Through some recent experiences I think I can make some generalizations about woo merchants; this includes subjects like astrology, alternative medicine, creationism, religion etc.
1. They think every phenomenon interpretation, treatment etc is about belief. Such as I believe accupuncture works, or the data only shows that the earth is 6000 years old. By their reducing everything to belief they are trying to bring science and evidence into the realm of the fuzzy, faith etc. This is their attempt to try and explain the skeptics or the scientists refusal to buy into their system of world views. They don't understand or want to understand that mother nature and the methodology of understanding her, science, is universal and not subject to belief or faith as theirs is, but is subject to evidence. They also don't seem to understand that mother nature could care less about what one believes or wishes were true.
2. If you are critical of their beliefs, faith etc., then you don't respect them. This is the same thing as the Muslims wanting and getting through the UN the resolution that blasephemy, read criticism, of religion, read Islam, is a crime. The current situation in the U.K. where Simon Singh is being sued by the Chiropractic Association of the U.K. is a blatant attempt to silence criticism. Religion, the occult, alternative medicine, etc. have no basis in nature and science and cannot standup to criticism, so the next step is to cry foul and say they are not being respected, or worse try to silence it by law or decree. This is really only a measure of the weakness of their positions not its strength. The creationist are doing the same thing with trying by law to get creationism/ID into the science classrooms. Be aware and history has shown this numerous times that once they get their way then intolerance to other positions is imposed and enforced with the strictest measures, such as imprisonment or death. They really hate freedom unless it means for them only. But they use the word freedom to get their agendas installed.
3. Next is it must be right because of all the people believing it, or based on the number of books on the subject. To this I say if someone told you to jump over a cliff because everyone else is doing it, would you? Just because a lot of people believe in something doesn't mean its true. As to the number of publications. There a lot of publications on astrology, witchcraft, UFO's etc. Does that mean they exist or are true. No! They say well Isaac Newton, Galileo, and others believed in God or other things, therefore it must be true. No rational people can have irrational beliefs. Again the answer is in the evidence.
4. Try and capture the moral high ground. If someone cusses does that mean everything they say is wrong? No, it is a foil used by those without logical or evidence based grounds to fog the issue or to justify to themselves and others that that person is of some lesser value and so must his or hers words. Morals are group derived and evolve over time. Are there universal morals. Probably, all people have the same basic morals, which they say they got from some holy book or great law giver etc. But there are thousands of these and if each one is the only one then why are there so many and why are morals so similiar? The answer is they are hard wired in us and we gotten the basics through evolution of our brains. The others are specific to the group the person finds him or herself in.
5. The traditional science, medicine, etc is in it for the money, therefore you cannot believe them. This is what alternative medicine people say as does antivaccinations groups etc. In our society here in the U.S. we have a capitalist system where we have to make money. Yes, Big Pharma makes a lot of money. They spend on drug development and other things, like paying employees etc. Yes, they have done some things that are questionable. But science culls the bad drugs, devices etc. over time. Same can be said of hospitals, insurance companies and doctors. I know this very well because of my profession. However, when you go to the web sites of alternative doctors, companies etc., what are they doing? They are selling their wares also. So it is hypocritical of them to say big pharma etc. are only interested in making money. The antivaccination group sells chelation, altenative medicines for treating autism also. Again, they are also gulliable and hypocritical. Andrew Wakefield the one who started this whole mess with vaccines and autism was paid by a trial lawyer to come up with some "evidence" to use against the vaccine companies. Jenny McCarthy is using her fame to sell her books of woo and products also. Anderew Weil's own site sells his cures. Again HYPOCRACY!
I will come back to the is topic in later posts. For now I hope you can reflect on the evidence.