25 September 2012
When The Demon Haunted World was first published, the world was far different from what it is now. Kids weren’t texting each other every other minute. The internet was in its “toddler phase.” People listened to music on tape players and Walkmans. The technology may have been innovated over the years, but what Sagan said still shine through. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t taking us seriously. Sagan considered his reader’s fears, anxieties, and obsessions and made it his job to enlighten his readers with the mysteries of the cosmos in a way they would all enjoy. He never had the expectation that his readers would know all there was to know about science, and he was well aware of the satisfaction that comes from the understanding one can find in science. The sense of being caught up in the past is easily explained. In the decade before The Demon-Haunted World, a large percentage of Americans believed that they were at risk of alien abduction. Little green creatures might suck them up into their flying saucers, or probe their behinds and collect their vital bodily fluids before returning them to their beds only to wake up in the morning, wondering if it was real, or just a dream. These were the kinds of thoughts that Sagan embraced in his writings. But there is reason for Sagan’s attention to the fantasies of aliens, and midnight abduction stories. Sagan promoted the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and was also the author of Contact, a science fiction story of the first contact from another solar system. But Sagan was a strong believer that belief alone is meaningless and that what matters is testable and intelligent evidence. Sagan enjoyed the time he spent writing for Parade magazine, which was associated with over half of the newspapers in the United States, which would sum up to about 80 million readers. Many chapters from The Demon Haunted World were originally written...