Why do most philosophers tend to answer complicated questions with complicated answers? Why can't there be something simple? Is it that we can't accept simple answers to difficult questions?

I suspect this will be exactly the type of complicated answer you have in mind, but... philosophers often do succeed in giving concise answers to important philosophical questions. Here are two almost randomly-chosen one liners: Difficult question #1: What makes an action morally right or wrong? Consequentialist answer: An action is morally right if and only if it maximally satisfies the interests of all those affected. Difficult question#2: How can we freely choose our actions if they are brought about by micro-physical processes (be these deterministic or indeterministic)? Compatibilist answer (roughly): Our actions are free if and only if they follow in the right way from characters of the right type. These are succinct answers, and in that sense "simple. But the devil is in the details, of course. The complications come in when we specify how we should understand the answers' central formulations--for example, what counts as an 'interest"?; what is "following in the right...

I am a producer at a network news organization and am working on a piece on "cultural relativism" that will be televised later this year. My particular question is: how to describe cultural relativism in a way that the average television viewer would understand and is cultural relativism a GOOD or BAD thing?

Cultural relativism, as it's restricted to moral matters, might be described as the view that what's right and wrong is relative to culture--the moral status of a given action or practice depends upon the moral code of the culture in which that action is performed. There are lots of variations, but I think that get's the general idea. Cultural relativism is meant to capture the idea that polygamy, for example, is not absolutely right or wrong: it might be wrong in one culture but perfectly acceptable in another, and neither culture is morally superior to the other. My own view is that cultural relativism is neither good nor bad, but wildly implausible. Here are a few reasons: First, and most imortantly, I don't think that on reflection we really believe cultural relativism. We confuse it for attitudes like humility and tolerance that we do believe in. There are lots of practices--human sacrifice, infanticide, extreme torture, sanctioned rape--that may be morally acceptable in some cultures,...

In an illegal drug such as LSD, the chemical reaction with your brain causes you to see things, such as motion trails or lighting effects, that cannot be seen by someone who is not on the drug. Assuming that is true, would it be possible that LSD gives its user the ability to see something that actually exists but cannot be seen by the human eye without the chemical adjustment of the drug in the brain?

I suppose it depends upon how you understand these effects. Take "motion trails". If we regard these as illusions--that is, we hold that there aren't really colored trails that follow a moving object like colored silk scarves attached to the end of the object--then the drug may be allowing us to have certain illusory experiences that we might not otherwise achieve, but it isn't allowing us to see colored trails that actually follow objects, since there are none. So LSD allows us to have an experience as of a motion trail, but not to actually see one in the world. (This is just what we should say about the straight pencil that looks crooked in a glass of water: I have a visual experience as of a crooked pencil, but am not actually seeing one, since there is none to be seen.) This is not to deny, though, that drugs may heighten our veridical perception of our environment. That to me is the most interesting feature of drugs. Perhaps LSD does this at times, but I wouldn't know.

How can we be sure that we perceive color the same way? In other words, how do I know that the red I see looks the same as the red that you see? We are taught from birth to identify red objects as red, but what if what someone calls red really looks green for example, yet they only call it red because that is what has been taught?

This is a natural and important question to wonder about. It is also an old and distinguished one, dating back at least to John Locke. In its modern incarnation it's often called the problem of "spectrum inversion" or "qualia inversion". Two people might make all the same color discriminations, and use color language in all the same ways, so that outwardly (from a third-person perspective) we would have no reason to say that colors don't "look the same way" to them. But how can we be sure? Isn't it possible that a red object looks to me exactly the same way a green object looks to my functional twin, and vice versa? There is currently a raging disagreement about this, and it leads directly into the fascinating and vexing mind-body problem. Much of the debate turns on what we should mean by "the way a color looks" or "the qualitative character" color experience. Some hold that the way things look or seem first-personally does not go beyond the way that a person reacts to, processes, and acts upon her...

If the saying "nothing is impossible" were correct, then wouldn't it be impossible for something to be impossible?

