I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t care for Mehmet Oz. And it’s not just because the beliefs he espouses are so wacky he feels he needs to always be seen in his medical scrubs to convince people that he is a legitimate doctor. No, it’s because of the actual beliefs he espouses and the harm it does to those who follow his crackpot advice.
Now don’t get me wrong. He is a real doctor. He’s a heart surgeon, and from what I understand, a very good one. The problem is that despite his expertise in one very specific area of medicine, he insists on speaking out of school by talking about all manner of medical treatments, real as well as bogus, playing off of people’s ignorance about medical specialization. People generally think any medical doctor is some form of general practitioner who knows everything about medicine when more often than not, they just know a lot about one area of medicine. A cardiac surgeon may know an awful lot about the heart but there’s no reason to assume they significantly more about the foot than the average laymen.
But why I’m talking about Mehmet Oz now is because my skeptical mentor Dr. Steven Novella was invited onto Oz’s show to argue a more science-based point of view on bogus–err, I mean”alternative” “medicine”:
Surprisingly, according to Novella, the piece wasn’t that poorly edited against him. Unfortunately, the format in which the show was structured was heavily weighted against him. As can be seen from the clip, the show was framed around the highly biased idea that doctors who don’t share Oz’s particular brand of faith are “afraid” of discussing it when obviously Novella talks about it almost every day on his podcast and many blogs. Also, Oz always got the final word on each topic and Novella wasn’t given a real chance to rebut those rather large claims. For instance, when discussing acupuncture, a promoter of the bullshit treatment was given the platform to insist it was backed by copious research after Novella said it wasn’t, and then Oz reiterated what she said as the final word on the topic without given Novella another chance to speak.
Suffice it to say, it was very clear why such shows make terrible venues for having real scientific debates about fringe medical claims. Though it was still great that Novella had the opportunity to speak before Oz’s audience and dispel a few myths about what Oz’s critics are saying.
Orac also wrote about this here.