Dr. Oz is a dangerous nutbar…

Ok, he’s charming, and he’s entertaining… and, he’s a doctor, so why shouldn’t we take his advice?  Simple, because much of it is garbage that, at best, won’t do anything but separate you from your money.  At worst, his advice might make you ill.

For way more detail than I can provide, check out this article on Slate.

Let me pick on one aspect of his continual misdirection of his viewers – weight control and fat loss.  Dr. Oz regularly promotes the use of supplements and medications for weight control and fat loss.  Why?  Because this is what his audience wants to hear.  They want to hear that no one needs to make difficult behavioral changes or work hard to improve their physical fitness.  But this is simply irresponsible coming from a physician.  Oz knows what it takes to stay healthy and fit.  Heck, he even practices what he knows in his own life:

Interestingly, for all the health wonders he promotes, Oz himself doesn’t rely on magic pills or quick fixes to maintain his salubrious air. He monitors his weight and exercises daily. According to a New York Times profile, his diet consists of berries, spinach, raw walnuts (soaked in water to “amplify their nutritional benefit”), and a dark green concoction of juices from cucumber and parsley. The Times journalist called it “the most efficient, joyless eating I have ever seen.”

So, why doesn’t he do an episode where he tells people the truth?  Because he’d lose viewers.  Same reason Bill O’Reilly can’t tell his viewers that Barack Obama cleaned Mitt Romney’s clock because Romney was a terrible candidate who ran a pathetic campaign, not because America has been taken over by weirdos and outsiders – because his viewers would be annoyed by this and stop watching.

Here’s the thing though – Bill O’Reilly isn’t a doctor.  He never took a Hippocratic oath to “do no harm.”  Our TV’s are filled with self-serving liars who feed ideas that conveniently conform to the views of their audiences.  Most of the time some egomaniac spewing bullshit on TV is pretty harmless.  Sports anchors and news pundits fall into the shallow end of the societal danger pool.  Skip Bayless might be one of the most tragically underinformed nitwits on TV, but who cares.  He’s talking about basketball.  Pundits like Ann Coulter may be frequently wrong and often offensive, but she’s no more of an asswipe than anyone involved in any portion of politics.  Where it gets dangerous is in what I call the Oprah-level of televised discourse.

On the Oprah level you’ve got Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz (both entities created by Oprah herself), Jim Kramer and others who dispense actionable advice.  These folks are bad.  If you follow Dr. Phil’s relationship advice you’ll probably end up very much alone and quite a bit more miserable than you could have ever imagined.  Follow Dr. Oz’s advice and you’ll waste money and stay fat (or get sick).  Follow Jim Kramer’s advice and you’ll be a pauper.

What’s the common thread with these folks?  They tell a fairy story about life that’s just not true.  There are no short cuts folks.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.

This might seem like shooting fish in a barrel to you, and if it does, you probably don’t consume this kind of junk.  If you do, then think about this:

Beyond potential damage to people’s health and purses, this kind of peddling can also foster doubt and mistrust of science. As Edzard Ernst put it: “Prominent people like Oz do have considerable influence. If this influence is used to promote quackery, bogus treatments will seem credible. Using bogus treatments for serious conditions may cost lives.”

%d bloggers like this: