Sunday, August 8, 2021

Book Report

 The Demon-Haunted World, Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carol Sagan 

    Carl Sagan took his responsibility to convey the scientific world's ancient riddles to the general public very seriously. In The Demon-Haunted World, he is perplexed by the then-popular pseudo-science that the general population was taking so seriously.The phenomenon of extraterrestrial abduction is his main target for debunking here. This event was so common in the decades leading up to the book's publication in 1996 that an 18% of the American public reported "waking up immobilized" and feeling like there was an alien presence in the room, according to a 1992 Roper poll. If one were to generalize the results of this poll, as Sagan suggests, It's possible that 2% of Americans have been kidnapped and subjected to various forms of interrogation and sexual experimentation. "You would think some of the neighbors would have noticed," Sagan chuckles, ruefully amused by the lack of doubt regarding these claims. 

    One of my favorite chapter was “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,” a chapter in Sagan's book that presents a toolset for debunking faulty arguments, is particularly beneficial. Similarly, the chapter on "Antiscience" provides readers with a historical perspective of what happens when scientific reasoning is superseded by pseudoscience in cultures. Numerous chapters cover a wide range of topics throughout the book. 

    I can relate things Sagan talked about like his uncofertablness with accepting things at face value, always making sure to question things and not believe something unless its been tested rigorously. This makes me think about some topics from class, such as The Illusion of Validity. 

    Demon Haunted World was chosen because it is well-suited to teaching PhD students how to think critically as they begin their research and dissertation periods. While some of the arguments in the 1996 book are out of date, and some of the points Sagan makes are redundant, there is undoubtedly something to be gained from reading it. Even if it's just to remind us that we've all been there.

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Spirituality, I Cant Sleep, Demon Haunted World, Candle In The Dark, Little Do You Know, Positive Attitude, Science, Knowledge And Wisdom, Medical Facts


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