Mehmet Oz

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Mehmet Oz, born Mehmet Cengiz Öz, (1960–) is a Turkish-American TV doctor who first became known from his appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show between 2004 and 2009. He went on to host his own syndicated television talk show, The Dr. Oz Show which first aired on September 14, 2009.

Oz is a heavy promoter of so-called complementary alternative medicine, such as rolfing[1] and acupuncture.[2] He's hardly seen a piece of medical woo he didn't like. He has also featured anti-GMO activists on his program.[3]

The general format of the Dr. Oz television show is to invite many people who work in healthcare for the audience, go through some very logical points with real medical background and consensus, having members of the audience participate, then ruin it by trying to peddle some alternative medicine garbage.

In May 2018, it was announced that President Donald Trump was appointing Dr. Oz to his council on sports, fitness and nutrition.[4] Because why stop at voodoo economics when you can throw in voodoo medicine?

In 2021, Oz announced that he is running for US Senator of Pennsylvania as a Republican with Trump's endorsement,[5][6] because what better arena to profit from false claims than politics. Following a tight race with David McCormick, another Trump stooge who Trump did not endorse, Dr. Oz was declared the Republican nominee for PA Senate winning by less than 1,000 votes, and will be facing Lt. Governor John Fetterman in November.[7]

Background[edit]

As a doctor, Oz is actually one of the most accomplished cardiothoracic surgeons of his generation,[8] making his woo-peddling all the more disconcerting. He has advocated doing whatever is necessary to keep a blood pressure no more than 115/75, five points below the normally accepted 120/80, which at least is something that's actually in his area of professional competence.

The Dr. Oz Show[edit]

Like all commercial health TV programming, the purpose of The Dr. Oz Show is at least as much entertainment as medicine. Attempting to fill up nearly 5 hours of programming time each week with legitimate medicine while retaining a captive viewing audience is nearly impossible, particularly for a show that is constantly trumpeting new scientific "breakthroughs" and "miracles", which in real life are nearly non-existent. Hence, Dr. Oz fills his time with all sorts of material from the dubious to the downright fraudulent. In the past he has given time to such quacks as Joseph Mercola. Oz generally stops short of endorsing these charlatans, but the fact that a legitimate doctor gives them a platform at all borders on malfeasance. It also gives these medical frauds the ability to promote themselves with "as seen on The Dr. Oz Show."

Ed Brayton comments that Oz will not lose his medical license due to promoting quackery, because "none of the groups that could do anything about it want to" in spite of possible evidence that Oz violates medical ethics codes.[9]

Mike Adams, founder of Natural News, appeared as a guest on The Dr. Oz Show on May 13th, 2014. In a clip from the show, Oz introduces Adams as “the renegade health ranger,” whose website “gets more than 7 million hits per month.”[10]

Parasites and cleansing[edit]

While it is true that parasites are common in the United States,[11] as Oz has claimed, the parasites that are most common are not the ones that Oz frequently talks about. The most common parasites in the US are:[11]

  • Trypanosoma cruzi — infects 300,000 in the US and causes Chagas disease, spread by an insect known as the "kissing bug"
  • Toxoplasma gondii — infects more than 60 million people, spread to humans cats and perhaps other vectors
  • Trichomoniasis — a sexually transmitted disease
  • Cysticercosis — transmitted from undercooked pork, it has mostly been eliminated from the US food supply and mainly occurs in US in people who have eaten pork in Latin America[12]

Rather than discussing how to prevent these diseases (there's not much money in that anyway), Oz instead concentrates on gastrointestinal parasites, which infect relatively few people in the US but can sound disgusting and scary. (Ewww, giant tapeworms![13] And they're blown up on a 4 meter square screen![14])

Oz regularly proposes detoxification diets and colon cleanses,[14][15][16][17][18] which do nothing for parasites or for one's health.[19]

Delusional infestation (or delusional parasitosis) is a rare mental disorder, where a person has a "fixed, false belief (delusion) that they are infected by 'bugs': parasites, worms, mites, bacteria, fungus, living 'threads', or other living organisms."[20][21] The disorder can be treated with antipsychotic medication,[20] but don't count on Dr. Oz to tell his viewers this — it would spoil the giant videos of parasites that he shows while he scares people.[14]

Other stuff pushed on his show[edit]

In 2010, he said some things that implied that he — or at least his wife — is anti-vaccination.[22][23]

A 2012 episode warned viewers of hidden food allergies, claiming they could take weeks to strike.

A 2014 episode decried the proliferation of genetically modified food, claiming that a lot of our crops have been modified to be pesticide resistant.

