Dr. Steven Novella vs. Dr. Oz

April 26, 2011

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.

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Mehmet Oz joins John Edward in grief-raping

March 21, 2011

Those who may have been following this blog for awhile probably know that I don’t care much for Dr. Mehmet Oz. At least fifty percent of any medical advice he gives is complete bullshit and he seems to feel that the only way anyone will take him seriously as a medical professional is if he constantly wears his scrubs everywhere he goes.

But as much as I dislike Dr. Oz, he is nowhere near as repulsive as John Edward, who has been named the Biggest Douche in the Universe for his tireless commitment to grief-raping. But now Oz seems to looking to steal that title as he recently invited John Edward, the professional fraudster himself, on his show. On that show, he sat there and let Edward re-define grief as a form of cancer and then cross the line into full-blown sadism:

His next victim (patient?) was a middle-aged man who rose to his feet when Edward suggested someone had lost a son. As the reading continued, Edward informed the grief-stricken parent that the car accident that claimed his son’s life was in fact a suicide.

“I’ve never known that he committed suicide for sure,” said the grieving father, “but I believe it.”

This father seemed able to cope with that information, but I’m not sure every grieving parent would take that kind of news as well. What’s particularly noteworthy is that it has no basis in fact or truth.

Instead of having the dignity to criticize Edward, Oz brought in a critic, Katherine Nordal, to assess Edward’s psychic readings. Then according to Nordal, the producers heavily edited her portion to distort and quote-mine her criticism:

In a letter to producers of “The Dr. Oz” show Nordal said, “I provided very balanced responses to Dr. Oz’s questions during the show’s taping, however, the editing of my responses did not capture my full comments or give viewers an accurate portrayal of my professional view on John Edward’s methods. Instead, it seems that ‘The Doctor Oz’ show intentionally edited my responses in a way that gave the appearance of my endorsement of Edward’s methods as a legitimate intervention.”

I’m no psychic, but I predict a broken nose in John Edward’s and Mehmet Oz’s futures if either ever crosses my path.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 6.30.10

June 30, 2010

1. American Atheists President retiring – Wasn’t Ed Buckner only president for, like, a year? Oh, sorry. It was two years. So now the question is, who’s going to replace him? I don’t think they’ll be asking Ellen Johnson back and the organization’s first president has been dead for some time. So that means someone new. And I don’t know anyone of hand who’d be a good fit.

2. Quacks file lawsuit against Quackwatch – I love Dr. Barrett’s responses and am pretty confident that Doctor’s Data do not have a legitimate case against him. First of all, they did not take reasonable actions to settle the problem outside of the court and ignored his answer to their complaint. Second of all, in the U.S. defamation is extraordinarily difficult to prove. Third, America loves free speech and people absolutely do have a right to criticize organizations making dubious claims. Fourth, the science is indeed against them and libel requires the statements in question be false. Fifth, not only must libelous claims be false but you must prove the defendant knew they were false and deliberately lied. And sixth, libel requires proving the plaintiff’s business has actually been significantly injured specifically from claims of the defendant. I surmise this will be thrown out of court on summary judgment in no time. It’s simply frivolous. Orac also discussing this story here.

3. Dr. Oz wins an Emmy and scathing criticism in the NY Daily News – Here’s a fun little excerpt:

Oz’s demonstrable passion for the eccentric dates back to the mid-’90s, when he spearheaded the Cardiac Complementary Care Center at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and immediately set out to validate the energy-healing regimen known as therapeutic touch – an updated version of the Ancients’ “laying on of hands.” In Oz’s new operating-theater-of-the-absurd, a self-described “radical healer” was stationed at the head of the surgery table, her mission to report any changes she discerned in the patient’s energy as the operation progressed.

4. Best wishes C.H. If anyone can make cancer their bitch, you can.


News From Around The Blogosphere 4.12.10

April 13, 2010

Merchant Of Death

1. Kevin Trudeau begins his 30-day jail sentence – Unfortunately, this merchant of death is only serving 30 days for harassing a judge. But hopefully, he’ll be back behind bars soon enough for his one-man genocide racket.

