Respectful Insolence

Dr. Oz versus science—again

That Dr. Mehmet Oz uses his show to promote quackery of the vilest sort is no longer in any doubt. I was reminded yet again of this last week when I caught a rerun of one of his shows from earlier this season, when he gazed in wonder at the tired old cold reading schtick used by all “psychic mediums” from time immemorial, long before the current crop of celebrity psychic mediums, such as John Edward, Sylvia Browne, and the “Long Island Medium” Theresa Caputo, discovered how much fame and fortune they could accrue by scamming the current generation of the credulous. Speaking of Theresa Caputo, that’s exactly who was on The Dr. Oz Show last week (in reruns), and, instead of being presented as the scammer that she is, never was heard even a hint of a skeptical word from our erstwhile “America’s doctor,” who cheerily suggested that seeing a psychic medium scammer is a perfectly fine way to treat crippling anxiety because, well, Caputo claims that it is. Even worse, apparently it wasn’t even the first time that Dr. Oz had Caputo on his show, and Caputo wasn’t even the first psychic whose schtick he represented as somehow being a useful therapeutic modality for various psychological issues. “Crossing Over” psychic John Edward was there first in a segment Oz entitled Are Psychics the New Therapists? I could have saved him the embarrassment and simply told him no, but apparently Oz is too easily impressed. As I said before, if he’s impressed by clumsy cold readers like Browne, Caputo, and Edward, it doesn’t take much to impress him. Also, apparently his producers aren’t above editing science-based voices beyond recognition to support their quackery.

I was further reminded how Dr. Oz promotes quackery by an article in Slate yesterday entitled Dr. Oz’s Miraculous Medical Advice: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. I suppose it would be mildly hypocritical of me to snark at the rather obvious “Wizard of Oz” jokes aimed at Dr. Oz. After all, I’ve probably used the same joke myself at one time or another. However, I wasn’t about to let that distract me from the article itself, which is very good. The reason is that there are two aspects to Dr. Oz’s offenses against medical science. There is the pure quackery that he features and promotes, such as psychic scammers like John Edward and Theresa Caputo, faith healing scammers like Dr. Issam Nemeh, and “alternative health” scammers like reiki masters, practitioners of ayruveda, Dr. Joe Mercola, who was promoted as a “pioneer” that your doctor doesn’t want you to know about. Never was it mentioned that there are very good reasons why a competent science-based physician would prefer that his patients have nothing to do with Dr. Mercola, who runs what is arguably the most popular and lucrative alternative medicine website currently in existence and manages to present himself as reasonable simply because he is not as utterly loony as his main competition, Mike Adams if NaturalNews.com (who has of late let his New World Order, anti-government, “Obama’s coming to take away your guns” conspiracy theory freak flag fly) and Gary Null.

The second aspect is that Dr. Oz also does give some sensible medical advice. The problem, as I’ve pointed out before, is that he “integrates” all manner of quackery into his science-based advice. Now, that pure nonsense is being “integrated”is pretty obvious when we’re talking about faith healing and psychic mediums, but Dr. Oz’s “integration” is actually seamless in that he integrates all manner of dubious and scientifically questionable claims with the more standard, stodgy, boring science-based advice (e.g., lose weight, exercise more, eat more vegetables and less red meat, treat your high blood pressure, and the like). For example, it is not surprising that Oz features a lot of dubious diet supplements on his show, given that losing weight is one of the single most important health issues many people face and the fact that effective weight loss strategies are rarely easy. They involve diet and exercise, neither of which is fun or easy for many people. So what we hear from Oz are stories like this:

As people were getting ready for the holiday season and its accompanying waist expansion late last year, Dr. Mehmet Oz let viewers of his TV show in on a timely little secret. “Everybody wants to know what’s the newest, fastest fat buster,” said the board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon and one of People magazine’s sexiest men alive. “How can I burn fat without spending every waking moment exercising and dieting?”

He then told his audience about a “breakthrough,” “magic,” “holy grail,” even “revolutionary” new fat buster. “I want you to write it down,” America’s doctor urged his audience with a serious and trustworthy stare. After carefully wrapping his lips around the exotic words “Garcinia cambogia,” he added, sternly: “It may be the simple solution you’ve been looking for to bust your body fat for good.”

In Dr. Oz’s New York City studio, garcinia extract—or hydroxycitric acid found in fruits like purple mangosteen—sounded fantastic, a promising new tool for the battle against flab. Outside the Oprah-ordained doctor’s sensational world of amazing new diets, there’s no real debate about whether garcinia works: The best evidence is unequivocally against it.

As Julia Belluz and Steven J. Hoffman, the authors of the article, point out, garcinia extract has been tested, and in a randomized trial in 1998 it was no better than placebo for weight loss. A more recent systematic review of the literature concluded that the evidence was at best equivocal and that the effects, even if real, were so small as make it unlikely they were clinically relevant. Belluz and Hoffman also point out that Dr. Oz takes full advantage of the scientific respectability that his current position affords him:

Oz may be the most credentialed of celebrity health promoters. He’s a professor and vice-chair of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He earned his degrees at Ivy League universities, namely Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. He’s won a slew of medical awards (in addition to his Emmys) and co-authored hundreds of academic articles. He’s clearly a smart guy with qualifications, status, and experience. It’s reasonable to assume he is well-versed in the scientific method and the principles of evidence-based medicine. “Because he’s a physician, that lends a certain authority and credibility to his opinions,” said Steven Novella, a clinical neurologist and assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine who has taken Oz to task for his science. “But it lends credibility to anything he says.”

Indeed it does. I often wonder about this. First of all, I wonder how Dr. Oz can manage to do a daily hour-long talk show and still hold all the academic positions that he holds. I realize that it’s Oz’s producers and writers who do most of the grunt work for his show, but it’s still hard to believe that during the nine months or so a year when his show is in production Oz doesn’t spend at least 20-30 hours a week working on it. Just the taping of five episodes a week alone must surely, when added up, take up a full (and long) day or more. Then there’s oversight, rehearsals, and consultations with the producers and writers, not to mention travel and promotion. It’s a huge time commitment, and it’s hard to figure out how from September to June Dr. Oz has enough time to take care of patients, handle his administrative duties, and do anything resembling academic work. Besides the difficulty of maintaining one’s technical operative skills and knowledge base in a surgical specialty as complex as cardiac surgery, Dr. Oz must have the most understanding surgical partners in the world, given how often and for how long they must have to cover his patients, and he must have the most understanding department chair in the world given how little time he probably has left after his show to do any real administrative work. (Remember, he’s not just the vice chiar of the department of surgery; he’s also the director of the Cardiovascular Institue and the Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital.) On the other hand, no doubt Columbia derives considerable rewards from Dr. Oz in terms of publicity for its medical school, programs, and hospitals, not to mention probably a not insignificant amount of cold, hard cash. So it’s probably not that surprising that Oz’s administration and partners put up with him and bend over backwards to enable him.

The sad thing is that Dr. Oz, for all his fascination with reiki even as far back in the 1990s, used to be a halfway decent surgical scientist. The vast majority of his publications from that period are pretty mainstream and unremarkable. They were competently done, although I didn’t find any major breakthroughs or any new really interesting findings, although admittedly he did produce a lot of publications.

