It's easy to let it slip off the tongue when talking about the unknown, but let's examine it deeper. It might be more derogatory than you think. According to the good old dictionary, woo-woo is more of a synonym for quackery than it is for magic.
Merriam-Webster says woo-woo is "dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific." Urban Dictionary echoes this sentiment. "Belief in talking to the dead, belief in telekinesis; in fact, any belief not founded on good evidence; the poorer the evidence the more woo-woo the belief." Synonyms include bunk, airy-fairy, New Agey, insane, vapid, dodgy, sketchy. Used colloquially, woo-woo also implies a distance between yourself and whatever you’re describing and suggests a closed-mindedness.
Here's where we mess up. We use woo-woo to describe something unknown to an individual.
But calling something woo-woo doesn't simply translate to "unknown" in a positively mystical, mysterious way. It implies that what you're describing doesn’t work or that it's known not to work. It layers a personal disbelief onto these ancient healing techniques deeply rooted in cultural, religious, and spiritual practices. It's fine to be skeptical, but using woo-woo as often as we do now is downright disrespectful.