Carl Sagan: The Demon-Haunted World

Carl Sagan: The Demon-Haunted World

Ballantine Books

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.More...

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.

EsotericScience

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The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.

Page 429

When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages; when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.

Page 29

The chief deficiency I see in the skeptical movement is its polarization: Us vs. Them - the sense that we have a monopoly on the truth; that those other people who believe in all these stupid doctrines are morons; that if you`re sensible, you`ll listen to us; and if not, to hell with you. This is nonconstructive. It does not get our message across. It condemns us to permanent minority status.

Page 300

If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us.

You can get into a habit of thought in which you enjoy making fun of all those other people who don`t see things as clearly as you do. We have to guard carefully against it.

It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.

Edmund Way Teale(quoted)

Page 12

The method of science, as stodgy and grumpy as it may seem, is far more important than the findings of science.

Page 22

Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder.

Page 171

Keeping an open mind is a virtue - but, as the space engineer James Oberg once said, not so open that your brains fall out. Of course we must be willing to change our minds when warranted by new evidence. But the evidence must be strong.

Page 187

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.

Page 29

When you`re in love, you want to tell the world.

Page 25

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

Chapter 1, Page 12

Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? There isn't a religion on the planet that doesn't long for a comparable ability - precise, and repeatedly demonstrated before committed skeptics - to foretell future events. No other human institution comes close.

Chapter 2

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