The Oprah-fication of medicine
...Unfortunately, in marked contrast, Oprah has about as close to no critical thinking skills when it comes to science and medicine as I’ve ever seen, and she uses the vast power and influence her TV show and media empire give her in order to subject the world to her special brand of mystical New Age thinking and belief in various forms of what can only be characterized as dubious medical therapies at best and quackery at worst. Arguably there is no single person in the world with more influence pushing woo than Oprah. Indeed, she puts Prince Charles to shame, and Kevin Trudeau is a mere ant compared to the juggernaught that is Oprah Winfrey’s media empire. No one even comes close. No one, and I mean no one, brings pseudoscience, quackery, and antivaccine madness to more people than Oprah Winfrey does every week. (She doesn’t discuss such topics every day, but it seems that at least once a week she does.) Naturally, Oprah doesn’t see it that way and likely no one could ever convince her of the malign effect she has on the national zeitgeist with respect to science and medicine, but that’s exactly what she does. Consequently, whether fair or unfair, she represents the perfect face to put on the problem that we supporters of science-based medicine face when trying to get the message out to the average reader about unscientific medical practices, and that’s why I am referring to the pervasiveness of pseudoscience infiltrating medicine as the “Oprah-fication” of medicine.
In the real world, unfortunately, my answer would be this: Oprah doesn’t care about science or accuracy. Rather, she cares about three things: ratings, “empowerment,” and entertainment. If it gets ratings, it interests her. If it fits into her apparent “spiritual” world view (like The Secret does), it’s all good to her. If it fits in with the “alternative” medical beliefs of her audience (as Jenny McCarthy, Mehmet Oz, and Christiane Northrup do), she likes it. If it provides a message of “empowerment” (whether real or not), it is good. Those scientists and nasty skeptics are such downers, too. They harsh the happy buzz of all that “positivity” and overcoming adversity to provide “inspirational” stories. None of this is new, either. After all, remember that Oprah sandbagged James Randi when he was the skeptic on a show about psychics. She was also extremely sarcastic and abusive to a woman named Laura McMahon who had agreed in 2007 to be the token skeptic on another episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show about psychics.
The bottom line is that, whatever good Oprah may have done with her money, when it comes to medicine and science, she is a force for ill. Her intentions may be the best in the world, but that is only why she is the living embodiment of the cliche that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That’s especially true when that same road is also paved with no mental filter of critical thinking to keep out nonsense, and Oprah clearly has no mental filter when it comes to pseudoscience and quackery. With great power comes great responsibility, indeed. Too bad Oprah doesn’t seem to understand or accept that. The result is the Oprah-fication of the popular discourse about medicine in the media, as epitomized by the “tell both sides” imbalance seen on shows like The Doctors. Indeed, Oprah is one of the most potent forces in American for the undermining of critical thinking and science-based medicine in existence....
Oprah: The Queen of Snake-Oil
Alex Massie 1st June 2009
Michael Kinsley has a very entertaining take-down of the "new" Newsweek in this week's edition of the New Republic*. However, I doubt the "old" Newsweek would have dared publish this very entertaining, even brutal, takedown of Oprah Winfrey. In fact, it's the sort of piece one might imagine appearing in TNR. So, whatever the merits of Kinsley's piece and whatever the future may - or more probably does not - hold for Newsweek, anything that exposes Oprah's weird combination of sappy new age snake-oil and shameless hucksterism is no bad thing.
If nothing else, it's worth being reminded that Oprah peddles the anti-MMR nonsense that, if its supporters have their way, is much more likely to harm many more children than would be affected even if their crackpottery were based on a sound evaluation of the risks of immunisation. Which, as best I can tell, it isn't.
Is Oprah Killing Us?
Oprah's Not a Doctor, But She Plays One on TV
By Pareene, 5:36 PM on Mon Jun 1 2009,
She is very powerful, and so she will probably destroy Newsweek for reporting this, but: Oprah's popular show, when it is not about giving you free things, is about promoting stupid and often dangerous quackery and pseudoscience.
Often, yes, it is about heartwarming stories of one woman's triumph over adversity, but sometimes that "adversity" is a medical condition and the "triumph" involves disproved, insane, and potentially harmful treatments. Like when Oprah had the thyroid problem, and her spiritual holistic OB-GYN recommended soy milk and iodine, both of which will just make it worse, if you for real have a thyroid problem, and aren't just fat and sad.
What causes thyroid conditions, again? Oh, right, nonsense.
Thyroid dysfunction, which affects millions of Americans (mostly women), occurs when the thyroid gland located in the neck produces too much or too little thyroid hormone. Too much (hyperthyroidism) and the metabolism races, sometimes causing anxiety and weight loss. Too little (hypothyroidism) and it slows, which, if severe, can lead to depression and weight gain. Many things can trigger the disease, especially autoimmune disorders.
But Northrup believes thyroid problems can also be the result of something else. As she explains in her book, "in many women, thyroid dysfunction develops because of an energy blockage in the throat region, the result of a lifetime of 'swallowing' words one is aching to say."
This lengthy article is actually far too kind (and brief) to baby-killing nut Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine crusade, and yet it still manages to be a very damning indictment of how Oprah is trying to kill your poor mother. "At some point, it would seem, people will stop looking to Oprah for this kind of guidance. This will never happen."
Read More: Quacks, Oprah, Oprah Winfrey, Medicine, Newsweek, Vaccines, Jenny Mccarthy, Health
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/03/2009 04:40PM by The Anticult.