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

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Random House Publishing Group, Jul 6, 2011 - Science - 480 pages
A prescient warning of a future we now inhabit, where fake news stories and Internet conspiracy theories play to a disaffected American populace

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


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.

Praise for The Demon-Haunted World

“Powerful . . . A stirring defense of informed rationality. . . Rich in surprising information and beautiful writing.”The Washington Post Book World

“Compelling.”USA Today

“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.”The Sciences

“Passionate.”San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle

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User Review  - aadyer - LibraryThing

A good and relatively comprehensive look at the late 20th century‘s approach to science and the development of interest in science. This was wide-ranging, looking at issues such as witchcraft, aliens ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ejakub - LibraryThing

Great read and reminder of logical, critical, scientific thinking. Sagan takes you on a journey of logic. This is a great reminder to those in the scientific community why our work is so important and a great introduction to those outside the world of science, its process and use. Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Carl Sagan served as the David Duncan 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, Voyager, and Galileo spacecraft expeditions, for which he received the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and (twice) for Distinguished Public Service.
 
His Emmy- and Peabody–winning television series, Cosmos, became the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. The accompanying book, also called Cosmos, is one of the bestselling science books ever published in the English language. Dr. Sagan received the Pulitzer Prize, the Oersted Medal, and many other awards—including twenty honorary degrees from American colleges and universities—for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment. In their posthumous award to Dr. Sagan of their highest honor, the National Science Foundation declared that his “research transformed planetary science . . . his gifts to mankind were infinite." Dr. Sagan died on December 20, 1996.

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