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Woo-woo (or just plain woo) refers to ideas considered irrational or based on extremely flimsy evidence or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers.

Here's a dictionary definition of woo-woo:

adj. concerned with emotions, mysticism, or spiritualism; other than rational or scientific; mysterious; new agey. Also n., a person who has mystical or new age beliefs.

When used by skeptics, woo-woo is a derogatory and dismissive term used to refer to beliefs one considers nonsense or to a person who holds such beliefs.

Sometimes woo-woo is used by skeptics as a synonym for pseudoscience, true-believer, or quackery. But mostly the term is used for its emotive content and is an emotive synonym for such terms as nonsense, irrational, nutter, nut, or crazy.

For example:

  1. "But the woo-woo faction has adopted the word "organic" to apply only to a plant grown without the use of anything but water and faith."

  2. I think love is the one thing that should remain firmly in the realm of the woo-woo.

  3. The National Institutes of Health offered a course in feng shui, which prompted James Randi to write of woo-woo at the NIH.

  4. ...the woo-woos ... are more comfortable being ignorant of reality.

The Skeptic's Dictionary has several hundred examples of mystical, spiritual, irrational, pseudoscientific, or anti-scientific New Age beliefs that many skeptics consider to be woo-woo.



The Tower of Woo
Bob Carroll
(with apologies to Leonard Cohen)


My horoscope starts my day
The priest says I should kneel and pray
The Tarot reader says ‘sorry, but you’re through
Better check yourself in
To the tower of woo’  

A healer cleansed my vortex with Egyptian healing rods
Had me swimming with dolphins: said my energy was clogged
Told me to avoid any cure that was new
The older the better
In the tower of woo
My macrobiotic diet won’t allow me any meat
My reflexologist says it’s all in my feet
And anything sweet is taboo
Why is everybody smiling
In the tower of woo?

I beat drums in the forest, played the music of the spheres,
Walked over burning coals to overcome my fears
I was hoping for a miracle or two
But at the end of the day it’s still dark
In the tower of woo
I said to Steve McQueen: how lonely does it get?
Steve McQueen hasn’t answered yet
But I hear him sipping his homeopathic brew
A hundred floors above me
In the tower of woo

You can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll
It stimulates my aura, helps me to recall
A previous lifetime when my chakras were blue
And you tried to cure me with needles
In the tower of woo
I met a man who bent a spoon with his mind
At least that’s what he told me when I said I was blind
If I disagreed, he said he’d sue
Lawyers are hungry
In the tower of woo

Now you can say that I’ve grown bitter but of this you may be sure
The psychics have their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
I hear a mighty judgment’s coming, but I don’t think it’s true
There’s hundred dollar bills blowing in the halls
Of the tower of woo

I see you standing on the other side
Don’t teleport me to where your last patient died
The tower’s not so bad when you are blind
Incense burns in moxibustion cups
I’m mesmerized by your therapeutic touch
But I still feel like I’m running out of time

Now I bid you farewell, I don’t know when I’ll be back
They’re moving us to where spirits are slipping through the cracks
Speaking through our TVs, radios, computers too
The sign says no exit
From the tower of woo.

March 12, 2008
Bob Carroll

Last updated 01-Jan-2016

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