Let me say at once that I have no desire to discourage anyone from believing in either extraterrestrials or global warming. That would be quite impossible to do. Rather, I want to discuss the history of several widely-publicized beliefs and to point to what I consider an emerging crisis in the whole enterprise of science—namely the increasingly uneasy relationship between hard science and public policy.
NOTE by Gary Young: I have for 30 years been working on a book called True Belief. That started in 1968 when the Navy assigned me and four more at other universities the task of creating a college text - Management for Midshipmen. That was because so many leftists in the 52 colleges and university that had Navy ROTC units who thought the Naval Leadership course then taught was not academically worthy. Turns out the other four all bailed and I was left working with two professors from UCLA then trying it out on my students at Oregon State. It worked well with my students but when I sent it up the chain of command to become an official Navy publication to be used in the next academic year at all 52 schools, it came back looking little like I sent up. Still, I caught the bug on trying to identify what makes people tick. I don’t think I or anyone else will ever really nail it, but it has been an interesting journey. Eric Hoffer made a good start. Crichton reminded me of another aspect, most people have a strong need to believe in something and perhaps anything just to validate their existence. Surprisingly, the greater the gaps in logic, science, reality, etc., the stronger the beliefs necessary to bridge the gaps!