mach5 - if you have travelled extensively, you may have discovered that some hotels, many internet cafes and a variety of other places that provide internet access have unscrupulous people managing the network. In third world countries, particularly, there are very real dangers in using naked internet services. Man in the middle attacks are common and can result in identification theft and other serious problems.
You point out that Tor routes traffic through three intermediate nodes before exiting into the Internet. You are correct. However, the only node that can see your packets is the exit node, the intermediaries are tossing around completely encrypted packets. So it is possible that Tor exit nodes could attempt man-in-the-middle attacks doing such things as presenting fake SSL certificates or artificial proxies for well known services, however, all such Tor exit nodes are ip-logged within the Tor cloud and these types of activities are hunted for and investigated by a rather large community. I guess you could say that you are trading a completely unknown set of dangers for a specific and heavily policed danger, a trade well worth making in many situations.
Your mileage may vary.
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