Of course, all of this makes it even sadder to see what Dr. Oz has become. He’s already proven that he knows how to do decent science; the evidence is in dozens of publications from years past. Yet when he’s on TV all of that flies out the window, and Oz apparently either forgets (or rejects) everything his pre-Oprah scientific career. For example:

Take a breaking-news segment about green coffee-bean supplements that “can burn fat fast for anyone who wants to lose weight.” Oz cited a new study that showed people lost 17 pounds in 22 weeks by doing absolutely nothing but taking this “miracle pill.”

A closer look at the coffee-bean research revealed that it was a tiny trial of only 16 people, with overwhelming methodological limitations. It was supported by the Texas-based company Applied Food Sciences Inc., a manufacturer of green coffee-bean products. Oz didn’t mention the potential conflict of interest, but he did say he was skeptical. To ease his mind, he conducted his own experiment: It involved giving the pills to two audience members for five days and seeing what would happen. Unsurprisingly, both women reported being less hungry, more energetic, and losing two and six pounds, respectively.

Dr. Oz knows as well as any regular reader of this blog who has imbibed of its content and message how worthy of ridicule such a TV “study” of two is: no blinding, no control group, far too short a time period of observation, and a number so small as to be meaningless; yet somehow Dr. Oz thinks that something like this “eases his skepticism” about the tiny study (which only had either four or six subjects in each experimental group). Particularly informative is Figure 2 of the study, in which all three groups basically decreased their BMI at the same rate in the initial period regardless of whether they were in the group to receive placebo, low dose, or high dose green coffee bean supplement. One also notes that there were no error bars on any of the graphs to provide an idea of the scatter in the data. All in all, it’s a pretty worthless and unconvincing study, not even taking into account the conflict of interest. Come to think of it, one wonders whether Dr. Oz (or any promoter of alternative therapies and supplements) would accept a study like this from a pharmaceutical company as convincing evidence that the company’s product worked. Somehow I doubt it.

A while back, Steve Salzberg provided another example of Dr. Oz’s bad science. This incident occurred during Dr. Oz’s infamous “arsenic in apple juice” fear mongering. Basically, Dr. Oz was guilty of exceedingly sloppy methodology, a lack of replication, and the use of a lab whose results were known to be unreliable. Now, for all that, I will disagree with Steve when he says that Dr. Oz is not a scientist. He is. Or, at least, he was. As I mentioned, he’s proven that he can do halfway decent science when he sets his mind to it. The problem is that for purposes of his TV show and for purposes of his promotion of reiki and various alternative medicine treatments, Dr. Oz has abandoned what he clearly knows and chosen instead to use a shadow of the trappings of science to convince his viewers of a claim. To me, what Oz does is so much worse than a non-scientist pretending to be a scientist. Oz was a scientist; he should know better. He chooses not to. Truly, if Dr. Oz is “America’s doctor,” it is little wonder that the health of the average American is not so hot.

I can speculate endlessly why Dr. Oz has devolved from a respected cardiothoracic surgeon and surgical investigator into, let’s face it, a huckster selling whatever he thinks his audience will buy. Well, that’s not exactly true. As Dr. Oz so often and so piously reminds us, he doesn’t make any money from endorsements, and he claims to aggressively go after companies that falsely advertise his endorsement to sell products. The product that Dr. Oz is selling to America is, above all else, Dr. Oz. There’s also the relentless pressure to come up with material to fill five hour-long episodes a week for nine months a year. TV is a bottomless sink for material, and it demands material that will attract, engage, and, above all, entertain its audience. Telling people to lose weight and exercise isn’t that entertaining or interesting. Telling people there are supplements that will let you lose weight without dieting or exercise is. Strategies to deal with anxiety based on research are difficult to present in an entertaining fashion. Presenting psychics like John Edward or Theresa Caputo as being therapeutic is easy and potentially entertaining even to skeptics, and it can be done with Dr. Oz’s “aw, shucks” disclaimer that fools no one in which he opines over and over again that “science doesn’t know everything” and that “medicine can’t explain everything.” So, as Dara O’Briain puts it, Oz fills in the blanks with whatever fairy story appeals to him—or, more accurately, appeals to his audience.

As 2013 begins, I’ve been thinking a lot. We skeptics and supporters of science-based medicine are massively outgunned, and Dr. Oz is simply the most telling example of this. Quacks have Dr. Oz to sell their products. We have a loosely-knit, unorganized bunch of bloggers trying to refute the torrents of nonsense that promoters of quackery like Dr. Oz spew forth, and a few academics like Dr. Edzard Ernst trying to counter the flood of quackademic medicine filling academic journals. Dr. Oz has an audience of millions every day. Bloggers like Steve Novella, Steve Salzberg, and I have an audience of a few thousand each every day, and our audiences have considerable overlap. Moreover, even in the skeptic movement itself, countering quackery and medical pseudoscience is all too often the neglected stepchild that gets far less time, attention, and love than creationism, Bigfoot, the paranormal, and religion. Even within the skeptical movement itself, I’ve personally all too often seen a shocking level of tolerance or even acceptance of antivaccine views and alternative medicine.

That’s why one of my aims this year is to come up with ideas about how we can work to change this, because this matters, or should matter, to everyone. All of us will get sick at some point in our lives. Many of us will become seriously ill at some point in our lives, and all of us have known or will know someone who becomes seriously ill. All of us will require medical care, and many of us require chronic treatment for some condition or other. Blogging is important. Exposing quackery and medical pseudoscience is important. However, it isn’t enough.

Comments

  1. #1 prn
    January 2, 2013

    How about screen tests? Like the Steves (N, B), maybe Orac our gracious host here, Ben G, or Kim A?

  2. #2 thenewme
    January 2, 2013

    Re: “Blogging is important. Exposing quackery and medical pseudoscience is important. However, it isn’t enough.”

    Orac, can I tell you how happy I am to hear this?! I’m not a blogger or a scientist or a doctor. I’m *just* a breast cancer patient who is thoroughly disillusioned at how prevalent woo is and how aggressively it’s marketed directly to patients like me on disease-specific support forums.

    It’s frustrating to me that the quacks have “how-to” manuals, canned text, and even monetized affiliate links and incentives to make it easier for them to spread their woo. I’d love to have a good source of specific action items that I could use to contribute my efforts to the anti-quackery movement.

    How can we help?

  3. #3 jeffrey
    OH-
    January 2, 2013

    dr. oz is a hooker of the worst sort. to him its all about the dollars. Which begs my question: how rich does this dillwad have to be until he can stop being a prostitute? I’d rather consult Ozzy than dr. oz

  4. #4 jeffrey
    OH-
    January 2, 2013

    In regards to HCA, dr. oz’s new miracle cure for fat. I took that crap 10 years ago, and noticed that it worked better if I stuck to a rigid exercise and nutrition program.Oddly enough, when I went back to a pizza and cola diet, HCA quit working. Weird, huh. I’m wagering his next new miracle fat buster will be either creatine or ephedra.

  5. #5 Dangerous Bacon
    January 2, 2013

    Dr. Oz: “How can I burn fat without spending every waking moment exercising and dieting?”

    The exercise involved in building a giant straw man burns LOTS of calories.

