The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

The Demon-Haunted World

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 cultur...

Details The Demon-Haunted World

TitleThe Demon-Haunted World
Release DateFeb 25th, 1997
PublisherBallantine Books
GenreScience, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Religion, Skepticism

Reviews The Demon-Haunted World

  • Dan
    I sit before my computer, typing out a review of what is my favorite book. I’m daunted by the magnitude of this task, having just finished the book for the fourth or maybe fifth time. I wish I could remember when I bought this book, likely close to a decade ago, but I’m sure that I must have been awestruck to discover a book written by a man who has influenced my life and my interests to such a great extent.One of the great memories of my ear...
  • Kevin Kelsey
    Always insightful, it seems that Sagan just wanted to watch the world learn. I should've read this at 14. Honestly, this should probably be required high school reading for everyone. It illustrates clearly the many and varied personal and societal benefits gained from applying the methods of science to every corner of our thinking. The methods are the important part, the findings are just icing on the cake. It covers the dangers of unchecked ideo...
  • Chris
    I miss Carl Sagan.Ever since I was a kid, Carl Sagan has been the face of science for me. I would watch Cosmos and feel a sense of amazement that the universe was as wonderful as it was. He'd be there in his turtleneck and his blazer, smiling as though he'd just heard the coolest secret and he wanted to share it with you. And he did, except that it wasn't his secret. Hell, it wasn't a secret at all - it was the combined results of thousands of ye...
  • David
    This is a marvelous book about the consequences of a population being scientifically illiterate. There are numerous consequences, all of them bad. Most notably, the growth of superstitious beliefs can lead to terrifying witch hunts that grow and grow, leaving a broad trail of torture, execution, mass hysteria and paranoia. Interestingly, Carl Sagan holds up science and democracy as mutually supporting concepts. He cites Frederick Douglass, Benjam...
  • Lightreads
    Hey, so, guess what? People who read the Weekly World News are stupid, but scientists are awesome! Did you know that?I just put this book down, 175 pages in. It's not that I disagree with the thesis, because I actually don't at all. Sagan uses the widespread belief in alien abductions to talk about the need for more critical thinking in this world. And I'm totally there -- yes, for the love of God, teach people to distinguish between fact and wha...
  • Trevor
    Sagan has been a hero of mine since I saw Cosmos years and years ago. Now that was one of the truly great science documentaries and one that, on the subject of physics, has rarely been bettered.This is a supurb book. Many people say things like, "I've no idea how people without a belief in the supernatural can bare to live in this world". Well, Sagan gives a powerful answer here. Sagan understood the infinite joy that comes from understanding som...
  • Maria
    This is a wonderful, important and scary book that has not aged much at all. I was made aware of its existence in a rather unconventional way: through a video game called The Witness. In The Witness, you explore an unreal and mysterious island, solving maze puzzles that gets more and more complex as you go along. Scattered around the island you'll find audio logs containing quotes on science and religions from around the world and across time, an...
  • David
    Full disclosure here, I did not finish this book; I made the decision to stop reading it after around 100 pages. I kept expecting the science to start at any page, but I got tired of reading accusations that the Weekly World News and Beavis and Butt-Head are sources of ignorance and misunderstanding. I won't argue that either of these are intellectual, but at best these are forms of entertainment and that is largely a product of taste, not intell...
  • Brad
    If Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion is a nuclear bomb in the atheist arsenal, Carl Sagan's The Demon-haunted World is an anti-personnel mine.Where Dawkins goes for maximum destruction, piling the misery and mockery on those he's battling, Sagan doesn't even acknowledge his enemy. The Demon-haunted World poses, instead (and very effectively), as a book in defense of skepticism, a book persuading the unskeptical to embrace reason in the form of op...
  • Sebastien
    Wow. Just wow. This is one of the great paeans to science, logic, and critical thinking buttressed by philosophy and deep moral sensibility. This is the first book of Sagan's I've read, I was so impressed, wonderfully written, very accessible and easy to read. He is a scientist by training, a highly critical thinker, but he is clearly a very multidimensional multitalented man. He has grounding in many other areas outside of science, including phi...
  • Joy D
    Carl Sagan takes on pseudoscience. This book extolls the value of skepticism, critical thinking, and the scientific method. It should be required reading in my opinion. Unfortunately, those that could benefit most from applying more rigor in deciding what to believe will likely never read it. Originally published in 1995, he has proven to be prescient, as pseudoscience is even more prevalent than ever in recent years. Witness the rise in the numb...
  • Melki
    . . . every question is a cry to understand the world. In a nutshell, Sagan valiantly attempts to understand why people believe weird stuff, then explains why they shouldn't. I particularly enjoyed the several excellent chapters on the importance of literacy and education. There's also a probing (Sorry!) look into alien abductions.I think this quote, included in the book, sums everything up nicely:[I]gnorance more frequently begets confidence tha...
  • Daniel Bastian
    “We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.” (p. 26) The omen above was put to print in 1995 and echoed thro...
  • Bradley
    Ever read one of those books you SWEAR you've read before. Nonfiction? Where every single point seems to have been made elsewhere?Well, that's where this book went with me. From witch trials to alien abductions to conspiracy theories and a lot more, Sagan extols us to bring rational thought back to our lives. The scientific method is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL.I totally agree, and that's why I kept reading despite every single point being a re-hash... ...
  • Mitch
