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

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

Написано Carl Sagan

Озвучено Cary Elwes, Seth MacFarlane и Ann Druyan


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

Написано Carl Sagan

Озвучено Cary Elwes, Seth MacFarlane и Ann Druyan

оценки:
4.5/5 (112 оценки)
Длина:
17 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
May 30, 2017
ISBN:
9781531888169
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Описание

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. Introductory music from the original score for COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey composed by Alan Silvestri, used with permission from Cosmos Studios, Inc. and Chappers Music. All rights reserved. Special thanks to Fuzzy Planets, Inc.
Издатель:
Издано:
May 30, 2017
ISBN:
9781531888169
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Об авторе

Carl Sagan was Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking, and Voyager spacecraft expeditions, for which he received the NASA medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement. Dr. Sagan received the Pulitzer Prize and the highest awards of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment. His book Cosmos was the bestselling science book ever published in the English language, and his bestselling novel, Contact, was turned into a major motion picture.


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  • (5/5)
    Sagan draws together history, psychology, and science in an explanation of why it is so easy for human beings to believe in the supernatural, and why we need to promote scientific thinking as a way to avoid falling into false beliefs. He analyzes our ability (perhaps even our need) to believe in the existence of everything from demons and witches to TV mediums and alien abduction, and shows us how rational thought can help us avoid the traps set by our own psychology. He does all this with great compassion and patience, and without descending into the angry or insulting rhetoric that characterizes so much of the debate between science and belief.As a non-scientist I really enjoyed this book; I read excerpts from it for a class a year or so ago and finally got around to reading the whole thing. Sagan presents scientific thinking as an approachable and practical alternative with something for everyone, rather than some elusive concept achievable only by brainiacs and nerds. His writing style is personable, easy to read, and even funny; his explanations are easy to follow, without sacrificing accuracy.Highly recommended to scientists and non-scientists alike. Even if you already understand and agree with the arguments presented in this book, Sagan will help you formulate the idea much more clearly.
  • (4/5)
    This book contains many examples of pain that could have been avoided, although that's not what one thinks when confronted with the Inquisition practices and confronted with the fate of the victims, all of whom are 100% sure to be innocent, without any trace of doubt. Both the near present and distant past were examined for examples of presence or any degree of absence of knowledge. A sizable chunk of the book deals with UFOs and conspiracy theories. I'm a bit disappointed that the Illuminati was never mentioned even once. Carl Sagan gives many explanations for the debunking of various UFO sightings, and tales of abduction. But he does not cite cases that are still a mystery. That's another thing that the writer never addressed. He didn't address the one in a million cases that is unexplained even now, or puzzles that have remained a mystery. Archaeological mysteries are not mentioned. I must clarify that I don't believe that aliens know of our world, should they exist at some place in the universe. Where the book excels and where I found delight were passages where people refused to believe in the benefits of science, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I knew little of James Clerk Maxwell, and found it an anomaly that Charles Darwin wasn't knighted. Living in a young Republic means that in the history of my country no cruel atrocities were carried out, at least no murderous ones. I think that discouraging abstract projects in science will snuff out future useful inventions. It's the same for agriculture - making a species of plant extinct makes us miss useful traits that might surface in the future. I found this book to be the work of a talented educator and it was nice being educated in this way.
  • (5/5)
    It's hard to say which part of this book I liked the best. The whole thing was fantastic. This is the first book of Sagan's I've read. Wow. I've got to look up more of his stuff. This particular text is about how important skepticism and open-mindedness are to day-to-day life, from evaluating TV commercials to politics. The chapters on supposed "alien abduction" had me laughing my ass off even as I was horrified by some of the stories. Great, great book. I highly recommend it.
  • (5/5)
