Here is Sam Harris on the relationship between science and morality:
I wrote an essay a couple years ago about why I was no longer a young-earth creationist. I finally decided it was time to publish it, and it went up today on the First Things Evangel blog: “Why I’m Not a Creationist (Anymore).”
Contrary to popular belief, water is an awful choice [to try and land on when falling from a plane]. Like concrete, liquid doesn’t compress. Hitting the ocean is essentially the same as colliding with a sidewalk, Hamilton explains, except that pavement (perhaps unfortunately) won’t “open up and swallow your shattered body.”
I love this beat poem about the quackery that is homeopathy:
If you’re only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything. You become a crotchety misanthrope convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) Since major discoveries at the borderlines of science are rare, experience will tend to confirm your grumpiness. But every now and then a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you’re too resolutely and uncompromisingly skeptical, you’re going to miss (or resent) the transforming discoveries in science, and either way you will be obstructing understanding and progress. Mere skepticism is not enough.
At the same time, science requires the most vigorous and uncompromising skepticism, because the vast majority of ideas are simply wrong, and the only way to winnow the wheat from the chaff is by critical experiment and analysis. If you’re open to the point of gullibility and have not a microgram of skeptical sense to you, then you cannot distinguish the promising ideas from the worthless ones. Uncritically accepting every proffered notion, idea, and hypothesis is tantamount to knowing nothing. Ideas contradict one another; only through skeptical scrutiny can we decide among them. Some ideas really are better than others.
The judicious mix of these two modes of thought is central to the success of science. Good scientists do both.
—Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World (Ballantine Books: 1995), pp. 304-305.
Like the beginning of every great science fiction movie, experts claim that they’ve discovered a cure for our fuel-dependency woes that only requires an army of genetically modified bacteria… that eat wheat straw and excrete crude oil. You read that right: scientists have created bugs which are able to snack on woodchips or sugar cane and produce waste in the form of easily malleable oil. Not only are the buggers capable of creating a byproduct which can quickly be refined into fuel for vehicles, but scientists say the process is carbon-negative — it outputs less carbon than is required to produce it. Director of the project — dubbed LS9 — Greg Pal says that barrel prices could run as low as $50, and that the company plans to have a commercial facility producing the crude in 2011.
It’s strange living in a world where you can’t discern fact from fiction.