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The Demon-Haunted World

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Great and terrible
Icon books.svg
On our shelf:
Writer's block
I wish I had written The Demon-Haunted World. Having failed to do so, the least I can do is press it upon my friends. Please read this book.
Richard Dawkins' review of the book[1]

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (ISBN 0345409469) is a book centered around scientific skepticism written by Carl Sagan.[2] It was the second to last book he wrote before his death. Though it is less famous than Cosmos, many prominent skeptics have praised the book for its clarity and is touted as a common introduction to scientific skepticism.[3] The last two chapters, "Science and Witchcraft" and "Real Patriots Ask Questions" are co-written with Sagan's wife Ann Druyan and contains a notice that these chapters are the most "political" of the book. At the beginning of each chapter, Sagan furnishes a quote or two relevant to the subject being discussed, a common trait of nearly all of his popular science non-fiction work.


An overall intent of the book is to introduce laypeople to the scientific method and to thinking skeptically. Throughout, Sagan explains what the scientific method is, how it operates, and how to apply critical thinking to claims. The book is organized in essays that expound a particular subject, though each of the essays can also be read independently. Subjects explored in the book include pseudoscience, UFOs, religion, satanic ritual abuse, skepticism, anti-science, New Age belief, Social Darwinism, ESP, flat Earth, ghosts, demons, astrology, false memory syndrome, psychics, and witchcraft.

Notable chapters[edit]

The Most Precious Thing & Science and Hope[edit]

All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike—and yet it is the most precious thing we have.
Albert Einstein,[4] the first quote used in the book

Here Sagan elaborates on why science might well be the most precious invention of the human civilization and expands upon its modern modes of functioning. The "Science and Hope" chapter continues in the spirit of the previous chapter. Sagan explains that more than a body of knowledge, science is a way of thinking.

The Dragon in My Garage[edit]

See the main article on this topic: The Dragon in My Garage

The Fine Art of Baloney Detection[edit]

See the main article on this topic: The Fine Art of Baloney Detection


  2. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan (1995) Random House. ISBN 0345409469.
  3. Michael Shermer has a YouTube video explaining the Baloney Detection Kit chapter
  4. Albert Einstein, Wikiquote.