Skepticism

Quack Accuses Dr. Oz of Ripping Him Off

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Transcript:

If you know me at all, you know I like Dr. Oz about as much as I like Oprah, the woman who metaphorically gave birth to him — that is to say, not at all. I loved it when he had to testify in front of Congress about the quack cures he’s peddled and he got completely annihilated by Claire McCaskill.

So I was really pleased when I saw a video on YouTube claiming that Oz had plagiarized content from a doctor for use on his show. In the video, Dr. Eric Berg reveals that he had been booked on Dr. Oz’s show to talk about “body types,” for which he did a ton of research before the show canceled on him. Months later, he saw an episode in which Oz had another doctor on to talk about body types using Berg’s script.

I watched Berg’s video and found that he had a somewhat compelling case for being ripped off. The problem is that they’re talking about the “body types” that we’ve been hearing about in magazines for several decades: apples are fat in the middle, and pears are fat in the lower body and smaller in the upper body. So it’s kind of hard to say whether Dr. Jeffrey Morrison is ripping off Dr. Berg or whether they’re both ripping off a 10-question quiz they found in the back of the September 1994 issue of Woman’s World. “Do you tend to store all your fat in your head? You’re a lollipop!”

The “body type” conversation is never just about the shape of your body, of course. No one would have come up with it unless there was a way to market something to women based on it, so enterprising quacks came up with the idea of making women buy books and meal plans based on their body type. Like, if you’re an apple don’t you dare eat apples because you’ll only get fatter, or something like that. Morrison and Berg dress it up even more by saying that the different body shapes are influenced by hormones, and that you can eat certain foods to poop out the hormones that are making you fat. I’m not making this up. And amazingly, the two doctors disagree over what foods you should eat to poop out said hormones.

All this made me really wonder about Berg and what kind of doctor he is. It turns out, he’s a chiropractor! If you don’t know anything about them, you may be confused as to why a chiropractor is dealing with something other than spines. Well, it’s because some chiropractors only deal with spinal issues, but way too many others think that they can cure literally any disease by adjusting your spine, and sometimes by twisting it to the point that they kill you via blood clots.

Not only is Berg a chiropractor, but he’s been disciplined in the past. In 2007 he was fined $1,500 and ordered to stop promoting several bullshit weight loss and muscle-response tests that tricked patients into believing they needed to buy his herbal supplements.

I also found a blogpost from a former patient of Berg’s, who said she was cajoled into giving him over $1,400 for several weight loss “treatments” that she never actually attended and only got a partial refund on. She says that the usual course is $3,000 for 12 treatment sessions, which makes me wonder why anyone thought that fining him $1,500 would do anything at all. And by the way, the treatment plan was a low-carb diet and a few minutes in a massage chair. As a reminder, the only actual way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn, which is not just free but actually costs less than you’re spending now since you’re eating less food. Trust me, I did it once and I could have bought a new wardrobe just from the money I saved by not drinking alcohol for a month.

So yeah, maybe Dr. Oz ripped someone off, but if he did, at least this time he ripped off a fellow quack. And for that we can all be thankful.

Rebecca Watson

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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1 Comment

  1. July 20, 2017 at 1:05 am —

    “what kind of doctor he is. It turns out, he’s a chiropractor!”

    Are they ‘actually’ even doctors? Pretty sure they are *still* today only given their license to practice through their own association. The AMA doesn’t consider them “doctors”, they instead put them in the same category as any other “remedy” that isn’t covered by the AMA’s official licensing – in 1965 they called sending someone to one of these people unethical, and the practice nonsense. What changed was in 1978 when they decided a doctor could refer people to them, and in 1980, when they completely threw out all standards on ethics on this matter and declared that, “there where no longer and restrictions on associating with ‘unscientific practitioners’.” JAMA still doesn’t recommend it as treatment. However, the AMA did get their ass handed to them in a court case – one in which the actual effectiveness of the practice was never addressed, just the likely effect on the “business” model of Chiropractors, should the AMA keep calling them fraud, and not allow patients to be referred to them. So.. if you are a total quack, just make a lot of money, then claim that, “Actually stopping people from going to you to be defrauded would destroy your business.”, and apparently you can win against sound medical science.

    Knew it was bogus already, but it amused me to see what I could come up with regarding how and why doctors are even allowed to send patients to these clowns. Took about 3 minutes to find not only the above, but two articles in which JAMA made some vague comment on how receiving real treatment, plus this placebo, produced vaguely better results than just real treatment (which is like.. exactly what you expect from quack nonsense and belief), and another claim, by the Chiropractic Association that his article thus claimed that, “The AMA recommended our treatment as a first choice for back pain.” Someone commented on how this was a very creative interpretation (i.e., complete bull pucky). lol

    The net point being, don’t call these people “doctors”. Not unless you mean in the same sense that Doctor Who is a Time Lord (or a medical doctor).

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