A worthwhile resource for when you are presented with questions such as “What’s the harm if Grandma wants to go see a fortune teller?” or “What’s the harm if uncle Jim believes in Feng shui?”.
I have no real problem with educated, intelligent people dabbling in alternative ideas but I want to do all I can to ensure that they are armed with all the knowledge they can have. Unfortunately, the Internet is rife with nonsense and good information, especially about fringe topics, can be very hard to come by.
It’s when folks subscribe to these unproven, unscientific and, sometimes, outright fraudulent notions that I think we all need to make an effort to educate our family and our friends. From Hydrogen (from on board electrolysis) to augment your car’s gas mileage to pulling out your teeth because there is mercury in your fillings it is important to keep a critical eye out for outrageous or alarmist claims to protect not only your wallet but sometimes your health or even your life.
The What’s the Harm? website cleanly and clearly lists example after example of cases where exactly this question is answered.
I listened to a great interview on Skepticality with the creator of the “What’s the Harm?” website and I admire and appreciate his motivation for gathering all of these stories in one place. There isn’t a permalink scheme on their website so you can find the show notes (and link to the mp3 of the interview) HERE probably in mid September 2008, until then just go to their MAIN PAGE to get it.