Dr. Oz, Oprah and Medical Quackery

Charlatans can come in many disguises, but all of them are motivated by one thing: disrespect for their fellow man and a love of the almighty dollar. Psychics, dowsers, mind readers are all well known con men, but even so-called men of science like medical doctors can be charlatans, trying only to make a gaudy living off the sweat and fear of other humans.

So this week I am going to take on a specific person rather than a class of people, and the target is Dr. Mehmet Oz who has been in the news recently. Almost every day I see an advertisement for this quack on various websites. He must be planning a new book of pseudo-scientific flim-flam. Oprah loves this guy, having him come on her so-called show often and now bank-rolling his own show. So, for those who deny that TV can rot your mind, consider that a rejoinder.

There are all sorts of medical frauds:

–Many (but not all) Chiropractors

–Homeopaths (and we will have a separate blog on them at some point)

–Anti-Vaccination proponents.

–Proponents of “home remedies”

But few are as rich and as visible as Dr. Oz.

Perhaps the biggest of his frauds is the “Real Age” pharmaceutical claim. This snake-oil sales company compiles medical history and data on people and tries to sell them nonsensical stuff. Yes these same people who would march up and down on Washington if Pfizer or Merck tried to stockpile medical information on people will gladly shell over their most intimate details of their medical history in the name of quackery.  The goal? To make your so-called “real age” lower.

But let’s give the guy credit; all he is doing is trying to make us healthier, right? Wrong. The site and the whole movement is nothing more than a fraud; a front for the pharmaceutical industry. So all you wacky new-agers out there that believe his tripe and simultaneously demonize Big Pharma as a boogeyman for the state of health in this country, well perhaps you need to use that gray matter just a wee bit more in the future.

As we have pounded home here, ignorance of science is a dangerous thing. Hell, a “real age” sounds reasonable, right? You cannot actually get younger but maybe your body will actually mimic a younger body? So I can really be 40 but have the body of a 20-year-old? Wow, where do I sign up?

Like most enterprises in the world, no matter how benign or supposedly beneficial for humankind, it is all about money. Real Age was bought for $70 million in 2007 by Hearst and now they have published a number of books. And it is a pharmaceutical marketing scam.

27 million (!) people signed up so far and the info was sold to pharmaceutical companies. So that medical history you put in just to see how old your body was, on a lark? Well, now it is being used to market pharmaceuticals. The entire site is bankrolled by the industry. They pay Oz for the info and to compile it for them so they can even review people’s symptoms and send them spam on diseases they have not yet been diagnosed with yet.

So tough luck for you if you wanted to keep your history private. You will even get a questionnaire e-mailed to you telling you what drugs will help your conditions! And if you told this human flotsam of a doctor that you had depression and now are getting emails about how to cure it, well now you know: he sold you and your privacy out for a buck.

For his troubles, Dr. Oz has a production company, book deals, a public face and sleeps on a pile of ill-gotten money.

There is never a lack of customers for a scumbag willing to exploit the public’s lack of scientific knowledge and fear. When that fear is a fear of death or chronic illness then criminals like this can line their pockets with the money of people who are at their most vulnerable and most desperate. People with depression and chronic disease should not be trying to align their chi, or trying to align their energies with gravity, and they certainly should not be listening to the advice of a doctor on Oprah. Lost time in actual treatment, exacerbation of the problem(s), loss of hope – these are all very real problems.

Yet what do we get from this crook?

– He called a doctor a “highly esteemed pioneer.” The doctor in question opined that cancer may be a fungus treatable with baking soda.

-To de-stress use “Rolfing.” It is a deep tissue massage that supposedly aligns your body with gravity. Even being my most charitable, this idea is at a minimum sprinkled with horse manure if not fully covered. What does it mean to be aligned with gravity? Gravity acts in all directions from all objects, so exactly how do you accomplish this? Yet I can easily see the dullest people among us buying into it.

-His wife is a practitioner of “Reiki.” What is that you ask? It is the idea that your life force can be manipulated by the placement of hands. According to the website www.reiki.org, “its use is not dependent on intellectual capacity…” I would argue the opposite, its use depends on intellectual capacity, or the utter lack thereof.

– He has stated that acupuncture “can cure a wide range of chronic diseases.” If you believe that sticking little needles in your body can cure anything other than a lack of needle-induced pain in your epidermis then you definitely have the intellectual capacity to practice Reiki.

But acupuncture has been around for 2,500 years you say? So has the use of leeches. I will make you a deal: I will go to a chiropractor and have my subluxations fixed if you will go have leeches put on you to cure your cold. Deal? Yeah, I thought not.

-He believes that we are “beings of energy and beings of light…the next frontier in medicine is energy medicine.” This is actually true in a way; we are beings of waves, as quantum mechanics has shown that all matter is really composed of waves. And we are beings of energy; your body is nothing but energy. But not in the new-agey way he and other dullards in the world think.

You can burn your body with fire and generate heat. That is energy. It is not an aura that can be aligned with gravity or the universe. It is nothing more than hard physics, the conversion of potential energy into kinetic energy.  You cannot create it out of nothing, you cannot align it or manipulate it and you cannot cure a wide range of diseases with your energy and good thoughts.

If you want to point to his credentials, you have a good point. He is a smart man. In fact he is smart enough to know just how to clothe this pseudoscience with enough medical language to make it seem viable. He is smart enough to parlay this misinformation into a lucrative living. And if you think that he actually believes what he is saying, I think he is smart enough to know that what he is preaching is bullshit. It is just that his love of money and fame outweighs whatever ethics he ever had, if any.

If only we lived in a country where Dr. Stephen Barrett or James Randi could get the amount of publicity and fame that has come to Dr. Oz. We would live in a much better world indeed. I cannot hear his name without thinking of another famous celebrity doctor:


3 Responses to “Dr. Oz, Oprah and Medical Quackery”

  1. My God…we mainly agree. I need to go sit down. 😉

    But with your politics aren’t you supposed be against all that “science” stuff? Important ideas and TV coverage being more important than education, experience and actual know-how?

    My world view has been rocked.

  2. So, the Mighty Opes favoured Dr. Oz with her backing just like she did with Dr. Phil, and now he has his own show.

    His show, however, is just that – for entertainment purposes only. It’s like a televised tabloid magazine – I tend to liken it to “Woman’s World” magazine – with headlines like: ‘Five foods you shouldn’t live without’; ‘three ways to boost your sex drive’; and ‘the top 10 killer diseases in America’.

    The sad thing is that millions of people watch this crap and believe what he’s saying because he has a PhD and is supported by Oprah.

    If you have the misfortune to catch an episode, you will see that Dr. Oz does not go in-depth into any of his health topics; rather, he skims over the surface and concludes with some ill-explained new-age ‘solutions’. Every episode features so many topics that the average viewer does not have a chance to question the given advice. This fast-paced agenda may be an intentional ploy to disguise the quackery.

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