  6. #6 LW
    January 2, 2013

    To ease his mind, he conducted his own experiment: It involved giving the pills to two audience members for five days and seeing what would happen. Unsurprisingly, both women reported being less hungry, more energetic, and losing two and six pounds, respectively.

    And he found that plausible? To lose two pounds you need a shortfall of about 7000 calories, so to lose it in five days you need a daily shortfall of 1400 calories. That is barely plausible. To lose six pounds in five days you need a shortfall of 4200 calories per day. An athlete in really good shape doing grueling exercise might manage that, but such an athlete wouldn’t be looking for diet pills.

    That loss must be water weight (if it’s even true) and Oz must have known that.

  7. #7 Krebiozen
    January 2, 2013

    I think we need a science-based placebo without the paranormal trappings. Doctors don’t generally have time to deliver the kind of healthcare experience that maximizes non-specific effects the way things like homeopathy do. I would like it if a doctor could prescribe an unhurried chat with a friendly and interested healthcare professional who asked questions about a patient’s life and lifestyle, and made helpful suggestions (diet, exercise etc.), followed by a massage and a class in relaxation and stress management.

    I bet that would take a good chunk out of the woo market, and would also improve patients’ health over the longer term. Happier patients are far more likely to be compliant and to take care of their health. There’s plenty of evidence to support this, and no need to fill people’s heads with pseudoscientific nonsense.

  8. #8 Marie
    January 2, 2013

    @thenewme
    Re: “I’m *just* a breast cancer patient who is thoroughly disillusioned at how prevalent woo is and how aggressively it’s marketed directly to patients like me…”
    Yeah…me too. Well, different cancer, but I also am drawn to this blog for the same reasons. I speak out at my National Cancer Network affiliated hospital when they offer me “magical hand waving” and all. (Some of) the doctors say somewhat sheepishly, “well….it’s what (cancer) patients want”. Ah…I see….a marketing tool when we are at our most vulnerable point.

  9. #9 Ahcuah
    January 2, 2013

    Here’s one you might like (for sufficiently wooful definitions of “like”): Quantum Earthrunners.

    The link is actually just a review. It contains a link to the source, which also has a video that’s “fun” to watch.

    That’s right, because it’s not enough to ground your bed. Now you need to make sure that those magic electrons go right into your feet, even when shod.

    On a related note: the Earthing research page has a bunch of studies they’ve done, and quite frankly I cannot figure out what’s gone wrong with them. Yeah, some are scattershot (if you don’t know what you are looking for in advance and just look at a slew of effects and pick out the few significant ones, that’s just playing with the statistics, since out of that many tests some will show positive results just from scatter). They are also published in, let us say, less than reputable journals (e.g., The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine). Subjective feelings can be easily dismissed, but some use actual devices to measure responses. Of course, one should then wonder if they actually know how to use their equipment. And along those lines, are their measurements within the margins of error, and they’ve introduced bias?

    But if you have any thoughts on those studies, and what they do wrong, I’d love to see a column on them. Because I have not been able to figure out anything obvious.

  10. #10 prn
    January 2, 2013

    …who is thoroughly disillusioned at how prevalent woo is and how aggressively it’s marketed directly to patients like me…”

    I saw an oncology dinner where the night’s spotlighted pharmaceutical presentation pushed Avastin for breast cancer after the US FDA science panel had already burped on it. Apparently extra incentives were added.

  11. #11 FulfilledDeer
    January 2, 2013

    You absolutely read my mind. Well, aside from all that well written argument about Dr. Oz. Basically just that last little bit.

    We need something. I’ll help. Seriously.

    Also, just for the interest, according to the show NY Med, Dr. Oz does 1 surgery a week. At least, I think that what it was. The guy is clearly busy but seems to have some free time – I’m actually at Columbia, and he wound up in the anatomy lab ready room one afternoon (I wasn’t there, but my facebook was ridiculous for about an hour).

  12. #12 Shay
    Somewhere cold and sunny
    January 2, 2013

    To ease his mind, he conducted his own experiment: It involved giving the pills to two audience members for five days and seeing what would happen. Unsurprisingly, both women reported being less hungry, more energetic, and losing two and six pounds, respectively.

    There is some kind of effect — Denice, Herr Doktor? — that causes individuals who are put in the limelight to produce above-average results. I think this was first observed during time/motion studies in industry, well before WWII.

  13. #13 Bronze Dog
    January 2, 2013

    First of all, I wonder how Dr. Oz can manage to do a daily hour-long talk show and still hold all the academic positions that he holds. I realize that it’s Oz’s producers and writers who do most of the grunt work for his show, but it’s still hard to believe that during the nine months or so a year when his show is in production Oz doesn’t spend at least 20-30 hours a week working on it.

    It’s funny that we get trolls who express concern that Orac spends a lot of time typing up blog posts. I’d think a blog would be nothing compared to working on TV. You can blog from anywhere with an internet connection, at any opportunity, and it’s easily done solo, so no complications from scheduling conflicts.

    There’s also the relentless pressure to come up with material to fill five hour-long episodes a week for nine months a year. TV is a bottomless sink for material, and it demands material that will attract, engage, and, above all, entertain its audience. Telling people to lose weight and exercise isn’t that entertaining or interesting.

    That’s one thing that makes skepticism a bit hard to sell, sometimes. We’re often the “boring but practical” approach to various problems, since we don’t have paradigm shifts every week.

    It’s also unappealing to the lazy. For weight loss, it’s kind of like the difference between getting a regular job and working hard (exercise and diet) versus a zany scheme from the convenience of your home (looking for exploits to burn fat without leaving your couch).

  14. #14 Denice Walter
    January 2, 2013

    The Halo Effect.

  15. #15 Jaime Lacson
    Philippines
    January 2, 2013

    about coffee , coffee make your stomach feeling full . but thats bad you skips breakfast

    Take a breaking-news segment about green coffee-bean supplements that “can burn fat fast for anyone who wants to lose weight.” Oz cited a new study that showed people lost 17 pounds in 22 weeks by doing absolutely nothing but taking this “miracle pill.”

    A closer look at the coffee-bean research revealed that it was a tiny trial of only 16 people, with overwhelming methodological limitations. It was supported by the Texas-based company Applied Food Sciences Inc., a manufacturer of green coffee-bean products. Oz didn’t mention the potential conflict of interest, but he did say he was skeptical. To ease his mind, he conducted his own experiment: It involved giving the pills to two audience members for five days and seeing what would happen. Unsurprisingly, both women reported being less hungry, more energetic, and losing two and six pounds, respectively.

  16. #16 Kathryn R
    January 2, 2013

    I’m sure he has producers who put together the topics of his show. Dr. Phil has stated he doesn’t believe in psychics, yet they still manage to devote an episode to some psychic guest every season.

    I believe they also record all 5 episodes in a single day. They wouldn’t need rehearsal time as he can read cue cards from the back room. It’s possible he doesn’t even know what he is going to say before he says it.

    I would be interested in comparisons of his statements or claims from when he first started appearing on television to what he says now.

    It’s very possible he knows these claims are false but justifies it with the rationale that it’s what keeps people watching and there is a benefit to them being more educated about their health even if they walk away with a few “harmless” tidbits mixed in.

