Respectful Insolence

Combatting the Oprah Effect

I don’t much like Oprah Winfrey.

I know, I know, it’s a huge surprise to anyone who reads this blog, but there you go. Over the last four years, I’ve had numerous reasons to be unhappy with her, mainly because, as savvy a media celebrity and businesswoman as she is, she has about as close to no critical thinking skills when it comes to science and medicine as I’ve ever seen. Arguably there is no single person in the world with more influence pushing woo than Oprah. Indeed, she puts Prince Charles to shame, and Kevin Trudeau’s is a mere ant compared to the juggernaught that is Oprah’s media empire. No one even comes close. No one, and I mean no one, brings pseudoscience, quackery, and antivaccine madness to more people than Oprah Winfrey does. Naturally, she doesn’t see it that way and likely no one could ever convince her of the malign effect she has on the national zeitgeist when it comes to science and medicine, but that’s exactly what she does.

How does Oprah do it? Easy (for her, at least). She makes stars of woo-meisters by featuring them on her show and giving them her stamp of approval, that’s how. Indeed, there was a documentary on last night that I (unfortunately) missed called The Oprah Effect. While not specifically about Oprah’s promotion of pseudoscience, happily it appears not to shy away from it, either. The basic structure of the documentary is to examine what happened to three businesses after they were mentioned on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Not surprisingly, their business went through the roof, and apparently how they dealt with that sudden fame and influx of new business forms the basis for much of the documentary.

Speaking of the Oprah Effect, it is certainly operative for her proteges over the years; for example, Dr. Phil, who is not so much a woo-meister as profoundly annoying, sensationalistic, and self-righteous. Another of Oprah’s most famous pseudoscience-loving proteges is Mehmet Oz, whom I’ve castigated for his promotion of “complementary and alternative” medicine. Dr. Oz has been a frequent guest on her show, inappropriate scrubs outside of the O.R. and all, and is presently poised to get his own show, thanks to Oprah. Another is Christiane Northrup, a woo-friendly gynecologist who has some very strange views about the vagina and has advocated using qi gong to increase “energy flow” (i.e., qi) to the vagina and cure all manner of “female” ills, as well as providing fantastic orgasms. She also promotes bioidentical hormones (sheer nonsense), all manner of supplements, and a veritable cornucopia of other woo.

She’s also a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Until most recently, the low point of Oprah’s malign influence came when she fell under the spell of The Secret. Yes that Secret, New Age nonsense so flaky that even most New Age types correctly view it as nonsense. Basically, The Secret postulates that there is a “law of attraction” that “always work” in which what you visualize can be yours. In other words, according to The Secret, well, let’s let Oprah describe it:

…the energy you put into the world — both good and bad — is exactly what comes back to you. This means you create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day.

This is taking the relatively easy to accept contention that your attitude and drive have a significant influence on how well you do in life and putting it on more steroids than Major League Baseball players have used over the last couple of decades, to the point of utter ridiculousness. As Peter Birkenhead put it:

“Venality,” because Oprah, in the age of AIDS, is advertising a book that says, “You cannot ‘catch’ anything unless you think you can, and thinking you can is inviting it to you with your thought.” “Venality,” because Oprah, from a studio within walking distance of Chicago’s notorious Cabrini Green Projects, pitches a book that says, “The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts.”

The truly despicable aspect of The Secret is that a consequence of its teachings is not that people bring good things to themselves with their thoughts but the flip side, too: That people bring evil to themselves with their own thoughts and that it is their fault. Tell that to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis, or the millions killed by Stalin, or even the 3,000 who died on September 11, 2001. According to The Secret, they all brought that evil upon themselves with their “negative” thoughts.

I thought Oprah couldn’t sink lower than that, at least in terms of promoting woo. That was before she jumped on the Jenny McCarthy bandwagon nearly two years ago. Since then, Jenny has regularly been given a voice on The Oprah Winfrey Show to promote her antivaccine views every time she’s released a new book. Then, earlier this month, it was announced that Oprah has inked a deal with Jenny McCarthy for various media projects, including her own talk show. And it is that most recent promotion of infectious disease by Oprah that leads to the most interesting part of this documentary:

In May, Winfrey, whose contract for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” expires in 2011, struck a deal with actress, author and Chicago native Jenny McCarthy, who emerged as an autism activist after her son was diagnosed with the disorder. The deal with McCarthy, who has been a guest on Winfrey’s show several times, calls for McCarthy to develop a variety of projects with Harpo, one of which could be a syndicated talk show.

McCarthy’s position on childhood vaccines, however, has kicked up controversy. McCarthy has said she is not “anti-vaccine” and that she is advocating for improved vaccines. But she said in an interview on Oprah.com that if she “had another child, I would not vaccinate.” She also told Time that “I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe.”

Yes, that’s the same remark that I ripped into so harshly. What I like is that the producers tried to get an answer from Oprah:

Asked if Oprah or her show endorses McCarthy’s views, a representative for Oprah’s program said, “We don’t take positions on the opinions of our guests. Rather, we offer a platform for guests to share their first-person stories in an effort to inform the audience and put a human face on topics relevant to them.” When McCarthy’s views have been discussed on the air, statements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics saying that there’s no scientific evidence of a vaccine-autism link have been read.

And this, I think, tells it all. ScienceBlogs’ resident ethicist Janet Stemwedel asks:

I’m curious to hear what you all think about this. Is it acceptable to give any guest you please a soapbox without taking a position on the opinions they voice from that soapbox? Is reading official statements from the CDC and AAP enough “balance” to Jenny McCarthy’s views on vaccines, or do you think the “Oprah Winfrey Show” needs to do more?

And, if Oprah and her producers are aware of the Oprah effect (which, really, they have to be, right?), should that awareness of their reach lead them to try to meet a higher ethical standard as far as the foreseeable consequences for giving Jenny McCarthy a soapbox?

