I’ve recently encountered one of more real-life believers of the following woo lies: homeopathic “medicine“, acupuncture, colon cleansing, raw food diets, organic-only diets, detox diets, vitamin C and echinacea for colds, cupping, “The Secret“, psychic powers, ghosts, 9/11 conspiracies, astrology, and various gods (to name only a few).
I know how to handle these sorts of people online — a) ignore them (best option), b) ridicule them (more entertaining option), c) attempt to reason with them (complete waste of time). In person, however, I’m usually at a bit of a loss. How ought I to respond to someone who brings any of these things up in the course of normal conversation?
My first instinct is to hijack the small-talk and start a conversation about science, logic, common sense, and how they person involved has managed to avoid all of these. I don’t usually mean to do it. I think my “mistake” is to reply to them with a phrase like “homeopathic medicine doesn’t work” as opposed to “I don’t believe in homeopathic medicine”. Ugh.
Well, actually. Reply #1 leads to an argument. Reply #2 leads to the response “well it works for me, and it’s better for you than that stuff with all the chemicals in it”, which leads to my brain exploding, and reply #1 escaping my mouth anyway. This just gets me labelled as a know-it-all. A know-it-all who is perceived to be wrong, in fact — the most annoying sort!
Taking homeopathy as an example, most people I run into who believe in it don’t even know what it is! Many of them seem to assume that it is a synonym for “natural” or “organic”, and have been led to believe that both of these are synonyms for “healthy”. Clearly, since healthy is good, homeopathy is win!
Trying to unravel the layers and layers of BS that got someone to the point of believing in something as completely nutty as homeopathy is practically impossible, especially since people don’t like to be wrong, and will usually get angry or demand to change the subject before any reason leaks into their brain.
Should I just brush off subjects like these when they come up, and go insane slowly and silently from having to endure woo quietly, when every neuron in my brain wants to attack it, or should I continue to be the know-it-all bitch. Is there some third option I’ve missed? Getting together every rational person I can find, and evacuating us to another planet, say?