Watch Steve Novella on Dr. Oz!

Steve’s breakdown and response is here on Science-based Medicine. See the full segment in three parts on the Dr. Oz site:

Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Pt 1.

Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Pt 2.

Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Pt 3.

Dr. Oz’s show recently came under fire for editing a psychologist to look as though she agrees with “psychic medium” John Edward, so I for one was quite worried about how Steve would be portrayed. Steve is pretty happy with the editing on his segment, though. So, is it worth it for skeptics to trust the purveyors of quackery when we have the opportunity to get the message out there? How do you think Steve did?

Despite my reservations, I’m really proud of how well Steve came across. He was knowledgeable without being condescending, and very well-spoken. Go Steve!

Edited note: a few people have kindly sent me links to the clips on YouTube and elsewhere. Thanks, but since it’s available on the official website I’d much prefer for people to use that and send the show a message that skeptics are in the audience.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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  1. April 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm —

    The thing that impressed me most about Steve’s appearance on the show was the way he stated everything so clearly and directly and still managed to come across as so nice and diplomatic. If ever there was a time when a Skeptic took the “don’t be a dick” line to heart in the right place and time, this was it. If it were me, I’d have been much less nice. Of course Oz still controlled the debate and just refuted everything Steve said by going “you’re wrong!” without any clear explanation or allowing rebuttal, but Steve did wonderfully as far as he was allowed to.

    • April 27, 2011 at 1:28 pm —

      I agree, I doubt I’d have been able to be so kind. There’s also a skill in conveying your message succinctly so that you don’t get edited to shit.

    • April 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm —

      More than anyone else out there, I think Steve is the perfect spokesman for our message. I suspect his experience with patients and students is how he has honed his ability to communicate complex knowledge so clearly. It just seems to come naturally to him. I compared his communication skills to Sagan’s a few years ago, and I didn’t do that lightly.

      On top of being a medical doctor and a family man, he’s also extremely well read, culturally literate, passionate about the movement, and naturally fair minded. I think we should remember these things and fight to give him a platform whenever we can. I love many other prominent members of our movement, but Steve should be out front and center whenever we have the chance to speak to a wider audience.

      Steve should be the public face of skepticism.

      • April 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm —

        I agree! All we need to do now is get him to lose the tie and undo his top button. He looked a bit like a lawyer.

  2. April 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm —

    the links on the Dr. Oz site do not have the whole segment with Steve, if you want to see the whole thing, I have it on my Youtube channel –

  3. April 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm —

    I agree; he did such a good job while ‘in the lion’s den’ and managed to get some very critical points across while not seeming defensive or mean. I am so very impressed with him, as always.

  4. April 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm —

    I was pleased by how well Steve did given how loaded the circumstances were. The way Dr. Oz framed every issue was “How come doctors can’t get on board with alternative medicine when it’s so popular and we all know it works? Don’t worry, audience, I’m on your side.”

  5. April 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm —

    Steve did great! Especially considering how Oz got the last word every time.

    “So, is it worth it for skeptics to trust the purveyors of quackery when we have the opportunity to get the message out there?”

    In this case the answer is a definite yes. Unfortunately with our stance on alternative medicine we are in the minority. Thus we can take a page out of the creationist book of any publicity is good publicity when you can gain a forum much larger than your own. dr Oz has the biggest soapbox out there, so climbing onto it is a definite win. It also helps that when we do get a venue to speak, we have evidence to back us up.

    No matter how well Steve did, I wish we had a Hitchens of the medical field… Basically Steve with a bit more scotch, a bit more vitriol and a little bit more of that pit bull determination.
    Would love to see Oz be verbally eviscerated & Steve has the knowledge to do it, I’m just not sure if he has the killer instinct.

  6. April 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm —

    For a TV spot, not bad. However, it’s still not enough. When Steve makes an excellent Skeptical point, Dr. Oz lays out a fallacy at the end of each of the three segments and it appears to me there is a very very careful edit to move onto the next segment. Instead of statement-response, statement-response it’s statement-response-opinion and it gives Oz way too much power on his own show, which is why day time dramas are a bad place to debate science and skepticism. But Bravo to Steve for meeting “the enemy” on their turf, taking the fight to them, and trading shots.

    This may be all that they published, but I wonder how much Steve debated the subject further. I hope to hear more from Steve on the SGU this week and hope he can expand on it further. I’d love to hear what his responses to all of Oz’s statements and have him expand more on what he might have said had he been allowed to continue or what he did say that’s on the editing room floor.

  7. April 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm —

    My favorite part:

    Steve: The NIH has done an ass ton of research and spent billions of dollars studying this.

    Oz: Steve claims there’s no good research. Is there research?

    Natural Med lady: OMG There’s tons of evidence! Check out my website!