I’ll give two answers to this: my answer in an ideal world and my answer in the real world. In an ideal world, my answers would be:

  1. No, simply reading an official statement from the CDC and AAP as “balance” to Jenny McCarthy’s idiotic and dangerous views on vaccines, which have led her to a know-nothing activism based on the arrogance of ignorance that is already eroding faith in vaccines, is not even close to enough. Jenny McCarthy’s ignorance and pseudoscience have the potential to cause suffering and death. Indeed, she has even admitted as much but, characteristically, refuses to take responsibility for her words and deeds, instead blaming it on the drug companies that to her don’t make vaccines that are “safe enough” for her liking. It’s also one reason why there is already a site called the Jenny McCarthy Body Count to chronicle deaths from infectious disease that can be partially attributed to her antivaccine zealotry. She uses emotion and her son to argue falsely that vaccines cause autism and that various quackery “cured” him (and, by inference, can cure other children with autism, too). Reading a dry and dull statement from the CDC is utterly useless in combatting this message. It’s even less effective than what I like to call the “token skeptic” who trots out the skeptical viewpoint briefly and is only included because it is expected to “tell both sides.”
  2. Yes, the awareness of the Oprah Effect should make the producers of The Oprah Winfrey Show and Oprah herself realize that they have real power and, as the comic geek inside me can’t resist saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Indeed, adding more “balance” is not enough. If Oprah and the producers of her show were truly to hold themselves to a higher ethical standard, useful idiots to the antivaccine movement like Jenny McCarthy and the hucksters who barfed the bile of The Secret onto the world wouldn’t be allowed within ten miles of Harpo Studios. “Balance,” after all, implies that there is enough scientific validity to a view that it is somewhere on the same planet with science. “Balance” implies that there is a real scientific controversy (not a “manufactroversy“) and that the viewpoint being discussed is a legitimate alternative viewpoint. There is no “balance” of this sort between Jenny McCarthy and scientists. Jenny McCarthy is, quite simply, completely wrong about vaccines and autism. Science does not supporter, and it’s not even close to being close, so to speak. Similarly, there is no “balance” between promoters of The Secret and scientists; The Secret is nothing more than New Age nonsense based on prescientific beliefs that were prettied up to be sold to 21st century creduloids. There is no validity to them. When it comes to pseudoscience and mystical nonsense like The Secret, “balance” is nothing more than a sham used by promoters of pseudoscience and and anti-science to claim a legitimacy for their views that they don’t deserve based on science.

Those are my answers in an ideal world.

In the real world, unfortunately, my answer would be this: Oprah doesn’t care about science or accuracy. All she cares about is ratings and entertainment. If it gets ratings, it interests her. If it fits into her apparent “spiritual” world view (like The Secret does), it’s all good to her. If it fits in with the “alternative” medical beliefs of her audience (as Jenny McCarthy, Mehmet Oz, and Christiane Northrup do), she likes it. If it provides a message of “empowerment” (whether real or not), it is good. Those scientists and nasty skeptics are such downers, too. They harsh the happy buzz of all that “positivity.” None of this is new, either. After all, Oprah sandbagged James Randi when he was the skeptic on a show about psychics, and she was sarcastic and abusive to a woman named Laura McMahon who had agreed in 2007 to be the token skeptic on another episode about psychics.

The bottom line is that, whatever good Oprah may have done with her money, when it comes to medicine and science, she is a force for evil. Her intentions may be the best in the world, but that is only why she is the living embodiment of the cliche that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That’s especially true when that same road is also paved with no mental filter of critical thinking to keep out nonsense, and Oprah clearly has no mental filter when it comes to pseudoscience and quackery.

Comments

  1. #1 sciborg
    May 29, 2009

    I think you’re on to something with the positivity. People WANT to believe that clap-trap.

  2. #2 Mu
    May 29, 2009

    I just hope she never has a guest that argues 1+1=3. To achieve balance we’d all have to settle on 1+1=2.5, and calculating a tip will become a nightmare.

  3. #3 dkmnow
    May 29, 2009

    Actually, when I read what Jenny has written about her son, it strikes me as a cut-and-dried case of hydrogen dioxide poisoning.

    Someone should tell her…

  4. #4 Interrobang
    May 29, 2009

    Sure people want to believe in it. I have a friend who completely believes in The Secret, mostly because he worked really hard for ten or eleven years to develop a really good software program, then hired a team of really talented people to promote the hell out of it in its niche market, where it became the “industry standard,” and then because he and his team successfully negotiated the sale of the company to a much larger (very acquisitive) company for a hell of a lot of money. Of course, he thinks managed all this not because he’s a talented programmer with good people skills, but because he has a good attitude, and, well, you know, sympathetic magic works.

    One type of person who likes The Secret is the gullible rube, the sort of person who really did believe Oral Roberts when he always said “Something good is going to happen to you today!” The other type, which totally explains people like Oprah and my friend, is the highly competent person with low self-esteem. The Secret allows people like them to continue doing what they’re doing without actually facing up to their self-esteem issues (and I’m more than willing to bet Oprah hears a little voice in her ear in the middle of the night, always telling her she’s never going to be good enough, et cetera, powerful, beautiful billionaire or no)…

  5. #5 Calli Arcale
    May 29, 2009

    sciborg — that’s absolutely true, and you can see it throughout human history. It’s what’s most poisonous about most mainstream religions. (I’m a passionate Christian, so I’m not arguing for atheism here. It’s just that even within the faith, I can see the tremendous evil that has been done.)

    A very old principle, in nearly all religious belief systems, is the idea that things happen for reasons. Heck, that goes past religion. Even science is underpinned by the idea that there’s a reason for everything. Science isn’t just as constrained to the idea that the reason must be a) simple, b) obvious, and c) consciously chosen. (There’s a reason why the sky is blue, for instance.) I think all humans have this instinctive quest for causality — finding the reasons for things.

    It’s easy to jump from that to deciding that nothing can happen by chance, and that there is an *intent* behind everything. From there, extrapolating the idea that bad things happen to bad people is trivial. That’s why it crops up so often in human history — it’s an easy conclusion to reach. It’s wrong, but so easy that many don’t examine it long enough to discover that it’s wrong.

    And so we get the Untouchable caste in India; we get the idea in Tibet that the worst thing to be reborn as is a woman (worse even than an earthworm), we get the ostracizing of the disabled, we get jingoism….

    I think the philosophy underlying “The Secret” is actually worse than anti-vaccinationism, in part because it is entirely compatible with anti-vax beliefs (why vaccinate if disease is just a sign that you’ve had bad thoughts, and you can avoid disease just by living right?), but mostly because it is such an insidious evil. This is a philosophy which does more than just persuade people to avoid proper medical care. This is a philosophy that, historically, has led to crusades and jihads, and is certainly not as young as its authors claim. (And though many fundamentalist Christians cry out against it, claiming that it is witchcraft, in fact a great many Christians actually adhere to the basic philosophies themselves. It makes it so much easier to justify shunning “undesirables”, and to justify one’s own greed.)

  6. #6 Autismnostrum
    May 29, 2009

    There are plenty of parents, scientists, and activists who would better balance Jenny’s stupid claims. Oprah’s “Secret” has kept her thought energy closed to hearing our voices.

