Friday, June 27, 2014

Pseudoscience of Dr. Oz

. . Recently, the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection convened a hearing on “Protecting Consumers from False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products.” In attendance was Dr. Mehmet Oz of daytime television, whom Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) grilled about his claims about the many questionable weight loss “miracle” cures he has peddled on his show. She reproached him for the false hope he peddles with his “flowery rhetoric.”
. . She added, quite bluntly, “the scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of those three products that you called miracles.”

. . Oz has frequently employed the words “miracle,” “magic,” or “revolutionary” when promoting weight loss methods, words that Medical experts would never use in a scientific paper.  Furthermore,  anyone claiming something is miraculous uses it as a ploy to ensnare the gullible. And yet, Oz, who holds degrees from two Ivy League schools and has a professorship at Columbia, commands a massive amount of authority, respect, and influence which Senator McCaskill acknowledged in her plea for him to be more responsible. A study has shown that poor women are much more likely to get their medical advice from television as opposed to physicians or even the Internet.
. . Oz conceded that, referencing green coffee extract, one of his weight loss products, “I’m not going to argue it would pass FDA muster if it were a drug seeking approval,” and “I recognize oftentimes they don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.” Yet, he supports these drugs while knowing that they do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.
. . Oz feels his job on The Dr. Oz Show “is to be a cheerleader for the audience.” McCaskill retorted that he was selling “false hope.” Oz even tried to compare his miracle cures to prayer, while conceding that he “can’t prove that prayer helps people survive an illness.” Senator McCaskill responded, "A least prayer is free.”
. . Frauds and con-artists are well aware of the surge in popularity of the products Oz endorses and so covet his endorsements, creating a phenomenon known as “the Oz effect,” which scams misinformed people. Our world is saturated more than ever with quacks like Dr. Oz, in which a healthy dose of skepticism is necessary more than ever. Celebrity often promises effortless results and contradicts that getting healthy is the result of human understanding, hard work, discipline, and determination, not simply a “miracle in a bottle.”
. . The understanding that the scientific method and education is necessary so that people can see through the pseudo-science that permeates the media. Medical practice should be based on science. Hopefully this hearing will cause people to start paying attention and expose the frauds, such as Oz.

This note was derived from The Not-So-Great but Powerful Pseudoscience of Dr. Oz by Joshua Myers June 23, 2014

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