Are we on the brink of a new Dark Age of irrationality and superstition? In this stirring, brilliantly argued book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Dragons of Eden and Cosmos shows how scientific thinking can cut through prejudice and hysteria and uncover the truth, and how it is necessary to safeguard our democratic institutions and our ...
Are we on the brink of a new Dark Age of irrationality and superstition? In this stirring, brilliantly argued book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Dragons of Eden and Cosmos shows how scientific thinking can cut through prejudice and hysteria and uncover the truth, and how it is necessary to safeguard our democratic institutions and our technical civilization.
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Sep 13, 2014
14 year old book relevant today
Sagan doesn't think the human race has much chance of surviving, due to its misuse of modern technology. Too many humans are greedy, fearful, gullible, and lazy thinkers. They are enraptured by the worst specimens of humanity, by Hitler, Popes, royalty, CEOs, political leaders like Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Qadaffi, Hussain, bin Laden, George W. Bush, Ronald Regan, George III, and on and on. These leaders are bent on genocide, and through fear and intimidation, get their way. The result is our squandered environment, endless wars, and mistreatment of the weak. Given the constant progression of pollution, and reliance on mass production by the poorly paid, since the industrial revolution 200 years ago, the human race appears to have tipped the balance too far toward near universal destruction for any recovery. Most of today's incredible technology is being used for death and destruction, and human creativity is being stifled by those who hold the power, with violence, forced ignorance and promotion of superstition. Indeed, Sagan's candle of science shows a way out, but its probably too late until catastrophes mount to the point of near human extinction. Maybe then a more evolved homo sapien will value logic over faith and fear, and enjoy learning and the exchange of ideas over blood sports like football, alcohol and drugs, grotesque materialism, greed, envy, and the supernatural.
Nov 28, 2013
The dark ages were overcome by reason
A very interesting and thought provoking book. While Carl Sagan's writing style at times is a bit stiff and unimaginative, his passion for science is not. Had it not been for (primarily) religion, we'd have made it to the moon by the 14th century. Sagan argues for more science, more exposure to reasoned thinking, and sparking early interest in scientific fields, and the reliance on facts to guide our lives (not superstition) to examine and explain the world around us. As a species, we get nowhere when we pursue pseudo-intellectual nonsense such as astrology, religion, worshipping and promoting the supernatural, and making up stories to explain whatever we don't understand. Science is the candle that led us out of the dark ages (which was dominated by the church), and gave us applicable electricity, automobiles, telephones, aviation, space flight, medicine, life-saving drugs, and computers. When religion had power, we had witch burnings, the Inquisition, and wars to exterminate anyone who didn't believe the same way as the leaders of the church. Which has benefited us more? Carl Sagan makes it easy to see why science is not just the best route; its the only one.
Mar 27, 2012
I would have to say that the precept of the scientific theory is pretty much correct...as confirmed when a student of doctoral study in psychology...i would say though that science can be an answer but can also be the problem when it becomes so enamored with itself as to ignore any other answers that are out there...therefore, i would say read with an open mind and add to your stack of knowledge (so to speak) in order to become the best thinker you are capable of...
Nov 10, 2011
The book was purchased solely to attend a book club meeting. I am not a reader, but the topic interested me. Supposedly, Carl Sagan is so very intelligent and a great writer. He's obviously intelligent, but the writing in this book seemed to be so repetitive. He kept referring back to the same information, over and over. Seems to me that this book could have been about 35 pages long.
Publishers Weekly, 1995-11-27 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. (Feb.)
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