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  • The Demon-Haunted World

  • Science as a Candle in the Dark
  • Written by: Carl Sagan
  • Narrated by: Cary Elwes, Seth MacFarlane
  • Length: 17 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (232 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A prescient warning of a future we now inhabit, where fake news stories and Internet conspiracy theories play to a disaffected American populace

“A glorious book... A spirited defense of science... From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought.” - Los Angeles Times

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.

Praise for The Demon-Haunted World

“Powerful... A stirring defense of informed rationality... Rich in surprising information and beautiful writing.” - The Washington Post Book World

“Compelling.” - USA Today

“A clear vision of what good science means and why it makes a difference... A testimonial to the power of science and a warning of the dangers of unrestrained credulity.” - The Sciences

“Passionate.” - San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle

©1996 Carl Sagan (P)2017 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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What listeners say about The Demon-Haunted World

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sobering, humorous and instructive

listened to it multiple times. each chapter stands on its own. you can pick any chapter and get a refresher or individualized story.

5 people found this helpful

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Fantastic work by Carl

Fantastic work by Carl and more true today than ever before. Wonderful book, well done

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This was a good book.

I enjoyed the explanation of logical fallacies. The section on witch burning and how a similar mentality could arise again was interesting.

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Very revealing and incites much needed caution.

Enjoyed the clear and eloquent level of English presented.
I recommend this title especially in this day and age of misinformation and even disinformation.

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the best

This book should be mandatory reading. that's all I can say. it's one of the best written and well read thing I've consumed on here.

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Amazing second half of the novel, poor start!

As a long time lover of everything science, I really wanted to love this book. After the introduction, I thought this book is going to be amazing.

However, everything up to the point of chapter 13 didn’t really spark my interest nor seemed like intriguing critical knowledge. It was a very slow start and made it tough to get into. Although, after the 13th chapter of this book I really started to enjoy the book.

I very much agree that modern western society lacks skepticism and that this is a result of the poor job done by our school system. Several quality points and interesting facts were touched upon in the second half of the novel. I can see why the book is so highly regarded however the first half lacks substance in my eyes.

Would recommend to the patient readers, not others!

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life changing

I loved this book, legendary description of the value of science and also of keeping an open mind. Still holds up, maybe now more than ever as critical reading to bridge disagreements.

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should be required reading for everyone.

Carl Sagan was my childhood hero. He was a science communicator that made understanding very complicated ideas relatable and easy. Demon-Haunted World explains how critical thinking is absolutely essential to avoid being bamboozled, and to make everything from science, democracy, and day to day life, better.

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This should be required reading for everyone

Brilliantly written and read. It's an easy to understand book with crucial ideas and critical thinking techniques. Wish I had read this book when I was in high school. If you read/listen to one book this year/decade, this should be it.

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Skepticism, History, and Science

If this excellent book doesn't ignite your willingness to learn, question, and analyze, nothing will. Some elements are a little dated given the advent of the internet's availability, but the history and thought processes are more valuable than ever. An entertaining guide to sift through mediocre and menial information for beneficial and progressive thought.

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  • William Jenks
  • 2019-07-25

Some good points, but not a great book

First, some context. I am a university chemistry professor and I grew up watching Carl Sagan's Cosmos in high school, running around saying "billions and billions" as if it was both funny and profound. Moreover, pseudoscience drives me crazy. I *wanted* to like this book. I was hoping, at least in part, to see what Sagan had said some years ago could be applied in the age of social media, but of course I had no expectation of that being explicitly mentioned.

Unfortunately, I found this book disappointing. Others have dwelt on the seemingly dated UFO issue, but I didn't see that as a major problem. However, it doesn't seem like it is a coherently written book. It feels more like a set of related lecturers that were edited to turn them into a book without enough emphasis on the editing.. It's repetitive in places and not really coherent from one topic to the next in others.

A very good Audible Original of 2-3 hours length could be made from excerpts of this book. There are some very good and very important ideas here, and some good stories too. The book is not without merit. It's just not the level of content I expect from this icon of my youth and one of the great science communicators of his day.

116 people found this helpful

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  • Alex
  • 2017-10-24

Phenomenal

If, 1000 years from now, this book is the only surviving record of human existence, I will not be content. I will be dead. However, if I were paradoxically still alive, I would be content.