    • April 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm —

      That was priceless… when scripted responses go wrong. The best thing about the segment was how dr Oz came off looking more anti science than usual.

      His “Final word” was just as bad as you would expect to hear from the worst practitioners of alt med.

  8. April 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm —

    Steve did a great job, especially in the circumstances.

    But I found Dr. Oz repeatedly saying things to him, such as “think about it!”, condescending in the extreme.

  9. April 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm —

    Stopped trying to watch it after the third consecutive repeat of the ad for Allegra, without actually showing anything of the show.

    • April 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm —

      That’s a pharmaceutical I believe!
      They don’t seem to be above taking Big Pharma’s money.

  10. April 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm —

    I found myself playing the ‘name that logical fallacy’. I agree Dr. Novella did a great job. When he spoke he would clear the air on how he ‘feels’ on the subject then pursued the proven science. BRAVO!

    • April 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm —

      I did the same thing! Although, I’ll admit I’m not very good at the game. I knew that they were there, but I wasn’t ably to properly identify them.

      • April 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm —

        I know what a fun game to play! :) I learned about the different logical fallacies the nerdy way, by reading about them on the SGU, Skeptics Guide to the Universe, site under the ‘resources’ button.

        • April 29, 2011 at 2:01 am —

          Can we make this a drinking ghaammeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?? ohnooooooooooooo to toot ootoot tooo 22222 late. Ive forgetten how to speell and tipe.

          • April 29, 2011 at 10:58 pm

            Excellent… :) I don’t think I have participated in a drinking game in like ten years. Pass the Smirinoff!

  11. April 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm —

    Mark you may need to use Scooter’s utube link to watch, I did.

  12. April 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm —

    I listened to most of it, then got too annoyed with Dr. Oz.

    Steve did a great job. Though I well admit that the first time I saw this segment, with the sound off, it seemed like Steve was nervous, and nodding a lot. It’s better with the sound.

    Now to see if the unsinkable rubber duck effect can work in our favor.

    • April 28, 2011 at 12:27 am —

      His body language certainly seems less cocky than Oz. Being that they were trying to shoehorn Steve into the “arrogant doctor” stereotype, Steve seeming a little nervous might actually work in our favor.

  13. April 28, 2011 at 2:15 am —

    OK, I need to know… So Steve is a practicing neurologist, has a family, maintains a blog while contributing to numerous others, hosts and produces a weekly podcast, and is a media spokesperson for the skeptic community (including developing a Teaching Company course). Also he is probably the most well-informed, thoughtful, and intelligent person I know (of), while managing to not be a completely arrogant dick about it, by which I of course mean that he comes across as respectful and unassuming. And that is leaving out roughly a gazillion other virtues and accomplishments I know nothing whatsoever about. This guy is so impressive, but I need to know… When does he find the time to sleep???

    • April 28, 2011 at 9:54 am —

      He has an enchanted portrait in his attic that is always asleep.

      • April 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm —

        One possibility. Another I had considered is that he has a posse of cloned replicas who do all the impressive stuff, while the authentic Steve sits on the couch watching TV and smoking pot. He’s only in his mid-forties!! Way to make us all feel underachievers, Steve, you tireless freak.

  14. April 28, 2011 at 9:11 am —

    Wow, the temptation to jump up and scream logical fallacy every five seconds of that show must have been insane.

    I think you have to remember that, however much Dr Oz controlled the show and didn’t allow counter points etc etc, this would probably be one of the first time viewers of such a show got a skeptical view, and that is wonderful. I hope some of them make it over to Steve’s blog.

  15. April 28, 2011 at 11:12 am —

    I really felt good about Steve Novella’s appearance on the Dr. Oz show. But what I’m wondering now is, what has Oprah been up to lately? Since she ended her talk show and got her own channel, how popular and influential is she? Is she still promoting dangerous nonsense and cranks like John of God?

  16. April 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm —

    I’m was very impressed by Steve’s performance on the show. I think he came across as intelligent, without seeming arrogant and was as informative as he possibly could be under the circumstances. I was also impressed at how calm he was knowing that he was in a situation where the editors would probably use his words against him if they could find a way to do so. I was relieved that the editing process didn’t destroy his message and I attribute a lot of that good fortune to Dr. Novella’s careful choice of words. My hat goes off to you, Steve. Well done.

  17. April 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm —

    I was also very impressed. Steve did a far better job than I thought the format would allow him to.

    This was the first time I had ever seen Dr. Oz in any fashion and I was appalled at how he portrayed himself. He may have been a doctor once, but given that his full time job is now hosting a television show I thought it was very disingenuous for him to keep talking about “his patients”.


  18. May 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm —

    Steve did great, but wow does Oz love to hear himself talk or what?

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