Dr. Oz in the Hot Seat
|June 17, 2014||Posted by Jim Preston under Science and Medicine|
On Tuesday, June 17, Dr. Mehmet Oz appeared at a hearing before the Senate’s consumer protection panel. For anyone living in a cave, Dr. Oz has a very successful daytime TV show on which he advocates and promotes all sorts of pseudoscience, alternative medicine, and woo.
The hearing, chaired by Senator Claire McCaskill (Democrat, Missouri), was focused on bogus diet product ads. Apparently, Dr. Oz had gone there seeking help to fight internet marketers who use his likeness without his permission to sell weight loss products. Instead, the Senators grilled him about his own claims and endorsements, suggesting that he might be part of the problem.
On an April 2012 show, Dr. Oz touted the weight loss benefits of green coffee bean extract, using phrases like “scientists [are] saying they’ve found a magic weight loss cure” and calling it a “miracle pill”. Is it any wonder that the marketers of such products would use Dr. Oz’s own words, even clips from his show?
Senator McCaskill said to Oz, “I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true. So why, when you have this amazing megaphone, why would you cheapen your show by saying things like that?”
She went on to say, “While I understand that your message is occasionally focused on basics like healthy eating and exercise, I am concerned that you are melding medical advice, news, and entertainment in a way that harms consumers.”
Way to go, Senator.
Oz’s defense? He has to be “passionate” in order to engage his audience. He needs to use “flowery” language “to generate enthusiasm and engage the viewer.” In an apparent turnaround, he concluded that it “ended up not being helpful but incendiary.”
But then, he also said that he personally believes in the things he talks about in his show, and even has his family try them. He “passionately studies them.”
Senator McCaskill said, “The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of a few products that you have called miracles. I just don’t understand why you need to go there … You are being made an example of today because of the power you have in this space.”
And finally, referring back to Oz’s actual reason for being there, she said, “I know that you feel that you’re a victim, but sometimes conduct invites being a victim.”
Three cheers for Senator McCaskill.
Here are some links to coverage of this story:
And, if you would like to tell Senator McCaskill that you appreciate what she did, you can contact her here. I have already expressed my thanks to her.