103 people found this helpful

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  • CuddyWifter
  • 2019-01-27

Absolutely, one of my favorite books to date!

Wow! Such a revealing book, especially for someone like myself that went through a highly religious and intolerant phase in my life based off my beliefs and the ideologies of the religion I followed. I recommend this book to anyone that is seeking the truth of the origins of humanity, and not in some fantastical way, but in a scientific way that can be and has been proved through modern discovery and time. What I love about this book is the way that Carl Sagan is able to demonstrate that we need that fine balance between openness and skepticism to discover truth. And being a skeptic on any scientific or religious matter is not a cause to rebuke or defame you, as some people would have. In the end, without science we would still be in the Dark Ages. Outstanding book from the great mind of the humble Carl Sagan.

68 people found this helpful

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  • M. Nobles
  • 2017-11-28

Carl Sagan is Astounding!

This was the first book to which I've listened from Carl Sagan and it is amazing! I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Carl Sagan expounds at length on the virtues of skepticism and the scientific method and how it has brought the world out of extreme superstition and greatly elevated the overall status of humanity and implores humanity to maintain a strong dedication to education and learning of science and math in order to better humanity so that we don't fall back into the wretched ways of the past.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Ryan Porter
  • 2017-08-17

The importance of rational skepticism.

An amazing read, I wasn't sure what to expect coming in and found myself pleasantly surprised. although there is a rather large chunk of the book devoted to UFO'S the message of Sagan comes through very clear. And the narration brings energy to the book that could have just as easily become monotonous.

42 people found this helpful

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  • Phillip Combest
  • 2017-07-15

A peek into Carl Sagan's thinking ...

Written for everyone this audiobook covers principles of human decency and advancement in general terms easily accessible to the non-scientist. It's timeless - written long ago but so germane to life in 2017. Loved this one.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Dee Goulet
  • 2017-12-09

Amazing

Simply wonderful! Carl's work still holds up 20 + years later. A must read for students of any age!

24 people found this helpful

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  • DT
  • 2017-09-05

Cary's new career

I should have known that Cary would be a fantastic reader. Great book and readers.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Amaze
  • 2020-08-13

Shallow and unscientific

The author takes the position that he knows everything about everything. For example, he blandly asserts that psychosis can be cured by a pill. No nuance: Just take the pill and, my psychotic friend, you'll be cured. This is dangerous nonsense. Along the same lines he attacks psychoanalysis as having no value. Where's the evidence pro or con? He simply makes the assertion, more than once, but no evidence is adduced. In fact, this supposedly pro-science book is completely free of supporting evidence for the author's numerous breezy assertions.

Sagan seems to be completely oblivious to computer science, which is the science having the greatest impact on society at present. Admittedly, computer science is not a "natural" science like astronomy, but to ignore it is to ignore the elephant in the room.

The author asserts that ordinary citizens must know about science or democracy and civilization are in peril. This assertion, unsubstantiated, is utter nonsense. In fact, science is divided into thousands of silos, and the scientists in one silo typically know next to nothing about the silos next door, let alone about the silos in other branches of science. If working Ph.D. scientists are ignorant of 99.999% of most current science, how are ordinary citizens supposed to keep up? And why should they?

I'm satisfied if my auto mechanic can fix my car, my accountant can fix my tax return, and my dentist can fix my toothache. I'm perfectly content if they don't waste their time on black holes or quantum indeterminacy.

This is a very shallow work by a very arrogant man. Don't waste your time on it.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Paul Patton
  • 2017-07-04

A supremely important work

I love Carl Sagan.
I think this is perhaps his crowning achievement. The importance of sceptical thinking and detection of baloney is critical.

16 people found this helpful

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  • dgrv
  • 2021-08-01

Humanism at its best

A beautiful work of compassion, dire criticism of society, brilliant science communication. Full of hope and love for fellow humans and wonder of the universe.

Carl Sagan was way ahead of its time. It shows on every page and reads beautifully. Thank you.

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  • MEMYSELFANDI
  • 2019-04-29

Mon avis

Contenu intéressant. Milite en faveur de l'ouverture d'esprit, et de l'esprit critique. Performance très agréable