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    January 2, 2013

    The web- and tv- woo-meisters enjoy audience approval because they have learned how to project a certain hip-ness, cool-ness, fashionable-ness, *nouvelle vague*-ness : by approving of them, their audience vicariously shares the spotlight and thus, relishs an ‘in with the in-crowd’.

    At least in their fevered imaginations.

    I propose that we reveal what incredibley dull, backwards thinking attention grabbers they really are. How can having unrealistic, self-serving and self-enriching ideas and being a full-time poseur be HIP? How can following such a person – and modelling yourself after him- be cool? It’s even un-cooler than being the original poseur. It’s double posing.

    It is frigging, entrenched, self-aggrandising advertisement that masquerades as spirituality! What is un-hipper than that?

    Oh and all of the guys Orac mentioned are *thin* or *athletic* ( see AJW). I guess that that makes them sacrosanct.
    -btw- so I am. Big effing deal.

  18. #18 Enkiran
    January 2, 2013

    As allways I said; Dr. Oz is just doctor and master on surgical operations. He is NOT a scientist.

  19. #19 lilady
    January 2, 2013

    No need to *wonder* how Dr. Oz *manages* on the salary he receives from his TV Show…estimated to be at a minimum of $10,000,000/year.

    He claims that he endorses no specific brand of the vitamins and supplements he touts…so what does he earn as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board at RealAge.com…which is a slick marketing internet tool used by *Big Pharma* to get demographic information and medical histories from their *members* in order to send them information about drugs?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/technology/internet/26privacy.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

    “…But while RealAge promotes better living through nonmedical solutions, the site makes its money by selling better living through drugs.

    Pharmaceutical companies pay RealAge to compile test results of RealAge members and send them marketing messages by e-mail. The drug companies can even use RealAge answers to find people who show symptoms of a disease — and begin sending them messages about it even before the people have received a diagnosis from their doctors.

    While few people would fill out a detailed questionnaire about their health and hand it over to a drug company looking for suggestions for new medications, that is essentially what RealAge is doing…”

  20. #20 Deborah Brautman
    Calabasas
    January 2, 2013

    First of all I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write this indightful, impeccably researched blog. I am a psycho-therapist and my husband is a physician. Neither one of us were aware of the nonsense that the powerful Oz was selling. Both my husband and I try to educate our patients ( clients) from a scientific perspective. As you said, we don’t have the
    power that celebrities like Oz ,Suzane Summers and Jenny McCarthy have.

  21. #21 Bronze Dog
    January 2, 2013

    I really don’t get the whole fashion thing when it comes to newage/altie stuff. I’d be tempted to label it as an insular hipster clique, but it’s much too popular to fall into that category. I often get the feel that many are trying to one-up each other on which obscure, unworkable diet they’re on, or something, so that they can claim to be further away from the mainstream than the ones who just take a couple supplements. Naturally, anyone who questions the value of their diet must be some McDonald’s gorging philistine who doesn’t understand what “real” food is like.

    Vicarious living through gurus is one of the big things that stands out to me. Whenever we dare criticize one, we’re more likely to get the equivalent of “Leave Brittney alone!” than rational argument. They’ve attached their sense of identity to their allegiances.

  22. #22 herr doktor bimler
    January 2, 2013

    causes individuals who are put in the limelight to produce above-average results.

    Hawthorne Effect. Increasing the lighting while paying close attention to the staff improved their productivity. OTOH, *Decreasing* the lighting while paying close attention to staff also improved their productivity.

    Conclusion: Many employers are not really concerned about productivity, not if this required them to treat their employees as people.

  23. #23 Jeffrey
    OH-
    January 2, 2013

    I think dr. oz must have slipped the 2 audience members some methamphetamine in those pills. Less, hungry more energetic, improbable weight loss. Just sayin……

  24. #24 Goldenskyhook
    Madison, WI
    January 2, 2013

    I am always amazed and amused at “wise” skeptics such as yourself who believe that damning something with fancy adjectives often enough will somehow make your position true. For a person to trust the “scientific method” one must make a leap of faith. One must decide to blindly trust the five senses as well as any instrumentation used in the experiments. This is an act of faith equal to that of a fundamentalist. It is well known that eyewitness reports are the least reliable, and the reliability actually goes down if the observers are trained. To believe in objectivity, one must ignore the fallibility of the five senses and blindly accept all the assumptions involved in the proposed thesis. The greatest fallacy is that repetition of a phenomenon is predictive. We have absolutely ZERO evidence to “prove” that the sun will come up tomorrow. All we have is good odds. I am a scientist and a researcher myself, but I recognize it for the flawed and fallible method of inquiry it is. It is simply a useful tool. I have a term I use for those who blindly believe in objectivity and the “scientific method.” I call these people members of a religion called “scientism.” If you believe that your own opinions are right, simply because you continually restate the belief ad nauseum, then you have made the blindest leap of faith that man is capable of — the blind faith in reason and logic. Logic works because “mathematicians agree.” It is nothing more than a handy tool, NOT a barometer of “reality.” If you ask 100 people to describe an object, you will get 100 different answers. This is as close to proof as we will get in showing that reality is entirely subjective and that objectivity is a manufactured fantasy. — a pleasant lie we tell ourselves to avoid getting clear on things. There is not always another “hand” for things to be on (as in “well, on the other hand.) Sometimes things just are what they are and every person sees them differently from the rest. That is far more real than the imagined fantasy of believing that the past can predict the future.

  25. #25 Sastra
    January 2, 2013

    Celebrities. We need some celebrities who are not famous just for being skeptics to come out publicly and attack alternative medicine — hard. Defending science; consumer safety; fighting fraud; all three. We need celebrities who are cool, credible, and caustic. We need celebrities who are so popular their faces are already plastered over magazines, billboards, movie theaters, and television screens. They cause a controversy and get even MORE publicity by going after Big Alt Med.

    That’s my solution, Orac. Now — you go get them. I’m sure we’re all excited here to see who you bring back!

  26. #26 herr doktor bimler
    January 2, 2013

    Boing Boing remains on the side of righteousness and justice:
    http://boingboing.net/2013/01/01/correlation-between-autism-dia.html

  27. #27 lg
    January 2, 2013

    Dr. Oz’s wife is a reiki practioner so naturally he’s going to believe in all this B.S.

  28. #28 Jeffrey
    Ohio
    January 2, 2013

    I initially missed the line that “people magazine voted him one of the sexiest men alive” What that has to do with science or integrity is beyond me. I’m guessing if anyone finds dr oz appealing, it’s because of his big fat wallet. Not sure who people mag polled, but judging by the comments here, it’s not a valid poll result.

  29. #29 bad poet
    January 2, 2013

    @Jeffrey – at least Ozzy Osbourne is a proponent of colonoscopies, as opposed to green or black coffee enemas.

  30. #30 Terry Garrison
    January 2, 2013

    I actually have a groundbreaking solution to this whole delimma … CHANGE THE CHANNEL if you do not like what is on. Problem solved.

  31. #31 Terry Garrison
    January 2, 2013

    @ bab poet

    Some people deserve a cheyenne pepper enema for imposing on the rights of others.

