Monday, July 29, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 13

Day 13: Describe one under appreciated book everyone should read. 

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

 Summary from Goodreads
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.
 Carl Sagan has done wonders to help popularize science. I recommend everyone reading this book because it helps explain skepticism and its importance without being pushy or insulting. Many people believe skeptics to be unemotional jerks who just want to rain on your parade. There may be some people like that out there. For the most part, we are just trying to explain the world in a testable manner. I can't count how many times I've read in the news a child has died because his or her parents decided to rely on faith healing instead of modern medicine. And no matter how many times a psychic has been proven a fraud people still crawl back to them. Sagan also takes on topics such as children and science and scientific literacy among adults.

A few quotes:
“I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us - then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls.

The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.” - Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
“Science is a way to call the bluff of those who only pretend to knowledge. It is a bulwark against mysticism, against superstition, against religion misapplied to where it has no business being.”-Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

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