Are we on the brink of a new Dark Age of irrationality and superstition? In this stirring, brilliantly argued book, Carl Sagan shows how scientific thinking is necessary to safeguard our democratic institutions and our technical civilization. "The Demon-Haunted World" is more personal and richer in moving, revealing human stories than anything Sagan has ever written. From his childhood experience, to engrossing tales of discovery, Sagan shows how the method of scientific thought can cut through prejudice and hysteria and uncover the often surprising truth. Sagan convincingly debunks "alien abduction," "channellers," faith-healer fraud, the "face" on Mars, and much else. Along the way, he refutes the argument that science destroys spirituality or is just another arbitrary belief system, asks why scientific study is often stigmatized, discusses the dangers of the misuse of science, and provides a "baloney detection kit" for thinking through political, social, religious, and other issues.
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Carl Sagan muses on the current state of scientific thought, which offers him marvelous opportunities to entertain us with his own childhood experiences, the newspaper morgues, UFO stories, and the assorted flotsam and jetsam of pseudoscience. Along the way he debunks alien abduction, faith-healing, and channeling; refutes the arguments that science destroys spirituality, and provides a "baloney detection kit" for thinking through political, social, religious, and other issues.From the Inside Flap:
"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
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