I completely agree with you about people who think bits are so harsh and then ride bitless in something that could very possibly be harsher than any bit. Many people who ride bitless seem to be kinda uneducated about the mechanics of the things they put on their horses faces (including bits), which you'd think they should at least know more about bits than "they're evil metal" even if they're going to be staunchly bitless. But there are people who are educated (but generally they have no issues with bits) who ride bitless, so I think it might be a little unfair to lump every person who rides bitless together in the "anti-bit" camp.
I ride Lacey bitless and I like to think that I made the choice in an educated, unbiased manner. It has absolutely nothing to do with my view on bits. I have no issue throwing a bit in her mouth if necessary, I've just discovered that she responds better bitless. She has a better stop, her neckreining is much better and she doesn't get as pissy when I have to get in her face a smidge when she's not listening (but since she does better bitless I usually don't have to get anywhere near her face). She also can jog/trot and canter on a loose rein where she couldn't/wouldn't with a bit (not sure how that works but whatever). Also, Lacey seems to behave better the more I have to trust her and since I'm not completely comfortable bitless yet, I have to trust her a lot and she behaves which is really good for our relationship.
I decided to make the switch when a friend told me that they thought Lacey would be fine bitless and when I started riding her in a halter and discovered that she was really good. I'm scared of those scary looking hackamores so I wanted to find something less scary than that, and something that wouldn't be bad if an uneducated person were to ride in it. I found my "indian hackamore/bosal" on Ebay for $15 which I thought was a pretty good deal for something to try. I wasn't expecting her to like it but she seems to (she'll actually stick her nose into it where she'd never pick up the bit/open her mouth voluntarily for it).
Picture of something like Lacey's shindig-
Here's Lacey wearing it-
I have no issues with bits, I think it depends on the horse. Some horses are just going to go better bitless and others need a bit in their mouths to be optimal.
Sorry if this didn't make any sense...I'm having a rather ADHD morning. haha
Good thread! =)