Escape from the Woo Zoo

Escape from the Woo Zoo: What You Can Do

One of the most important things I’ve learned from reading and writing about the lengths to which we go to reject woo, it’s that everyone has a different story. Some people are curious and hyper-rational by nature, some are seduced by the fantastical claims of homeopathy, and some are raised from birth to believe ancient stories are fact. The world is a complicated and confusing place, and it can be hard to sift through the muck. And if I’m remembering my high school days correctly, that goes double for a teenager.

Because the terrain can be so rough, we – as people who are convinced of the value of critical thinking – should make ourselves available to people who want to see the world how it is. It’s easy to find groups that support the propagation of false information and damaging ideas. It’s hard to go against the grain when all of your friends go to the same church, or subscribe to the same erroneous views on alternative medicine.

Escaping the Woo Zoo needs to be a community effort. There are a few things you can do help people transition from the false wooniverse to the fabulously real universe.

Always ask questions and don’t be afraid of confrontation

Is your biology teacher “teaching the controversy”? Or are you confused by Beowulf or The Canterbury Tales? Or is no one correcting the false information being spouted by a fellow student? Ask questions, and demand answers. You can’t have informed opinions about anything if you don’t understand it, and you can’t dispel misinformation if you just let it hang there in space. Over on Skepchick, Maria has written about the importance of debate in the skeptical movement. Plus, if you’re willing to speak up, other people may be inspired to follow. It’s easier to do things in groups, but someone has to be first.

But be polite about it. Rudeness will distract from the argument and turn people off.

Start a skeptical group

There might be fellow skeptics walking by you in the hall, and you may not even know it. What better way to meet closeted skeptics than starting your own group? This will provide an opportunity to network with like-minded people. A good place to start is the Secular Student Alliance. There, you can search for a group, or, if there isn’t one, get information about how to start a group.

Just be there

Be an out and proud skeptic. Be involved in things and never stop learning. You can be an ambassador for the movement by just being the amazing person you are.

Oh, and as always, read Teen Skepchick.

Featured image credit: bgottsab

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Mindy is an attorney and Managing Editor of Teen Skepchick. She hates the law and loves stars. You can follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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