The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
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"A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought."
*Los Angeles Times
"POWERFUL . . . A stirring defense of informed rationality. . . Rich in surprising information and beautiful writing."
*The Washington Post Book World
How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don't understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the pursuit of truth but to the very well-being of our democratic institutions.
Casting a wide net through history and culture, Sagan examines and authoritatively debunks such celebrated fallacies of the past as witchcraft, faith healing, demons, and UFOs. And yet, disturbingly, in today's so-called information age, pseudoscience is burgeoning with stories of alien abduction, channeling past lives, and communal hallucinations commanding growing attention and respect. As Sagan demonstrates with lucid eloquence, the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong turn but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms.
"A clear vision of what good science means and why it makes a difference. . . . A testimonial to the power of science and a warning of the dangers of unrestrained credulity."
*San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
Dip in to see what's been discovered lately. And, as in a detective story, it's a joy to frame key questions, to work through alternative explanations, and maybe even to advance the process of scientific discovery. Consider these examples, some very simple, some not, chosen more or less at random: • Could there be an undiscovered integer between 6 and 7? • Could there be an undiscovered chemical element between atomic number 6 (which is carbon) and atomic number 7 (which is nitrogen)? •.
Breakdown of the discipline and competence in the schools. • I'm afraid you have no understanding of the country in which you live. The people are incredibly ignorant and fearful. They will not tolerate listening to any [new] idea ... Don't you get it? The system survives only because it has an ignorant Godfearing population. There's a reason lots of [educated people] are unemployed. • I'm sometimes required to explain technological issues to Congressional staffers. Believe me, there's a.
Literacy, learning, books and newspapers are potentially dangerous. They can put independent and even rebellious ideas in the heads of their subjects. The British Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia wrote in 1671: I thank God there are no free schools nor printing; and I hope we shall not have [them] these [next] hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them and libels against the best government. God keep.
(1667-9) For just an instant in the darkened room I sense an apparition - could it be a ghost? Or there's a flicker of motion; I see it out of the corner of my eye, but when I turn my head there's nothing there. Is that a telephone ringing, or is it just my ìmagination'? In astonishment, I seem to be smelling the salt air of the Coney Island summer seashore of my childhood. I turn a corner in the foreign city I'm visiting for the first time, and before me is a street so familiar I feel.
Talking to, that's all right. That's not what this is about. This is about humans being human. More than a third of American adults believe that on some level they've made contact with the dead. The number seems to have jumped by 15 per cent between 1977 and 1988. A quarter of Americans believe in reincarnation. But that doesn't mean I'd be willing to accept the pretensions of àmedium', who claims to channel the spirits of the dear departed, when I'm aware the practice is rife with fraud. I.