2022 U.S. Senate candidacy[edit]

In November 2021, Oz announced he would run in the 2022 U.S. Senate race in the swing state of Pennsylvania as a Republican. This is despite his primary state of residence being in New Jersey (the address he has listed in his official paperwork is that of his in-laws).[24] In his campaign announcement he blasted the U.S. government's COVID-19 response in a stereotypical conspiratorial Republican way:

Over 750,000 in the United States have died from the virus, a devastating toll for families and communities. Many of those deaths were preventable. COVID-19 became an excuse for the government and elite thinkers who controlled the means of communication to suspend debate. Dissenting opinions from leading scholars were ridiculed and canceled so their ideas could not be disseminated. Instead, the government mandated policies that caused unnecessary suffering. The public was patronized and misled instead of empowered."

This is in addition in an interview on Hannity where he supported generic Republican positions.[26][27] Of course, even with this shift to Republican ideals, Dr. Oz was still seen as a rather joke candidate, with Republicans calling him a Hollywood Liberal trying to pass as a Republican (ignoring the fact that their last President was a Hollywood guy).

Until Donald Trump endorsed him that is.

Following Trump's endorsement, Oz skyrocketed in popularity among PA Republicans, making Oz one of the top three candidates, alongside hedge fund CEO and Trump administration figure David McCormick and right-wing commentator and hardcore Islamophobic woman who marched with the Proud Boys on January 6th Kathy Barnette. Even with Trump's endorsement though, many PA Republicans were skeptical about Dr. Oz given his past, and were not ready to accept him as a true Trump Republican, even going so bar as to boo him after Trump introduced him on stage at one of his rallies.[28] This is also on top of his dual citizenship with Turkey, participation in their "election" in 2018, and refusal to give up said dual citizenship that has many PA residents worried whether for racist reasons or for concerns about Turkey using Oz to manipulate American politics to its advantage in the Senate.[29] The resulting vote was close, with Dr. Oz leading the pack by less than a thousand votes ahead of McCormick (who demanded a recount), but he did have the backing of the PA GOP and Donald Trump, which hampered McCormick's recount demands. On June 3rd, McCormick conceded (before the recount ended by the way), making Oz the nominee.[30]

Just after Oz started his campaign, he made a gaffe, as if his first impressions haven't been ruined enough: "Here's my pledge, my promise to everybody: I want to be your public servant, and every choice I make will be serving the citizens of Pennsylvania and the United States, and none of them will serve the special interests of Washington, many of whom I've been in be— into war with for most of my career."[31] Has Oz been cheating on his wife?

Now, Oz started off the campaign for Senate in a very advantageous position. Republicans were slated to win heavily in November 2022 due to the unpopularity of the Biden administration, and dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party responses to various situations like inflation and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. All Oz had to do was basically not screw up and he could glide into the Senate off the back of a loyal Republican voting base whom would vote for him even if they hated him (cause the worst Republican is better than the best Democrat to these people) and apathy and lack of motivation from Democratic voters when the Democrats picked a lackluster moderate candidate who would fail to secure votes, just like what happened in 2016 when Pat Toomey to win re-election. However, there was one problem with this plan, he wasn't facing any normal moderate Democrat, he was facing John Fetterman, former mayor of Braddock, Lt. Governor of PA and someone who won the Democratic nomination in a blowout.[32] Fetterman wasn't a normal Democratic politician, he had been mayor of a rust-belt town near Pittsburgh and was a major supporter of blue-collar workers that he felt the Democrats had abandoned, allowing them to crawl into the arms of the GOP. He also was one of the only major PA Democrats to back Bernie Sanders in 2016.[33] In other words, Oz was facing off against one of the most progressive Senatorial candidates in the country. Fetterman also wasn't like any other Democratic candidate in that he wasn't afraid to go hard on pointing out Oz's greatest detriments, mainly that Oz was not actually from Pennsylvania, but instead was a New Jersey carpetbagger who only claims to live in PA to get into the Senate, and he did so by taking a page out of the Trump campaign by utilizing memes![34] One of the best examples of this is when Fetterman nominated Oz for the New Jersey Hall of Fame (cause he's from Jersey, not PA), and got numerous New Jersey celebrities to endorse this from Snooki[35] to Steven Van Zandt.[36] Oz attempted to counter with memes, but they seem to backfire horribly. Case and point, when Oz made a post about Fetterman being "Lost" due to Fetterman taking it easy and not campaigning in person following his stroke in May, Fetterman took the image of himself in the meme and made it the banner of his Twitter profile.[37] All of this on top of Oz seemingly having a lackluster campaign of his own to the point of infuriating the GOP[38] has led to, at this moment at least, Oz trailing heavily behind Fetterman in the polls, by eleven points according to Fox News, of all organizations![39]