I also find that saying suspicious, though I'm not sure I accept your suggested argument against it (more on that in a moment). I disagree with the saying because there seem lots of clearly impossible states of afffairs: that 2 and 2 could equal 5; that I could both win and not win the tennis match (in a fixed sense of "win"), and, pehaps more controversially, that I could have had different biological parents than I did. (For more on the different senses of "possible" see Alex George's answer to question 71: Is nothing impossible?) In fact, though, I particularly dislike the saying when people use it to generate false optimism. It is not, alas, possible (in the relevant sense) for me to win the olympic marathon, to be an international multi-billionaire, or to be a wildly successful tabloid heart-throb (well, maybe there's still time for that...). And no snake-oil or course of instruction on the internet will change this, even if the packaging proclaims that everything is possible. Now to your argument...

If enough people believe in something, will it be true? For example, does reality conform to the laws that we, as a group, choose to believe in?

It might be worth adding, nevertheless, that there are some facts that obtain in virtue of enough of the right people believing that they do. You and I are "going out" if and only if we each believe that we are--or so it seems. It also seems that the market will go up if and only if enough of the right people believe that it will. As Alex rightly points out, though, these cases cases don't extend very far--e.g., to making the sun rotate about the earth.

What is the difference between ethics and morality?

There are systems of conduct that individuals or their societies aspire to live by, and then there is the philosophical study of these--that is, the attempt to answer questions such as whether there is really a universal right or wrong, whether (and if so, how) moral claims are grounded in facts, and so on. 'Morality' sometimes refers to the former, and 'ethics' to the latter; but this isn't standard, as far as I know. Sometimes 'ethics' is used to refer to the former, as in "I question his ethics".

Everything has to take up space, so what is outer space taking up?

More space: someone more versed in astronomy can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe "outer space" just refers to spatially-extended bits of the universe beyond our galaxy. I'm not sure I agree, though, that everything has to take up space. What about numbers or colors or God(s)...?

POKER - the card game, not Wittgenstein's - seems to have taken many by storm, especially college students. Its ethical (not to mention legal) status, however, eludes us. Is it unethical to play poker? If your answer to this question relies on conceiving of poker as "gambling", then would poker tournaments, in which an entry fee is paid and one cannot lose more than that entry fee (your chips no longer represent real money), deserve the same appraisal? Is gambling unethical, and is there any such thing as something being inherently addictive, or do different people just get addicted to different things because of who they are? Here's a preliminary thought: Our socio/economic system is rather unjust, with many poor people and a few very rich ones. At the poker table, however, a just meritocracy exists: those with intelligence win and climb up the economic ladder. Win one poker tournament for $5, and you now have the entry fee for 5 more such tournaments. For intelligent people currently working...

The society of poker players displays a kind of procedural fairness--if everyone starts with the same amount then there is no one to blame for future discrepancies other than Lady Luck and the players' own decisions. But is this type of procedural fairness all that is required in a just society? Many would argue that a just society, or more broadly a good society is one that takes care of those below a certain level of well-being no matter how they got there . In many cases it's just bad luck when a person's life is turned upside-down by natural disaster, but I don't think we would consider a society good if it therefore did absolutely nothing about this suffering.

Critical thinking: We are bombarded with information all the time so I think it's very important to use "critical thinking" but it's not easy. So my question is: what are the basics in critical thinking?

This is difficult to answer briefly. And there are certainly books and courses that will give you a comprehensive and useful answer. As a start, though, critical thinking involves scrutinizing and evaluating the reasons given (in a newspaper, on TV, in conversation, etc.) for believing some claim or piece of information. Broadly speaking, these reasons come in two flavors. First, certain claims are said to follow from others "logically": the given claim has to be true given the other claims that have already been accepted. (The butler did it because all the other suspects have now been ruled out.) Second, the claim is true because it is grounded somehow, often statistically, in empirical data like observations. (Polls suggest that the president's popularity went down because of the response to Hurrican Katrina.) In practice, these two types of reason--deductive and non-deductive--are often mixed together and difficult entirely to separate. It's useful, though, to separate them in the study of...