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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Shameless self-promotion

February 19, 2011

I am now an official writer for The Vaccine Times, and you can check out my first article here.

And on the same day as my first Vaccine Times article was published, the awesome Dr. Rachael Dunlop, who once interviewed me for The Skeptic Zone podcast (ep. #51), published her first article on the Science-Based Medicine blog.

And both of these events took place on the same day I attended the book launch party for the anti-vaccine book “The Vaccine Epidemic”, sat in the same auditorium as Andrew (fraud of the century) Wakefield and many other anti-vax leaders, and lived to hopefully tell all about it in multiple articles over at The Vaccine Times in the next couple of days.

Vaccine denialists declare first week of November Vaccine Awareness Week

October 18, 2010

I've been infected! OH NOES!!

I just got my flu vaccination today, so that may mean the zombie apocalypse has begun. But it seems quite appropriate that the day I got my vaccine, anti-vaxxers Barbara Loe Fisher and Joe Mercola declared November 1-6 “Vaccine Awareness Week” (VAW). Of course their real agenda is to use this time as a vaccine misinformation week. But the defenders of science-based medicine are more than happy to embrace this week themselves and, thanks to Orac, are now planning to organize to take vaccine awareness back from the ideologues.

Steven Novella is also game as is PalMD. And they’re inviting other science bloggers to join in writing articles debunking anti-vaxxer bullshit.

Now they’re collecting their own army of expert bloggers but even though I’m not a medical professional or even a scientist, I’ve certainly got an intermediate understanding of many of the facts that anti-vaxxers ignore and so am more than happy to help at least drown out some of the anti-vaxxer noise that week with some good information. So stay tuned. If they want a vaccine awareness week, we’ll give ’em one.

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Happy birthday skeptical friends

August 8, 2010

This Saturday, two prominent skeptical heroes celebrated a birthday. James “The Amazing” Randi, the father of the modern skeptical movement, turned 82, which some of us feared last year he might never reach until he kicked cancer’s ass.

It was also the birthday of Dr. David Gorski, who writes at Science-Based Medicine as well as at one of my favorite science blogs under an alias.

Happy birthday guys. Stay rational!

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News From Around The Blogosphere 10.13.08

October 14, 2008

The dangers of the flu and the need for flu vaccines – On average, 36,000 Americans of all ages die of flu complications each year. This article also discusses other serious dangers of not getting a flu vaccine.

Another 2 bloggers are added to the Science-Based Medicine blog – After adding Dr. Val Jones (whose other new blog is Getting Better With Dr. Val) to the blog last week, SBM is adding Dr. Peter Lipson aka PalMD of the Denialism blog and David J. Kroll, Ph.D., who’s “a natural products cancer researcher who studies plant-derived compounds as potential treatments for cancer.” I already regularly read the Denialism blog, so I’m a fan of PalMD already but I also look forward to reading Val Jones’ and David J. Kroll’s perspectives.

Identifying fake diseases

The case against homeopathy

The natives of Poyue, China claim that just being there adds years to your life – Poyue and villages in the surrounding region comprise a so-called “longevity cluster.” They allege to have people who are 113 years old living in the region. Although I haven’t researched this issue, the article suggests that the scientific consensus is skeptical. And this would hardly be the first time a people have claimed to possess some form of the timeless elixir of life. (Thanks Brian)

Christopher Hitchens is voting Obama! Yea! – When it comes to the religious criticism you’ll find few, if any, better at smacking down religionists than Christopher Hitchens. He has proven time and time again to have earned his placement among that exclusive club many have dubbed The Four Horsemen of Atheism (The other 3 horsemen being Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett). But when it comes to politics, I frequently disagree with Hitchens, who’s a Republican, albeit more of a Goldwater Republican. Now Hitchens has written an article that says McCain lacks the character and temperament to be president and calls Palin a disgrace.

Baseball players relying on magic amulets? – A bunch of baseball players are apparently wearing Phiten necklaces, said to promote pain relief and enhance performance through improved circulation and stress reduction. Of course there is no medical proof the Phiten necklaces actually work, though. The FDA does not approve the therapeutic claims made by the company and many doctors have said there is no indication that titanium affects performance.

This is very similar to the obscenely-priced sham product known as a Q-Link that James Randi has written a great deal about . This latest product seems like just another variation on the same pseudo-scientific theme. (Thanks Brian)

PZ Myers briefly reviews, Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne

A review of Godless by Dan Barker – Barker is a former evangelical preacher of the same crazy denomination that Sarah Palin belongs to. And now he’s the head of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

And on a related note, how to de-convert the religious – Greta Christina asked her readers what finally convinced them to stop believing. Some of the answers are surprising.

You’ve heard of phantom limb syndrome? How about phantom erections? – Just because you’ve had sexual reassignment surgery and had your penis removed doesn’t mean mean you can’t have a hard-on.

Premature evacuation? Blame the genes

900-Pound Squid Joins Cast Of The View

“We feel that the squid brings a fresh new point of view to the program,” said View executive producer and host Barbara Walters. “We looked at hundreds of potential candidates, but in the end, this rare and exotic creature from the darkest depths of the sea truly stood out.”

“And as far as we can tell, it is a female,” Walters added.

The 900-pound cephalopod from the family Architeuthidae joins cohosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Sherri Shepherd.

Sherri Shepherd still remains the only co-host who’s uncertain of whether or not the Earth is round.


Unique Fossils Capture ‘Cambrian Migration’ – “A unique set of fossils indicates that 525 million years ago marine animals congregated in Earth’s ancient oceans, most likely for migration, according to an international team of scientists.”

Baldness Gene Discovered: 1 In 7 Men At Risk – “Researchers at McGill University, King’s College London and GlaxoSmithKline Inc. have identified two genetic variants in Caucasians that together produce an astounding sevenfold increase the risk of male pattern baldness.”