RationalWiki's 2018 Fundraiser

There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff — we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.

If everyone seeing this today donates $5, we will meet our goal for 2018.

Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with PayPal Logo.png!

Donations so far: $3630Goal: $5000

Oprah Winfrey

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
You get a car! You get a car! You all get cars!
You gotta spin it to win it
Media
Icon media.svg
Stop the presses!
We want pictures
of Spider-Man!
Extra! Extra!

Oprah Winfrey is one of America's most popular and influential talk show hosts. In fact, she is widely considered the most influential woman in the world.

Woo[edit]

See the main article on this topic: woo

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.[1]

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.[2]
  • Winfrey promoted a process called "thermage," which purports to "rejuvenate" skin with radio waves, but that runs risks including scarring.[3]
  • Winfrey promoted James Arthur Ray who served time in prison for causing the deaths of three people in his controversial sweat lodge woo. [4]
  • Winfrey was even suckered in (Brass Eye style) by an internet prank about "over 9000" penises wanting to rape children.[5]
  • Deepak Chopra was a guest on her show[6][7][8]. Together, they sell a meditation program[9].
  • General Big Pharma whackery as well, of course.[10]

Regular guest woo-peddlers[edit]

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.

Oprah on atheism[edit]

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 (e.g. ridicule), and that apparently was notable enough to cause further media coverage of the event.[11]

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.[12]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]