There probably aren’t many people in the world of science who enjoyed such a popularity as Carl Sagan. Yet it’s not that easy to tell why exactly Sagan was such an important figure among the scientific community. I mean if you look to such personalities as Richard Feynman, Einstein or let us say Hawking, it’s quite clear why they are so popular. Feynman, besides being a Nobel Prize winner and one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, was a person with unmatchable charisma. Einstein, well… he was Einstein do I even need to say more? Whereas Hawking, despite his health problems, achieved great breakthroughs in both cosmology and popular science. So why do we often mention Sagan together with these great scientists as being one of the most influential people in science community? Surely Carl Sagan was a great scientists, however, in terms of pure scientific achievements, he couldn’t compete with the likes of Albert Einstein or Richard Feynman. Yet, there’s one thing that makes mister Sagan stand out and it is his passion for science. Hell, if you asked me to name a person who loved what he does more than anyone else I would probably say Carl Sagan.
|Author: Carl Sagan|
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (25 Feb 1997)
Kindle edition: (US)
Reviews: 502 customer reviews
|Rating: ★★★★½||Ranking: 2821||US Version||UK Version|
So why not go back to the classics and review one of Sagan’s books. “The Demon Haunted World” is one of the last books written by Carl Sagan before his death in 1996. I first read through this book during a cheap and shaky economy class plain flight. I don’t why but the books I read during flights always seem to stand out. Who knows, maybe I’m just lucky with my book selection. Anyway, “Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” is a great book worthy of everyone’s attention. It’s a collection of 25 essays ranging in a variety of topics, though mostly concentrating on the importance of science, sceptical thinking and the current state of scientific education in America. Another important part of the book is personal stories by Sagan, including how he firstly became fascinated by science.
My favourite thing about this book, which is often considered the last tribute to science by a great scientists, is a variety of personal letters that Sagan discuses. Throughout the years the author has received thousands of letters, subjects of which ranged from descriptions of paranormal events to some funny personal insults. Sagan uses many of these letters to analyse what’s going on in the mind of a person who could offer his body to a healer or let us say a women who obsessively believes to be having sex with aliens. What great about this book, or Carl Sagan in general, that he is as objective as possible. Instead of proudly implying that a sceptic is somehow better than a person, who let us say believes than aliens land in his bedroom every night, Sagan delves deep into the mind of a deceived person in search for an explanation. After all, we are all humans, and it is always easy to fall in to the claws of deception. Sagan goes further and analyses how simple sceptical thinking, which is one of the most important parts of scientific process, can be used to escape from deceptions.
“It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness” and “science is a candle in the dark” — these two quotes summarize Sagan’s mission to educate people, while emphasizing the importance of scientific thinking in our everyday lives. And I am confident that this book is a little step towards a more enlightened world. So be sure to read if you haven’t done it already.