Society today requires science more than at any time in the past. Unfortunately, people today are often scientifically illiterate - they don't understand science and they don't understand how to think skeptically. Every year there are hundreds of books published which deal with science and skepticism, some of which deserve a closer look. A few of those are reviewed here on this site. Find out more about these books and also the skeptical, scientific approach to nature.
One of the things that makes skepticism so difficult is the fact that there are simply so many paranormal and pseudoscientific beliefs out there to be skeptical about. It is difficult to become reasonably familiar with even one or two of these beliefs, but how can anyone be familiar enough to be able to offer a skeptical rebuttal to the claims of dozens?
There are all sorts of paranormal claims out there - ghosts and poltergeists, psychics and mediums, x-ray vision and clairvoyance. But are any of them true? Are there people who really have the power to move objects with their mind, talk to the dead, or communicate via telepathy? No - when such things appear to happen, there are much more prosaic explanations available if you know what to look for.
If there is any scientific field where pseudoscience is not only common, but has actually become widely accepted by the establishment, it would have to be psychology. Unlike fields such as physics or biology, some of the most ridiculous quackery has taken hold in clinical psychology and has even reached the point where for many lay people, they see more of the quackery than of real science.
There are many different claims out there vying for our attention and acceptance. We encounter claims in politics, religion, and of course advertising. Some claims are true or at least reasonable, but many are wrong if not outright lies. How can we reliably separate the two? How can we learn to think clearly enough to differentiate between true and false ideas?
Are we mortal or are we somehow immortal? Do our lives have a final and inevitable ending, or will we live on forever? Questions about the ultimate fate of our lives have animated the work of philosophers, poets, authors, and scientists for generations, yet much of the time we hear from those who favor the position of immortalism. You might not realize that the doctrine of mortalism has been very common as well.
Every day, people in America make extensive use of technology and science, often even when they aren't aware of it. Science and technology are arguably two of the most important creations of humanity. Yet perhaps only "arguably," because there are many who also argue that neither are nearly as great as is so often imagined. Instead, they are false idols or even simply con jobs perpetuated by a scientific elite. Who is right, and why do such debates occur?
What is the value of reason and rationality, and how are rationalists to live in a persistently irrational world? These are the two main questions which Singer addresses in his book The Splendid Feast of Reason. They may not seem to be closely related, but as Singer argues, there are many benefits to be had from rationality in society, even if only a minority of people practice it.
Does ESP exist? Are some people telepathic? Can your mind by read by someone else? Are there people, for example Uri Geller, who are genuine psychics? These are all interesting questions, and a large percentage of people would be inclined to answer "yes" to all of them. But why is that?
Most discussions about the ethics of researching and using technology tend to focus relatively narrowly on issues of bioethics - medicine, biological research, and so on. That does not, however, exhaust all of the ethical dilemmas which involve modern technology. There are in fact even more fundamental questions about the nature of technology, our relationship to it, and the role it should play in our society.