Author Topic: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion  (Read 222 times)

BooksCatsEtc

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HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« on: May 08, 2017, 04:12:01 PM »
I was thinking some of us might want to discuss the book as we go along (I know I do, once I get my thoughts collected) and I don't think there'll be any problem in returning to various topics once the people who want to discuss the book after they've finished start chiming in. 

So here the discussion thread is, for anybody who wants to start.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

BooksCatsEtc

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 05:46:16 PM »
I've gotten to chapter 5, and it's been depressingly re-confirmed that Sagan was the skeptical world's own prophet:

Quote
Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking.  I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United Stats is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

Yep. I'm glad Carl didn't live to see Trump in the White House, it would have killed him.

A little further down the page he mentions the "celebration of ignorance" going on when he was writing this book, and I think it's gotten even worse since -- today it's broadened into not just a celebration of ignorance but of incompetence as well.  So many TV shows (many from FOX, no surprise) feature as their most sympathetic and central character some one whose incompetence at life is so extreme I wonder how they avoided being Darwined out years ago.  My TV is gathering dust and I think the day is getting close when I'll call up the cable company and tell them "you know what?  forget it, I'll get my news from the radio and everything else from books".  At least I'll save a few bucks.

Back to Candle in the Dark, I particularly enjoyed the discussion of the crop circle hoax in chapter 4 -- even tho the hoaxers behind it got bored, admitted to, and demonstrated their techniques for, creating crop circles back in the early 90s, there are still people who believe it was aliens and continue looking to the skies for farmyard pranksters. 

There is just no end of credulity -- Sagan's take was that so many of us want "to be jolted out of our humdrum lives" and I can't disagree.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2017, 07:29:40 AM »
You are farther along in the book than I am Books. I transferred the document to my Nook, but when I went away last weekend to visit my daughter I forgot to bring it, I was so bummed out.

I'm really enjoying the book so far, currently getting into Chapter 3  "The Man on the Moon and the Face on Mars". The discussion of alien life on other planets, and humans increasing appetite for conspiracy theories and NASA cover-ups.

SOVIET SCIENTIST'S AMAZING CLAIM: RUINED
TEMPLES FOUND ON MARS. SPACE PROBE DISCOVERS
REMAINS OF 50,000-YEAR-OLD CIVILIZATION.


It is somewhat sad to realize that his comments in the quote you provided "Books" seem to becoming a reality. My daughter lives in a very touristy town, and one of the most popular stores in the center of town is called "Higher Awareness". It specializes in all types of spiritual woo and pseudo-science...(I admit they have good incense) so even if people are walking away from organized religion (The Nones) they are falling into some very deep spiritual practices based on zero science.


I like ABBA. I like that song.  :tellmemore:
They're not that bad.
Magdalena

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2017, 08:22:55 AM »
I'm still at chapter one  :'(
The universe never did make sense; I suspect it was built on government contract.
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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2017, 01:33:00 PM »
I haven't started yet, I'm finishing another book and am quite busy. I should be able to get through it near the end of the month.

Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2017, 04:26:35 PM »
It specializes in all types of spiritual woo and pseudo-science...(I admit they have good incense) . ..

Yeah, I also go to the local occult shop for their incense.  And their herbs -- I can get dried mint really cheap, which I use to keep bugs away from the mattress.

But I can understand the transition of some "nones" to a different kind of woo.  I did the same thing after realizing there was no way Xtianity and I could ever fit -- at that point I was thinking I was just in the wrong woo, the realization that no woo was going to fit didn't come to me for another 10 years.  I hold out hope that it's just a "passing thru" phase for some of those interested in crystals and horoscopes now.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2017, 04:33:18 PM »
I'm still at chapter one  :'(

You're also still working full time, right?  Whereas I'm in full 24 hr goof off mode.

I haven't started yet, I'm finishing another book and am quite busy. I should be able to get through it near the end of the month.

