Reviews

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Eminent Cornell astronomer and bestselling author Sagan debunks the paranormal and the unexplained in a study that will reassure hardcore skeptics but may leave others unsatisfied. To him, purported UFO encounters and alien abductions are products of gullibility, hallucination, misidentification, hoax and therapists' pressure; some alleged encounters, he suggests, may screen memories of sexual abuse. He labels as hoaxes the crop circles, complex pictograms that appear in southern England's wheat and barley fields, and he dismisses as a natural formation the Sphinx-like humanoid face incised on a mesa on Mars, first photographed by a Viking orbiter spacecraft in 1976 and considered by some scientists to be the engineered artifact of an alien civilization. In a passionate plea for scientific literacy, Sagan deftly debunks the myth of Atlantis, Filipino psychic surgeons and mediums such as J.Z. Knight, who claims to be in touch with a 35,000-year-old entity called Ramtha. He also brands as superstition ghosts, angels, fairies, demons, astrology, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and religious apparitions. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning astronomer argues that scientific illiteracy and our new-found suspicion of the rational threatens democratic institutions. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

One of the ironies of the last quarter century is the steady revival of beliefs of ages past. Dark-age worldviews are making a comeback. In this (as usual) beautifully written book, Sagan laments this dismal state in which the general public has not been touched by science. He talks about intelligent people believing in Atlantis and Nostradamus and of tabloids spreading canards such as the discovery of temple ruins on Mars, and bemoans the periodic reports on aliens and UFOs. He objects to assertions about spirits and mystery-mongering about the Bermuda Triangle, Big Foot, and the Loch Ness monster. He warns about the antiscience forces that are becoming more and more assertive. Though many people hear about spectacular discoveries in science, there is widespread illiteracy as to the nature and goals of science, and its framework and methodology. Surveys show that although science has imparted benefits through medicine and technology and has added to our creature comforts, its potentials for elevating the human spirit, endowing us with intellectual joys, and ridding the mind of stifling superstitions have not reached most people. This is Sagan's theme and message. There is a vast body of pseudoscientific literature that is appealing, understandable, and cheap, that entertains and deludes. People need some excitement, and the massive output of pseudoscience is out there to satisfy. Pseudoscience not only titillates but makes everything easy and understandable. Unless we explain to the young the framework of science--reasoned analysis, respect for meticulously gathered data from careful observations, and a readiness to correct itself in the face of appropriate evidence--our civilization will slide into the depths of darkness, to a "demon-haunted world." All levels. V. V. Raman Rochester Institute of Technology


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In a chapter entitled "Science and Hope," Sagan (Pale Blue Dot, Random, 1994) writes: "This book is a personal statement, reflecting my lifelong love affair with science." Accordingly, he deplores pseudoscientific thinking and the credulous beliefs that emerge from it. Today, when science is critical for solving the world's problems, many people, instead, trust astrology and New Age spiritualism. Likewise, surveys reveal that a majority of Americans believe that Earth is regularly visited by space aliens. Using basic tools of science‘empiricism, rationalism, and experimentation‘Sagan debunks these and other common fallacies of pseudoscience. In doing so, he speculates as to how such beliefs arise. Some of his explanations are not entirely convincing (are alien-abduction tales really modern versions of medieval myths?), but he handles them with empathy so as to not demean the intelligence of true believers. The best chapters examine the state of science education and technical literacy in America and suggest an agenda for improving both. The book is overlong, occasionally redundant, and parts have been published elsewhere. Still, Sagan's theme is important, and his popularity might lure some readers from the UFO and occult books cluttering so many library and bookstore shelves. For public and undergraduate libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/95.]‘Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, Fla. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Eminent Cornell astronomer and bestselling author Sagan debunks the paranormal and the unexplained in a study that will reassure hardcore skeptics but may leave others unsatisfied. To him, purported UFO encounters and alien abductions are products of gullibility, hallucination, misidentification, hoax and therapists' pressure; some alleged encounters, he suggests, may screen memories of sexual abuse. He labels as hoaxes the crop circles, complex pictograms that appear in southern England's wheat and barley fields, and he dismisses as a natural formation the Sphinx-like humanoid face incised on a mesa on Mars, first photographed by a Viking orbiter spacecraft in 1976 and considered by some scientists to be the engineered artifact of an alien civilization. In a passionate plea for scientific literacy, Sagan deftly debunks the myth of Atlantis, Filipino psychic surgeons and mediums such as J.Z. Knight, who claims to be in touch with a 35,000-year-old entity called Ramtha. He also brands as superstition ghosts, angels, fairies, demons, astrology, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and religious apparitions. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning astronomer argues that scientific illiteracy and our new-found suspicion of the rational threatens democratic institutions. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

One of the ironies of the last quarter century is the steady revival of beliefs of ages past. Dark-age worldviews are making a comeback. In this (as usual) beautifully written book, Sagan laments this dismal state in which the general public has not been touched by science. He talks about intelligent people believing in Atlantis and Nostradamus and of tabloids spreading canards such as the discovery of temple ruins on Mars, and bemoans the periodic reports on aliens and UFOs. He objects to assertions about spirits and mystery-mongering about the Bermuda Triangle, Big Foot, and the Loch Ness monster. He warns about the antiscience forces that are becoming more and more assertive. Though many people hear about spectacular discoveries in science, there is widespread illiteracy as to the nature and goals of science, and its framework and methodology. Surveys show that although science has imparted benefits through medicine and technology and has added to our creature comforts, its potentials for elevating the human spirit, endowing us with intellectual joys, and ridding the mind of stifling superstitions have not reached most people. This is Sagan's theme and message. There is a vast body of pseudoscientific literature that is appealing, understandable, and cheap, that entertains and deludes. People need some excitement, and the massive output of pseudoscience is out there to satisfy. Pseudoscience not only titillates but makes everything easy and understandable. Unless we explain to the young the framework of science--reasoned analysis, respect for meticulously gathered data from careful observations, and a readiness to correct itself in the face of appropriate evidence--our civilization will slide into the depths of darkness, to a "demon-haunted world." All levels. V. V. Raman Rochester Institute of Technology


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In a chapter entitled "Science and Hope," Sagan (Pale Blue Dot, Random, 1994) writes: "This book is a personal statement, reflecting my lifelong love affair with science." Accordingly, he deplores pseudoscientific thinking and the credulous beliefs that emerge from it. Today, when science is critical for solving the world's problems, many people, instead, trust astrology and New Age spiritualism. Likewise, surveys reveal that a majority of Americans believe that Earth is regularly visited by space aliens. Using basic tools of science‘empiricism, rationalism, and experimentation‘Sagan debunks these and other common fallacies of pseudoscience. In doing so, he speculates as to how such beliefs arise. Some of his explanations are not entirely convincing (are alien-abduction tales really modern versions of medieval myths?), but he handles them with empathy so as to not demean the intelligence of true believers. The best chapters examine the state of science education and technical literacy in America and suggest an agenda for improving both. The book is overlong, occasionally redundant, and parts have been published elsewhere. Still, Sagan's theme is important, and his popularity might lure some readers from the UFO and occult books cluttering so many library and bookstore shelves. For public and undergraduate libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/95.]‘Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, Fla. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.