  32. #32 THS
    January 2, 2013

    Happy New, Orac. Thanks for this insightful blog.
    Happy New Year, Minions. Thanks for all you do.
    Regarding the Orac’s final final two paragraphs: just so. You articulate what crosses our minds. In my wild moments I wonder if I can get a project started at the local U’s Journalism Dept. and will seek advice there.
    Denice, good to know you are thin & athletic. I would have guessed so. (Are you ready to face your audience of zillions to front for us?) But in these bizarre times the term “hip” has sadly lost meaning, I fear. It’s akin to the the problem a satirist faces these days: reality has gone beyond the pale.
    Goldenskyhook, that’s quite a screed.

  33. #33 Denice Walter
    January 2, 2013

    @ Jeffrey:

    I think he’s supposed to be attractive to women thus a ratings magnet.
    Although I consider myself a connoisseur of men, I don’t see anything special about him and I’m usually partial to the Mediterranean-ish look. There’s nothing wrong with how he looks though.
    Oh wait, he’s got that squarish jaw line which is supposed to be wonderful and he’s thin. ( see my comment above)

  34. #34 Denice Walter
    January 2, 2013

    @ THS:

    Oh, I’m not that thin. And I have enough money. And I am a serious person.

    BUT I truly appreciate your very complimentary words.

  35. #35 herr doktor bimler
    January 2, 2013

    “people magazine voted him one of the sexiest men alive”

    Was that before or after the 1998 poll when their readers opted overwhelmingly for Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf?

  36. #36 Pareidolius
    Making popcorn. This one could be better than Judith.
    January 2, 2013

    Pray tell, what are your degrees in your goldenskyhookness? I was only half way through your screed when my Logical Fallacy Bingo™ was filled! Just what I need, another toaster oven. Denice? You won that Cuisinart last time, you wanna swap?

  37. #37 herr doktor bimler
    January 2, 2013

    I have a term I use for those who blindly believe in objectivity and the “scientific method.” I call these people members of a religion called “scientism.”

    So where is my tax-free status??

  38. #38 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 2, 2013

    @Goldenskyhook,

    One must decide to blindly trust the five senses as well as any instrumentation used in the experiments.

    Since one of the 5 senses is, in fact, sight, the concept of blindly trusting vision seems about as sensible as deafly trusting hearing or tastelessly trusting, er, taste.

    In any case, you’re wrong about what people who use science to understand the world believe. The only reason anyone trusts, say, a thermometer to determine what the temperature is is because of a significant amount of work that determined the fundamental principles of thermal expansion, plus a significant amount of work done to create and calibrate standard thermometers. We trust that far more than our sense of touch, which we know to be somewhat subjective. Likewise, we know that our senses of sight, hearing, taste, and smell can be fooled and that eyewitness testimony is certainly subject to error.

    Logic is a handy tool, but devoid of sensible data its conclusions are meaningless. Read Lewis Carroll’s book on symbolic logic if you want examples of logically consistent statements following from spurious or unproven premises.

    All evidence is, however, that there is an underlying reality and that causality does exist. It is the intent of science to describe that in increasing levels of precision. Your apparent view that it’s all subjective so why bother is a failed philosophy.

  39. #39 LW
    January 2, 2013

    @Goldenskyhook:

    For a person to trust the “scientific method” one must make a leap of faith. One must decide to blindly trust the five senses as well as any instrumentation used in the experiments. This is an act of faith equal to that of a fundamentalist. …. I am a scientist and a researcher myself, but I recognize it for the flawed and fallible method of inquiry it is. It is simply a useful tool. I have a term I use for those who blindly believe in objectivity and the “scientific method.” I call these people members of a religion called “scientism.

    I’m trying to work out how you do research when you think that trusting in the tools you use is equivalent to fundamentalism.

  40. #40 novalox
    January 2, 2013

    @terry garrison

    So you wish to impose limits on others by threatening violence?

    Boy, don’t you contradict yourself. But please, keep posting, we need some entertainment by someone like you.

  41. #41 Michael
    January 2, 2013

    @Goldenskyhook- if reality is entirely subjective and there’s no guarantee that the physical laws will work the same as they have in the past, then why don’t you jump off the Empire State Building? There’s no guarantee that you’ll fall and be badly hurt or killed but some things are established to a very high probability.

  42. #42 Alain
    January 2, 2013
  43. #43 Narad
    January 2, 2013

    This one could be better than Judith.

    Nah, it’s even dumber. This fails to even reach metaphysics.

  44. #44 herr doktor bimler
    January 2, 2013

    I’m trying to work out how you do research when you think that trusting in the tools you use is equivalent to fundamentalism.

    Ha! LW has not noticed that carpentry is a religion on account of its requirement of qualified confidence in the tools of woodwork [citation: Silverberg, R. (1976)].

  45. #45 AdamG
    January 3, 2013

    goldenskyhook,

    I am a scientist and a researcher myself

    Please, do expand on this.

    (Also, I find your username rather ironic if indeed it is a reference to Dennett)

  46. #46 AdamG
    January 3, 2013

    and by the way, goldenskyhook, having a ‘not yet’ MA in Mental Health is NOT the same as being “a scientist and a researcher.”

  47. #47 John Beall
    St. Paul, MN
    January 3, 2013

    @Goldenskyhook
    When you call he scientific method a religion, it is clear you really don’t understand.
    The scientific method is not perfect but it is by far the best tool to study the world around us than any other tool that has ever existed.

  48. #48 Narad
    January 3, 2013

    Oh, G-d, “acid rescue”? And this stuff is what you came away with?

  49. #49 THS
    January 3, 2013

    Oh. AdamG, how did you do that link on the golden sky guy? Are we all so findable if we have Face Book?
    Denice, you know I that I often enjoy your commentary on account your psychological & historical expertise is beyond mine – and you have a lot to say about the motivations and thought processes of the woo crowd. I would have to work on my own sense of patience before I could become so well versed in the topics.
    Goldenskyhook, you are way over your head with this crowd, I assure you. We have more than “good odds” on that one.

  50. #50 THS
    January 3, 2013

    @ Narad – what’s this about acid rescue? Did I hear a knock? (And Happy New Year, N.)

  51. #51 AdamG
    January 3, 2013

    If you’re going to lie about your profession, you ought to choose a pseudonym that’s not immediately linked to your real name on the first page of google hits ;)

  52. #52 THS
    January 3, 2013

    AdamG – thanks. I’ll look into this. I suspect golden sky guy is to some degree needing compassion, but annoying in his self-important obliviousness. And a pretty good sax player.

  53. #53 Narad
    January 3, 2013

    @ Narad – what’s this about acid rescue? Did I hear a knock?

    Oh, it’s there. I suspect the knock in this case is another hard one, so I won’t pile on further. He can always just ply his philosophical case.

    (And Happy New Year, N.)

    Thanks, it would make for a nice change in these here parts.

  54. #54 Chemmomo
    I've googled html tags to provide emphasis (results not guarranteed w/o preview)
    January 3, 2013

    I swear I’ve read every sentence of GoldenSkyHook’s post in the comments section here before, just not all in one single post. Or perhaps it’s just because all accusations of “scientism” by nature are going to sound the same. Ooooh, because I don’t understand your arguments, it’s all just religion !
    Goldenskyhook, if you’re not just a driveby, think about what you posted:

    If you believe that your own opinions are right, simply because you continually restate the belief ad nauseum

    Back at you, buddy: you’ve restated your own beliefs ad nauseum in the space of less than 400 words.
    Then there’s

    damning something with fancy adjectives often enough will somehow make your position true

    Once again, back at you, buddy. The quotation marks all over the place don’t help. They only add to the nausea.

