Monday, July 21, 2008

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
Carl Sagan
1996, 1997, Ballantine, New York

Carl Sagan looks at pseudo-sciences such as alien encounters, faith healings and psychic abilities and compares them to the testable hypotheses of traditional science. He argues that the modern world needs to develop a more skeptical view.

Sagan writes with such passion, it's hard to not be affected by it. I particularly enjoyed the section on UFOs. I hadn't read much from the skeptical side about UFOs and abductions before. The comparison to visions of angels, fairies, demons, et al was very interesting. It's an exciting topic which could teach us much about the universe or about human psyche. Why do so many people experience the phenomena? And why do others not?

But the book is about more than debunking UFOs and other pseudo-sciences, it's about clear thought and critical reasoning. Here is a favourite quote of mine from page 429: "(T)he cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas."

Link to journal at bookcrossing

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