Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4.5
( 74 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(47)

4 Star

(20)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

I keep extra copies of this for gifts

This is absolutely one of the finest works demonstrating the difference between the process of science and the body of knowledge we have gained through its use. Sagan uses the phrase 'baloney detection toolkit' several times in this book, and it applies wonderfully acr...
This is absolutely one of the finest works demonstrating the difference between the process of science and the body of knowledge we have gained through its use. Sagan uses the phrase 'baloney detection toolkit' several times in this book, and it applies wonderfully across the spectrum of experience in our lives. When applied to the claims of various types of cultural environment, the practices he points out can easily help individuals see through the fraudulent claims of those who would pretend to use 'science' to 'prove' their pet theory. As a walk through history, this book also shows how people have been misled terribly by persons whose vested interest lies in such deception. For this reason alone it is worth reading, as the similarities between many of those past situations and those occurring today do show that history certainly does have a habit of repeating itself. This book is a wonderful tool for developing the one thing that will help you throughout your entire life: a skeptical mind. Not a cynical one, a skeptical one. I can't give this book higher ratings - or I would. I try to always keep two extra copies around to give to friends who might appreciate it. Do yourself a favor, and pick it up.

posted by Anonymous on December 17, 2007

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

15 out of 72 people found this review helpful.

An absolutely awful brainwashing about ignorance.

I understand that there is a large population of 'Scientifically Illiterate' people in this world, and Sagan does a good job of pointing out who these people and groups are. However, the method used to get his point across goes absolutely against what he preaches is wr...
I understand that there is a large population of 'Scientifically Illiterate' people in this world, and Sagan does a good job of pointing out who these people and groups are. However, the method used to get his point across goes absolutely against what he preaches is wrong in this book. First, he uses blatant fallacies to scare the reader into accepting his claim. For instance, saying that we would be dead without advances in Science. (Not an actual quote, but the message is sent across through 5 pages, even about being dead.) He gives an example of Pseudoscience and bashes it horribly, especially religious beliefs. Second, he often uses statistics of an un-cited origin. One survey he discussed is taken at a dinner table with family and friends. Do you rely on your best friend to explain the universe? Probably not. He criticizes seers and fortunetellers for having no concrete proof of their claims. Where's his? He emphasizes the sharp and meticulous criticism of claims made by pseudo-scientists so that people do not just willingly accept claims of knowledge without rational reasoning. Why should you not also criticize his claims? Especially since he seems to use every trick in the book to make you accept his claims. If you read this book, please do not give in to his claims to knowledge just because he seems to have authority in the matter. This man is not enlightened simply intelligent, crafty and fed up with blind ignorance. Please be skeptic of this book as you trudge through his jargon-filled arguments of grandeur.

posted by Anonymous on January 4, 2006

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 20 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1
  • Posted June 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A strong defense of the skeptical paradigm.

    Sagan is a generally good writer, and in this now-classic book he penned a strong and usually compelling defense of the skeptical paradigm. The book is replete with good examples, and has several chapters well worth reading for those who are either budding skeptics, or are interested in learning about how to think critically and scientifically. The man, to be sure, understood science and was a solid critical thinker.

    Unfortunately, the organization of the book is somewhat lacking. Sagan touches many of the classic pseudoscientific bugbears like alien abductions, UFOs, hypnotic regression, and prophetic visions, but he bounces from one to the other, never really spending enough time on one topic in concert to make it feel as though he has thoroughly covered the material. Make no mistake, by the end much of it has been thoroughly covered -- especially UFOs and abductions -- but the coverage is disjointed. He seems to have done this to show the reader the common threads to many of these concepts, but the effect is to produce a lack of organization in the narrative. He would have been better, I think, with a more classical organization, covering each topic in a single, coherent chapter.