    Have you ever read something that filled you with such furvor that you wanted to write your own thoughts along those same lines, but whenever you tried you found you did nothing but repeat the original article?That's been me all over the place with The Demon-Haunted World. I want to ramble about the wonder of science, the importance of skepticism, the fact that school all but completely robbed me of any desire to learn, the dangers of pseudoscience, the intrinsic value of basic research even if it doesn't lead to a specific application right away...but Sagan says it all, and he says it better than I ever could. This is one of those amazing books that made me think long and hard about a lot of things. It made me want to know more about the universe, to revisit old assumptions and condescensions, to step back a moment and drink it all in.Sagan speaks as one with a giddy love for the scientific process, one whose healthy skepticism does not make him stodgy or closed to new ideas. Much of the first half of the book is spent more or less on aliens - not only explanations for much of what is attributed to extraterrestrial activity, but why people assume aliens at all. He does grump a little about the dumbing-down of American entertainment and its lack of accurate science, but coming from someone who prizes knowledge so highly, I can understand his disappointment at the popularity of shows like "Beavis & Butthead" and "Dumb & Dumber." Likewise his unhappiness with dwindling popular and government support of science research and education.This book is absolutely astounding. It's one of the few that I recommend to anyone, even (and perhaps especially) if it challenges some of your closely held viewpoints. It did mine.
  • (4/5)
    There is no doubt that Carl Sagan knew what he was talking about (sadly, he is no longer with us). And what he shares with us about the gullibility of humanity is pretty depressing. This catalog of nonsense that humans have believed (and still believe, in many cases) makes one wonder why we trust our capacity to think well. And, of course, because we know that we tend to think poorly, we have developed principles of critical thinking to compensate for that tendency. And science, which is firmly grounded in principles of careful, critical thinking. Sagan ruthlessly debunks all of these bizarre beliefs, repeatedly illustrating in clear, eloquent language what it means to think carefully about these and other issues in everyday life and society. He also surveys various tools for evaluating the legitimacy of ideas and beliefs.I do have a couple of minor criticism of the book. I did get a bit tired, after about 3/4 of the book of the constant rehearsal of some issues. I understand that the chapters of the book are actually essays Sagan wrote (some with his wife). It may be possible to enjoy this book by dipping into chapters at random rather than reading straight through from cover to cover. Am I was really irritated by his capitalisation of the word Nature - as if it was being constructed as an intelligent entity worth worshiping in some new-agey way. I'm not saying that is what Sagan intended. But it didn't come across as consistent with his generally rational approach.THE DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD is a good read. The biggest problem, of course, is that those who most need to read it probably won't. But at least the rest of us can arm ourselves with good thinking skills to protect ourselves from the nonsense so often foisted upon us - and to help us scrutinise our own beliefs before we base our decisions about life on them.
  • (4/5)
    Within 50 pages I wanted to buy a copy for everyone I know. Sagan explains why I love science perfectly.I wish there were half stars. This is definitely a 4.5. I dropped it from a 5 just because I think some of it reads a little smug/condescending which kind of defeats the purpose of persuasion and popularization. But I also took a bunch of notes from it.
  • (4/5)
    The book begins with Sagan's personal experiences with science, and how he first came to respect it for the infallible system of truth-finding that it is (my words). Sagan denounces religious fanaticism and superstition, old and new (and growing, unfortunately) because of its fallibility and supposed doctrines which even when proven to be false are adhered to just as ferociously by their fanatics. I couldn't agree more with Sagan's ideas in this book, and I think he presented them in a relatively non-hating way - not only of religion (the non-fanatical kind) but of the human beings who practice religion and stick to traditions that are not based on scientific research and discovery. Although, he really does call out the superstitious for their supposedly impractical and useless beliefs, and while I appreciate his intentions to expose frauds, I don't completely agree that anyone who sincerely believes the world was created 6,000 years ago to be a fraud by definition, or more broadly that a world without (granted, diverse factions of) religion would be a terrific place. I think the same people who abuse religion toward their own amoral ends would also (and do) abuse science for just as sinister purposes. This idea is of course downplayed as Sagan explains that many more people have been saved by "science" than have been victimized by it - and this is probably true (there are not many footnotes, but I can use my faculty of common sense), yet we can't assume