Respectful Insolence

Ozgrilled

It’s been three days since America’s quack, Dr. Mehmet Oz, had his posterior handed to him by a wily old prosecutor who is now a Senator, Claire McCaskill. The beauty of it is that, not only was Dr. Oz called, in essence, a liar to his face and not only was he called out for his irresponsible and hypercaffeinated promotion of various diet scams on his show, which is seen by millions every day, but he didn’t see it coming, and his public spanking as he testified in front of Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, chaired by Sen. McCaskill, made instant news, with extensive coverage on national television, in newspapers, and, of course, in the blogosphere. “Deer in the headlights” images of Dr. Oz have proliferated, as have images of a most discomfited, nervous Dr. Oz, looking very much unlike his normal charismatic smarmy persona that we see on his daytime TV show.

All of this is a good thing, but it’s not enough. Dr. Oz is, like the humongous, giant clam with little feet that let him move around featured in the story told as part of Arlo Guthrie’s rather bizarre (but hilarious) The Story of Reuben Clamzo & His Strange Daughter in the Key of A, “hurt but not defeated” and “ready to strike again when the opportunity was right.” Also, Dr. Oz has a very large and very dedicated fan base. Even in my post, there are occasional trolls who try to defend him or call me a “pharma shill,” but in the news stories in mainstream sources Oz fans are out in force, while over at NaturalNews.com, the ever=hyperbolic, ever over-the-top Mike Adams, not content to launch an attack in which he accuses McCaskill of “unleashing Orwellian thought crimes attack on Doctor Oz for trying to help Americans overcome obesity,” followed up with classic “pharma shill” gambit entitled Senator who attacked Doctor Oz over dietary supplements received over $146,000 in campaign contributions from Big Pharma mega-retailer and Monsanto. Mikey, as is his wont, can’t help but turn the crazy up to 11:

Now Natural News has learned that Sen. McCaskill received over $146,000 in campaign contributions from one of the largest pharmaceutical retailers in North America. According to campaign contribution data published at OpenSecrets.org, prescription drug mega-retailer Express Scripts gave McCaskill over $109,000 in campaign contributions, most of which was routed through lobbyist groups or PACs. (1)

Sen. McCaskill also accepted over $37,000 from Monsanto, widely regarded to be the most evil corporation in the world and an enemy of sustainable food production, heirloom seeds and traditional American farming methods.

Strangely, McCaskill also received over $32,000 from Google, Inc., and another $29,000 from Comcast.

Monsanto, of course, is based in St. Louis. Indeed, over a decade ago I visited its corporate headquarters to give a talk with a couple of other members of the faculty of the medical school where I worked back then. Obviously, I know that makes me not only a pharma shill but a GMO shill, even though I received no money other than reimbursement for travel, lodging and meals for an overnight stay and haven’t been back since. Of course, although I’ve seen ads for Dr. Oz doing a couple of shows on GMOs and the pseudoscientific fear mongering about them (actually, Oz contributed to the pseudoscientific fear mongering about them), GMOs appear to be a very tiny part of what Dr. Oz does; so it’s not clear why Monsanto would want to take him down, although I suppose it is in conspiracyworld. In any case, it’s obvious to Adams that McCaskill must be in the pocket of big pharma and Monsanto because, well, in Mike Adams’ world no one criticizes people like Dr. Oz unless she’s in the pocket of big pharma and Monsanto. Of course, I’m actually surprised that Oz couldn’t find any contributions from pharmaceutical companies, given how pervasive pharma influence is in Congress. The worst he could find was a donation from Monsanto, a home state company, and Express Scripts, a company I hadn’t even heard of before reading Adams’ attack?

Of course, the pharma shill gambit is mild and sane by comparison to Adams’ usual rants, and in this one he comes across as a starstruck schoolboy grateful for having been allowed to bask in Dr. Oz’s star power for a few minutes on his show and having been exposed to millions of Dr. Oz’s viewers. That is the problem, though, with Dr. Oz: He had a quack like Mike Adams on his show and took his claims to be a “food safety” watchdog and “food scientist” seriously. It’s one big reason why I dropped my reticence towards using the term with Dr. Oz and dubbed him “America’s quack.” As I pointed out, having a scammer like Mike Adams on his show and representing him as some sort of “whistleblower” and “food safety activist” is akin to having Andrew Wakefield on a show and portraying him as a “vaccine safety activist.”

Not surprisingly, Mike Adams isn’t the only quack who’s shown up to defend Dr. Oz from Sen. McCaskill. An acupuncturist who has been a guest on Dr. Oz’s show is also not happy. Her name is Jill Blakeway, and she wrote a piece for her blog entitled My experience on The Dr. Oz Show:

He [Dr. Oz] may be guilty of enthusiastic language, but as someone who’s appeared on his show many times I don’t think he’s guilty of being misleading. In fact I’ve always found that both he and his team take great pains to make sure that the herbs and supplements they feature are both effective and safe.

