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The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Paperback – February 25, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 457 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (February 25, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345409469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345409461
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (688 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Eminent Cornell astronomer and bestselling author Sagan debunks the paranormal and the unexplained in a study that will reassure hardcore skeptics but may leave others unsatisfied. To him, purported UFO encounters and alien abductions are products of gullibility, hallucination, misidentification, hoax and therapists' pressure; some alleged encounters, he suggests, may screen memories of sexual abuse. He labels as hoaxes the crop circles, complex pictograms that appear in southern England's wheat and barley fields, and he dismisses as a natural formation the Sphinx-like humanoid face incised on a mesa on Mars, first photographed by a Viking orbiter spacecraft in 1976 and considered by some scientists to be the engineered artifact of an alien civilization. In a passionate plea for scientific literacy, Sagan deftly debunks the myth of Atlantis, Filipino psychic surgeons and mediums such as J.Z. Knight, who claims to be in touch with a 35,000-year-old entity called Ramtha. He also brands as superstition ghosts, angels, fairies, demons, astrology, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and religious apparitions.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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More About the Author

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 to the planets, 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, and many other awards, for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment. His book Cosmos (accompanying his Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning television series of the same name) was the bestselling science book ever published in the English language, and his bestselling novel, Contact, was turned into a major motion picture.

Customer Reviews

A wonderful book and Sagan is a great writer.
Amazon Customer
Don't worry about no knowing someting deeper about science, you only need know reading and you will have a really good time with this book.
Jairo
I would like to recommend this book to EVERY high school as required reading for its students before graduation.
Darren G. Gates

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

460 of 477 people found the following review helpful By CreepyT on July 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Demons, UFO's, the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, fairies and the like are all investigated in this incredible non-fiction book by the late Carl Sagan. Pseudoscience, and those who perpetuate it, find their place in today's society among those who want to believe in the impossible. In fact, Sagan too admits that he would love to find life on other planets, among other things (he was, after all, an advocate of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). However, science today has not been able to prove that such things exist. As the book states, "the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms."
This book challenges the reader to critically scrutinize information professed by supposed experts, and be more of a skeptic. Sagan states early on in the book that "some 95 percent of Americans are scientifically illiterate." By using the scientific method combined with a little bit of logic and common sense, one should find that it is much more difficult to be mentally taken advantage of by pseudoscience "experts." Intelligent inquiry and analysis of information presented, and those presenting it, proves to be an invaluable tool.
Nonetheless, stories regarding crop circles, area 51, and other such nonsense still abound. Sagan runs through various examples and places them under the hypothetical microscope. Once examined more closely, most of these theories and fallacious postulations crumble quite easily. What some people don't realize, and what Sagan points out, is that things just as mysterious and awe-inspiring can be found all around us, and they are indeed factual and are being investigated by those in science fields. We need not look elsewhere to find mysticism and intrigue.
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282 of 295 people found the following review helpful By Roger McEvilly (the guilty bystander) on April 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
One word: OUTSTANDING.
I read this book over two nights, couldn't put it down, and afterwards was eagerly searching for more of the same. Science at it's best-accurate, timely, well-argued, emotionally and mentally invigorating, spiritually uplifting; and filled with boundless enthusiasm and hope. Like the author, Carl Sagan himself.
This book describes the 'scientific journey'. Alternately curious, cautious, inquiring, uplifting, compassionate, humane, warning, discovering and fulfilling. Topics include UFOs, alien abductions, witches, religion-both good and bad, Roswell, frauds, scientific genuises, skeptical thinking, wishful thinking, deceptive thinking, balanced thinking, belief, superstition, astrology, ESP, myth, and the like; and the role and place of science and scientific inquiry in all of this. For those who think science "destroys" spirituality-does not scientific inquiry with its' abundant curiosity and courageous endeavour accurately describe a spiritual journey to find the truth? Sagan contends, with great clarity and enthusiasm, that it assuredly does. It's just that this scientific journey is not an easy one, neither for the individual, nor humanity, by any means. But when has the attempt to find "truth" and "light" in this complex world of ours, ever been easy? Sagan argues that science and the scientific method is a noble and enlightening endeavour, an unquenchable candle, lit by the human yearning for truth, and able to steer humanity towards truth and goodwill in a world of mists, shadowy truths, and darkness.
For those who wish to open their minds to science and what it has to say about much that goes in this beautiful, yet sometimes dark world of ours, this is the book for you.
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107 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Mylifeyourmovie on February 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ok. To keep this as short and simple as I can:
My buddy kept ranting and raving about this book almost in the same way that I am about to convey in this brief recommendation. For months he told me I should pick it up. He's been pedaling it to everyone he considers close to him, or merely to those who have even a vague interest in science or comprehension of the world around them.
I'm 20 years old. A sophomore in college. In a reflection toward how much I THINK I know, or knew rather, I have come to discover just how insignificant my "knowledge" is.

To be blunt: This book is as much an exceptionally incredible gift as it is a curse to self reflection, rational thought, and skepticism.
I've been tortured by the countless internal monologues, views, and arguments spawning from numerous points the author presents in this text. You can't help but think about how it pertains to YOU. What do you think? What do I think?
I think where I am now, or where I was more specifically, is nowhere near where I want to be.

I'm not even into science. I'm a history major. It doesn't matter. You cannot read this book from cover to cover, without getting caught up in Sagan's passion. It's not just about science. It's not just about philosophy. Or knowledge. Or history.

His opinion may vary from yours. In fact, it probably will. He may present views or arguments you choose not to acknowledge or agree with. Once again, it doesn't matter. It is precisely these elements that continually compel me to learn more about who I am and what I think of the world around me.

If I had to choose one book for any of my friends to read from start to finish, this would be the one. So I guess now it's my turn to start pedaling this book to others who might want to enlighten themselves.
And I guess this is my way of doing it.
You're already here. What more do you need to know?
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