The wide world of woo-woo is a “shades of gray” kind of thing, a continuum, ranging from the mildly wacky to the extremely bizarre and downright dangerous. The question I ask myself is where do I draw the line between what I should worry about and what I can let slide? At what point does a silly belief become harmful to the point that I should step in and say something? It can be hard to tell sometimes.
For example, who would have thought that the Catholic Eucharist was anything more than the benign remnants of an old ritual? Not having any significant exposure to Catholicism myself, I had no idea of the underlying belief that communion wafers were literally transformed into flesh, or wine into blood. Yes, literally. This is magical thinking. This is nonsense. But even then, who would have thought such a silly idea could be dangerous? Could inspire assault and death threats??
After much thought, I come to the conclusion that the line need not be drawn at all. The beliefs themselves are not to blame. They are merely the symptom of something greater, and trying to knock them all down one by one is like playing whack-a-mole– only with hundreds and thousands of transforming, self-replicating moles. Knock one down and 30 more pop up.
Instead, we need to correct the problem at its source. We need to fix the faulty logic that is responsible for it all. People believe weird things because they don’t know how to ask the right questions. They don’t understand the shortcomings of personal anecdotes. They don’t realize the importance of real, tangible evidence– or what qualities evidence requires to hold scientific validity. Most importantly, they fail to accept their own fallibility. “I saw it with my own two eyes! It must be true!”
This is where the problem lies. Fix this, and we won’t need to draw the lines between crazy and crazier.