Whenever I have been asked to appear on a segment on The Dr. Oz Show, I have been asked to submit research about the herbs or treatment I’m due to talk about. This research has then been scrutinized both by the producers and a medical committee composed of MD’s. This committee has the power to veto anything that has insufficient science to back it up. In my experience they do just that. I’ve sometimes suggested a herb that is used routinely in Asia, but has little western research and found that it cannot be featured on the show because the producers require clinical data about its efficacy in English.

Of course, Blakeway is an acupuncturist. Consequently, her judgment with respect to what constitutes scientific rigor is automatically suspect. After all, if she had a good understanding of what constitutes scientific rigor, she wouldn’t be an acupuncturist in the first place. Out of curiosity, I searched for her name on Dr. Oz’s show website and found that, indeed, she has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show many times. A couple of the segments included:

  • Relieve Stress with Acupuncture Beads. Dr. Oz has Blakeway on to demonstrate “acupuncture beads,” which appears to be a variant of auricular acupuncture. Blakeway blathers on about how the ear is a “microcosm of the rest of your body,” and Dr. Oz doesn’t challenge that at all, even when she points out points on a giant picture of the ear that supposedly map to the kidney or the heart. Remember, auricular acupuncture is nonsense. Oz even refers to acupuncture as the “gold standard” for stress relief.
  • Dr. Oz’s Best Alternative Health Remedies. Dr. Oz and a bunch of his audience members receive acupuncture at the hands of Blakeway.
  • Dr. Oz’s 24-Hour Stress Cleanse.

Clearly, Dr. Oz’s staff’s examination of the scientific evidence was not particularly rigorous, but it impressed Blakeway. That’s not surprising. A quick perusal of her practice’s website, Yinova Medicine, shows that she offers all sorts of dubious traditional Chinese medicine treatments, including acupuncture (of course!), moxibustion, cupping, and traditional Chinese medical diagnosis. Not surprisingly, the Yinova Center has a naturopath on staff and offers naturopathic medicine. Naturopathy, as regular readers know, is a form of quackery that consists of a cornucopia of pseudoscientific techniques, including homeopathy, tradition Chinese medicine, and many others, all wrapped up in a philosophy consisting of prescientific vitalism with a patina of science slapped on the whole mystical pseudoscientific edifice to fool people who don’t look too deeply. Irritatingly to me, the Yinova center also treats cancer patients. Let’s just put it this way. The Yinova Center offers oil pulling, which is pure woo.

What about Dr. Oz himself? Clearly, he was blindsided, as an unnamed source affiliated with his production company revealed. Oz expected to be the hero, someone testifying about how his name is being “abused” by unscrupulous weight loss supplement scammers, but instead he became the main target. So a couple of days ago, he posted this to his Facebook page:

I was pleased that the hearing yesterday dealt with some complicated issues and had all the players present whose cooperation will be necessary to move forward in protecting the consumer. For years I felt that because I did not sell any products that I could be enthusiastic in my coverage and I believe the research surrounding the products I cover has value. I took part in the hearing because I am accountable for my role in the proliferation of these scams and I recognize that my enthusiastic language has made the problem worse at times. To not have the conversation about supplements at all, however, would be a disservice to the viewer. In addition to exercising an abundance of caution in discussing promising research and products in the future, I look forward to working with all those present yesterday in finding a way to deal with the problems of weight loss scams.

Translation: I’m sorry. I know my “enthusiastic language” (in reality shameless, hyperbole-laced hucksterism) is a major contributor to the problem of weight loss scams, but it’s all part of the “conversation.” And, because I’ve abandoned all my scientific principles, I actually believe the crap research supporting these supplements I promote. At least, that’s what I tell myself. The money makes it all better. I’ll be happy to work with regulators to help fix the problem, but only as long as it doesn’t require me to change anything that I’m doing.

No, Dr. Oz still doesn’t get it. Given that his current season is either over or almost over—I don’t know for sure because I don’t follow the show, which only reaches my consciousness when an ad for a show featuring a particularly egregious bit of quackery or big quack happens to catch my attention—likely we’ll have to wait until September to see how Dr. Oz reacts to his very public spanking at the hands of the Senate. My guess is that he’ll two things: (1) play the victim and say he walked into a trap (the latter of which is probably true) and (2) tone down the “miracle” rhetoric and do fewer segments about weight loss. However, I also guess that he won’t be able to tone down the “miracle” rhetoric very long—or cut down on the number of show segments about weight loss—because weight loss is by far the most popular topic in such shows, and people want quick fixes. Adhering too long to true science-based medicine as topics on his show is a sure recipe for ratings disaster, and Dr. Oz’s ratings didn’t skyrocket until after he embraced the dark side of quackery. That’s why I’m guessing that by January The Dr. Oz Show will be back to the same as it ever was, if not even worse, with a fresh dollop of persecution complex.

Comments

  1. #1 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    June 20, 2014

    Somebody ought to photoshop a picture of Grumpy Cat’s face onto Oz. He looks just like her.