Fetterman continued to just control the online battle of the campaign. He managed to get a video of Dr. Oz in April at a Wegmans (a Pennsylvania grocery chain) buying the ingredients for crudite, a vegetable platter, as a sort of jab at the Biden administration for not controlling inflation. Not only did Fetterman point out how out of touch it was for Oz to be complaining about a veggie tray for a party being expensive as someone who could easily afford the price increase (unlike many constituents that Oz wanted to represent in the Senate), but Oz called the place "Wegners".[40] Oz's team scrambled to counter Fetterman by going after the fact that Fetterman had a stroke "because he didn't eat his veggies", which enraged many doctors who felt this was too low a blow and bad coming from Oz, whose medical advice were in some ways even more dangerous to the health of viewers of his show.[41]

It also doesnt help that while Oz is running for Senate, the person running for Governor of PA at the same time is Doug Mastriano, a far-right Christian Nationalist who was the biggest supporter of Trump's election fraud claims and was there on January 6th busing people in. John Fetterman and Democrat nominee for Governor Josh Shapiro have a working relationship with each other due to the fact that Shapiro was PA Attorney General while Fetterman was Lt. Governor. Oz doesn't have the same with Mastriano, who is a hardcore Islamaphobe, and reports indicate the two generally haven't been working together.[42]

Criticism[edit]

Medicine is a very religious experience. I have my religion and you have yours. It becomes difficult for us to agree on what we think works, since so much of it is in the eye of the beholder. Data is rarely clean.
—Dr. Oz, quoted in The New Yorker, 4-Feb-2013[43]

Resveratrol[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Resveratrol

One of his biggest controversies involved the chemical resveratrol. While pharmaceutical research on laboratory mice showed it had some potential as an anti-aging agent, Dr. Oz went one step further by promoting it as some New Age miracle, and pushing his own supplemental version of the chemical, despite a current lack of proof of its benefits/risks for humans.[44]

John Edward[edit]

See the main article on this topic: John Edward

John Edward once appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, where he did what he always does, and claimed to talk with the dead while really doing a cold reading with members of the studio audience. At no point in the episode did Dr. Oz question whether Edward could really talk to dead people.

Reparative therapy[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Reparative therapy

In November 2012, Oz provided a perfect example of false balance by giving a platform to "both sides" of the "debate" about reparative therapy. In reality, there is no debate: reparative therapy is utterly discredited and those who still promote it are a bunch of homophobic whacknuts. A very small bunch of homophobic whacknuts. As a result, gay rights groups ripped him a new one.[45] Oz later apologized and said that "after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus. I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails".[46] It's slightly shocking to see Oz reason from medical data and scientific consensus, but there you have it.

Pigasus Award[edit]

Dr Oz won the James Randi Educational Foundation's Pigasus Award (Media section) in 2010 and 2011 for doing "such a disservice to his TV viewers by promoting quack medical practices that he is now the first person to win a Pigasus two years in a row."[47] He also won in the Refusal to Face Reality section in 2013.[48]

United States Senate inquiry[edit]

I don't get why you need to say this stuff when you know it's not true. When you have this amazing megaphone, why would you cheapen your show? … With power comes a great deal of responsibility.
—Senator Claire McCaskill, as quoted by CNN[49]

In June, 2014, Dr. Oz faced a congressional inquiry by the Senate's Consumer Protection Subcommittee over his promotion of "miracle" diet pills.[50][51] The concerns raised by that panel being, unironically, that he was promoting pills that he claimed would "magically" melt fat when he, himself, knew that such claims were unsubstantiated.

Sliced and diced[edit]

In 2014, the BMJ (British Medical Journal) published an analysis of medical recommendations made on 40 episodes each of The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors TV Show. Oz had an average of 12 recommendations per show. "For recommendations in The Dr Oz Show, evidence supported 46%, contradicted 15%, and was not found for 39%." The authors concluded regarding both shows, "Potential conflicts of interest are rarely addressed. The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows."[52]

Trouble at his other job[edit]

As late as 2015, Oz was vice chair of the Department of Surgery at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he has retained his position as a full professor throughout his entertainment career.[53] All of the woo pushing finally engendered the attention of several colleagues (including former FDA official Henry I. Miller), and they mounted an earnest attempt to get rid of him. They wrote in an open letter to the dean of Columbia’s Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine:

Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both… Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine… Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.

