report

Carl Sagan expresses his overall love for science but, also explains how he believes America is dumbing down on their knowledge on true science. Popular science proselytizer Carl Sagan makes an impassioned plea for society to understand, accept and encourage science that goes far beyond the movement of planets or subatomic particles and extends to the heart of intellectual freedom and the meaning of democracy. He explains the difference between curiosity and intellectual curiosity. He emphasizes that one does not need to be a scientist to appreciate and use the scientific method. based on reason, it can sort through the myriad of irrational demons set loose in the modern world that threaten the very core of our civilization.

My favorite chapter of this book that I, also believe was the most unique and interesting is "The Dragon in My Garage". Chapter 10 begins with Sagan describing a situation in which a dragon is in his garage. When asked to see the dragon he states that it is indeed invisible. The participant explains that there are many ways still to prove that the dragon is indeed there, but Sagan gives a ridiculous explanation for each claim. Sagan expresses how the this is an incorporeal dragon, so even if you try to put spray paint on her to make her visible it will for sure not stick. He continues to go on explaining to the participant that the dragon can not be seen in anyway possible. Sagan delves deeper into the epistemological aspects of the UFO phenomenon. He asks whether we're more prepared to believe solely on the verbal testimony of so-called witnesses that aliens are visiting Earth and abducting humans, or to believe there is some kind of mass hysteria or other psychological phenomenon at work.

An insightful chapter is chapter 12 " The Fine Art of Baloney Detection". Sagan compares his parents death to a mistake almost as if he is living in a dream. In this chapter he states "This is about humans being human". For example the loss of someone close to you makes you question the reality of the afterlife. I never quite understood it until I lost my grandma, was she playing checkers, was she watching her soap operas; the unknown caused me the most pain. Sagan then discusses how to determine if a statement is "baloney". For example, always ask about the source from where the information comes. Next, try to see if that source has some kind of an agenda; if the information works to support it, then take it with a grain of salt. Thirdly, try to falsify his theory.

The chapter that made me think the most, Chapter 4 "Aliens". Sagan starts this chapter with giving you a mental illustration that you are paralyzed and something has entered your room. He then explains that you hope this is a dream but what if it isn't? This statement made me go into deeper thinking, what if all the dreams we have are reality? Sagan recounts that as a young high school student, he was confronted with the flying saucer mythology, which by then was well developed. Although at first it seemed exciting, the mythology didn't hold up well to scientific investigation. As an example, Sagan says, no one could really explain why a race of such technologically advanced creatures would travel light. There is not any scientific evidence in regarding aliens but, it is an interesting topic and thought that Sagan sheds light on. 

If you are an individual that enjoys discussing unique topics and are also open to other's opinions - this is the book for you. Sagan explains the way he thinks but he also does an excellent job at explaining why and how other individuals think the way they do. He explains real scientific evidence and pseudoscience all in one. 

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