The potential for lasting, real injury, for years to come.
The appointment of cardiothoracic surgeon and television host Dr. Mehmet Oz (along with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Lou freaking Ferrigno) to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition is a symptom of one of the things that swept the leader nominating him into office to begin with — a mistrust of authority and the rejection of expertise.
Though some people probably do see Dr. Oz as an authority — he’s not. While he might have given out pretty basic, standard medical advice when he’d guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, since getting his own program, Oz has degenerated into the television equivalent of clickbait, always hawking the next “miracle” cure or weight loss technique, yet never addressing why the PREVIOUS ones are suddenly no good.
As if that weren’t enough, he’s paraded a police lineup of the worst anti-science purveyors around in front of the American public, including anti-vaccine wacko Joe Mercola, “tongue diagnosis” practitioner and ayurvedic yogi, Cameron Alborzian, and Issam Nemeh, a fucking faith healer.
It got so bad that in 2014, Oz was dragged in front of the Senate subcommittee on consumer protection for promoting bogus and dubious claims. “I don’t get why you say this stuff because you know it’s not true,” Senator Claire McCaskill chided him. But who can trust the government, right?
“The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you call miracles,” McCaskill further said. It’s true. In 2015, a group of doctors wrote a scathing letter to Columbia University asking for his ouster from the faculty, stating, “Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine.” Just this year, fact-checking site Health News Reviews determined that nearly 80% of all claims on his show “did not align with evidence-based medical guidelines, society recommendations, or authority statements.”
But Oz continues to hide behind the standard canards, insisting that patients tell him these things work for them. If Oz were honest with himself and true to his profession, he’d understand that’s why we developed science in the first place — to avoid the confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, contextual effects (like placebo), etc. that can fool us.
Instead, he’s an example of the growing desire by many to reject expertise and decide for themselves if something is true or not. If you don’t like the answers that science gives you, make up your own. It’s why we (somehow) get flat-earthers; a perversion of the very important freedom of choice we all enjoy. But some things are true and some aren’t, and we’ve figured out how to tell them apart through centuries of careful, methodical research. It might suck to think you have to listen to someone else, but sometimes “the man” is “the man” for a reason.
Or go ahead and listen to that freedom-fighter Dr. Oz, the hero who cheeses off the establishment and brings us straight reality, unencumbered by special interests. The fact that around half of all the products he promotes are made by the advertisers of his show must be some kind of coincidence, surely.
And yes, this particular council has historically not been very influential, outside of making fifth-graders do pull-ups, but it looks like Oz is determined to change that.
I've been supporting children’s health programs with @HealthCorps and appreciate the need to improve lifestyle opportunities for our youth. Serving on @FitnessGov offers a platform to amplify the best practices shown to work across our school systems. https://t.co/dOgapXQinI
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) May 4, 2018
Spread the word. This is not okay.