Dr. Oz is responding to the criticisms in the only way he knows how, by writing a letter to the editor of prestigious medical journal having a special segment on his TV show.[54]

To add to this brouhaha, a court ruled in April 2016 that NY Med, a reality TV show hosted by Dr. Oz, had illegally filmed patients at New York-Columbia Presbyterian Hospital (affiliated with the Columbia University Medical Center). This resulted in a $2.2 million dollar HIPAA fine to the hospital.[55] Why this man is still allowed anywhere near a patient is anyone's guess.

Although he quietly relinquished his administrative role following the controversies — and, save for a couple of stray publications, has not maintained an active research program since his television show began production in 2009 — Oz remains on the Columbia faculty as a professor and medical director of the university's Integrative Medicine Center.[56] As Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger cooperated with a 2019 expose by the university's undergraduate student newspaper on its labyrinthine, dysfunctional judicial system for tenured faculty (in what amounted to a kind of hell-freezes-over moment)[57] in the years following the HIPAA fine, it could be reasonably surmised that Oz's continued affiliation with Columbia is more indicative of the fact that he has not been accused of felonious conduct than an institutional endorsement of his quackery. Yet one of the cosigners of the aforementioned open letter, Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health, described Oz as “a true asset to Columbia -- as a surgeon” and encouraged him to “return to the operating theater, where he can do much real good.”[58] Ultimately, Oz's later career is a case study in how tenure (designed in part to protect innovative work that upends disciplinary conventions from suppression) can potentially allow one to pursue quackery as a lucrative avocation.

Batshit coronavirus public statements[edit]

