|Tom always asked for Oprah's medical advice when he needed a laugh...|
Let me wipe the froth from my mouth and try to elaborate on those three points lest I choke on my own vitriol. It is well established that the medical content of Oprah's show is at best ludicrous and silly and at worst positively negligent. The fact that the medical advice given by Oprah is absolute mindless new-age dross is well known and I won't rehash it too much. That it is often frankly dangerous is also well known There was an excellent article in Newsweek about it in 2009 (Available here) and an equally fantastic entry about it over at Science based medicine. I could re-list all the shockingly stupid and dangerous ideas that have been brought to the mainstream by Oprah, who seems to think that gushing anecdotes trumps critical thinking and actual reasoning / investigation but I'll move on to the second point.
Fans of Oprah may argue that these are not 'her' views, but rather the views of her invited guests. But that argument is crippled by a few facts; for starters, Oprah herself frequently endorses the view point of her guest, defending them from criticism on the show. She also champions these daft beliefs - for example, when she had actress and self-help guru (I use that term in the 'shameless charlatan' sense) Suzanne Somers hawking her 'bio-identical hormones', Oprah lavished praise on her and started using the medically unsound procedure herself, before lashing out at the medical establishment with "We have the right to demand a better quality of life for ourselves, ..and that's what doctors have got to learn to start respecting." Consider the biscuit well and truly taken by that sense defying stand against... well.. it's not actually very clear. Think Shakespeare's 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing...' and you're on the right track*. Oprah has had numerous snake oil salesmen and women on her show virtually uncontested - but to cite one example with tragic consequences, Oprah has also given a repeated pulpit to Jenny McCarthy. McCarthy, a playboy bunny, who just so happens to believe her son is autistic (actually, in 2010, McCarthy released a statement claiming her son no longer had autism or had been cured.. let's just skip over the fact that this isn't possible and concede that Jenny McCarthy's ability to diagnose is a distant, distant, distant second to her ability to look good in various states of undress) AND his autism (or, more accurately, not autism) was caused by vaccination. This is an old, misinformed, thoroughly debunked view - a view that has claimed the lives of children whose parents were more inclined to listen to people like Jenny McCarthy and Oprah rather than the the legions of medical scientists telling them otherwise. For Oprah to give this frankly dangerous scaremongering an airing without even a pretense of challenging was beyond reckless. Worse still, McCarthy now writes for Oprah's magazine / website and propagate this odious, malignant and utterly wrong factoid.
|Jenny McCarthy: Some experience in the field of cosmetic surgery, not so hot on immunology / hotdog garnishing.|
|The latest in medical diagnostic technology. I do not recommend Googling tarot cards and cervix if you've eaten recently.|
This could all be dismissed as rubbish if Oprah hadn't sang it's praises. Oprah said about it "the energy you put into the world -- both good and bad -- is exactly what comes back to you. This means you create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day." I could tell you more about various scientific concepts Oprah has either misunderstood, rubbished, or metaphorically slaughtered and then danced on it's grave singing 'I'm a little teapot' (again, metaphorically - I should hope) but I shan't do that - Instead, I'll complete this point staying with the secret with a sobering example of what happens when you exploit people's credulity and trust. In 2007 Kim Tinkham, deeply inspired by Oprah's love of the secret decided to forgo conventional treatment for her breast cancer and go with Oprah endorsed new age secret-esque crap. This was in the face of doctors pleading with her to get conventional treatment which would have almost certainly saved her life if not her breasts. But Kim Tinkham was a true believer, if it was good enough for Oprah, well why not for her ? She even appeared on Oprah's show, expounding her new treatment with Robert O Young, who claimed cancer was caused by excess acidity. He touted her as 'cured' of cancer, and had her on his website as a testimonial.
Kim Tinkham died of the same breast cancer in December 2010, at the age of 51.
Meanwhile, Oprah continues to expound the virtues of 'the secret' and alternative medicine, and pour doubt and scorn on conventional science and medicine.
It is not my intention to point the finger of blame. But Oprah has a huge viewership. She is revered and respected, and has the clout to bring in any expert on any subject at the click of her fingers. She can change this, she can genuinely educate - she has the right of editorial, the power rests with her. Why then does she continue to chose such insincere, delusion, self promoting quacks ? This is a woman with the power to make a book a best seller with the so called Oprah effect. Even more sobering, Oprah's endorsement of Obama generated over a million votes and may have won him the election. The woman is a king maker, a self proclaimed educator - She in essence has the ear of a sizable portion of the western world.
Is it too much to ask that she gives people the real facts from real experts about the things that really matter ? If she really does care about human life, health and understanding as much as she claims it shouldn't even be a question.
|For best results, take sparingly with a large dose of salt|