Woo Beliefs: What’s the Harm?
Posted by mattusmaximus on February 18, 2009
As a skeptic, many times when I argue with people about various woo beliefs, I hear them say, “What’s the harm in believing X?” My answer: there can be plenty of harm in believing in X.
The next time you are discussing any skeptically-oriented topic with someone (whether they’re a woo believer or not), and they ask you that now infamous question, refer them to this website – Whatstheharm.net
That website is a collection of stories relaying just how harmful such woo beliefs can be. As the opening line of the website states:
368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages
That’s a lot of harm. The damage in these stories ranges from minor financial loss, such as when believers are swindled by TV psychics or faith healers, to the death of a loved one at the hands of a “natural cures” practitioner. If you take some time to read through just a few of the topics over at Whatstheharm.net, you’ll see pretty quickly that it is worthwhile to keep tabs on those who push such nonsense and the role that some basic skepticism & critical thinking can play in protecting you from the damage that can be wrought by this woo.
I think it was best said by famous magician & skeptic Penn Jilette when he said…
Well said, Penn. People really do need to see how damaging & dangerous pseudo- and anti-scientific beliefs can be, not just for themselves but the rest of us & society as well.
Remember it, folks – Whatstheharm.net – and refer people to it often. Knowledge is power.