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Oprah Winfrey (1954–) is one of America's most popular and influential talk show hosts.
If Winfrey likes your stuff enough to feature it on her show, you'll probably get rich. Your book, your show… your hideously fraudulent woo.
Filming a daily daytime talk show for about twenty years naturally means that there will be a lot of time to fill. Sadly, Winfrey chose to fill this time with woo promoters. She is a relentless promoter of pseudoscience, some relatively benign, some downright dangerous:
- The Secret mostly sucks in the lazy.
- Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaccine hysteria is an even more dangerous thing to push, and it was that which got even the mainstream media calling her out, notably when Newsweek ripped her a new one in point-by-point detail.
- Winfrey promoted a process called "thermage", which purports to "rejuvenate" skin with radio waves, but that runs risks including scarring.
- Winfrey promoted James Arthur Ray who served time in prison for causing the deaths of three people in his controversial sweat lodge woo.
- Winfrey was even suckered (in Brass Eye style) by an internet prank about "over 9000" penises wanting to rape children.
- Deepak Chopra was a guest on her show. They even have a meditation program together.
- General Big Pharma whackery as well, of course.
- Eckhart Tolle
- John of god, a psychic healer and serial rapist
Regular guest woo-peddlers
A number of notable media charlatans, including McCarthy, Oz, and Dr. Phil McGraw got their own television shows after gaining a measure of prominence through their association with Winfrey.
Miracle Detectives is a show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, featuring Randall Sullivan and neuroscientist Indre Viskontas investigating claims of miracles. Despite Viskontas typically ruling out any supposed miracles with science, the show usually ends with Sullivan ignoring the evidence in favor of a more comforting answer of "I don't know about that."
Oprah on atheism
In an October 2013 show, Winfrey made some cringeworthy comments that revealed that she holds some common prejudices about atheism (and some wooish beliefs about the nature of God). She questioned her guest, Diana Nyad — a woman who had recently swum from Cuba to Florida, and an atheist — how it was possible to be both an atheist and "deeply in awe". After Nyad replied that she sees no contradiction and that she "can stand at the beach's edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist and weep at the beauty of this universe, and be moved by all of humanity", Oprah managed to drop something that pisses off both atheists and theologians, denying that atheists can feel awe and making a muddle of the concept of a personal god:
Well I don't call you an atheist then. I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder, and the mystery, then that is what God is. That is what God is. It's not the bearded guy in the sky.
The conversation then went a bit further in the same vein. The exchange caused some predictable reactions in the atheist blogosphere (i.e. ridicule), and that apparently was notable enough to cause further media coverage of the event.
Hemant Mehta responded:
More important, however, was the (unintentional) implication that those of us who find beauty in plants and animals and the universe itself can't possibly be godless. That's a common stereotype atheists face and it's an incredibly pernicious one, made even worse because it was repeated by a celebrity of Winfrey's stature.
- Miracle Detectives at the Internet Movie Database
- MADtv Oprah with Phil change a life (Bow down to Oprah, infidels.) parody
- The Oprah-fication of medicine Science-Based Medicine 1 June 2009
- Live Your Best Life Ever! Newsweek 30 May 2009
- Oprah Winfrey: Bright (but Gullible) Billionaire, Martin Gardner, Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 34, No. 2, March-April 2010
- Thermage face lift: worth the cost? Simply Anti Aging (Archived from the original on 4 October 2017)
- The Death Dealer The Verge 4 December 2013
- LOLPRAH: OVER 9000 PENISES! from the YouTube channel 43anonymous 22 September 2008
- In 1993, Deepak Chopra Showed Oprah the Power of Her Mind | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN from the YouTube channel OWN 23 February 2016
- Deepak Chopra Reflects on His Time as a Monk | SuperSoul Sunday | Oprah Winfrey Network from the YouTube channel OWN 29 April 2012
- Oprah and Deepak Chopra – How To Remove Negative Thoughts from the YouTube channel Reviews4World 26 August 2014
- OPRAH & DEEPAK'S 21-DAY MEDITATION EXPERIENCE Meditation Experience
- Celebrity Brazilian healer ‘John of God,’ once featured by Oprah, surrenders on sexual abuse charges The Washington Post 17 December 2018
- Oprah Winfrey suggests atheists must believe in God if they experience awe and wonder The Independent 16 October 2013
- Atheists can appreciate the natural world without a nod to God The Washington Post 18 October 2013