I was trying to wait till I finished a biography of Shirley Jackson I'd started last month, but I'm still only halfway thru and her marriage is just depressing me so much that I had to put it aside for something more cheerful.  I hate when that happens.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2017, 12:17:48 PM »
Managed to pick up a copy from my local library as I was struggling with the pdf version on my kindle.

*whispers* I have never read anything by Sagan before and have always felt like I should have by now so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it.

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2017, 06:07:17 PM »
Managed to pick up a copy from my local library as I was struggling with the pdf version on my kindle.

*whispers* I have never read anything by Sagan before and have always felt like I should have by now so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it.

I predict you'll be pleased.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2017, 06:48:19 PM »
It's not too spooky is it? Sounds spooky and I'm not sure if I'm up for that.
 

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2017, 09:05:49 PM »
It's not too spooky is it? Sounds spooky and I'm not sure if I'm up for that.

Only if you consider human frailty spooky (and some do).
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2017, 06:17:12 AM »
It's not too spooky is it? Sounds spooky and I'm not sure if I'm up for that.

Only if you consider human frailty spooky (and some do).

It's a tiny bit spooky JJ, enough that I've been leaving my reading light on all night :-[
I like ABBA. I like that song.  :tellmemore:
They're not that bad.
Magdalena

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2017, 03:04:41 PM »
Up to chp. 13, Obsessed with Reality, which should be right up my alley.  I had forgotten how many chapters Sagan devoted to alien abductee claims, which don't interest me nearly as much now as they once did.  But there is still that funny chapter which is nearly all excerpts from letters he'd received about his abductee views.  Nearly as good as reading excerpts from the mail Shirley Jackson got about "The Lottery".

I particularly enjoyed chp 9,Therapy, which dealt mostly with the Satanic cult hysteria of the 80s.  I still vividly remember following the McMartin pre-school case from beginning to end, and being horrified at all the innocent people who had their lives disrupted, their reputations ruined and were left bankrupt and, in some cases, jailed because one parent went off her meds, and so many people around her, including the police, were incredibly gullible. 

Sagan quotes FBI special agent Kenneth Lanning (not about McMartin, but Satanic accusations in general):

"Within the personal religious belief of a law enforcement officer, Christianity may be good and Satanism evil.  Under the Constitution however, both are neutral.  This is an important, but difficult, concept for many law enforcement officers to accept.  They are paid to uphold the Penal Code, not the Ten Commandments . . . The fact is that far more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus and Mohammed than has ever been committed in the name of Satan.  Many people don't like that statement but few can argue with it."

Certainly I'm not going to.
Sandy

  
"I think this is the prettiest world -- as long as you don't mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"  from The Kingfisher, by Mary Oliver

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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2017, 02:18:10 AM »
I'm only into the 2nd chapter, but found something in the first that stopped me for a moment. Sagan writes "Ghosts are something of a national obsession in Britain."

Maybe it's just the people I've associated with during my stays in the UK, but my take on it is that while the British may mention "Oh, there's supposedly a ghost," or "People say that's haunted" about this or that location, that is how they would put it. Not in such a way that they imply they believe there's a ghost, but rather mentioning an interesting cultural tidbit.

Still, according to one poll I found, more British people believe in ghosts than in a creator god.  :mysterious: :shrug: :sidesmile:
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
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Re: HAF Book Club: The Demon-Haunted World discussion
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2017, 05:12:22 AM »
I'm only into the 2nd chapter, but found something in the first that stopped me for a moment. Sagan writes "Ghosts are something of a national obsession in Britain."

Maybe it's just the people I've associated with during my stays in the UK, but my take on it is that while the British may mention "Oh, there's supposedly a ghost," or "People say that's haunted" about this or that location, that is how they would put it. Not in such a way that they imply they believe there's a ghost, but rather mentioning an interesting cultural tidbit.

Still, according to one poll I found, more British people believe in ghosts than in a creator god.  :mysterious: :shrug: :sidesmile:

Ghosts are certainly part of our culture. Where I grew up in York there is a whole tourism industry built around 'Ghost Walks'.

I'm a firm non believer though!