  7. #7 Squillo
    May 29, 2009

    One of the worst things about this “Secret” philosophy is how it has begun to pervade our society. Our local middle school’s outdoor bulletin board recently featured the slogan “If you can dream it, you can become it.”

    I’m all for encouraging kids to dream big, but such a catchphrase is simplistic to the point of absurdity, and representative of the fuzzy, feel-good thinking that seems to have replaced teaching critical thinking skills to kids.

  8. #8 Pablo
    May 29, 2009

    I think I mentioned here about when Paul Offit was on Dr Radio, and made a comment that, fortunately, most anti-vaxxers are pushed out of the mainstream onto places like Huff Post and Oprah. I asked Offit if Oprah was really out of the mainstream, given her power AND the fact that her audience is so relevant (anti-vaxxers on her show are a lot more influential than if they were on Bill OReilly, for example, whose audience is all 65). This was right when the McCarthy tv deal broke. He agreed that Oprah is a dangerous cat in this game.

  9. #9 dusonfnp
    May 29, 2009

    How about a first-person account from a parent whose infant spent a week in the PICU, intubated and on an oscillator vent because the baby caught pertussis from an unvaccinated child? Or a young man who is now sterile because of orchitis from mumps?

  10. #10 Pablo
    May 29, 2009

    Our local middle school’s outdoor bulletin board recently featured the slogan “If you can dream it, you can become it.”

    Squillo is right about the touchy-feelgood problem with this type of approach. Ironically, the converse is a lot more legit: If you don’t dream it, you won’t become it.

    Very few get what they want without trying for it, and thats a good message to send: You can’t get there is you don’t push for it.

  11. #11 Alex
    May 29, 2009

    It’s a shame that ‘balance’ has come to mean the token balance between opposing groups instead of the balance between evidence. From Oprah to the Discovery Institute, ‘balance’ is being dangerously abused. This false philosophy seems to be ingrained in our culture and especially our press now. Would Oprah get as many millions of viewers if the importance of evidence took a place in education?

  12. #12 Marc Abian
    May 29, 2009

    The secret works great. That’s why the gurus in the book have found the cure for cancer and an effective AIDS vaccine and..

    Oh wait. That’s not what happened at all.

  13. #13 Denice Walter
    May 29, 2009

    I’ve long opposed woo-perpetrators(a/k/a “disease promoters”) on public tv,radio, and Pacifica in NYC(we’ve had some success).So, where to begin here? Letters,e-mails,blog posts,re-educating 30% of the US adult population?(I’m being kind).A long time ago,there was an effort to get people to understand how advertisement manipulated their choices when buying products.And isn’t a great deal of what we’re talking about pure *advertisement*- not information”? (BTW if you missed the CNBC special, not to worry- they repeat these things endlessly).

  14. #14 bigjohn756
    May 29, 2009

    It’s Oprium for the masses.

  15. #15 bigjohn756
    May 29, 2009

    It’s Oprium for the masses.

  16. #16 mgjsslt
    May 29, 2009

    With regards to the Secret…

    I’ve always wondered, if one were to meet the author (or a true believer) and slap them on the back of the head, would they blame you? Or would they stay true to their “bad things happen because I sent out bad thoughts to the universe” notion? After all, if it happens to them, they must have called for it somehow.

    It might be interesting to see how many times one can claim the universe was merely responding to their negativity (through the agency of my hand) due to their own subconscious pessimism before they break down and concede me slapping them is my choice, not a cosmic wish-fulfillment. Or at least, I could work out some aggression.

  17. #17 gillt
    May 29, 2009

    You put into words–many, many, many words–my exact sentiments towards Oprah. The women in my life love her show, and I can barely contain my contempt.

  18. #18 Julie
    May 29, 2009

    Your assessment of The Secret is so funny. That thing dries me nuts. I work in the arts so it’s caught hold and just won’t let go of many of my friends. There’s no point in discussing it with them, because if you doubt The Secret, you’re just negative and a bad influence, and then if anything bad that happens, well, see? Shoulda’ believed The Secret. It’s like if you buy into it at all, it traps you in its weird illogic. I think I’ve lost a friend over it. And well, good riddance.

  19. #19 kathleen
    May 29, 2009

    The secret is in the va-jayjay.

  20. #20 RoySV
    May 29, 2009

    For completeness it should be noted that Oprah was also right in the thick of it promoting the Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction lie. OW is simply a slick entertainer and exploiter of the people.

  21. #21 Zombie
    May 29, 2009

    I sort of wonder if the Jenny McCarthy thing is Oprah finally overreaching. I mean, to rational people, the Secret sounds as obnoxious as one can get, but most people just sort of ignore it, or roll their eyes and dismiss it as the usual celebrity spiritual BS.

    Encouraging people to run around filthy and sick like so many self-propelled Petri dishes, however, in these days of worry over pandemics and resistant bugs and so on, is a hazard normal people can sink their teeth into.

    So this disease promotion BS may really blow up in her face. Once can only hope so, although I hope she doesn’t kill or cripple too many people before it happens.

  22. #22 RoySV
    May 29, 2009

    For completeness it should be noted that Oprah was also right in the thick of it promoting the Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction lie. OW is simply a slick entertainer and exploiter of the people.

  23. #23 Jacob V
    May 29, 2009

    “Oprah’s ugly secret”
    at Salon dot com

    http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2007/03/05/the_secret/

  24. #24 CNBCTV
    May 29, 2009

    If you missed “The Oprah Effect” and would still like to check it out here are the remaining airtimes:
    Sunday, May 31st 10p ET
    Saturday, June 6th 11p ET
    Monday, June 8th 1a ET
    Sunday, June 14th 8p ET

    Here are a few clips:http://bit.ly/lsvZi

  25. #25 Daniel J. Andrews
    May 29, 2009

    That’s a disturbing article by Birkenhead that Orac and Jacob just above have linked to. There are some joke websites about Oprah being the antichrist that suddenly seem to be slightly less of a joke after reading that article.

    I think Birkenhead’s assessment of a new class system occurring in the school she’s opened is spot on. A similar effect can be seen in the Name It, Claim It preachers (if you want health, wealth just claim it as your birthright because you are a child of the King and God doesn’t want his children to be poor and unwell). If you were not healed or if you had money troubles then it was because you did not have enough faith, and/or, you had unconfessed sin in your life.

    Imagine being surrounded by people who think that, and then your child gets sicks, isn’t healed and is permanently crippled or even dies….you will feel as if it was your fault and if you had only humbled yourself and confessed your sin and had just a bit more faith then God would have answered your prayers. What the hell type of guilt trip is that to lay on a grieving parent?