that there is a hidden beneficial purpose of the hydrogen bomb. In light of this, I found ADHW to be a little skewed not just in its humanity but in refusing to properly acknowledge the potential dangers of scientific research, which Sagan even admits is funded mostly by governments.Another theme in Sagan's book besides the de-bunking is the current path that various countries in the world are taking regarding science. The United States is the focus of this book because Sagan is an American, and he takes issue with the dumbing down of the school system, the spread of fundamentalism among mostly Christians (the Creationists) in America, and most importantly the cause of these other problems, the fall of skepticism. Sagan devotes various chapters to actual letters he's received from everyday Americans responding to an article with the same ideas presented in this book, firstly 10th graders and then parents of school-age children. The letters from the high-school students are shameful, filled with misspellings and other grammatical errors that you have to wonder if Sagan chose the absolute worst-written letters to publish here, and where he could've found so many 10th-graders who could barely read or write at a 4th-grade level. Interestingly, all of the parents' letters are grammatically sound, which begs the question of where those letters came from that all "grown-ups" in that town could be so darn smart in comparison to the next generation (aka their own children). A little bias for the sake of making a point, it seems.And the last theme I'll talk about here before giving my verdict is the future of science, as seen by Carl Sagan. He asks: "How could we put more science on television?" knowing that television, as in the 1990's at the time of this publication, is pretty much every American's golden calf. What he comes up with are, on the whole, some either naive or terribly outdated ideas for educational programming a la the following. I ask if you could possibly imagine a TV show called Solved Mysteries with its "rational resolutions" on television; or a show about "coordinated government lie[s]". Does this make the book outdated or just naive? Hard to tell, just take this part with a grain of salt.In any case, I did enjoy reading this book for various reasons: I love the way Sagan writes so clearly and, well, reasonably, that you can't help but agree with him and wonder what the heck we're doing with ourselves if not being just as reasonable. Why is science a bad word to so many of us? Why are we so disenchanted with "reality", what can we do about it? I also loved Sagan's chapter The Fine Art of Baloney Detection, where he cites the various fallacies scientists contend with and how to recognize them in the everyday. Very helpful in debates, if that's your thing. And I really love pop science books (or any subject) that makes you want to go out and become a scientist (or whatever). For anyone interested in science, or just the real workings of the world, you can't find a better beginning than this, a great manual for skeptics and thinking folk of all shapes, sizes and even religious persuasions. But be prepared to pity Mr. Sagan somewhat for his lack of sympathy for others. He even beats himself up for his own harmless visions, of his deceased parents for example, and basically says we should too.emilysanecdotes.blogspot.com
  • (4/5)
    Sagan's writing makes this worth the read, which is more and more difficult to say about our science books. He weaves a thread of logic that pulls together religious, ESP, alien-invasion and other common myths to a single set of conclusions about the nature of being a human.Similar, though much better than, 'Why People Believe Weird Things"
  • (5/5)
    I read this book, believe it or not, because it was recommended on the atheist subreddit. I was simultaneously emboldened and depressed by it.Sagan discussed two main thesis in this book, that skepticism and science are integral to an informed electorate and a competitive, modern nation, and that much of the superstitions, paranormal activity and even religion are outside the realm of modern post-enlightenment thought and should be treated as such. He also took umbrage with the culture of proud stupidity that seems to permeate our country that even our elected officials can't escape. He wanted very much for us to embrace science literacy and recapture that post-enlightenment curiosity that inspired our founding fathers to ask questions not only of our fledgling government but also of nature.I was really impressed with the way that he discussed religion and people of faith; as I explore atheism I'm often appalled at how quickly people devolve to religion-bashing or criticizing their Christian brothers and sisters as intellectual inferiors. Sagan was very good at offering a convincing yet respectful debate. Based on his advocacy for science in our public system, this should be required reading for every American. Unfortunately, because of it's size, (457 pags) he undoubtedly turned off the very people who should read it.My two favorite quotes: "The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.""Books, purchasable at low cost, permit us to interrogate the past with high accuracy; to tap the wisdom of our species; to understand the point of view of others, and not just those in power; to contemplate--with the best teachers--the insights, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history. They allow people long dead to talk inside our heads. Books can accompany us everywhere. Books are patient where we are slow to understand, allow us to go over the hard parts as many times as we wish, and are never critical of our lapses. Books are key to understanding the world and participating in a democratic society."
