Tonight I casually mentioned to a friend that I was sad because my university was featuring a free one-hour seminar on the “Science” of Reiki, and I’d missed it. I spent days planning for it, rehearsing the questions I would ask with a seemingly innocent curiosity—”Energy, wow! What kind of energy? Acoustical? Electrical? Magnetic? Electromagnetic?”; “That’s really cool. How does the energy get blocked? Are the bodily circuits broken or something?”; “So how many watts/joules/kcal of energy would that be?”—and hopefully let them completely slip up in front of the students. Alas, I lost track of time whilst in my piano practice room and missed the seminar. 🙁
In any case, I mentioned these plans to my friend, and my friend told me how obnoxious that was, and how I should just let people believe what they believe.
Firstly, I didn’t even get to publicly humiliate them. But even if I’d done it, so what? These are deluded liars and cheats who take money and deliver nothing but misinformation and placebo at the expense of genuinely ill people (or deluded hypochondriacs). They are part of an institution that is undermining the progress of medicine, public understanding of science, and overall health. And they were coming to my school to spread misinformation.
Why shouldn’t we publicly humiliate these people by debunking their claims and making them look stupid at worst and harmful at best? Why shouldn’t we try to prevent them from recruiting new dupes? Why shouldn’t we actively fight lies and liars?
I would think it would be a greater virtue to expose frauds and prevent duping than to be polite. And I am so tired of being considered the asshole for wanting to expose liars and cheats as liars and cheats. And I imagine that many other skeptics are as well.
Besides which, I didn’t even get to do it anyway. So rest assured, my crackpot-defending, liar-shielding friend, your precious woo-meisters are free from the tyranny of skepticism.