    Fortunately, those types are an extremely small minority within Christianity (if you can even call it that), but Oprah seems determined to recruit people from all walks of life into believing this damaging system. Heck, you can have your heart’s desire without actually trying to follow all the rest of those “stuffy rules” that come along with a religion.

    (while typing this my fingers stumbled and I typed “Ocrap” instead of “Oprah”. Talk about a Freudian slip. I corrected it as it seemed a bit childish to leave in, but I guess I’m childish enough to mention it in a footnote).

  26. #26 D. C. Sessions
    May 29, 2009

    “The Secret” and a lot of similar garf are basically 21st century Puritanism: there are the Select, who get the goodies because they deserve it, and then there are the people that Bad Things Happen To.

    To people like Oprah, this is a very comforting message. The Good Things that have already happened to them are proof that they’re in the right Book, and that in turn means that Bad Things can’t happen to them. If you think cancer etc. are scary to poor people [1], imagine how it must be to the rich who can afford to not worry about anything else. That stuff that money can’t buy (and I don’t mean song lyrics) like immortality? The Secret gives them a way to remain in denial.

    The same process underlies a lot of antivaccine woo: they tell themselves that because they breastfed, or eat only organic foods, or whatever — therefore, diseases can’t hurt their little preciousesssss. Only eeeeevil vaccines can, and then only if Mommy and Daddy are bad do that to their little ones.

    See? It’s all under control.

    [1] Of course they are. It’s just that poor people have a lot of other things to be afraid of. Like, “where will the rent come from?” or “Will I still have a job next week?” I doubt Oprah has had to worry about that kind of thing lately.

  27. #27 S. Rivlin
    May 29, 2009

    Orac,

    Would you be willing to appear as a guest on the Oprah show to talk on the damage that the antivaccine movement has already caused to American children and families?

    I’m asking because if you do, I would like to ask your readers to send as many possible emails and letters to Oprah, asking her to invite you to appear on her show.

  28. #28 Phoenix Woman
    May 29, 2009

    Daniel J. Andrews: DING DING DING! We have a winner!

    This is nothing more than the infamous “Prosperity Gospel” in New Age duds. AKA “Screw the poor, the sick, the lame, the afflicted — they deserve to suffer, while God wants you to look out for Number One above all else”.

  29. #29 wfjag
    May 29, 2009

    It’s not merely an Oprah Effect. Even in science based publications written at a level which laypersons can understand, the basic bankruptcy of the antivax position isn’t clearly explained. See Vaccination Nation, Discover (magazine) at pp. 58, et seq., (June 2009). The author is supposedly discussing the results of the vaccine trial.

    While the author correctly notes as background Wakefield’s study and publication in Lancet, Kirby’s book Evidence of Harm, and RFK,Jr.’s allegations and articles in Rolling Stone and Salon, the complete debunking of these is not mentioned. There is no mention of Lancet’s repudiation of Wakefield’s article or that he was in the pay of plaintiffs’ attorneys when he did his “study” or that he had patented a competing measles vaccine, or that there was overwhelming evidence at the vaccine trial that Wakefield’s results were due to lab contamination and he knew of that but failed to report in. Also, it is not noted that no one has been able to replicate any of Wakefield’s “findings”, including his co-authors in the Lancet article, and that overwhelmingly his co-authors have withdrawn their names from the article.

    There’s, likewise, no discussion of the debunking of Kirby or RFK, Jr.’s bilge.

    Instead, the article gives nearly equal play to comments by Kirby and Dr. Offit, giving an impression that a “journalist” [assuming that being a HuffPo blogger qualifies as a “journalist”] somehow has expertise comparable to one of the top medical researchers.

    Still, there is one fact cited in the article that needs to be repeated in every discussion of vaccines: Prior to the introduction and widespread use of the vaccines for smallpox, diptheria, measles, polio and rubella those diseases killed nearly 650,000 people (overwhelmingly children) annually (in addition to millions crippled annually). They now kill fewer than 100 annually (or, they did before the bilge of Wakefield, Kirby, RFK, Jr., and Jenny McCarthy, et al).

    As the parent of an autistic child, I’d rather have a living, autistic child, than a dead, unvaccinated one.

  30. #30 kathleen
    May 29, 2009

    @wfjag me too.

  31. #31 D. C. Sessions
    May 29, 2009

    Would you be willing to appear as a guest on the Oprah show to talk on the damage that the antivaccine movement has already caused to American children and families?

    He’s smarter than that, Sol.

    And then it turns out she’s also got Jenny and Jay Gordon scheduled to sandbag him. Please see Paul Offit’s explanation of why he won’t play that game: the three roles in the story are the hero, the victim, and the villain. Jenny is the Hero Mom, her son is the Victim, and Orac? Which role is left for him?

  32. #32 Orac
    May 29, 2009

    Exactly. Go back and read the link I provided about how Oprah treated James Randi and a skeptical, science-based woman named Laura McMahon. (It’s in the last paragraph of my post.) Oprah sandbagged Randi and was sarcastic and dismissive to Ms. McMahon, not even calling her by her name, but rather referring to her as “science lady” and “skeptic woman.”

    No, only an incredibly naive skeptic would go on The Oprah Winfrey Show without a lot of guarantees, and even then shouldn’t trust her or her producers without getting it in writing–and even then shouldn’t trust the producers to honor the contract. Oprah’s BFF Jenny McCarthy would likely be waiting in the wings to show up to hurl insults, shout over the skeptic, and tug on the heartstrings by talking about her son (think of the children!), all to the thunderous applause from Oprah’s studio audience. Good luck getting the skeptical, science-based viewpoint across in that sort of environment.

    Dr. Offit is right. There are three roles in the story of the “vaccine-injured”: The hero, the victim, and the villain. Her son Evan (and, by proxy, all the other autistic children out there who are claimed to have been made autistic by vaccines) is obviously the victim. Jenny is the self-proclaimed “warrior mom” (you know, Ellen Ripley fighting against the alien queen (in this case, vaccines and “toxins”) to save Newt, the little girl she had rescued earlier, at the end of Aliens, shouting, “Get away from her, you bitch!”).

    What does that leave for the villain? Obviously, the nasty skeptic who has the temerity to tell Jenny that she’s full of crap, that vaccines did not cause Evan’s autism, and that she is promoting dangerous pseudoscience, no matter how respectful and low key that skeptic may be. Such statements are not welcome by Oprah’s audience, and the skeptic will be treated, in essence, like the cheating husband is on The Jerry Springer Show. The Oprah Winfrey Show in such cases is the same thing, about rejecting and attacking the evildoer; the only difference is that it puts on airs about the whole process.