  55. #55 Krebiozen
    January 3, 2013

    If you ask 100 people to describe an object, you will get 100 different answers.

    Dammit, you’re right. If only there was some way of overcoming that pesky subjectivity.

  56. #56 Bronze Dog
    January 3, 2013

    I actually have a groundbreaking solution to this whole delimma … CHANGE THE CHANNEL if you do not like what is on. Problem solved.

    Ah, yes, how original. We care about people being hurt by bad medical advice, so we should just stop caring about people.

  57. #57 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2013

    @ Pareidolius:

    You may have the Cusinart’. There is so little cooking going on around here that currently a very large cat is asleep upon the stove. Safely, I might add.

  58. #58 Rose
    January 3, 2013

    Does anyone else remember the commercial that asked, “If you break the laws of physics, will you be punished?”
    That always made me scream gravity at the television. Subjective? Perhaps not.

  59. #59 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2013

    @ THS:

    Well, thanks again.
    I try to get people to look at how others behave/ think in a different way based upon SB psychology without making it an exercise in article quoting- because it would involve too many quotes**. Instead I try to get readers to look into these topics on their own by citing concept names. It is – in reality- a large mesh of ideas that have their roots in Enlightment era philosphers, cognitive psych as well as recent discoveries in physiology.

    ** but not “too many notes”.

  60. #60 S
    January 3, 2013

    GoldenSkyHook, Surely you don’t unload these types of opinions and comments onto the clients at these facilities where you worked?

    Is it only in America where unlicensed, and clearly unqualified individuals can be placed in charge of counseling and caring for those suffering with mental health issues? Would one place a surgeon with brain tumor in charge of operating on people with brain tumors? There may be a time and a place for peer support, but I suggest that it is not in critical care and other facilities and by people who are clearly ‘suffering’ and ill themselves.

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickdietercdp
    http://www.dreaminguplife.com/voice/

  61. #61 Alain
    January 3, 2013

    Would one place a surgeon with brain tumor in charge of operating on people with brain tumors?

    ermm…..the surgeon would have to undergo surgery but what about having an autistic psychiatrist in charge of autistics patients? The parallel are too strong not to make.

    Alain

  62. #62 S
    January 3, 2013

    Alain, Am I correct to presume that your opinion is that it is ok to have an autistic psychiatrist in charge of autistic patients? I can’t really speak about autism, as I have no experience with that condition. Perhaps I could have better explained my point – anyone who is of seemingly distorted opinions and interpretations of reality should not be placed in charge of counseling people with mental health problems.

  63. #63 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2013

    @ S:

    Anywhere in the industrialised world, people who become therapists and counsellors usually have to complete education and training that screens and eliminates many with serious issues of their own ( rules/ laws vary). I am of course speaking about standard, reality-based education and training.

    Unfortunately,as with SBM, there is competetion by woo-based crap institutes and tnose who set up on their own. Currently, various woo-meisters “counsel” people publicly beyond nutrition- looking into this is part of my focus.
    Two examples: Gary Null’s counselling clients live and by phone ( including over internet radio, “health support groups”); MIke Bundrant @ NaturalNews.

  64. #64 Alain
    January 3, 2013

    Alain, Am I correct to presume that your opinion is that it is ok to have an autistic psychiatrist in charge of autistic patients?

    Yes and I’ve known a psychiatrist having bipolar disorder in charge of BD patients. He did a fine job overall.

    Alain

  65. #65 S
    January 3, 2013

    @Denice – your area of focus is needed and certainly of great interest to myself. However, in the ‘real’ world, there are psychiatrists who have completed education and training that, for example, earned esteemed positions of being placed in charge of psychiatric in-patient facilities and private practices, yet while they were receiving sexual favors from their female patient whom they had both diagnosed and medicated.

    Elsewhere, Case Workers travel with their family on their daily house-bound client visitations. Their ‘family’, which consists of numerous small dogs dressed in human baby diapers, modified t-shirts and shorts and skirts. Senior Case Workers “teach” recovering clients to cook, including how boiling foul-smelling meat will kill any germs and make it safe it eat. A newly found use for road kill, I presume. Yes, indeed. A real life One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and such treatment is not just for the mentally ill, but for others recovering from other types of brain damage and impairments who need the same intensive level of care.

    Peer support is fine, and certainly in most cases is better than the older institutionalized systems, but there remains a great lacking in oversight and quality of care. Please, someone explain to me exactly how a psychiatrist can be getting blow jobs from his patients and not be suspended or fined after the medical board has completed their investigation and found the charges true? Earlier it was mentioned how a dentist surely would not prescribe an antidepressant to a patient; that’s nothing compared other ‘activities’ which are indeed documented.

  66. #66 S
    January 3, 2013

    With all due respect Alain, I have known of several psychiatrists with bipolar disease who have wreaked destruction across multitudes of patients for years before anyone intervened on behalf of the patients. Certainly I hope that if there other psychiatrists with bipolar disease treating patients, that they are both qualified and respectable, but my experience tells me that this is not a smart combination.

  67. #67 S
    January 3, 2013

    ^ Meaning it is not a smart combination to have a practicing psychiatrist with bipolar disease. Qualified and respectable are always a smart combination, along with skilled and experienced.

  68. #68 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2013

    @ S:

    And whoever said that any system is fool/ criminal proof?
    Police take bribes, bankers commit fraud, judges are racist, governmental workers lie and cheat et al. It’s human nature.
    And hard to fix.

    Because the system is imperfect doesn’t mean that we should throw it out. Two different issues: woo as a replacement science AND SBM/ psychology has cheats, criminals and frauds.

    Alt media likes confound the two issues and imply that woo would fix SBM’s problems.
    Hah!

  69. #69 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2013

    woo as a replacement FOR science

  70. #70 TBruce
    January 3, 2013

    Please, someone explain to me exactly how a psychiatrist can be getting blow jobs from his patients and not be suspended or fined after the medical board has completed their investigation and found the charges true?

    Citation?
    Where I live, any physician found to be involved in any sort of sexual relationship with a patient will be suspended for a minimum of 2 years and receive a hefty fine (tens of thousands of dollars). A psychiatrist who has sexually exploited multiple patients would be struck off for life. This in fact happened several years ago in my region.

  71. #71 S
    January 3, 2013

    @TBruce – I’ll email Orac the link to his medical board findings. I do not want to post it online for several reasons I’d prefer not to explain.

    @Denice, the woo only makes matters worse. I’m in agreement with you on all of that.

  72. #72 S
    January 3, 2013

    ^”HIS findings”, meaning the findings of the psychiatrist that I mentioned. Orac has no such charges or allegations.

  73. #73 Politicalguineapig
    January 3, 2013

    Goldenskyhook: I’d like to point out that while 100 people may offer different descriptions of an object, one could go through the descriptions and see where they agree and define the object based on the commonest description.

    S: Unless you live in some backwater like Texas or Arizona, those allegations about the caseworkers can’t be true. If you do live in those states, my condolences.

