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SKEPTOID BLOG:

Dr. Oz's Testimony Will Have No Impact On His Success

by Alison Hudson

June 23, 2014

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Donate Skeptics relished a little schadenfreude last week as Dr. Mehmet Oz, the current reigning king of daytime television woo in the United States, was forced to admit under oath that the cures he promotes are less than scientific. A touch of glee is all they can expect, however, because the chances are that nothing Oz said that day will affect how he conducts his media empire going forward

The comments came during his testimony as a witness during a Commerce Department hearing called "Protecting Consumers from False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products." Oz was actually called as a witness against deceptive diet and advertising practices, and painted himself as a victim of unscrupulous fly-by-night marketers. However, Oz himself was grilled by the panel concerning the claims he makes on his show. Among the interesting things Oz said during his testimony were the following:

"I'm not going to argue that [green coffee bean extract, an example of the kinds of cures he promotes] would pass FDA muster if it was a pharmaceutical drug seeking approval."

"As a practitioner, I can't prove that prayer helps people survive."

"I actually do personally believe in the items that I talk about on the show—I passionately study them—but I recognize that oftentimes they don't have the scientific muster to present as fact. "

"My job I feel on the show is to be a cheerleader for the audience. When they don't think they have hope, when they don't think they can make it happen, I want to look—and I do look—everywhere, including at alternate healing traditions, for any evidence that might be supportive to them."

"When I feel as a host of a show that I can't use words that are flowery, that are exclamatory, I feel like I've been disenfranchised, like my power has been taken away."

So, yes, Dr. Oz got called before Congress and was forced to eat a little crow. But if anyone thinks that this will change a thing about Oz's success or influence on the droves of daytime television viewers who rely on him for "medical advice," they are mistaken. These kinds of scam purveyors get smacked down all the time, but their followers persist in supporting them.

Just recently Kevin Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years in jail for peddling pseudoscientific claptrap. He spent two decades fighting all sorts of legal actions against him for promoting false and ineffective cures for cancer, all the while sidestepping or just plain ignoring the rules and policies in place for marketing health products. Yet look at any recent articles on Trudeau's sentencing and you will see comments like this:

"Thank you so much Kevin your book natural cures has been invaluable to me, and brought me so much good health."

"Big pharma owns the judicial system. Go against them and they will ruin you. I've used apple cider vinegar for my acid reflux for more than 10 years now and I have not had an episode. This is due to Kevin's book, 'Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About'. I support Kevin."

"This is ridiculous of a sentence. What about the fast print you can't read....has not been evaluated by the FDA label...oh wait lack of a label. Even public health professionals know it's a joke. Anyone remember a thing called ' Andro?' It was sold next to ensures and protein bars not just in health stores, but CVS. Now it's a banned steroid."

And of course there's Andrew Wakefield, who shall forever wear the shame of sparking the antivaccination movement. Wakefield is known to have falsified and delivered data in bad faith and with a conflict of interest. In 2010 he was barred from practicing medicine in his home country. Yet even as he was being struck from the medical register in England and his fraudulent paper was being rescinded by the journal that published it, his supporters put out stunning statements like this one:

"It is our most sincere belief that Dr. Wakefield and parents of children with autism around the world are being subjected to a remarkable media campaign engineered by vaccine manufacturers reporting on the retraction of a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues.

[...]

The retraction from The Lancet was a response to a ruling from England's General Medical Council, a kangaroo court where public health officials in the pocket of vaccine makers served as judge and jury. Dr. Wakefield strenuously denies all the findings of the GMC and plans a vigorous appeal."

Compared to those, Oz's minor admittance in front of a Congressional subcommittee is small potatoes to his adherents. The fact is, followers of alternative medicine gurus are in their own way conspiracy theorists. The kind of person who is willing to go out there and sprinkle green coffee extract on their acai berries because Dr. Oz told them to is the kind of person who doesn't trust science in the first place, and certainly not the Big Pharma type of science that buys approval for cancer-causing "cures" from the government-corrupted FDA. They embrace the Naturalistic Fallacy, revel in the Appeal to Ancient Wisdom, and wield the Shill Gambit like a rapier.

Yes, Dr. Oz had a bad moment last week. Will it change the was he uses language on his show? Perhaps slightly; I'm sure he'll lighten up on the use of the word "miracle" in the future. Not to worry, true believers! There's a whole thesaurus of alternative words he can use for the next bit of BS to make it onto his show. Maybe...

"This product is a marvel!"

"These berries are truly a phenomenon!"

"This machine is a revelation in personal wellness!"

"Cleansing your body this way is a true sensation!"

Ah, the miracles of the English language, eh?

by Alison Hudson

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