  33. #33 IBY
    May 29, 2009

    It is sad, really. Especially since she could be a force for good, like the way she did with three people from my school who recieved scholarship. But damn it, she is extremely credulous, and a big spreader of woo woo. Her bad effects outweigh the good.

  34. #34 LAB
    May 29, 2009

    Glad to see Christiane Northrup called out here. Her “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” is a “bible” to many women, but it’s pure bunk. The most memorable stupidity for me was a story of a woman with dyspareunia. She tried everything, including surgery, to help with the pain. Suddenly she “remembered” a moment from her life in-utero, when her father was having sex with her mother. Dad’s penis was “pressing against the amniotic sac through the wall of the uterus,” and in her fetal state, inside that amniotic sac, this woman had “felt clearly and viscerally her mother’s disgust” at the sex act. After the woman dealt with the emotional pain caused by this repressed “memory,” her physical pain finally went away. Northrup’s book is full of absurd BS like this. I had no idea Northrup was an Oprah favorite. Figures.

  35. #35 S. Rivlin
    May 29, 2009

    Orac and DC,

    In this case, maybe another TV show with better reputation for logic and balance?

  36. #36 Matthew Cline
    May 29, 2009

    If anyone pro-vax were to go onto Oprah’s show, it would have to be parents who had had a child that died from a vaccine preventable disease. The only way to cast them into the villain role would be for Oprah to claim that she had some private investigators do background checks on the parents and say that the investigators found that they never had any children that died from any vaccine preventable disease (their children were still alive, their children died from something else entirely, or they never had children), and:

    1) I don’t think that Oprah would stoop that low.

    2) Doing so would open her up to defamation lawsuits.

    Of course, Oprah would probably simply never accept them as guests.

  37. #37 Gil
    May 29, 2009

    Maybe Jenny McCarthy wants to believe ‘vaccines equals autism’ because she doesn’t want to believe she has mediocre genes.

    P.S. Thankfully I wasn’t eating when I read your post, LAB. :/

  38. #38 Mike Olson
    May 30, 2009

    When I’ve watched the Oprah Show, what has always most impressed me has been the number of folks with relatively advanced degree’s supporting what is best termed, “Bullshit.” This might be Doc Oz, or Doc Phil. But, it always involves some “common sense” notion tied to pseudo-science, in such a fashion that it all sounds good and anyone who questions it can be easily labeled a crank or negative nabob. It is conformist thinking at it’s best. As per Ms. McCarthy, if something bad happens to you, it always feels better if you can find someone or something to blame. It gives the appearance of control and stability to an otherwise random, shifting, apparently meaningless universe. Ms. McCarthy’s reaction is understandable. Her choice of actions is nearly unforgiveable. She wants to assign blame. I get that. Her choice of villians will cost lives. She will have her son. But untold numbers of mothers listening to her will lose theirs. She (Jenny) becomes an unwitting monster.

  39. #39 DebinOz
    May 30, 2009

    Just a few weeks ago, I had cause to ‘discuss’ one of JMcC’s appearances on Oprah with a man who has a grandson with ASD. This man had just watched her episode, and was totally convinced that ‘she was onto something’.

    When I countered, gently, with what the scientific community has found, he said ‘What do scientist know? It stands to reason that all people are different’!

    I am just so hoping that time will tell. My early university education was in nutrition and epidemiology, and I gave up talking to my family members about what this field was discovering with regards to nutrition and health. Now, 20 years later, when this stuff is ‘accepted’ by the non-scientific community, my parents say that they remember me saying it years ago.

    Unfortunately, in that time, there will be a whole bunch of kids unvaccinated and tormented with woo.

  40. #40 Carl Witty
    May 30, 2009

    “The Secret” reminds me of The Little Engine that Could, but much worse… the moral of The Little Engine that Could is that if you think good thoughts and work very hard, you’ll achieve your goal. Evidently The Secret leaves off the “work very hard” part (I haven’t read it myself).

    I like Shel Silverstein’s “rebuttal” to The Little Engine that Could, Little Blue Engine.

  41. #41 Nashville
    May 30, 2009

    Does Jenny McCarthy really believe she cured her son from autism? I read this in the blog and I am stunned and shocked. I don’t know which is worse; the false hope this gives to parents of autistic children (who are so confused & desperate) of some sort of “cure” or the poor children who will be subjected to insane treatments and experimentation by these desperate parents.

    I have worked with a autistic children and a few adults (mostly Aspergers but some others forms of autism as well) and, believe it or not, they don’t all think their life sucks or that they have been cursed. Hell, some don’t even believe they are truly disabled. It seems in most cases it is the parent who is really suffering and desperate to have that connection with their child that autism can take away from them. But aren’t we, as parents, supposed to think about our children first and not our own (selfish) needs?

    I have also noticed that parents who accept their child’s disorder with reality, compassion and understanding have children that fare better in the world than parents that are looking for someone/something to blame or some sort of fix. These are little humans that need love and concern not finger pointing and experimentation.

    I realize that all of my evidence and observations are strictly anecdotal. But sometimes the anti vaccination clan (and even medicine and science) forget that these children are not always suffering and can even be happy. These people are defined by their personalities and not their disabilities.

    Thank you if you read this and let me take a moment to step off my soapbox and thank the community who do all the hard work putting together the scattered facts and truths in a cohesive and meaningful blog (almost hate calling it that when it is closer to journalism). Also while I am off the soapbox, seriously Jenny McCarthy, Shut the F*ck Up!!! I am really sorry for that, but not really all that much.

  42. #42 tim gueguen
    May 30, 2009

    It’s amazing the places the “law of attraction” idea turns up. A while back I was thumbing through a book by a woman whose hobby is entering contests. She’s won all sorts of things and the book contains her tips for contesting. But it also has a section discussing the “law of attraction” and how if you think you’ll win you will.

  43. #43 Militant Agnostic
    May 30, 2009

    Glad to see Christiane Northrup called out here.

    Christiane Northrup is also in a MLM supplements etc. scheme (USANA) – I wonder if she recommends (and then sells) them to her patients.

    Someone at Pharyngula pointed out that Oprah doesn’t care if what her guests say is true as long as it makes people feel good. I think this makes her a bullshitter and bullshit enabler.