    The book is well worth a read and has kept me interested throughout, even though I have read or heard most of these ideas from skeptics in the recent past (many, I realize now, borrowed in whole or in part from this book, which came out almost 15 years ago). And some of Sagan's quotes are priceless. It just lacks a little in organization.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2010

    A Review of The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan

    One often finds themselves asking the questions that plague the minds of people both educated and uneducated. These are the questions of pseudoscience and mysticism. Carl Sagan, one of the premier scientific writers of the 20th century analyzes the world of pseudoscience and why people believe these ideas. One of the main "phenomenon" that Sagan analyzes is that of extra-terrestrials including UFO's. This is because this is one of the most widely believed and reported pseudoscientific phenomenon. He discounts the experience of alien abduction as a sleeping disorder known as sleep paralysis, discounts UFO's as hundreds of other logical explanations ranging from hoaxes to photographic anomalies that occur naturally due to reflection of light inside the lens. Also he reinforces the government explanation that the Roswell incident was caused by a weather balloon, which were widely used in the day to spy on the Soviets. The underlying theme of Sagan's novel is his powerful love of science, it is his religion and what he considers to be the only hope for the future. The fact that the common person knows more about the world of pseudoscience than that of actual science which relates to every facet of their life. He warns against a future in which all other countries of the world have surpassed America in science and technology and we become too far behind to catch up. This novel is an excellent look at science from the inside, and from common culture from the outside. Sagan also criticizes the scientific community for its wasted energy on military and destructive sciences such as the hydrogen bomb and chemicals like Agent Orange. Sagan expalins how the gulibility of the masses plays an important role in how these phenomenon have become so widespread. In all of this Sagan maintains his fluid and comprehensive style. This is such an important quality in a scientific book because the people he wants to read this novel are the ones who do not usually understand scientific material. These are the people who embrace pseudoscience as fact and spread it to others to distract them from the real world, who flock to the people who claim to have mystical powers of premonition, or those who can heal with a touch. The problem is that people find these things which are probably not real more interesting than the real scientific advanvcements that are made every day. The Demon Haunted World is an excellent book that looks at the scientific world in a different light and discounts many of the pseudoscientific phenomenon in our world.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 3, 2010

    The Demon Haunted World

    Sagan's writing style can be appreciated throughout all sections of The Demon Haunted World. His unique flow of words helps you better understand the complex ideas he is trying to present, and he is able to make you fully understand many odd concepts that you have probably never thought of prior to reading this. Instead of criticizing the beliefs of others, Sagan simply states his ideas and presents solid theories without sounding biased or condescending to those who may feel differently.

    The point of this book is to inform readers about the many things they believe in without explanations. Sagan accomplishes this thoroughly without stepping on anyone's toes, and it is for this reason that this book is so well respected. Throughout it, Sagan brings light towards the many things people believe in without scientific proof or logical explanation. Reading this, one may think a lot about religion, where is comes from, and what its purpose is. Sagan's connection between pseudosciences and religion is excellent and very scholarly as well. Although many people say they do not believe in the unexplainable things mentioned in this book (such as UFO's and ghosts,) many believe in religion; something so common, yet lacking in scientific explanation and proof of existence.

    This book is an eye-opening piece of literature that will keep you thinking for days.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 29, 2010

    Pleasantly Surprising

    I was initially quite hesitant to read a book written by a scientist. I feared that it may be just like any other dry, lengthy textbook just spewing out facts and information. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sagan is not only a highly intelligent and passionate scientist, but also a talented writer. He conveyed knowledge in an eloquent, clear way. He drew a distinct line between what science is real science, and that which is fostered by the media and mass culture. It was intriguing, if not gripping read, and I have a great respect for Sagan's point of view and his assertions of truth.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2004

    Not quite the whole story

    As someone who's investigated ESP and other psi phenomena, reading Sagan was enlightening. People can be very ignorant, but it's more to do with selective attention and other kinds of bias which creep into everyday events. However, it must be noted that this isn't the whole picture. Just run a search on 'precognitive habituation'. There is an anomaly which cannot be explained by current scientific understanding. Even Sagan admits that it requires further investigation. Psychologists and philosophers will have to do better if they want to debunk all cases of extrasensory perception in the lab.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Fascinating but repetitive at times

    A thoughtful look into human beings and their "Bogie Men" of times past and present. He tries to show how critical thinking and testing hypothesis are the way to explain things, not stuff that has no proof or is mystical. It can get a little preachy and at times he over examines things, but it is still thought provoking.

