The Magic Art of the Great Humbug

I know I’m not the only one who’s noticed that Dr. Oz more or less shares a name with one of the biggest charlatans in popular fiction. Of course, Oscar Diggs later went on to learn actual magic. I can’t say I’ve ever actually watched Mehmet Oz’s show, except when I’ve been in a waiting room and basically had no choice. I remember Beth telling me years ago that, when he was on Oprah, a bunch of women were asking him questions about their poop. Well, that’s one way to discuss your scatological fetish on daytime television. From what I’ve read, though, the guy has promoted homeopathy, Reiki (which is basically healing people by putting your hands near them but not actually touching them), psychics, and crazy weight loss supplements.

To be fair, he didn’t actually name-check some of the products associated with him, but his fondness for snake oil has led to increased sales of many of them. And his wife is into all kinds of so-called natural cures. The drink that was supposed to give the Cowardly Lion courage isn’t too far off from the stuff he advertises.

Apparently Oz has recently claimed his program is “not a medical show.” Which is fine as far as it goes, but do you really think the people who watch him and take him seriously don’t believe it’s authentic medical advice? It’s sort of like Fox News, in that it certainly has the right to exist, but people who take it seriously can really muck up serious discussions on related topics. And why does everyone nowadays have to say they intend their idiotic statements to “start a conversation”? A conversation with whom?

Another thing that’s kind of annoying about this is how, when anyone calls out a snake oil salesperson, their response is typically that their opponents are in the pockets of Big Pharma or Monsanto. And no, I don’t trust the corporate lobbies either. People will typically compromise their integrity for money, and that includes doctors.

I think a significant difference is that at least there’s SOME oversight for the medical establishment. It’s not perfect, and a fair amount of medical practice just seems to be prescribing whatever is currently being promoted and seeing if it works, but for “alternative” medicine there’s really no authorized process of testing and double-checking at all. Its practitioners are just as eager to make money, though. If magic is real, why sell it through infomercials instead of demonstrating it in a controlled environment (which, by the way, would probably also result in a generous government grant)? Not to mention that some of the alternative therapies don’t even come close to making sense. Isn’t a major part of homeopathy that things are more powerful in tiny doses? How would that possibly work?

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1 Response to The Magic Art of the Great Humbug

  1. Pingback: The Ninety-Eight Words We Don’t Say | VoVatia

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