Sagan's Double Edged Sword - Adam Klagues 9-30-08 Dr....

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Adam Klagues Adam 1 9-30-08 Dr. Zimmermann Hu 100 Sagan’s Double Edged Sword In “The Demon-Haunted World”, by Carl Sagan, he describes for the reader a “baloney detection kit” (Sagan, 210). This “kit” contains many thoughts and ideas that can be used to separate a plausible idea from one with no backing. In chapter 17, although Sagan says the deficiency he sees “in the skeptical movement is in its polarization,” (Sagan, 300) he indirectly bashes many religions and other non-scientific ideas in chapter 12 while explaining what to avoid in a discussion. However, with the introduction of his “baloney detection kit,” he invites those who do not agree with his ideas to turn his own weapon against him. As such, his kit will now be applied to one of science’s most firmly held beliefs, the theory of evolution. One of the first items in Sagan’s kit is that “debate on the evidence from knowledgeable proponents of all points of view” should be encouraged (Sagan, 210). Whenever a new fossil is found, the scientists on the side of evolution get their say, and that is the end of it, but where are the other points of view? One of them can be found at Christian Answers.Net, and describes how Carbon-14 dating, an often used method for discerning the age of something, is not as accurate as science would want us to believe. Granted, for anything younger than 50,000 years old, it is highly accurate, but once that date is exceeded, is loses accuracy very quickly. Carbon-14 dating works because Carbon-14 has a half life of “5,730 (plus or minus 40 years)” (Ham). When you reach 50,000 years, there is less than one one-thousandth of the initial sample, which is not big to begin with. How then do scientists get carbon dates that are millions of years old? Ham shows that when an archaeologist sends out something to be carbon-dated, he puts what time period he believes the sample to have come from. This allows the scientist performing the experiment to know which results were “contaminated” and which are correct. Again, this isn’t always the case, as Carbon-14 dating can be a very accurate form of measuring the age of something, but has a limit to the dates it can regress to. This would normally cast suspicion on the validity of the claims made by these Carbon-14 datings, but without Sagan’s “debate on the evidence from knowledgeable proponents of all points of view” it is possible for one side to merely show only the evidence they wish to show.
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Adam 2 “Spin more than one hypothesis” (Sagan, 210). This would suggest not just different hypothesizes, but hypothesizes that have little in common except for explaining the same phenomenon. This however is also hindered as our science and history books only tell of one hypothesis for the beginning of time. Evolution is the sole theory taught in public school, and Creation cannot even be discussed. This means that only one hypothesis is presented before the
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This note was uploaded on 10/12/2008 for the course HUMANITIES 100 taught by Professor Zimmermann during the Spring '08 term at Milwaukee School of Engineering.

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Sagan's Double Edged Sword - Adam Klagues 9-30-08 Dr....

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