Themes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 219

In Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, the themes that are presented include critiques of pseudoscience, organized religions, misuse of science, and superstitious thinking, and an encouragement of critical thinking, skeptical thinking, and use of the scientific method. Sagan warns of the dangers of living in a world dominated by uncritical thinking. Sagan believes that organized religion—in which, in his view, people are not encouraged to think for themselves or explore their world but are trained to follow a dogma—is used to consolidate power and control over people's lives. He warns of a "demon-haunted world" in which superstition reigns and people are unable to explore their curiosities through scientific reasoning.

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In contrast to this "demon-haunted world," Sagan presents an argument in favor of scientific reasoning, critical thinking, and skeptical thinking. Sagan explains the scientific method in terms that are not hyper-academic and examines how using the scientific method can be used to debunk and challenge dominant discourse in society that is based on dogma. Sagan encourages readers to use critical thinking, in which one processes information or ideas through using reasoning, deep thinking, and investigation to come to a conclusion. Sagan also encourages skeptical thinking, in which one does not simply take an assertion as objective truth without first challenging the assertion and investigating sources and citations.

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