24/10/2013

The Demon-Haunted World

Science As A Candle In The Dark
Carl Sagan
1995

I am so relieved to have finally finished this book - it's taken me over twelve years. I have started it regularly about once a year, but never made it past the first few chapters. It's not that I don't agree with the subject matter: I couldn't agree with it more; the absolute necessity of continued investment in science and scientific approaches, not just to technology but to life, religion, politics, education and everything else. It's vitally important that we equip our people and our children with the ability to distinguish between science and pseudo-science, between fact and fiction, and to question what they are told.

Unfortunately, the book itself is much, much too long and needlessly repetitive. It's audience is not - or shouldn't be - people like me. I don't need Sagan telling me, at length, that there are a host of plausible, rational, earthly explanations for the host of "alien abduction" claims. It needs to grab the doubters of science, the gullible, the blinkered. They're not going to read such a long book. It's arguable whether they would pick up anything that challenges their preconceptions, but if they do it needs to be short and to the point.

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