  44. #44 Tsu Dho Nimh
    May 30, 2009

    Oprah sandbagged James Randi when he was the skeptic on a show about psychics

    Before Oprah became OPRAH, Randi was on her show (Chicago Today?) demonstrating how some charlatan’s tricks worked. She seemed to get it then. When were her brains sucked out?

  45. #45 george
    May 30, 2009

    #43 >>Oprah sandbagged James Randi when he was the skeptic on a show about psychics

    Before Oprah became OPRAH, Randi was on her show (Chicago Today?) demonstrating how some charlatan’s tricks worked. She seemed to get it then. When were her brains sucked out? < <

    It would be interesting to crowdsource a before/after Oprah documentary project showing inconsistent positions. There must be lots of video moments where the flow of the moment overrides consistency...

    It appears Oprah has realized there are no adverse consequences to catering to the masses. On the other hand, intellectual honesty inconsistent with the belief systems of the mass would have a price.

    PS. #3 - might you have meant hydrogen <1>peroxide poisoning?

  46. #46 happeh
    May 30, 2009

    Orac? Are you truly interested in this conventional vs alternative medicine discussion? Or is the blog anti alternative medicine propaganda only?

    I ask because of this:

    “The truly despicable aspect of The Secret is that ….. it is their fault. Tell that to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis,”

    That is a propaganda line to make people hysterical. Why are Nazis in a science discussion?

    It is a historical fact that jewish people did give Germany a lot of trouble before WWII. Enough trouble that the German people became angry at the Jewish people. So “The Secret” is right in this situation. Whatever it was that Jewish people did to Germans, angered the Germans and spurred the German retaliation against Jewish people.
    ——————

    If you are interested in discussion…..

    (1) “…the energy you put into the world — both good and bad — is exactly what comes back to you. This means you create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day.”

    That is true Orac. Your energy will pull other human beings with an energy that “connects” with yours, or an energy that you are subconsciously advertising for.

    (2) “and has advocated using qi gong to increase “energy flow” (i.e., qi) to the vagina and cure all manner of “female” ills, as well as providing fantastic orgasms.”

    Energy flow or qi is real. If you would stop waving your arms and use your scientific intellect to translate between your technological science and ideas that were invented by primitive humans thousands of years ago, you could easily figure out what these people mean by Qi and energy flow.

    (3) “Those scientists and nasty skeptics are such downers, too. They harsh the happy buzz of all that “positivity.””

    This is true. Have you read this blog after you authored it? You are an angry, rude, name calling individual who has no tolerance for other beliefs. Your negativity actually makes anyone who comes into contact with you ill to some degree.

    How can you do that when you have taken a job as a doctor to cure people’s health problems? Your job is to make people well, not sicken them with your negativity.

    As a doctor, no matter what happens you should be jovial with a smile on your face, because that good energy you would be emitting would do as much for your patients as any other type of treatment. It may not be fun being jovial with people you do not like, but in your job as a doctor that you are paid money for, you are supposed to make people feel good even if you don’t like them.

    Go look in the mirror Orac. And be honest while you are there.

  47. #47 e.d.
    May 30, 2009

    There is never a good reason or excuse for genocide. It is a heinous crime perpetrated only by sick individuals and justified by equally sick individuals.

  48. #48 e.d.
    May 30, 2009

    And, yes, I did bite the bait.

  49. #49 LAB
    May 30, 2009

    @Gil

    Are you saying you think autism is the result of “mediocre genes”? That’s completely incorrect, not to mention offensive.

    @happeh

    I hate to take the bait, but please explain exactly which Jewish people gave Germany “a lot of trouble” before WWII?

  50. #50 LAB
    May 30, 2009

    @Gil

    I forgot to mention. If you’re repulsed by sex, I’ve got a book that’s right up your alley (advance apologies if that metaphor is a little too graphic for you). It’s called “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.”

  51. #51 happeh
    May 30, 2009

    Google is your friend Lab. They can do a much better job than I can.

  52. #52 Nashville
    May 30, 2009

    @ Happeh

    Are you for real? I went to your web site and it I am not sure if it’s a joke or for real. Masturbation causes blindness and asymmetrical penises? Hah! You rely on absolutely no evidence other than your own conjecture.

    You advocate contradicting philosophies. You talk about how people are victimized be medicine and vaccines but how is this not these people bringing on their own misfortune. I ask you to please explain to Jen, Parental Choice and other advocates for “alternative medicine” how their child’s autism is the result of their negative thoughts. I am looking forward to your explanation. But then again, after looking at your blog, I am a little scared.

    How is your thought that the Jewish people brought on their own genocide not negative thinking on your part? Perhaps the maelstrom of criticism against the “secret” comes from the authors negative thinking not the meanness of the scientific community.

    Last time I checked the medical community did not ask for people to ingratiate their “alternative” ideas to the science community; it was the “alternative” medicine people trying to gain legitimacy within the med community who continually push their philosophy as science.

    Negative thoughts can be very influencing in your daily life, but the ‘if you dream it and think positive you can make it happen is absurd’. I wanted to be a Navy pilot when I was young, but no matter how hard I positively thought I was unable to make myself 6 inches shorter to meet height restrictions. So I guess my genetically predisposed freakish height was my stinkin’ thinkin’.

    Good luck on pushing your “alternative” thinking on the world, just a suggestion, don’t post links to web site. It does you more harm than good to your cause.

  53. #53 HCN
    May 30, 2009

    Nashville, do not waste time with Happeh. He showed up after his website was featured as a Friday Dose of Woo:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/04/your_friday_dose_of_woo_the_worldwide_wa.php

  54. #54 Nashville
    May 30, 2009

    Thank You HCN. Even the “alternative” community seems at odds with his all encompassing theory. It would be funny if happeh didn’t have so much hate in his heart. All I can say is wow. WOW!

  55. #55 Kuka
    May 30, 2009

    @ Happeh:

    Actually, Orac has brought me much joy and laughter through his blog. I feel good when he dismantles antivaccine woo, piece by piece. Many times I laugh out loud at the comments, and that makes those around me smile and laugh too. I’ve shared the posts with friends and co-workers, and they smile and enjoy it too.
    Sounds like lots of positive energy to me, Orac, you lucky guy. Good things should be coming your way, so sit back, relax, and just wait for good things to happen to you.

  56. #56 Orac
    May 30, 2009

    It is a historical fact that jewish people did give Germany a lot of trouble before WWII. Enough trouble that the German people became angry at the Jewish people. So “The Secret” is right in this situation. Whatever it was that Jewish people did to Germans, angered the Germans and spurred the German retaliation against Jewish people.

