Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More on Dr. Oz

Wow... Dr. Oz is really hitting the waves this week.

After a great article in The New Yorker, exposing Dr. Oz's bland disregard for facts and reality, as well as the real motivation behind his media persona (ratings, money and fame), he dives ever deeper into the abyss of irrationality and pure stupidity. Dr. Oz embraces and endorses homeopathy!

Homeopathy irks me more than other alternative medicine woo, simply because a few years ago I myself watched helplessly, while a homeopathic "doctor" milked hundreds of dollars from someone with no good outlook for improvement and with very limited resources. The money went into useless "interviews" that had nothing to do with the condition of the patient, and into even more useless, "custom-designed drugs" that did nothing (it was pure water after all).

I'm glad that there is finally some bad publicity Dr. Oz gets from the media. Maybe exposing his program for what it really is, an elaborate fraud, not to help people, but to stuff his pockets, will turn away some of his viewers. I'm not against stuffing your own pockets at expense of others, especially when they are willing participants (yes, I go to the movies, and sometimes I even pay to see a really bad movie). What's dangerous about Dr. Oz is the fact that he has positioned himself in a health care "edutainment" sector of the media, and by promoting dubious therapies and just pure intellectual junk, he endangers people who believe him.

In the meantime, there are usual places on the Web that do a great job analyzing Dr. Oz's homeopathic claims:

Orac: Dr. Oz’s journey to the Dark Side is now more than complete: It’s Oz and homeopathy versus science-based medicine


Science-Based Medicine Blog: Are You Ready For the Oz Manifesto

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dr. Oz - The Smooth Operator

I am no fan of Dr. Oz. I've been watching (metaphorically speaking, as I can hardly take watching him on TV) his raise to stardom from Oprah's "America's Doctor" wonder boy, to his own TV show, and the beginning of his own Day TV media empire, and I see a scary, scary future ahead of us.

At first, I thought that Dr. Oz basically sells a very typical and widely known advice of good diet, exercise and less daily stress, heavily coated in nonsense of alternative and herbal medicine and, increasingly, in funky spiritualism and pure crap (examples abound). I do realize that just saying "eat well and exercise daily" is not going to sell well on TV, since most of us just want quick fixes for our problems. However, Dr. Oz's endorsement of unproven herbs, vitamins and modalities that belong in Middle Ages, not in the 21st Century, is more dangerous than useful. Dr. Oz is also a proponent of Reiki, which is basically a type of therapeutic touch, which was completely discredited by a 9 year old Emily Rosa years ago. So, there you have it... would you trust that doctor with your health?

I'm glad the mainstream media has finally started noticing. I stumbled on this great article from the New Yorker: "The Operator", written by Michael Specter (the author of “Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives”, which I also highly recommend).
There is a number of really good points in the article, but this one really shows what Dr. Oz is about:
Oz sighed. “Medicine is a very religious experience,” he said. “I have my religion and you have yours. It becomes difficult for us to agree on what we think works, since so much of it is in the eye of the beholder. Data is rarely clean.” All facts come with a point of view. But his spin on it—that one can simply choose those which make sense, rather than data that happen to be true—was chilling. “You find the arguments that support your data,” he said, “and it’s my fact versus your fact.”
His facts are driven by his popularity and how well his show is doing, not by objectiveness. That's why I would never trust neither them, nor him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Year Resolutions

Yes, the New Year resolutions never really get done, or at least most of them don't, but it's still good to place some goals in front of ourselves to strive for better, more peaceful and reasonable world.

So, in the World that did not end in 2012, what's out there for me in this coming New Year 2013:
- keep the ridicule and doubt high, in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson:
“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them"
"Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong."
- follow one of the best advices I have ever heard, the one from Christopher Hitchens:
“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
- finally, as Hippocrates said:
"There are, in fact, two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance"
All of the above can help us in making this "unreality"-based world, a better, more humane place to live.