Anti-Science

New Video! Dr. Oz to Testify Before Congress on Weight Loss Scams

Just a reminder to my Patreon pals: one hour from now, at 6pm ET on Saturday, I’ll be chatting live with Carrie Poppy about psychics and frauds and vegans and puppies, and you can join in! All $1+ patrons can watch and join the chat.

On to the video!

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Let Claire McCaskill know what Dr. Oz has been up to

Slate article on Dr. Oz

Orac on Dr. Oz

Even more from Orac

Previous video on Theresa Caputo

Close-enough transcript:

Claire McCaskill is the US Senator who chairs the Consumer protection panel. She’s calling a hearing for next Tuesday to discuss deceptive advertising of weight-loss products and figure out how to best protect consumers, and she’s asked Dr Oz to offer testimony.

This is basically akin to having a hearing on the dangers of prop comedy and asking Carrot Top to offer testimony. The witness may be very helpful, but possibly not in the way that he thinks.

McCaskill knows that Dr. Oz previously promoted the green coffee bean diet fad, and weeks later the Pure Green Coffee company began selling the extract for exorbitant rates and using bogus claims. They’re now being sued by the FTC.

Knowing that, I can’t imagine Dr. Oz is there to discuss ways that he can continue to offer misguided, anti-scientific advice but still stop companies from taking advantage of his seal of approval to make a fast buck.

So I’m optimistic that McCaskill will have some harsh words for Oz, but just in case, there’s a very helpful comment box on her website where you can tell her your concerns. The link is down below, and I suggest you click on it and give her some more ammo.

For instance, you could let her know that Dr. Oz and other TV personalities like him use their platform and their supposed medical expertise to promote psychic mediums, like the charlatan Theresa Caputo who claimed that she could help people with severe anxiety. Dr. Oz promoted the fake medium John Edward in a segment called “Are Psychics the New Therapists?”

He’s also promoted Yogi Cameron, a man who touted the unproven benefits of purges and enemas, and the faith healer Dr. Issam Nemeh, who described using prayer to treat a woman with a mass on her lung.

McCaskill’s session is focused on weight loss, and there are plenty of instances of him selling his audience pure drivel, as you can read about in Slate’s excellent article from earlier this year. But I hope that she knows that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and that if you really want to protect consumers from pseudoscientific scams being passed off as confirmed medical science, you’re going to have to take a much broader look at what Oz and his ilk are doing and figure out a way to shut him down completely.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. 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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5 Comments

  1. But Penn & Teller endorse Dr. Oz!! And they are Important Skeptical Leaders who shall not be criticized – ever. In fact, Dr. David Gorski, of Science Based Medicine wrote a post critical of P & T’s appearance on Dr. Oz last year: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/open-letter-to-penn-teller/. For his insubordination, Penn threw Dr. Gorski out of Penn Jillette’s Private Rock & Roll Bacon & Donut Party. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/do-clinical-trials-work-it-depends-on-what-you-mean-by-work/ The private event was held during, and to raise money for, the JREF’s TAM 2013. Quoting Dr. Gorski: “But it was the audience response that got to me:
    Loud cheers, applause and hoots of approval over the ejection of a fellow conference attendee over an internet post Penn did not read after a day where a recurrent theme was the importance of facts and understanding of those facts. Irony central.”

    1. There was an episode of Bullshit in which, IIRC, P&T were criticizing the Americans with Disabilities Act, and specifically the requirements to make public accommodations accessible to people with physical disabilities. They found a guy (yes, one guy) with some serious physical disabilities who doesn’t appreciate accessibility modifications, because he doesn’t mind asking bystanders to help him open doors and such.

      The level of crap logic there is astounding. ONE GUY speaks for the =entirety= of the disabled population of the US? What he needs/doesn’t need is what everyone in the country needs/doesn’t need? For real? I found myself asking, at a minimum, what this dude does when there is nobody around to help him open doors. I’ve been in a position, recently, of having trouble opening a door by myself because I was carrying a huge box that impaired my ability to use my arms and which I could not set down. There was nobody on my side of the door to ask for help, and the people inside the building couldn’t be bothered to come assist by just seeing me out there fumbling with the door. I would have really appreciated one of those automatic door buttons.

      I am positive that physically disabled people run into this problem =all the time= but P&T found this one dude who always manages to find an able helper, so that means that no disabled person in the history of ever has had a problem with this. I just could not believe the total lack of reasoning coming out of a supposedly skeptical source.

      Since then I have heard many things like what you relate here. P&T are not skeptics, they are ideologues who wear skeptical trappings.

    2. Yeah, I read Gorski’s post on that. I wish I could say I was surprised but Penn revealed himself to be an ass ages ago. It took me awhile to really accept though, because of how much I looked up to P&T from the time I was a kid who loved juggling and magic.

  2. One thing I wonder, though, is if McCaskill thinks that Dr. Oz himself was fooled by the people selling that bean diet? So, is she going to be asking him questions like, “How did they fool you into promoting their product?” I certainly hope I’m wrong here.

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