In light of recent discussions in this corner of teh intertubes, I've been thinking about anti-quackery writing. To what extent does our debunking actually feed the ducks?
Many of us don't link to crank sites---that makes sense, since click-throughs probably put money in their pockets.
But speaking out works. Most people don't know medicine. It's a profession that takes years to learn. People count on information from experts, and most doctors are too busy working to put together slick ads for their services (that plus the whole ethics thing). That leaves the field wide-open to any idiot who wants to take your money.
The world is filled with people who believe, or are at risk of believing, in "other ways of knowing", eschewing science for cult medicine. There are as many types of cult medicine as there are hucksters---there is only one kind of science-based medicine, and science is really the only appropriate way to approach healing. Science, of course, does not exclude compassion and empathy. The doctor-patient relationship is critical to applying science to medicine.
But quacks are crooks, plain and simple. The HIV denialists, anti-vaccine wackos, and homeopaths want you to join their cults and give them your money.
Many people are looking for good information on health. They may be easily sucked in by crooks, but we can get them back. That doesn't mean we have to go easy on the like of Joe Mercola and Gary Null. We need to call them out for being the immoral, unethical, evil swindlers that they are.