460 of 477 people found the following review helpful
A Candle in the Dark,
This review is from: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (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. People are still trying to completely understand viruses and the molecular building blocks in gas in space, and if people were equally as drawn to understand real phenomena as they are fallacious theories, then more people would be working to unravel the true mysteries that are much more worthy of our efforts.
I truly feel that this is a book everyone should read. Not only does Sagan do an excellent job of attempting to popularize science, but he also tries to teach people how to think for themselves rather than to be force-fed information from less-than-trustworthy sources. The demons in this demon haunted world are both those who perpetuate such celebrated fallacies, as well as those who believe them without question. Sagan attempts to teach, in this book, how to distinguish "real science from the cheap imitation." Indeed, he does just that.
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Showing 1-10 of 37 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 28, 2010 6:35:06 AM PDT
Robert O. Adair says:
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2010 10:58:58 AM PDT
Skye N. Schiefer says:
What a sadly ironic context for your irrelevant and misinformed tirade.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2010 3:59:25 PM PDT
Another Planet says:
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2010 11:24:54 AM PST
Terry Doyle says:
If the OP's remarks are "misinformed" or "irrelevant", how so? Give a single example, please. Sagan is careful, cautious and informed: all the things your mini-rant is not.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2010 4:31:19 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on May 10, 2014 10:03:07 PM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2010 3:01:51 PM PST
Robert Goodman says:
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2011 9:42:42 PM PST
satan augustine says:
Robert, I assume you are referring to Carl's marijuana usage. You state that this is "an important fact to consider when digesting this material." I disagree. In fact, your statement is an example of the "poisoning the well" fallacy. You state that his previous marijuana use may discredit what he has to say. This is a fallacy because what Sagan has to say should be judged on the merits of the evidence, reason, and logic that he uses. The fact the he smoked marijuana is completely irrelevant to his reasoned conclusions.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2011 10:02:59 PM PST
R. Lee says:
Seriously? You're lumping Carl Sagan in with Adolf Hitler (who, by the way, was very probably not atheist at all)?
Your incoherent rant about abortion aside, how about commenting on the review itself rather than blasting the author of the book in a response to a review? WTF?
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2011 10:05:06 PM PST
R. Lee says:
So good to see folks using logic! Bravo!
Posted on May 9, 2011 3:41:35 PM PDT
Fred Pauser says:
Robert Adair sadly seems to be seriously deluded. His comment provides an indication of what can happen with insufficient critical thinking. (By the way, Carl was agnostic, not an atheist.)