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.
Introductory music from the original score for COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey composed by Alan Silvestri, used with permission from Cosmos Studios, Inc. and Chappers Music. All rights reserved. Special thanks to Fuzzy Planets, Inc.
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About the Author
Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was the Director of Cornell University’s Laboratory for Planetary Studies. He played a leading role in the American space program and was an adviser to NASA since its inception. He briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon, and was an experimenter on the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo expeditions to the planets. He helped solve the mysteries of the high temperatures of Venus (answer: massive greenhouse effect), the seasonal changes on Mars (answer: windblown dust), and the reddish haze of Titan (answer: complex organic molecules).
For his work, Dr. Sagan received the NASA medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, and the Pulitzer Prize for The Dragons of Eden. His 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage won the Emmy and Peabody awards.
The National Science Foundation declared that his “research transformed planetary science… his gifts to mankind were infinite.”
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Excerpted from "The Demon-Haunted World"
Copyright © 1997 Carl Sagan.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
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