    Oh, goody. I should have guessed. You’re an anti-Semite, too. Why am I not surprised. In any case, Happeh, you’re full of shit. The Jewish people did not give Germany a lot of trouble before WWII. They were, in fact, one of the best integrated minority groups in Germany and viewed themselves as fully German. The claim that Jews gave Germany so much trouble is nothing more than the lies of Hitler designed to stir up hatred against the Jews.

    And you believe Hitler’s lies.

  57. #57 Sascha
    May 30, 2009

    Happeh you id”*t!

    Where on earth do you get your inane ideas from. Do you forget to flush the toilet during the night and then, next morning, dip your head in to find another nugget of pure stupid?

    There is absolutely no justification whatever, and there will never be, for what the Nazis did to the Jews as well as all the other people the Nazis thought needed to be extinguished: Roma, homosexuals, political dissidents, conscentious objectors and the mentally ill.

    Moron!

  58. #58 Regan
    May 30, 2009

    “…The bottom line is that, whatever good Oprah may have done with her money, when it comes to medicine and science, she is a force for evil….”

    That kind of sums the whole thing up and there really isn’t much more to add. (Just how much “good” does one have to do in order to make up for the harm caused to obtain that money?)

  59. #59 Lucas McCarty
    May 30, 2009

    Wait, wasn’t Einstein against World War 1? Even suspect of being a traitor for criticising Germany’s role in it?

    You heard it people: blame that damn brainiac jew for the holocaust!

  60. #60 Pareidolius
    May 30, 2009

    Orac, I think you need a “Do Not Feed the Happeh” sign.

  61. #61 DJ
    May 30, 2009

    happeh been watchin’ too much Oprah I guess.

    I wonder if there is a way to get the anti-anti-vax message out there successfully? Or just plain anti-woo? Seems like the woo has been with us forever.

  62. #62 Sascha
    May 30, 2009

    Sorry all. Can’t stand for the bs some spew about WWII. Will try harder to resist next time.

  63. #63 kathleen
    May 30, 2009

    “I wonder if there is a way to get the anti-anti-vax message out there successfully?”

    I am afraid that Jenny McCarthy might be right although with the wrong conclusion. She feels that it will take diseases coming back in order for the drug companies to take notice…I’m afraid that people dying-especially children..will happen before people take notice. I hope that I am wrong..

  64. #64 desiree
    May 30, 2009

    i read the secret (i was trapped with family, thanksgiving, long story), and i decided i would give it a go. the book recommended starting by attracting a free cup of coffee, even though everything is equally easy for the universe to give me. i decided i had enough coffee in my life, so i’d go right for the $100 million, if it made no difference to the universe anyway.

    i followed the steps. i changed my thoughts, as though i’d already won the $100 million. i focused. i even bought a lottery ticket.

    guess who is not yet $100 million richer?

    i still have a soft spot for the secret though. i liked the way the author recommends changing the topic if someone starts talking about their cancer or something, lest you get it. nice.

    i also couldn’t help but try to guess what the wavelength of the thought of, say, spinach is. is it the same as the wavelength of actual spinach? i got my BS in physics, and i seem to recall that you need a velocity and a mass to have a wavelength…. does this mean my thoughts have a mass? if the actual spinach is moving then it has a velocity, so there’s a chance we could compare the wavelengths. anyone know how to measure the momentum of a thought?

  65. #65 Azkyroth
    May 30, 2009

    Whatever it was that Jewish people did to Germans, angered the Germans and spurred the German retaliation against Jewish people.

    To a simplest formulation*, “what Jewish people did” was A) being noticeably different and B) living next door when certain Germans wanted someone to blame for the clusterfuck they made of World War I, and the situation the resulting settlement left the country in.

    (*technically, the Jewish people were actually noticeably different and living next door for a few hundred years of “well, this is all going to hell in a handbasket…who can we pin it on?!”, rather than just for World War I.)

  66. #66 Azkyroth
    May 30, 2009

    But sometimes the anti vaccination clan (and even medicine and science) forget that these children are not always suffering and can even be happy.

    They don’t get it. It’s not relevant to their grandstanding, and if anything, if they acknowledge their children as sentient human beings as they are it undermines their “case” (their self-aggrandizement and sense of victimhood).

    A lot of anti-vaxxers attitudes seem to have an undercurrent of Munchausen By Proxy, come to think of it…

  67. #67 Azkyroth
    May 30, 2009

    Are you saying you think autism is the result of “mediocre genes”? That’s completely incorrect, not to mention offensive.

    All available evidence indicates that autism is primarily genetic. Jenny McCarthy and others who sees autistic children as “broken” will translate that into “broken genes,” which, of course, they don’t have, what a mean thing to imply!

  68. #68 Seaweed
    May 31, 2009

    HeHe. Newsweek article titled: ‘Why Health Advice from Oprah Could Make You Sick’ : http://www.newsweek.com/id/200025

    When I saw this article I was a bit surprised to see it. You never attack the Oprah.

  69. #69 happeh
    May 31, 2009

    “Oh, goody. I should have guessed. You’re an anti-Semite, too. Why am I not surprised. In any case, Happeh, you’re full of shit.”

    I thought you already had that opinion? Wasn’t that the motivation behind your original hit piece on me?

    “The claim that Jews gave Germany so much trouble is nothing more than the lies of Hitler designed to stir up hatred against the Jews.”

    I think if you will check into the financial situation imposed on Germany after WWI, and subsequent financial events leading up to WWII, you will find that jewish people were involved in putting financial pressure on Germany.
    ————

    “Nashville – Are you for real? I went to your web site and it I am not sure if it’s a joke or for real. Masturbation causes blindness and asymmetrical penises? Hah! You rely on absolutely no evidence other than your own conjecture.”

    Yes I am for real Nashville. Since you seem to be so intelligent, will you please explain to this scientific audience in full detail what it is that causes a penis to be asymmetrical?

    Nashville – “Good luck on pushing your “alternative” thinking on the world, just a suggestion, don’t post links to web site. It does you more harm than good to your cause.”

    I did not post the link to my site. Another person did so.

    I agree with you that the site does more harm than good. People need to be lead into what I know. In this day of snoops and sneaks, when a person meets you they feel like they have the right to go and search on you. So people go to the site and read things they are not prepared for, which breaks their brain. If they talked to me first, I could judge what their brain can handle and only give them material they can handle.

  70. #70 snerd
    May 31, 2009

    Hrm. Whilst Happeh has created a promising body of work with his website, it has to be said that if you squint your mind’s eye some of his prose almost appears lucid. For that reason I can only award 4/10 Time Cubes.

