Monday, August 9, 2021

Book Report on the Demon Haunted World

The book “ The Demon Haunted World” by Carl Sagan is an interesting investigation into how science and pseudoscience is impacting the world we live in today. It was written in the mid nineties so some of the real world information feels a bit outdated. However, a lot of the concepts Sagan writes about still ring true today. The book is an interesting combination of background information on popular pseudoscience topics, such as explaining how UFO therapists work and teaching us how to use critical thinking to determine what is fact or fiction. He addresses how our grief and emotion can lead us to want to believe in pseudoscience. He explains the importance of science and how we can evolve and grow our understanding of it.  Overall, he does a great job at teaching readers to be curious while making decisions that are grounded in reality. 

My favorite chapter was Chapter 4 Aliens. My whole life I have been fascinated by the idea of Aliens. I enjoyed the chapter because he was able to explain the reason for so many people believing that they have been abducted or seen a flying saucer. One reason in particular felt applicable to me when he said “When we notice something strange in the sky, some of us become excitable and uncritical, bad witnesses.” This line resonated with me, because growing up I was so engrossed and scared by Aliens that I would stare at the sky for hours at night hoping I would be able to catch something. Sure enough, any star or plane that looked unusual I automatically labeled as a UFO. As I’ve gotten older I have realized that I knew better and that not everything is a fly saucer. Many people essentially hype themselves up enough to the point where they genuinely believe they saw a UFO.

Very similar to Chapter four, we also covered the Alien Abduction phenomenon in class. Many people who were abducted share similar characteristics, which is why so many people believe the same thing. As Aliens and other pseudoscience topics become more popular, people can easily hear about other’s experiences and adopt them as their own. As Sagan mentions, our memories are fallible. Our memories and emotions are easily manipulated by our experiences, traumas and other influences. An example of this could be that those who believed they were abducted are led to uncovering memories by those giving hypno therapy.

Overall, it has been very interesting to read a book about pseudoscience during a pandemic. Obviously there is so much information out there about this disease and the vaccine. Currently there are two schools of thinking, get the vaccine or not. I wonder if a book like this would push people to believe in the vaccine, and debunk anti vaccine myths or do the opposite. It could be possible that those who are anti vaccine would be convinced even more not to get the vaccine, as Carl Sagan encourages learning about science and facts which they believe they do. I think the lesson here is to educate yourself as much as possible and continue to make decisions that are correct for you. The more knowledge you have the better. 

Here are some links to learn more about Alien Abductions!

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