Tag Archives: Carl Sagan

Rational Thinking Books of the Year Part 1

30 Dec
sagan
I recently attended one of Robin’s Ince‘s great secular Christmas Shows ‘Nine lessons and carols for godless people’. The particular show I attended fell on the anniversary of the death Carl Sagan, the great American scientist and sceptic. As a tribute to Sagan, Robin Ince read an excerpt from Sagan’s book ‘The Demon-haunted world’. As a child I can remember watching Sagan’s TV series Cosmos, and like many others I enjoyed his novel ‘Contact’, and its subsequent film but I have to confess that as an adult who teaches rational thinking I have never read any of his non-fiction word. The excerpt Robin Ince read is from the first few paragraphs of the chapter on psychics, and is a beautifully written and move account for why however comforting the idea of life after death maybe, it is eventually facts that provide use with a solid basis for genuine comfort. (I’d recommend that you stop reading me immediately, click this link and read the first seven paragraphs now !)
On my way home from the Christmas show I ordered two of Sagan’s books from Amazon, and read them very rapidly. Thus my first rational thinking book of the year was actually published over a decade ago and is Sagan’s ‘The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark‘. It is one of the most beautifully written explanations of why rational thinking is vital in a modern society that I have ever read. Sagan’s writing style makes the book accessible for most readers, but I’s strongly recommend it to anyone who is attempting to teach rational thinking (or indeed critical thinking), as it will cement the importance of the work they are doing.
Interestingly, Sagan pops up again in the second of my books of the year @

 

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