Mehmet Oz (born Mehmet Cengiz Öz in 1960) is a TV doctor who first became known from his appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show between 2004 and 2009. He currently hosts 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 and acupuncture. He's hardly seen a piece of medical woo he didn't like. He has also featured anti-GMO activists on his program.
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. Because why stop at voodoo economics when you can throw in voodoo medicine?
As a doctor, Oz is actually one of the most accomplished cardiothoracic surgeons of his generation, 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
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.
“”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, |
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.
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.
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. 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". It's slightly shocking to see Oz reason from medical data and scientific consensus, but there you have it.
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." He also won in the Refusal to Face Reality section in 2013.
Other stuff pushed on his show
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.
United States Senate inquiry
“”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, |
In June, 2014, Dr. Oz faced a congressional inquiry by the Senate's Consumer Protection Subcommittee over his promotion of "miracle" diet pills. 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
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."
Trouble at his other job
Surprisingly enough, as of 2015, Dr. Oz is actually the Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Columbia University Medical Center. All of the past few years of woo pushing has finally gotten his colleagues' attention and they are trying to get rid of him. They wrote in a 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.
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 CUMC). This resulted in a $2.2 million dollar HIPAA fine to the hospital.. Why this man is still allowed anywhere near a patient is anyone's guess.
- The Dr. Oz Magic Wagon, from the musical parody The Diet Man
- Dr. Oz and Nutritional Supplements: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which at 4:41 suggests that his show should be called "Check This Shit Out with some guy named Mehmet".
- Your Questions Answered!
- Does Acupuncture Really Work?
- Dr. Oz Presents Highly Inaccurate Information
- Trump appointing Dr. Oz to his sport, fitness and nutrition council, CNN
- Brayton, Ed. "How Does Dr. Oz Keep His License?" Dispatches from the Culture Wars: June 27, 2014.
- Specter, Michael. "Is Doctor Oz Doing More Harm Than Good?"
- Dr. Oz takes a risk
- Gay rights groups rip ‘Dr. Oz Show’ over episode on reparative therapy, MSNBC
- Dr Oz parasites - Get rid of your parasites — The Best Colon Cleanse by Krystal Taylor (Sep 13, 2014) YouTube.
- Regarding Dr. Mehmet Oz: Whoops. Maybe I spoke too soon about vaccines
- Yet he was still accused of being a Big Pharma Shill…
- Senators grill Dr. Oz about 'miracle' weight loss claims
- Another irony meter blown: Dr. Oz to testify in front of the Senate’s Consumer Protection panel about weight loss scams, Respectful Insolence
- McCaskill Takes Aim at Diet Scams That Are 'A Crisis in Consumer Protection'
- 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
- Physician’s Profile: Mehmet C. Oz, MD, FACS
- Experts want Dr. Oz fired from teaching post by Scott Collins (April 17, 2015) Los Angeles Times