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

Author: Carl Sagan
All Reddit 104
This Month Reddit 7


by crazydoggers   2021-05-25
I came back to check on comments here.

I cannot believe how poor most of these comments are. It’s unbelievable.

HN used to be a place where educated, well though out discussions occurred.

Now there’s barely an ounce of critical thought.

It’s horrible and sad.

Why? I can only surmise. HN perhaps has gotten more popular, more cool, so has had in influx of more people?

Either that or I’m getting older and the newer generation has lost even more critical thought ability than I’d imagined.

Seriously I cannot believe that almost all comments here are conspiracy minded comments arguing against an article that is simply clear and critical thinking.

I beg and implore anyone reading this to read the following book. Even if one person does and learns better critical thinking abilities, it’d be a win.

For the time being, I feel like I need to step away from HN comments altogether. It ends up being the most depressing part of my day.

by crazydoggers   2021-05-25
Again I can only lament the lack of science education in this country.

Triangles show up as triangular bokeh... therefore... must be aliens?? Im sorry that Twitter user thought it was denigrating those in the military.. but that’s a red herring argument and nothing to do with anything.

This is a much better read than Twitter...

by crazydoggers   2021-05-18
All the comments here simply show the very poor state of science education.

Everyone should read this book and then reevaluate comments about chiropractors.

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

And I’m not throwing shade. It’s not any single persons fault or a comment on character. I really do believe there’s a systemic problem with our education system. The reason chiropracty causes this to stand out is that it very successfully flaunts the scientific method and is still accepted at large (for reasons I won’t start going into, but most of which are covered in the book)

by InfinitysDice   2019-08-24

If you, perchance, liked the Harry Potter series, you might enjoy Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, as a fairly pain free and enjoyable introduction to cognitive biases, logical fallacies, and other useful tools to better thinking. Elizer Yudkowsky, the author of HPatMoR maintains several resources that can also be useful in training your mind to be more rational, and a better critical thinker.


The Demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark by Carl Sagan is a fantastic book in praise of science, a primer for the scientific method, and a decent guide to why and how science works. Further, it covers the nature of conspiracy thinking and pseudoscience, how to identify these things, and why they are harmful to society. Available in audiobook, ebook, and paper formats.


Algorithms to Live by is a bit off to the side of your requested topic, but it's an interesting treatise on how computer science can teach you some of the optimal ways one can make certain types of decisions. It's a bit counterintuitive, in the advice given, for example: messiness is often more efficient than spending a lot of time organizing everything, humans can't really multitask, and hunches are sometimes your best tool for deciding a course of action. I've read the book and posses the audiobook, both are great.


Almost anything written by Richard Feynman is accessible, humorous, and wise, in an askew sort of way. He's good at approaching topics from odd angles.


The Great Courses offers many resources on Audible: I've read and enjoyed Your Deceptive Mind, Skepticism 101, and Your Best Brain, which cover cognitive biases, and logical fallacies in detail, how to think more clearly without false, misleading thought, and how to take care of you mind through better lifestyle choices.

by geekamongus   2019-08-24

Can't go wrong with Carl Sagan:

by awkward_armadillo   2019-08-24

A descent selection so far from the other comments. I'll throw in a few, as well:


  • Carl Sagan - Demon Haunted World
  • Greg M. Epstein - Good Without God
  • Michael Shermer - Why People Believe Weird Things
  • Sean Carroll - The Big Picture
  • John Loftus - Why I Became an Atheist
  • A.C. Grayling - The God Argument
  • Kenneth Daniels - Why I Believed
  • Robert A Burton - On Being Certain


Some of the above is specifically related to atheism, while others I've used to help shape and inform my understanding and my worldview. Out of the entire list, the Carl Sagan book and the Sean Carroll book rank highest, for me, in level of importance. Those books didn't just change what I think, they changed how I think, and I am forever indebted to them.

by AncileBooster   2019-07-21

Wonder what she thought of The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

by panamafloyd   2019-07-21

Read/watch more Sagan. He really wanted to talk more about science than superstition. Even the social/political situation about it.

Also, have you read any of Dawkins' books about biology, rather than superstition? He really didn't start directly attacking religion until he realized that anti-reality stuff was so prevalent in society.

I have to admit, first time I read this one..I had to have a dictionary open alongside it. :D

> Although, I'm struggling with the point to existence

I have to be honest. I really don't understand why so many people have this concern. I do understand that they feel it's legitimate, I just don't understand why.

I suspect my personal experience is behind that..I grew up Southern Baptist, and my first realization was full-tilt "I'M FREE!"

