I am not by any means good at science, in fact I avoid taking science classes as much as possible knowing I'll be confused on the first day. But I try to stay as informed as any lay person can. For most of my life I lived in Orange County where a good portion of the population believes in Creationism or Intelligent Design and deny Global Warming. Now, I live in Eugene, where a good portion of the population are non-religious and very liberal. However, I've noticed a similar level of superstition, especially at the UofO campus. While many of the students understand the basic science of evolution and global warming, there is still a big support of pseudo-sciences like homeopathy, "energy," and conspiracy theorists.
I remember trying some homeopathic pills for my chronic insomnia. I took more than the recommended dosage because they weren't really working. In fact, I felt almost more alert on them. I looked at the list of ingredients and was surprised to find arsenic and caffeine. That does not make any sense! Why would someone give another person arsenic in any dosage? And who thinks caffeine is a perfect ingredient for a sleep-aid? Even if the the solution is diluted to the point where it is nearly impossible to actually ingest a harmful level of arsenic, it still is a scam.
I can understand why so many college students are drawn to alternative medicine. Mainstream (or accurate-usually)health care is so expensive and often time consuming. I don't have health insurance and while the campus health center is less expensive than most, I know plenty of students who still can't afford to get the medical treatment they need. I haven't seen a General Practitioner since I was like 7 years old because my family cannot afford health insurance. This is probably why I was sucked into taking unnecessary supplements, "body cleansing" and homeopathy. They were readily available and didn't require the expensive task of finding a doctor. These alternative medicines are also displayed right next to other supplements (multi-vitamins, Omegas, protein shakes) and antibiotics (Tylenol, Asprin, Motrin etc...) that have been used and proven affective more many years. It's easy to believe that HeadOn is as safe and effective to use as an Asprin.
Along with the high price of seeing the doctor and using prescribed medicine, a lot of students (and adults on the left) have a lot of distrust for pharmaceutical companies and even the FDA. I don't know personally how trustful we can be of pharmaceutical companies but I don't understand how many doctors would willingly give their patients harmful medicines without careful watch of any harsh side effects. However, I have had a psychologist prescribe me an anti-depressant for my insomnia quite rashly even though I'm not depressed. There are always a few careless ones. But it seems to me that the Homeopathic Practitioners are scamming poor college students who feel wronged by the medical community and the FDA.
I am a liberal/progressive, feminist and environmentalist; but I feel almost pigeon-holed into accepting the entirety of liberalism, including the extreme end of alternative medicine. I do accept that certain herbs/flowers, like Chamomile, can have healing effects, I feel they should be accepted only as complementary to actual medicine. I take camomile or eat probiotic (or normal) yogurt when my head or stomach hurts and I always feel better afterwards. But if I were having intense migrains, nausia or abdominal pain I don't think yogurt will help. I even will agree that yoga does make me feel good and is a healthy exercise to help someone relax or become more flexible and I say the chant out of respect. But I usually ignore all the spiritual stuff. I feel as if the Atheist or Skeptical community is non-existent at the campus - maybe because it is assumed that everyone is fairly secular. But I think Skeptics or Naturalists need to have more of a presence to bring awareness and education of New Age scams to this area. We also need to present the skeptical view as a more holistic and caring one to liberal students who might confuse us with conservative neo-cons.