Anti-electric universe

October 3, 2018

The Demon Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidlpf @ 2:06 am


This essay will be Carl Sagans last book A Demon Haunted World, this was written right before Sagans death in 1996 and is some parts are written with his wife Ann Druyan. I personally wish this book was written several years before and I know about it. This book is about how to look at things logically, how not to allow your own biases get in the way of analyzing the data and sciences role in society, Even Carl Sagan admits he as a human as made mistakes over the years. Another example he uses is Fred Hoyle who help us understand what happens in the core of stars, thought that bacteria and viruses came down from comets.

I have had a number of times in own life that I had wished I have known some of material covered in the book, specially during my first year at university. During that year I was living in dorm which had mostly older students, grad students, teachers and a couple of law students. One of which was a person who was there to get a teaching degree, he got undergrad the University of Toronto in science and he was a creationists. Being a creationists is not a bad thing, I had friend before this who we often discuss creationism vs evolution. The main argument that he was right was the fact he went the bigger university in the bigger city. Also that year one night I was talking with some friends and the conversation went into reproduction. His brother and sister in law were using a method to prevent another child, if they got rhythm wrong another baby was on the way. This person also was from the big city, the doctor and a teacher of the friend telling them this was a good option and the had to right because they were all from the big city and I was from rural New Brunswick. Both of these are example of arguments from authority which is one of the many fallacies Sagan discusses in the book.
There have been other versions of this argument over the years they have been that just said that “I know you better than you know yourself”, these people just as an excuse to try to make me normal by constantly bugging me, the thing is I probably have social anxiety and depression this made it worse over time. Sometimes it is they read a book or heard something on the news. One person came up with a theory the only reason I graduated university is that I was promoted for social reasons. They heard a news report the previous night that said in some schools in the United States they were doing this, so therefore since my school was close to the border they must be doing the same thing.

Another main theme of the book is what science is. Science is a method to figure out how universe works. It is not memorizing the names of all the names of plants and animals or recited PI to the nth place. It is not what some people think that is just math, math is just a tool used to help describe the universe. Science starts with questions like “How does..?”, “When did …?”,” What causes …?”. Then a series of observations or experiments happen then a conclusion is drawn hopefully inline with the data and not just pulled out of the air. We are born with some instinct of to do science, children are full of questions and love to explore and experience lots of new stuff, but over time a lot of them lose this because it does not seem cool or there is much award in society. The !klun san tribe in Africa use observations of animals tracks and animal behaviour to figure out which one to hunt. They do not prey to a god or gods, use astrologer, it is just logic, training and observation.

Also discussed in the book is the interaction between science and society. Most of this discussed from the perspective of the United States because Sagan was an American and the primary audience was an American audience. The forefathers of US either scientists or had some understanding of science and appreciation of science. They knew for a society to flourish a couple things were needed. One was the separation of Church and State. In there recent history there were a number of wars fought over which interpertation of a holy book was right with the backing of nations of Europe. Plus there had to right of free speech which always people say what they want no matter how much it makes your skin crawl. Along with free speech the people need to be able to read and understand what is said, most groups recognize the way to get ahead is literacy. In the southern states it was illegal to teach the slaves how to read because most slave owners knew if the slave knew how to read it would be a good thing. As soon as the slaves were freed the literacy rate among slaves took off. Nowadays in the states there seems to a group that seems to want to cut science spending if does support their views or does not have immediate benefits either to the military or the economy. Take the SSC that was being built in Texas up to 1993 when the funding was cut after 2 billion dollars was already spent, so money was wasted and no science was done so both sides lost.

This book is trying to point out the demons in each of us and the demons in society. And trying to improve our way to prevent these demons taking over. There are some issues that I probably will discuss when I read the Skeptics Guide To The Universe Book. These issues include the rise of the skeptics, the rise of antiscience in forms like the antivax movement, the use of social media to spread skepticism the fight over evolution in the schools in the US and the rise of geek culture. I enjoy this book every time I read it and I know I have stuff I wish I did differently. He are few woods from the man himself.


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