  • (5/5)
    This is the first of Carl Sagan's book that I read and I must say I'm very impressed by the way he writes. This book is for those who would like to think 'the otherwise'. It opens up your mind and makes you think rationally. Although I found the first couple of chapters (on UFO/alien abduction) a little too repetitive, the rest of the chapters are extremely engaging and thought provoking.MUST READ!
  • (5/5)
    One of the original rationalist scientists of the 20th century, brilliant in his ideas, delivery, and logic.
  • (3/5)
    I love Carl Sagan. I love his passion for science, his humor, his accessibility, his love of wonder. But I am over the politics, the "shoulds", the endless pages of examples of how people are stupid. That's not fun to read. For me anyway; others may enjoy it more.
  • (4/5)
    Carl Sagan's 'The demon-haunted world' is a book that describes author's view on, in general, science against the "real" world. It consists of 25 chapters, 4 of them coauthored by his wife, Ann Druyan. Some parts are hilarious (eg. "you are obsessed with reality"), some insightful (eg. how maxwell unknowingly lead to the invention of television), some just good life advice but never preaching, rather explaining that it is the only behavior that makes sense (eg on racism, sexism). The best part must be The Fine Art of Baloney Detection, but I don't want to spoil it for you! On the negative side - I have previously read 'The Varieties of Scientific Experience', and I found a bit of repetition and I would like this book to be more concise. But to be fair, they are supposed to be essays and not scientific articles. Overall - a great book to read on vacation.
  • (4/5)
    Carl Sagan does a great job explaining how science works and why some beliefs (such as alien abductions) may have other foundations than commonly accepted. His writing is easy to understand for the non-scientist, but good for the scientist as well.
  • (5/5)
    One of the few to stand against the tide of unreason arising in both America and the Islamic world. A great book which totally debunks some of the lunacies alive in the world.
  • (5/5)
    I forget what an amazing writer Carl Sagan really is. He's accessible, intelligent, thought-provoking - as well as provoking the occasional "YES!" in your brain when he perfectly states something that you always thought but couldn't quite put into words. Also a great book to point to when people insist on the idea that atheists are mean, unhappy people who think they know everything.
  • (5/5)
    Science at its best!
  • (5/5)
    Sagan takes on pseudo-science, faith healing, witchcraft and religion, calling for rigorous application of the scientific method to stop us from being sucked in by the "enveloping darkness." Not a terribly well-constructed book, probably because it's made up of essays that were previously published elsewhere, but a must-read, perhaps even more now (2017) than I first read it (1997).
  • (5/5)
    You haven't made me an atheist yet, Sagan! *shakes fist*
  • (5/5)
    This book should be a MUST in the education of any young person. And should be read too by anybody who pays minimum attention to pseudo-science in any of its forms.
  • (5/5)
    I read The Demon-Haunted World back in high school when I was on a Carl Sagan kick after seeing his 13-part Cosmos series (the original one, on VHS tape). It would be several more years before I would reform my own critical thinking skills into what they resemble today, but I have no doubt that this book planted a seed.
  • (5/5)
    Always insightful, it seems that Sagan just wanted to watch the world learn. I should've read this at 14. Honestly, this should probably be required high school reading for everyone. It illustrates clearly the many and varied personal and societal benefits gained from applying the methods of science to every corner of our thinking. The methods are the important part, the findings are just icing on the cake. It covers the dangers of unchecked ideologies and the requirement for both objectivity and wonder. Almost no topic is left unexamined. I really can't recommend this book enough.
  • (3/5)
    I don't think "The Demon-Haunted World" has aged well. Sagan's preoccupation with alien encounters smacks of late-1990s America to me, and his incessant nitpicking and almost overly-thorough debunking seems over the top as a modern reader. Perhaps it was more useful a decade ago, but now it seems rather tired, and I really found myself having to push to finish it.
  • (3/5)
