The Demon-Haunted World

By Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan,

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

Book description

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…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Demon-Haunted World as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Carl Sagan was a huge influence when I was younger, helping to popularise science, and this book encourages us to be more questioning and critical in our thinking.

One of Sagan’s phrases has stayed with me ever since: “The methods of science—with all its imperfections—can be used to improve social, political, and economic systems.”

In an age when truth and objectivity are under assault, and opinions and prejudice are given as much weight as facts and evidence, we need a more rational, scientific, and objective approach to politics to help restore a much-needed sense of balance and sanity to our…

From Jerry's list on technology and democracy.

The Demon-Haunted World is really the bible of science-based skepticism, to use a somewhat ironic turn-of-phrase. It’s a text that helped form and shape the modern skeptic movement, reminding us that science isn’t some wet blanket thrown upon our fanciful beliefs, but a system that should bring us hope. The tone of the book is not as aggressive as Hitchens or Dawkins, but encourages skepticism and the embrace of the scientific method as only one of history’s premiere science communicators can. Through its exploration of science, pseudoscience, and the human struggle for knowledge, The Demon-Haunted World serves as a primer…

It’s not often a world-famous scientist does a great job explaining the scientific method to the general population. Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan teach how to think critically about extraordinary claims. In other words, what’s valid and what’s not. What’s sound logic versus flawed thinking. As Carl famously stated, “…Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

My last decade of teaching convinced me that there is little point in the public knowing the universe began in a Big Bang, or that there are planets around other stars if they don’t also understand the steps we scientists used to discover these results are the same we used to discover the Earth is warming and that the world is NOT in fact flat or only 6000 years old. 25 years ago, Sagan wrote the most prescient book I’ve ever read describing the world we live in today of know-nothing pundits and anti-intellectual leaders. In a world gripped by…

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