Carl Sagan was born 76 years ago today. Although he was an astronomer by training, his name is widely known due to his exceptional work in popularising the sciences. His work as an advocate for scientific scepticism is, perhaps, less widely known – yet it is a pursuit to which he applied the same passionate, poetical voice as he did to his works of popular science.

15 years ago The Demon-Haunted World was published. The book is a lucid apology for the application of the methods of science to all ideas, new and old, that are lacking in empirical evidence; an apology for scientific scepticism. So in honour of Carl’s 76th birthday, and in some small to way give something back to a book and author that have influenced me fairly heavily, this post is a brief review and summary of The Demon-Haunted World .

Carl eases the reader into his tome with some background on how people can come to be honestly deceived by pseudoscientific notions and other forms of bullshit; confirmation bias, blissful ignorance, pareidolia , & hallucinations of one form or another. But really the intro is lighthearted fluff to suck you in before he starts to chip away at the more deep-rooted, pernicious, and less immediately obvious¬† aspects of the ascientific world (the subtitle of the book “Science as a Candle in the Dark” should clue you in to the nature of Carl’s opinions on the dangers of woo, and the power of scepticism).

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

Posted by 2018 article