    I was very disappointed in this book. I seriously don't understand why people consistantly rated this book so highly. I'm really out of synch on this one...and here's why:Carl obviously had an ongoing religious relationship with science and boy, is he ever tiresome about it. What a reckless evangelist! He condemns everything that does not stand up to science's demonstrable standards (whether such application is appropriate or not) and then....he ...
  • Michael Jandrok
    So if we take the Wayback Machine to the year 1995, you will find me out of college, working as an operations manager in retail despite my lofty aspirations to anthropology and later, nursing, as career choices. But I had a family to support, and the money was good even if the hours really sucked. What the hell does that have to do with this review? Well, I was involved in an awful lot of hiring and firing decisions when I worked for Foley’s (l...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    Though a bit dated because of its original publication date in the late 90s (see this review for a few updates, the pleas for facts, scientific method, and science scholarship are timeless. I downloaded the audio because the narration duties are shared between Seth Macfarlane and Cary Elwes, with an introduction by Sagan's last wife in her own voice. (The audio production is much more recent, 2017.... I suspect the whole fake news thing may have ...
  • Jason
    If Carl Sagan was alive today I think he would probably cry if he saw the state of the world. He wrote this book as a kind of wake up call to the people and the government, he pointed out how bad the education system is, he tries to get people to understand how important science is, he warns us not to watch so much crap on TV, go out and get some real-life experiences and he warns us about the government abusing the bill of rights.Well it looks l...
  • May 舞
    As expected, this book was very interesting, insightful, and relevant to our world today. I felt Sagan's passion emanating from the pages, and it has given me even an even greater motivation to pursue the goal I've been chasing for the past 3 years, which is to be educated, willing to question authority whatever form it takes, and to engage my critical faculties and be able to form my own opinions. It was Carl Sagan that showed me the path in 201...
  • Fran
    This book is a favorite of mine. It’s non-fiction. It’s very full of science and scientific principles and explanations. It’s also full of respect for those who want to understand the world better. And that is Carl Sagan for you in a nutshell: A caring person, a scientist who throughout his life always took other people seriously, and endeavored to understand them and help them.Very few scientists, I think, have taken the time to consider o...
  • Tyler
    Sagan shows why learning to think in a contingent universe is ... well ... absolutely necessary. My reaction first reading the book was, "I've known for a long time that something's wrong. Now I know what." The discussions the author engages in in the book are eye-openers.I cannot recommend this book to those who are highly sensitive about their credos, but on other hand, I don't think more open-minded religious people will at all see this as the...
  • John
    My first Sagan book was Cosmos, which led me to this one. While Cosmos was good, this was great. It really opened my eyes to how important science is, and the underlying principles of science, and simultaneously how organized religion is virtually 100% philosophically opposed to science.Religion: Don't think, don't reason, don't use logic. We'll (religious leaders) tell you what to think, what our god(s) wants you to think/do. Our holy book writt...
  • Steve Wiggins
    After reading a credulous book about demons, I turned to a scientific one. Carl Sagan was one of the most gifted science writers of his day. This is an enjoyable collection of what might be better termed essays than a long disquisition. Sagan has offered here a strong case for not only science, but for education in general. He frequently makes the point that scientists are portrayed negatively in the media, although from the outside it often appe...
  • Ross Blocher
    I don't feel hyperbolic saying this is one of the best and most important books ever written. I can only kick myself for having left it on the shelf so many years. In his characteristic congenial, non-threatening, well-studied, literate and abundantly clear way, Carl Sagan explains the importance of critical thinking, science and education. Sagan is a master of succinct conveyance, ever-shifting the reader's perspective to a better vantage point ...
  • Erin
    I hesitated to mark this as "Read" because I couldn't actually get through the whole thing. I was SO excited to read this book: I was under the impression that Sagan systematically explained in reasonable and scientific terms some of the myths and phenomena present in Western culture, and I thought it would be interesting to see how these things came about.That's not what it is. From the first about 100 pages, I gather that a) Sagan is reeeaaalll...
  • Mark
    Every human should read this book.
  • Roy Lotz
    I’m not sure what potential audience Sagan had in mind for this book, and I’m doubly unsure if I’m in it. I doubt you will be sure, either; and this tension is one that runs through the whole of the book. Perhaps this is unavoidable. For, when a popular scientist writes a book, his readership is more than likely to consist, in the main, of reasonable and skeptical people; thus, when he spends the entirety of the work attempting to inculcate...
  • Jill Hutchinson
    All of us of a certain age remember Carl Sagan and his fascinating television program Cosmos. He explained science in words that the layman could understand and he approaches this book in the same manner. His basic premise here is “how can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology driven lives if we don’t understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience, New Age thinking, and fundamentalist zealotry and the t...
  • Greg Brozeit
    I consider this book to be among the most important in my library. Carl Sagan wrote it when he knew he was dying of cancer. He had an unmatched gift of conveying and explaining science to make it understandable and relevant to non-scientists. For that reason alone, it is not far-fetched to list him among the great scientific minds of the 20th century.In this valedictory statement of scientific philosophy, Sagan elevates the idea and relevance of ...
  • melydia
    Have you ever read something that filled you with such furvor that you wanted to write your own thoughts along those same lines, but whenever you tried you found you did nothing but repeat the original article?That's been me all over the place with The Demon-Haunted World. I want to ramble about the wonder of science, the importance of skepticism, the fact that school all but completely robbed me of any desire to learn, the dangers of pseudoscien...