    Also, like TBruce, my state comes down really hard on people who blur the line between their professional and personal lives. I’d like to note that Orac has stated that he is NOT a psychiatrist.

    DW: In my opinion, there are a lot of problems with psychiatry, so it’s understandable that a lot of people don’t trust the field as a whole. It’s a poorly understood field, there’s a helluva lot of junk science bouncing around (heck, most psychiatrists still cut their teeth on Freud’s theories) and it was used as a bludgeon against a lot of people in the past. So I kinda understand where S is coming from, even if I think ze’s exaggerating.

  74. #74 Todd W.
    harpocratesspeaks.com
    January 3, 2013

    @Terry Garrison

    I actually have a groundbreaking solution to this whole delimma … CHANGE THE CHANNEL if you do not like what is on. Problem solved.

    Do explain, ’cause I can’t see how changing the channel will do anything to fix Dr. Oz’s promotion of pseudoscientific nonsense. It would be like deciding to turn around to stare at a tree when you see someone about the get hurt by an oncoming vehicle. Looking at the tree won’t do anything to help the person.

  75. #75 Marg
    January 3, 2013

    How nice to see all you SBM types ganging up on someone else for a change. I liked @Goldenskyhook’s comment. Also @Terry Garrison’s solution.

  76. #76 Narad
    January 3, 2013

    How nice to see all you SBM types ganging up on someone else for a change. I liked @Goldenskyhook’s comment. Also @Terry Garrison’s solution.

    An odd comment to append to an unsolicited whine.

  77. #77 Alain
    January 3, 2013

    @ S,

    From your comment, it seem that the mental health practitioner’s personality interfered with the treatment of their patient. On the other hands, both the BD psychiatrist I know used evidence based guidelines to base their treatment on (I have the guidelines and read them many times). Same for my psychiatrist who is a researcher with an MD/PhD who do a lot of research on different medication; he prescribed me the best medications for my problems and I’m nearing remission. I’m not saying that doing a PhD help uses evidence based guidelines (a PhD might be used instead to create guidelines) but doctors using a science based approach have better results as compared to doctors using their experience and personality to guide treatment.

    Alain

  78. #78 Alain
    January 3, 2013

    Reference to the evidence based treatment for BD (which I forgot to include in my previous post):

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23237061

    one of the authors of the document is a psychiatrist I applied to work for, when I move to Montreal.

    Alain

  79. #79 S
    January 3, 2013

    S: Unless you live in some backwater like Texas or Arizona, those allegations about the caseworkers can’t be true. If you do live in those states, my condolences.

    Not sure how to respond to that. It’s your decision to believe me or not. I’m very careful when I make such allegations, and at some point I may be ready to name names quite publicly, but it’s always your choice to believe what you choose.

    Also, like TBruce, my state comes down really hard on people who blur the line between their professional and personal lives.

    TBruce’s question was much easier to address and a link to that medical board record has already been forwarded to Orac. At a minimum, I would like to ensure that Orac understands that I am indeed telling the truth. Otherwise, I should leave this blog.

    I’d like to note that Orac has stated that he is NOT a psychiatrist.

    I’m quite aware of Orac’s field of practice, and am not asking him for mental health care. I sent him the medical board record so as not to post it in the public light, at this time.

    In general though, this is a problem when providers in practice do not believe their patients. Some patients and providers certainly do lie, and it must be hard to distinguish which are telling the truth and which are not. I don’t envy the predicament some providers are in as far as that goes. In any case, more bizarre things have happened to some patients, and they may not necessarily always have such documentation to support their assertions. What do you do when mental health patients are exploited, or Alzheimer’s patients, or people with Autism, someone under the influence, a vet with severe PTSD? Who believes them above the claims made by their licensed professional providers? Many of those types of patients don’t speak well publicly, and thus may not appear as reputable when alongside a more seasoned speaker without a disability or illness.

    How nice to see all you SBM types ganging up on someone else for a change. I liked @Goldenskyhook’s comment. Also @Terry Garrison’s solution.

    No surprise there. Terry Garrison’s suggestions are no solution, either. They are a lame excuse to turn the other cheek, no pun intended, and allow the woo-abuse to continue.

  80. #80 S
    January 3, 2013

    From your comment, it seem that the mental health practitioner’s personality interfered with the treatment of their patient. On the other hands, both the BD psychiatrist I know used evidence based guidelines to base their treatment on

    @Alain, I guess that would depend on one’s perspective. I would imagine that to each of them, they did not attempt to interfere, but rather they wanted to help the patient, and I certainly doubt that they wanted to intentionally cause harm. The point is that they simply didn’t know any better and/or had an illness or disability that was not adequately addressed or should disqualify them from treating such patients. Their illness or disability seems to have allegedly resulted in them not being able to issue self control, or make more appropriate decisions on how to properly cook food, and know that spoiled meat should be thrown away, rather than merely boiled. Other times, I would guess that some people might claim having such a disability only after they get caught, so as to offer a more acceptable excuse for their behavior. Discerning blatant quackery like Reiki energy is certainly much easier.

  81. #81 Alain
    January 3, 2013

    Discerning blatant quackery like Reiki energy is certainly much easier.

    Yes, I agree and I’m very lucky to have stumbled on a good doctor.

    Alain

  82. #82 S
    January 3, 2013

    @Alain, I don’t mean to imply that people with disabilities are not capable of providing quality care, but rather that some are not, just as some non-disabled providers should not be allowed to practice. More attention needs to be given to assure that medical providers as a whole are qualified and capable, and when anyone has special needs, they need to chose their field wisely. It is not fair to the patient to have someone in charge of them who is not able, regardless of the reason, to provide quality care.

    I know of someone with CP who is absolutely brilliant and a joy to be around. I would not trade their expertise and company for anything. I consider myself a better person for having the benefit of learning from them.

    Alain, you should consider writing a book. You sound like you have a very inspiring and uplifting life story to tell.

  83. #83 AdamG
    January 3, 2013

    A wild Marg was spotted!

    Margaret used Whine!

    It’s not very effective…

  84. #84 Alain
    January 3, 2013

    Alain, you should consider writing a book. You sound like you have a very inspiring and uplifting life story to tell.

    Maybe but I don’t know what should I include and what should be left off. If I include every events of my life, the psychopath with whom I lived would sue me for sure and I might also cause problems with other peoples.

    Alain

  85. #85 S
    January 3, 2013

    would sue me for sure and I might also cause problems with other peoples.

    @Alain, Ha! You and I both my friend.

    Just start writing. Tell yourself that you don’t have to ever publish it, and no one else has to ever read it. No one even has to know that you are writing it. Just write. Over time, you can make other decisions as to what you want to do with your writings, if anything.

  86. #86 John
    January 3, 2013

    what abag of shit

  87. #87 Scottynuke
    January 3, 2013

    +1 internets to AdamG… :-)

  88. #88 Lawrence
    January 3, 2013

    @AdamG – “super-ineffective” even…..gotta love memes

  89. #89 novalox
    January 3, 2013

    @marg

    Still scheming to scam innocents out of their money, fraud?