    Be warned however, if you are a true believer religion and especially the Catholic church, you will probably find a few areas offensive.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 2, 2012

    disturbing yet inspiring

    One of the last books of Carl Sagan's life, this is an important defense of reason and the scientific method against pseudoscience and antiscience in modern society, especially as seen against the backdrop of medieval and early-modern witch hunts. But it's also a deeply personal meditation on the meaning of human existence in a cosmos without magical divine intervention, written as Sagan fought the illness that would claim his life in less than a year after its publication. I personally found the early chapters on pseudoscience (UFO abductions, especially) tedious and overdone. But as a scientist and lifelong fan of Sagan, the book was an engaging and sometimes inspiring look into his brave spirit.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 23, 2015

    Pseudoscience: Cultural Wrong, Science Needs Refreshing. An eth

    Pseudoscience: Cultural Wrong, Science Needs Refreshing.

    An ethnography is done by studying a certain culture, recently I have been exploring the culture of haunted houses. Not literally haunted, but the commercial haunted houses that relate to people’s fears. Carl Sagan debunks a few of the fears that are put in the haunted houses such as witches, ufos, and actual hauntings. It helped me make ground in my ethnography and made me want to get to know more about the haunted houses and why people are actually frightened when science shows that it is pretend. This book is eye opening to how susceptible the world is to believing fables and myths. He speaks of how knowledge is important when he quotes Edmund Way Teale and said, “It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.” (12.) In a way this says that people only care about money no matter how they get it and no matter what it is saying, as long as it helps them they will spread it. Saying that in this day and age science is just an after thought. He created a list of many superstitions that are present everyday, to list one that caught my attention was, “the belief that 13 is an “unlucky” number (because of which many no-nonsense office buildings and hotels in America pass directly from the 12th to the 14th floors - why take any chances)” (221.) I really felt that Sagan remarked on all of the major superstitions and opened my eyes to the fact that I believe those rumors and what is popular belief. Sagan makes me want to be learn more and not just accept the bare minimum. I would recommend this book to people who actually want to have their mind blown but if you are a person who is stuck in their ways and isn’t open to new thoughts then this book isn’t for you. This is a long read but very captivating and unlike anything I ordinarily read. I love the skepticism and all that science shows in the universe. Really well done for only 400 pages.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 27, 2010

    Interesting!

    Reading this for scientific purposes would not be the main aspect of this book. It is extremely fun to read, as well as very interesting; however, it does not provide terribly useful information to serious scientists unless they are looking for information of the "unknown." Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the different perspectives Sagan takes in each of the essays. While he discusses the main esoteric purposes in each essay, he also invites a lot of skepticism. Sagan purposesly writes to question, as well as prove.
    One of the best things about this books is that it is not difficult to read. I've always had difficulty understanding scientific principles, especially in long essay form. Sagan writes flawlessly and with flow, which explains these sometimes vague and obscure topics with ease. This makes it an excellent choice for a general reader who is looking for something with a bit more substance than fiction. The subject matter also makes it a compelling choice because the reader seeks a solution to the mysteries at the end of each essay.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 27, 2010

    Liked it

    Sagan uncovers a new perspective on science as he explores issues using both skeptical and critical thinking. He continuously distinguishes pseudoscience from actual science as he progresses further into topics such as alien invasion, hallucinations, common fears and paranoia, and witchcraft, to name a few. While his writing style is admittedly dry, his ideas are compelling and offers new insight to the way people approach science.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2010

    Intriguing!

    Carl Sagan's novel is unbelievably captivating. As he works to debunk certain myths and legends, he also incorporates a number of personal experiences. In this way, the book is not simply read as a dry textbook, but it is almost as if Sagan presents his ideas in a colloquial manner. While Sagan may be very skeptical, he does allow room for concession; he does not state that his ideas are "right" even though he strongly believes in them. The ability Sagan has to write makes this book easy to read, while giving it a natural flow. Sagan raises question in one's mind with regard to everything we commonly believe in, making this book even more compelling to read and even harder to put down!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2010

    Good book for skeptics

    Since I'm fairly new to reading about science I found the book a very good read. A lot of the things the author talks about were insightful especially to a layman.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 20 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1