  71. #71 Azkyroth
    June 1, 2009

    Yes I am for real Nashville. Since you seem to be so intelligent, will you please explain to this scientific audience in full detail what it is that causes a penis to be asymmetrical?

    The same things that cause other body parts to be asymmetrical (faces, for instance): genetics and in some cases injury. Which of those is it you think masturbation affects?

  72. #72 Sascha
    June 1, 2009

    Happeh

    Show evidence for your statements concerning Germany after WWI or shut up. You have no idea what you are talking about. Most lunatics are rather harmless, but your particular brand of lunacy and your statements are of the kind that empowered the Nazis and their crimes.

    Stick to masturbation, you’re no better at it, but at the very least you can’t harm anyone else.

  73. #73 antelope
    June 1, 2009

    @ desiree:
    A BS in physics is of no use to the secret! You need a BS in BS!

  74. #74 Nashville
    June 2, 2009

    @Happeh

    Someone thinks I am smart?! Now I can take your post to my mother in law and show her. I can tell her off and point how wrong she was when she said her daughter was marrying an idiot. But I digress.

    From what I understand it to be, a bent penis is due to a difference in elasticity between the erectile spongy tissues on the sides of the penis. There are some diseases that cause this. It could be hereditary, though I haven’t asked any man to show me his and his male family member’s “members”. Of course there is also the possibility of damage from trauma. You should use your preferred method of research, as you instructed others to do when they questioned your hateful racist statement about the Jewish Germans, and just Google it (try not to spend too much time looking at porn, it would shame your grandma).

    As to the link to your website, when you fill in the URL box to post a comment, it creates a hyperlink to a website. Your name is highlighted in blue which links back to your crazy ass site. While if you look at my name, it is gray, thus it doesn’t link back to my made up crazy ass site.

    Quick question, is the “tension” of masturbation the act of masturbating or the orgasm? I am thinking you have to mean the act, because if the “tension” created was orgasmic in nature, then sex would cause asymmetry. But if it is the act, wouldn’t subway drivers and helicopter pilots have the same single hand usage asymmetry. Both have remarkably stress filled jobs and use one hand. I wouldn’t expect any evidence behind whatever you say so conjure up a doozy for me. Looking forward to your bat sh*t crazy answer.

    I know I shouldn’t encourage you, as has been advised by others, but when I was a youth (and even as an adult sad to say) I used to collect black widows, observe the American diamondback rattlesnake at close range and tried to get as near as possible to as many dangerous animals as I could. My wife doesn’t like it that when I see a gator (I live in the true deep south) I feel compelled to jump out of my car or swing the boat over and try to get a close-up photograph. (Once I saw a gator blind in one eye, but couldn’t figure out how his tiny t-rex arms could masturbate himself). So I guess I’ll play with fire, if fire were absolutely bonkers, and encourage you.

    Yours in Peace,
    The Monkey Teaser

    P.S. The secret behind “The Secret” is that, like much of your site, it is made up.

  75. #75 Chris
    June 2, 2009

    Trolls tend to starve if you ignore them.

  76. #76 Nashville
    June 2, 2009

    @ Chris

    I know and I am sorry, for realsies. I can’t help it. It’s like a big whitehead. Yeah, you know you should not pop it and if you do you will walk around with that little scab and you’ll feel like an idiot, but you pop it just the same. I am sorry to generalize; you may not know the joy of zit popping. But you are right and I am very wrong.

    I formally announce I will no longer tease the monkeys. I promise. I don’t want a situation like at the San Francisco zoo. (Seriously, though don’t tease the tigers)

    Again, I apologize to Chris, HCN, Orac and anyone else whom I offended.

    Yours in resisting temptation,
    The ‘Former’ Monkey Teaser
    P.S. “The Secret” really is garbage

  77. #77 Nashville
    June 2, 2009

    @ Chris,

    Unless you meant I am the troll, because I ate those goats to get into ny fraternity and I lived under that bridge because student housing was impossible to procure (and ethernet was better).

  78. #78 Chris
    June 2, 2009

    No, Nashville, you are not the troll. I hope you stick around.

  79. #79 Ambitwistor
    June 3, 2009

    I seem to recall that in the late ’90s Oprah said she would never host a scientist on her show because scientists don’t believe in God.

  80. #80 Nashville
    June 3, 2009

    @ Ambitwistor

    Are you sure it wasn’t that Oprah thinks she is God?

  81. #81 Melinda
    February 7, 2011

    Hello,
    I need to voice this somewhere and Oprah certainly doesn’t give any right to the people to voice things on her site that she doesn’t agree with. So here it goes. Once there was FitTV on digital TV, that for those of us who haven’t the time or money to pay for a gym since we are fulltime single parents could use to engage in any of numerous fitness activities in our own living room for the cost of all the other channels we already get. Now according to my cable company Oprah bought out that particular channel in order to spurt her shows all over one channel of her own. Now there is no opportunity for all the people like me to use this resource. I know this really doesn’t fall exactly in line with your blog but it’s the best way I could voice something for others to see that something good has been taken away from hard working people who needed it, and it was taken by Oprah.

  82. #82 hlc123
    November 25, 2011

    oprah shrewdly has thrown enough crumbs to charities, and the occupier types … and, bought herself enough P.R. in the media, to absolve herself of all associations with the one percernters. People all but forget her years with barack and michelle in Wright’s anti-Amercan, racist church, or her voracious appetite for additional power, with ‘The One’, who she promoted to death for the Presidency. Yes, I believe in self made success in America, but this woman is a blatant hypocrite. While falsly appearing as an icon for free enterprise, and personally indulging in the extravagances it has provided her, behind the scenes, she campaigns for socialist candidates, like barack obama. Like most elitists, it’s ok for her and the obama’s to live a life of luxury, as long as the rest of us live off their table scraps, and view them from afar in awe. oprah made her fortunes off middle class white women, who loyally watched her show over the years, while behind the scenes, she embraced racist policies, like the ‘black values system’ in wright’s racist church … the same church which gave racist, louis farrakhan, a life time achievement award, while oprah, and the obma’s were faithfully attending every Sunday. In today’s world, big money, and the biased mainstream media are extremely adept at covering the tracks of famous hypocrites, whether it be oprah, or even the President, and michelle.

  83. #83 Charly smarjesse
    January 13, 2012

    I was sorry to hear that oprahs vagina murdered her anus.soooo sad and dark.

  84. #84 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 13, 2012

    Is there a special name for necromancy done for a gratuitous South Park reference?

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