  90. #90 Alain
    January 3, 2013

    @ S

    one part of my book:

    http://www.securivm.ca/2013/01/reflexion.html

    Enjoy
    Alain

  91. #91 ChrisP
    January 3, 2013

    I would have predicted Marg would like GoldenSkyhook’s post.

    I must be psychic or summat.

  92. #92 Politicalguineapig
    January 4, 2013

    S: Elsewhere, Case Workers travel with their family on their daily house-bound client visitations. Their ‘family’, which consists of numerous small dogs dressed in human baby diapers, modified t-shirts and shorts and skirts.
    Well, see, when you post something like this, it kinda makes me doubt your veracity. I view Texas and Arizona as open air asylums, so that’s why I asked if you resided in those states. I do think that a lot of the red states would teach senior citizens how to prepare spoiled meat/roadkill as a cost preventative measure or a way of packing the churches.

  93. #93 Pareidolius
    Not Opening the Pod Bay Doors
    January 4, 2013

    Marg returns with some wan, beige invective. Judith does not. Oh, right, some of our Canadian minions were about to instigate investigations into her “practice.” And poor goldenskyhook is reduced to drive-by status. They just don’t make trolls like they used to . . .

  94. #94 Militant Agnostic
    In a house where we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
    January 4, 2013

    Marg – I am still waiting for your response to my estimate of the energy requirements for Bengston’s cloud busting.

  95. #95 Agashem
    January 4, 2013

    @militant agnostic:
    Energy is unlimited! It can be focused in ways you can’t understand! Clouds are nothing! I love exclamation points and hate science!
    (how did I do? anything like Marg?)

  96. #96 Mary Arneson
    Minnesota
    January 4, 2013

    “There is some kind of effect — Denice, Herr Doktor? — that causes individuals who are put in the limelight to produce above-average results. I think this was first observed during time/motion studies in industry, well before WWII.”

    That ‘s the Hawthorne effect. There’s a Wikipedia article on it, explaining that it may not be so simple, but that the idea is that people who are being studied may improve their performance just because they are aware that they are being studied.

  97. #97 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 4, 2013

    @Marg,

    As you might have been able to tell, I didn’t agree with Goldenskyhook’s comment and frankly don’t understand why you care for it particularly. My reasons:

    1. Goldenskyhook creates a strawman argument, claiming that science places an over-reliance on that which can be observed and what a measuring tool reports. Nobody with any degree of experience in science believes that direct observation is necessarily reliable, nor that an instrument – simply by virtue of being called an instrument – is both accurate and precise. Frankly, I’d have thought you’d have rejected Goldenskyhook’s comments on this basis alone, as you have argued that what you, yourself have observed should have significant weight.

    2. Goldenskyhook goes on to assert that eyewitness accounts frequently contradict each other. Nobody denies this. There are several aphorisms that say exactly this. This is one reason why science requires repeatable results, with all reasonable attempt to ensure that only one cause (or a minimal set of causes) can be traced to a particular event.

    3. Goldenskyhook makes an entirely pointless comment about whether we can prove that the sun will come up tomorrow. This seems to demand a level of proof that is, frankly, impossible to provide. People who study science have a far more reasonable and pragmatic view on the nature of proof and probabilities. Does anyone know to a “metaphysical certainty” that the sun will come up tomorrow? No. There are a few conceivable special circumstances that could arise, either from an imperfect knowledge of physical law or from an unforeseen special case, that could keep that from happening. For instance, the sun could explode – based on what we know now, it seems highly unlikely. Some outside force could stop the rotation of the earth (the concept that it would stop on its own overnight is patently absurd and contradicts multiple physical laws, but some amazing outside influence could, I suppose, stop it).

    4. Goldenskyhook refers to people who “believe that your own opinions are right, simply because you continually restate the belief ad nauseum” – I’m sorry, that’s not science. I’m not sure what group Goldenskyhook is referring to there. Some would argue that politicians, religious people, and, yes, Reiki masters fall into that category. I’m sure there are individual scientists who have been guilty of similar lapses – but if you actually practice science, you do it less often.

    5. I’ve previously commented on the statements about logic.

    6. Goldenskyhook concludes with “That is far more real than the imagined fantasy of believing that the past can predict the future.” I’m not entirely sure what is meant by that; the obvious (though incomprehensible) reading is a rejection of causality. There is a LOT of evidence that says there is such a thing as causality. If someone drops a 16 ton weight on your head, you die. If you mix a given amount of sugar into a given amount of water at a given temperature it will (or will partially) dissolve. If you push something hard enough, it will fall over. We know these things because in the past they have been tried repeatedly and found to occur every time. You may choose to deny that the past has any impact on the future; this will be of little consolation as your past actions cause future results.

  98. #98 Narad
    January 4, 2013

    Goldenskyhook concludes with “That is far more real than the imagined fantasy of believing that the past can predict the future.” I’m not entirely sure what is meant by that; the obvious (though incomprehensible) reading is a rejection of causality.

    It’s nothing more or less than the usual occultist ontological blenderizing, in which one plays at idealism but really, really requires real plural minds (otherwise, one would have to explain why people who are products of your own mind are constantly pointing out that you’re full of crap). Marg has done it herself, and this I presume was the appeal.

  99. #99 JGC
    Crusing on the Antelope Highway
    January 7, 2013

    Fudd’s first law of opposition, as I live and breath…

  100. #100 Louise Vachon
    Canada
    January 15, 2013

    Hi, I have called out of curiosity the office of Dr. Issam Nemeh to ask his secretary about the skype session. First of all the service is poor, very difficult to get hold of someone, only answering machines. And when finally I got hold of someone it was a replacement because usual secretary was very sick! And I asked how much does he charge for a session. She said for 30 minutes it is $200.00 paid in advance. And then she asked me are you at your first shype session with Dr. Nemeh. I said does it take more then one????
    I told I would think about it. All my close friends went and did their research and we all came to one conclusion. He loves more money than he wants to heal. Is it a Heal or a BAD deal.
    Frankly I think it is the second. Money I love you in the name of GOD!!!!
    Run Forest, Run….

  101. [...] and he really did publish a lot of papers in the peer-reviewed surgical literature. I’ve expressed wonder at this transformation before: How could such an undeniably brilliant surgeon and surgical investigator fall so far, at least [...]

  102. #102 Maxine Tanker
    Decatur, GA
    February 8, 2013

    I agree that quacery needs constant exposure and more needs to be done. I fell for the scam featured on Dr Oz and ordered Pure Garcina cambogia extract as well as green coffee bean supplement. Cambogia didn’t work ;didn’t try green coffee bean.

  103. #103 lisa
    March 18, 2013

    COMMENT..RESPONSE TO DR OZ “GOOD” LOOKS
    seriously…he is bow legged, tied tongue and looks like he is mildly retarded! This man and his family need to go. His daughter, his wife..the oz fame hungry empire. I am so sick and tired of seeing them everywhere. They are brainwashing America and these easily persuaded people are falling for it. Did you ever notice how his audience seem like they suffer from self esteem problems and they need reassurance? And did you see how he would do anything to get ratings? Please let’s fight to get “America’s Doctor” off the air… since when he is our Doctor?

  104. [...] And ads about green coffee bean extract being the latest weight-loss trick (something that Orac has addressed here, noting, for example, that the ‘evidence’ in support comes from a trial – funded [...]