2. NCSE getting a little too cozy with the religious – Why does the National Center for Science Education feel they need someone working for them under the title of “Faith Project Director”? Which chapter in my science book discusses the importance of faith when conducting science?

3. Jim Carrey mind-wiped from Generation Rescue’s memory banks - Oh, the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Now that Jim Carrey has broken up with Jenny McCarthy, he’s being erased just like Desiree Jennings:

By Friday, Generation Rescue had completely revamped its website. Gone is the picture of Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, and Evan from the front page of the website. Gone is any mention of his name, leaving Generation Rescue as now being just “Jenny McCarthy’s Autism Organization – Generation Rescue.” Gone is Jim Carrey from the Generation Rescue Board of Directors. Given the slickness of hte new look, no doubt that this revamp of the website has been a long time in coming, and probably GR simply moved up its originally planned revamp in order to deal with Jim and Jenny’s breakup. More interestingly, all mention of Desiree Jennings appears to have been send down the memory hole. In case you don’t remember who she is, she is the young woman who claimed that a flu vaccine caused her to develop dystonia, a claim riddled with inconsistencies that didn’t stand up to even mild scrutiny.

This again raises the issue of whether or not Jim Carrey is still an anti-vaxxer at all? Did he come to his senses and opt to cut all ties with Jenny McCarthy just like the co-founder of her now doomed school?

4. Chicago Tribune questions the authority of the great and power Dr. Oz - Their conclusion seems to match that of the medical consensus, pay no attention to man on the screen inexplicably wearing surgical scrubs. And they also talk about Joseph Mercola, the most dangerous cola of them all.


Dr. Oz returns to my shit list

March 2, 2010

The great and powerful Oz decided to have both Deepak Chopra and Joseph Mercola on.

Now I can forgive him for Chopra, who while delusional, isn’t all that dangerous. But Mercola is a total quack and a disgrace to the medical profession, far more than Mehmet Oz.

After all, Mercola is a supporter of some of the most blatant quackery out there. The worst example of his support of quackery occurred when he promoted the cancer quackery of Dr. Tullio Simoncini, the Italian “oncologist” who believes that all cancer is caused by fungus and that he can cure it using baking soda. He’s also claimed that baking soda can cure H1N1, making it the all-purpose cure-all. Add to that Mercola’s support for homeopathy and anti-vaccine views, and Mercola is rapidly approaching Mike Adams territory.

Ozzy might as well have invited Andrew Wakefield on too while he was at it.


Dr. Oz

October 4, 2008

Dr. Mehmet Oz is getting his own talk show- This is the heart surgeon who I’ve heard will actually  stop in a middle of a surgery to let Therapeutic Touch witches wave their magical hands over the patient and then go on with the surgery. He’s talked about his fascination with Therapeutic Touch and every other possible nonsense medicine you can think of in his book. He’s also Oprah’s favorite medical expert, because when you need medical advice it’s always better to get it from somebody who sees no distinction between real medicine and voodoo. Here’s some skeptical discussions of Dr. Oz herehere, here,and here.

Now I work in television and came across this news about Oz’s upcoming show at work when I heard an interview with him that as far as I know hasn’t aired yet, so I’ll avoid naming the show the interview was for. But here’s an excerpt from the transcript of that interview:

I don’t want it to be a doctor show where I’m just throwing medical information out at you. And if we do it in the right way we’re going to have celebrities that are going to have the same interests that I have in making a difference in this planet we live on. And by doing that, we’re going to touch upon a lot of diverse topics, some of them pretty far away from what you think of as traditional hospital stuff: spirituality, energy medicine, social programming, social programming, education, the environment. All that comes into play. If it has something to do with information, I want to be there.

So yeah, my psychic powers are telling me Jenny McCarthy will be a frequent guest on the show.

If I could give Dr. Oz one piece of advice it’d be to pay no attention to crazy lady behind the cardboard box and instead listen to the 9-year-old who outsmarted them and apparently outsmarted you too:


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