    I'm a big fan of Carl Sagan. I loved the `Cosmos' series, I thought `The Demon Haunted World' was an outstanding treatise on really important subject, and I really dug the movie `Contact'. I have only respect for his views the role and value of science and rational thought in everyone's daily life. So I looked forward to `Billions and Billions', his last work before his sad death a couple of years ago.Well, while much of the book is true to form, in parts I was a little disappointed. For the first time, and maybe exactly because of his own dreadful circumstances, Sagan allows himself to stray from his stock material, - matters scientific and logical, where he's pretty unarguably right - to matters where, to my mind, he isn't - matters moral and political. So his chapters on the crises facing the world, all of which start out nicely enough, start introducing solutions which have a cloying, left wing, aroma to them. To my reading of it, Sagan's basic thesis is that we (the proles) can't sort out the world's problems by ourselves, so we need a panel of wise men to legislate them away for us. That's a pile of old rope. Frankly, I have yards more confidence in the judgment (collectively) of the "man on the Clapham omnibus" than of any politicians (and I don't think the latter in any meaningful way represents the former), so I don't buy Sagan's argument at all. But what bugs me is the unspoken intellectual imperialism of it. "Not only are there Wise Men who must make critical decisions for you", implies Sagan, "but they are people like Me." Well, sorry, but as anyone who has done a Bachelor's degree will know, the only people worse equipped than politicians to make judgments on behalf of the rest of us are people who spend their lives hanging out at places like Cornell University.As a result Sagan starts sounding less like the completely dispassionate scientist and more like your common or garden sci-fi writer - his conceptions of how useful an idea government is aren't far off the loopy ones Arthur C Clark used to trundle out in his potboilers: you know, where, in five hundred years, finally the human race will Get It Right and we'll all live happily ever after. Call me cynical, but it don't work like that. Given the history of science, a scientist of Sagan's calibre ought to know that.
  • (5/5)
    Reviewed Aug - Sept 2001 The must read book 0voted in the Top 20 skeptic books, Sagan writes to be read by many. Many chapters are essays of their own only linked together for the book. Bits tell Sagan's own story, all are from his experiences. He tells us about his parents and how they taught him to love science even through they new nothing about it themselves. He has broken the book down into subjects...man in the Moon, Face on Mars, Aliens, Therapy, Visions, Witchcraft in medieval times and modern, hallucinations, scientists and nerds as well as several chapters telling us why science is exciting and how to get others to think critically. Four chapters are more political and written with wife Ann Druyan. I loved the chapter with the dragon in the garage and found his stories about witchcraft very creepy. Not lunch time reading material. Tons of quotable material lies between pages, this is surly a great reference book for us all. 16-2001
  • (5/5)
    you should carry this around in your pocket and keep reading it.
  • (5/5)
    This is a classic must-read for anyone interested in science and skepticism or anyone who has ever found themselves asking questions in the face of broad claims which we are expected to accept. It was Sagan's final book, and it is full of musings and questions which ensures his ideas will continue into the future. I loved how Sagan's mind worked and although I found him a little too placatory to people who may not have deserved it at times, this style ensures that he will be accessible to all readers, not just those who share his beliefs.
  • (5/5)
    Such a significant book. Carl Sagan is not only extremely intelligent, he has such amazing insight and clarity of vision. Gone too soon, Mr. Sagan could have taught us so much more.
  • (5/5)
    I left it a few days after finishing this book before writing this review because I thought there was a danger that I would go a bit over the top. I don't think that the few days grace have done anything other than make me realise this is one of the best books I have ever read.This is even more surprising when I was told by many people that I would think precisely this, bearing mind what sort of an awkward and contrary bugger I am.This is essentially a collection of essays setting down the authors views on the human condition and in particular our proclivity for self deception. Fascinating stuff from a man opted into official government committees on UFO's, a renowned space scientist at the centre of the Mars landings and an inspiration to millions.Just as applicable to today's world as it was when published ten years ago.This book should be on the to read list of anyone who is human and who thinks humans are interesting.I don't rate things five stars on principle. I hope to live a good few more years yet and reserve the right to re-rate my books on my eightieth birthday. At that point with a lot more reading under my belt the odd five star may sneak in. It is therefore only my hopes for longevity which prevent me giving this book five stars.
  • (4/5)
    This is wonderful, and depressing, and inspiring.