I don't care if there's no 'greater celestial reason' for my existence. I exist. I might as well do the most I can with it.

I love good food. I love sportscars. I love a woman's company. I love my daughter. I love soccer.

> and why the universe is the way it is.

I really don't know..but only the religious people in my life act as if that's some great crime. Personally..I'll just read the works of the people who are actually looking for it, instead of performing mental fellatio upon the pack of lying shamans who claim they actually know.

> I simply don't want to believe that I'm just an accident

Well, you're not! Go study more biology. That old Christian whine about "..the Earth is perfectly tuned for life!!" is pathetic.

The Earth came first. We're here because we come from it. Of course it's 'perfect' for us. It's our mommy.

> I'm done being force-fed information. I want to find out for myself.

And you can, if you just get past the fear. And I know that the fear can really blow around your mind for awhile. Wishing you well with it.

by panamafloyd   2019-07-21

Sagan's "The Demon-Haunted World".

Except for his decision to use the word "demon" in the title (which has actually sent some of my friends/fam into a panic, TBH), it's a pretty good expression of why mythology doesn't really explain 'how the world works' very well.

by aperijove   2019-07-21

Apologies if it's been referenced already, I think I read the whole thread but am on mobile and didn't see it mentioned.

Carl Sagan wrote a superb book on this topic, This Demon Haunted World, Science as a candle in the dark. He talks about the perception of witches being a mass psychosis and gets into the corruption and politics of it. A superb book.

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

by spaceghoti   2019-07-21

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

by BeringStraitNephite   2018-11-10

I have always been hooked on technology and science. I didn't realize I wasn't really thinking critically until I read Carl Sagan's book

by urban_npc   2018-11-10

>I mean, that's kind of the crux of the issue, you can't get the exact claim if you aren't understanding the concepts behind the claim (I haven't watched the episode, but i presume it explains them)

I didn't ask to clairfy for my own understanding, I have to ask because I've been through this same argument several times and every time I've gotten different & inconsistent definitions from the other person.

>Gender identity on the other hand is an internal, deeply held sense of what gender you are, which is what liberals (and science) are saying is something that is separate from sex, but also has a biological basis (implausible as that sounds)

So, you think they're arguing that someone can believe that they are something on a spectrum? I don't think that's in any way revolutionary. I can deeply believe I'm an ostrich, or a frog, or some hybrid. Still doesn't make me one.

I've heard 5 people now (just in this thread) tell me science agrees or that they could get me scientific papers on it, but the best anyone has done so far was a link to a British tabloid. I'm starting to think you guy's don't understand credibility / empirical evidence or have just convinced yourselves it's true regardless of reality.

I'd recommend each of you get yourselves a copy of The Demon-Haunted World or find a pdf of it online.

by BeringStraitNephite   2018-11-10

I was trapped in a cult called Mormonism. This magazine taught me much about critical thinking and I escaped :

And this :

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

And this:

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

by spaceghoti   2018-11-10

What resources I recommend depends a great deal on what questions they have. For general resources I recommend the Youtube series Why I Am No Longer A Christian

by aPinkFloyd   2018-11-10

Lots of love for you, here are some thoughts of mine...

  • it is a mistake to believe that you should be asking the question "What is the purpose of my life?" it's not a question you ask, IT IS A QUESTION YOU ANSWER! and you answer it by living your life as ONLY you can, having the adventure that is your life experience, discovering the magical miracle that is ONLY YOU in all of this vast universe!

  • After losing Mormonism and the understanding of the universe that goes with it, I find myself an atheist, which has made this little journey of life INFINITELY more precious to me. It's all and everything we have! (as far as we know).

  • I have pulled in many helpful, empowering, peaceful ideas from Buddhism, Philosophy, Science that has helped me start to form a new, optimistic, and amazingly open minded new world-view. I no longer have to believe anything that doesn't make sense, I get to believe only sweet things now, and that is SO nice.

Here are some resources that I have been really grateful for on my journey, which I am 12 months into...

The Obstacle is the Way

The Daily Stoic this is my new "daily bible" I read a page every morning

Secular Buddhism podcast

Waking Up podcast

End of Faith

The Demon Haunted World

Philosophize This! podcast OR Partially Examined Life podcast

I wish you the very best in your journey, be patient with yourself, you have EVERY reason to be! Start filling your mind with powerful positive ideas, keep the ones that help you find your way, set aside the ones that don't.

And remember, you are young and free and the possibilities of what your life can become are boundless!

by roundeyeddog   2018-02-16

I would actually recommend these two books:

I'm not trying to be condescending, but these will really steer you in the right direction on sourcing. I still use both in my daily life all the time.