In April 2020, Dr. Oz took to Sean Hannity's program and proclaimed the importance of re-opening schools, saying "I just saw a nice piece in the Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us two to three per cent in terms of total mortality".[59] "Two to three percent in terms of total mortality"! Apparently 2-3 of every 100 kids/parents/school staff/faculty/administrators/county school board members snuffing it is an acceptable casualty rate for our very own fix-it-all doctor man. Really, you almost gotta be impressed that he willingly went on air to make a statement reflecting an absolutely preposterous level of disdain for the value of human life.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Your Questions Answered!
  2. Does Acupuncture Really Work?
  3. Dr. Oz Presents Highly Inaccurate Information
  4. Trump appointing Dr. Oz to his sport, fitness and nutrition council, CNN
  5. Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz announces Senate run in Pennsylvania, joins GOP field by Amy B Wang & Felicia Sonmez (November 30, 2021) The Washington Post.
  6. Trump endorses Dr. Oz for the U.S. Senate by Emma Bowman, April 10, 2022, npr
  7. Article announcing Oz as the nominee, ABC News
  8. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/magazine/18Oz-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  9. Brayton, Ed. "How Does Dr. Oz Keep His License?" Dispatches from the Culture Wars: June 27, 2014.
  10. The Renegade Health Ranger: Mike Adams, Pt 1
  11. 11.0 11.1 Parasitic Infections also occur in the United States: Millions of people infected (Page last reviewed: May 8, 2014) Centers for Disease Control.
  12. See the Wikipedia article on Cysticercosis.
  13. Meet the Worm Dr. Oz Calls the Mother of All Parasites (Aug 29, 2014) The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 [Dr Oz parasites — Get rid of your parasites — The Best Colon Cleanse by Krystal Taylor (Sep 13, 2014) YouTube (archived from April 24, 2016).
  15. The 10-Day Detox Diet Jump Start Guide: Dr. Mark Hyman reveals the secrets to making this 10-day weight loss plan a success. (2/21/2014) The Dr. Oz Show (archived from March 2, 2014).
  16. Dr. Oz's 3-Day Detox Cleanse One-Sheet (11/09/2012) The Dr. Oz Show (archived from November 14, 2012).
  17. Find the Right Cleanse for Your Body Type: Learn which of Dr. Alejandro Junger's customized cleanse addresses the specific needs of your body type. (1/27/2014) The Dr. Oz Show.
  18. Dr. Oz reveals detox meal plan for weight loss and melting belly fat (January 27, 2014) Examiner.com (archived from January 29, 2014).
  19. Detox treatments by Dr. Oz and others lack evidence, benefit: CBC Marketplace investigation debunks common cleanse myths by Megan Griffith-Greene (Posted: Jan 17, 2014 5:00 AM ET | Last Updated: January 17, 2014) CBC News.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Delusional infestation: Epidemiology, clinical presentation, assessment and diagnosis by Kathryn N Suh (Jun 07, 2018) Wolters Kluwer.
  21. See the Wikipedia article on Delusional parasitosis.
  22. Regarding Dr. Mehmet Oz: Whoops. Maybe I spoke too soon about vaccines
  23. Yet he was still accused of being a Big Pharma Shill…
  24. https://www.nj.com/politics/2021/11/celeb-surgeon-dr-oz-a-longtime-nj-resident-running-for-senate-in-pa.html?outputType=amp
  25. https://www.npr.org/2021/11/30/1060185002/tvs-dr-oz-enters-pennsylvanias-crucial-senate-race-on-the-gop-side
  26. https://nypost.com/2021/11/30/sen-candidate-dr-oz-america-in-crisis-but-the-prognosis-is-good/amp/
  27. https://www.foxnews.com/media/dr-oz-pennsylvania-senate-hannity-interview-covid-economy-republican.amp
  28. Even a Trump Rally did not get on board the Oz train, Business Insider
  29. He says he does it to take care of "His aging mother" MSNBC
  30. Article announcing Oz as the nominee, ABC News
  31. https://twitter.com/DrOz/status/1465889807889018882
  32. Fetterman won every single county, while recovering from a stroke NPR
  33. John Fetterman endorses Bernie Sanders for President. John Fetterman on YouTube.
  34. Marc Levy, Trolling Along: Fetterman Going Big on Social Media Vs. Oz. NBC Philadelphia, 30 July 2022.
  35. https://twitter.com/JohnFetterman/status/1547683652791717891?s=20&t=gueyu5FGlkgwrSyzZo2mRA
  36. https://twitter.com/JohnFetterman/status/1552324950773710848?s=20&t=gueyu5FGlkgwrSyzZo2mRA
  37. https://deadline.com/2022/07/dr-oz-lost-creator-damon-lindelof-1235075690/amp/
  38. Niall Strange, The Memo: Republicans are worried that things are going wrong for Dr. Oz. The Hill, 2 August 2022.
  39. https://www.foxnews.com/official-polls/fox-news-poll-oz-supporters-lack-enthusiasm-pennsylvania-senate-race
  40. https://www.politicspa.com/mispronunciation-of-store-name-comes-back-to-bite-oz/
  41. https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/dr-oz-s-team-pushes-too-far-in-crudite-battle-against-fetterman-146888773692
  42. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=newssearch&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwi-t6CZq-j5AhWqFVkFHYpoCywQxfQBKAB6BAgJEAE&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Fpolitics%2Fmastriano-oz-awkward-marriage-pennsylvania-gop-ticket-rcna42634&usg=AOvVaw1Cx3p5FFwL7C6dCNVXh5sB
  43. Specter, Michael. "Is Doctor Oz Doing More Harm Than Good?"
  44. Dr. Oz takes a risk
  45. Gay rights groups rip ‘Dr. Oz Show’ over episode on reparative therapy, MSNBC
  46. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/29/dr-oz-reparative-ex-gay-therapy-backlash-_n_2211621.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices
  47. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1260-pigasus-2011.html
  48. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/2074-jrefs-pigasus-awards-honors-dubious-peddlers-of-woo.html
  49. Senators grill Dr. Oz about 'miracle' weight loss claims
  50. Another irony meter blown: Dr. Oz to testify in front of the Senate’s Consumer Protection panel about weight loss scams, Respectful Insolence
  51. McCaskill Takes Aim at Diet Scams That Are 'A Crisis in Consumer Protection'
  52. Televised medical talk shows—what they recommend and the evidence to support their recommendations: a prospective observational study by Christina Korownyk et al. BMJ 2014;349:g7346
  53. Physician’s Profile: Mehmet C. Oz, MD, FACS
  54. Experts want Dr. Oz fired from teaching post by Scott Collins (April 17, 2015) Los Angeles Times
  55. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/newyork-presbyterian-hospital-pay-22-million-egregious-disclosure-phi-hipaa-violation
  56. https://columbiasurgery.org/mehmet-c-oz-md-facs
  57. https://www.columbiaspectator.com/news-features/2019/04/11/up-against-the-invincible-a-professor-was-convicted-of-sexual-misconduct-why-is-he-still-on-campus-2/
  58. https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2015/04/28/essay-dr-oz-and-academic-freedom
  59. Scott, Katie. (April 16, 2020). Dr. Oz under fire for suggesting coronavirus deaths associated with reopening schools a 'tradeoff' Global News. Retrieved April 16, 2020.