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The Skeptical Slang Dictionary

Skepticism Atheism Atheism vs. Agnosticism The Role of Science The New Atheists
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The following are some common slang terms used by skeptics and within the skeptical community. Many are derogatory, ironic, sarcastic, or tongue-in-cheek. Many of these terms will be found at The Inn Between.

  • Woo: All manner of supernatural, paranormal, religious, and unconfirmed or dubious pseudoscience. Often referred to as "the woo", as in "she is way into the woo". This is an all-encompassing term that covers every area that skeptics are opposed. Included, but not limited to: ghosts, cryptozoology, gods, angels, demons, psychics, fortune telling, tarot cards, palmistry, magic crystals, theraputic touch, panacea cures, Airborne & other "immunity boosters", aliens, UFOs, Illuminati & other conspiracy theories, Ouija boards, telekinesis, remote viewing, free energy, "quantum physics" (which is different from the actual scientific discipline of quantum physics), anti-vaccine theories, Intelligent Design, astrology, crop circles, Tantra, chakras, detox foot pads, detox- anything, acupuncture, dowsing, homeopathy, and much more. Visit the real Skeptic's Dictionary for serious information on the different kinds of woo.

  • Woo-woo: The original term from which the shortened "woo" is derived, coined by The Amazing Randi. Randi once suggested that "woo" might be singular and "woo-woo" might be plural, but the terms seem to be used more or less interchangeably in practice, depending upon personal preference.

  • Deja Woo: Reincarnation.

  • Fundagelical: A contraction of Fundamentalist and Evangelical - the worst of both worlds. Fundamentalists are a subset of Evangelicals, which are a subset of Protestants that separated in the 19th century in response to the "new, liberal, theology" that included Biblical criticism and any scientific view that conflicted with Genesis. Fundamentalists take the bible literally, whereas Evangelicals are more willing to accept metaphor, poetry, and proverb. Evangelicals believe in conversionism and activism, and also on crucicentrism (a stress of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross). So a Fundagelical would be a bible literalist (Fundamentalist) who places a high value on conversion and proselityzing (Evangelical).

  • Gnu Atheists: The preferred spelling for the phrase "New Atheists"; used most often by atheists whom others like to label as "New Atheists". The deliberate misspelling implies a lack of respect for the idea that there is anything "new" about atheism, including the concept of being vocal about atheism. People who use the misspelling believe that being vocal about atheism, being publicly critical of religion, writing books and making speeches is not new and has, in fact, been around at least as long as recorded history, since there are records of individuals being publicly critical. Thus, those labeled as "New Atheists" tend to reject that label, and deliberately misspell it, sort of as a form of protest.

  • IDiot: A proponent of Intelligent Design (ID for short), which is the idea that the entire universe was created by an intelligent being who designed everything intentionally.

  • Newage: A deliberate mispronunciation of the term "New Age" that rhymes with "sewage". It covers all topics covered under the more proper term "New Age" and is meant to be derogatory. Astrology, healing crystals, therapeutic touch, psychics, alternate planes, etc.

  • Newager: A practitioner of Newage & said with the same deliberate mispronounciation to rhyme with "sewage".

  • Quack: A practitioner or pusher of SCAM products or therapies.

  • SCAM: Supplemental, Complimentary, and Alternative Medicine industry, what is usually referred to as the CAM industry or alt-med (for "alternative medicine"). Any product or therapy purported to cure or treat illness, infection, or disease that has not been proven effective by scientific analysis & peer review and lacks a plausible mechanism to explain it, or that has been shown by those methods to be not effective.

  • Wackaloon: Combination of wacky and loony; Someone whose beliefs are so delusional, that one might question his sanity or mental health; a wooager extremist. Examples: Doomsday cultists, HIV-denalists, Holocaust denialists, Christine O'Donnel, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Andrew Wakefield, Meryl Dorey, the crazy rainbow lady on YouTube.

  • Wooager : A practitioner of woo. Natureopaths, homeopaths, astrologers, psychics, dowsers, faith healers, all religious people, alt-med practitioners, acupuncturists, mystics, etc. Rhymes with "newager".

  • Woomeister: Another term for practitioner of woo. See "wooager".

  • Wooniversity: An institution that sells unaccredited degrees in magical/religious-based pseudosciences.

  • Worshipin' Huts: Churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, and any religious building for the purpose of religious services and/or worship.


  • Click on the Table to go to an interactive Table with explanations for each element. Buy this on a t-shirt or poster!

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