  2. #2 Lawrence
    June 20, 2014

    He obviously assumed that in his role as “America’s Doctor” that his opinions are the Gold Standard & no one would dare question his judgement on what is & is not effective medical treatments (or nutrition advice).

  3. #3 Chris Hickie
    June 20, 2014

    Give all the laws now about recording anything more than a paper clip that is given to a physician by a drug company, is it possible to when Oz last shilled for Big Pharma?

  4. #4 Chris Hickie
    June 20, 2014

    Verbs make life happen: “is it possible to determine when Oz last shilled for Big Pharma ?”

  5. #5 squirrelelite
    June 20, 2014

    FWIW, Express Scripts does a lot of mail order drug deliveries.
    Having retired from the military, I get my medications from them. And my wife, being on Medicare Part B, can get hers from them also.

  6. #6 Denice Walter
    June 20, 2014

    Mike goes over-the-top, full tilt bonkers in an anti-goverment rant un-cleverly disguised as a quiz today.
    Instant translation:
    Don’t believe anything involving the government including what occured the other day with Dr Oz.

  7. #7 Andy
    June 20, 2014

    I thought EA and or Comcast were the most evil companies in the world? :)

  8. #8 Helianthus
    June 20, 2014

    Sen. McCaskill received over $146,000 in campaign contributions

    Out of how much, Mike?
    I would expect the campaign budget of a senator to run into the million dollar figures.
    I would agree that a suitcase containing $ 150k represents a bit temptation to change one’s tune, but its potential for leverage may not be as big as implied.

    I’m actually reacting the way I react when some nutty tell us this scientist has been bought by Big Pharma for $ 10k and a coffee mug. I love conspiracy theorists. For them, we are corrupt and cheap.

  9. #9 Eric Lund
    June 20, 2014

    For them, we are corrupt and cheap.

    Orac admitted in the post that he was bought for just enough money to cover his expenses on an overnight trip to St. Louis (at least, that’s how anyone inclined to play the pharma shill gambit would view it).

    Yes, it does take serious scratch to run a Senate campaign, particularly in a state with more than one major media market (MO has St. Louis and Kansas City). It goes both ways, too: at least one older Orac post discusses a woo-friendly hearing that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) was persuaded to convene in exchange for a $40k donation–and his district is in the San Diego area, a relatively expensive media market.

    I would prefer a system where politicians didn’t have to get backing from major donors, but that’s not the country we live in (especially with this Supreme Court). “Politician Gets Six-Figure Contribution from Company” is a headline in the same category as “Water Wet”, “Bear Defecates in Woods”, and “Generalissimo Francisco Franco Still Dead”.

  10. #10 Mike
    June 20, 2014

    Monsanto does serve as a useful marker for quackery. Almost any post decrying them for being evil is likely to be filled or based on woo.

  11. #11 Scott
    June 20, 2014

    It’s funny because while they call people like you and the senator shills in the figurative sense, they’re defending Dr. Oz, who is literally a shill.

  12. #12 Skeptico
    June 20, 2014

    Now Natural News has learned that Sen. McCaskill received over $146,000 in campaign contributions from one of the largest pharmaceutical retailers in North America

    This from Mike Adams. The same Mike Adams who makes a living selling supposed “health” products on his own website:

    http://store.naturalnews.com/

  13. #13 Denice Walter
    June 20, 2014

    @ Skeptico:

    Exactly.
    We need to keep reminding the woo-entranced that their moralistic thought leaders are selling products on their educational websites’ STORES.

  14. #14 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    June 20, 2014

    I have a little nitpick about this. Dr. Oz was “invited” to testify. As I understand it such an invitation leaves no choice but to show up.

  15. #15 Composer99
    June 20, 2014

    Generalissimo Francisco Franco Still Dead

    Really? Dammit!

  16. #16 Mike
    June 20, 2014

    There are some nice quotes in this article by someone who I believe is a friend of Orac.

  17. #17 brewandferment
    June 20, 2014

    AFAIK (and there’s plenty of room to prove me wrong because I haven’t researched it at all, it’s just based on recollections) Express Scripts is a logistics company that happens to specialize in the distribution of medicine at lower cost than retail. To the best of my knowledge, they do not determine formulary or make any determinations as to which drugs they will carry. For example (I’m also retired military) the various experts in military medicine and budgets routinely carry out formulary reviews and then give that list to Express Scripts, who then proceeds to distribute to military beneficiaries. To view Express Scripts as being part of the eeeeevil Big Pharma is as silly as saying UPS is responsible for the demise of independent booksellers and toy stores because they bring your books and toys from amazon.com.

  18. #18 brewandferment
    June 20, 2014

    Make that
    “specialize in the ACQUISITION and distribution of medicine at lower cost…”

  19. #19 Jeff1971
    June 20, 2014

    Andrew Wakefield wouldn’t get out of bed for $146,000.

  20. #20 Mike
    June 20, 2014

    Express Scipts is a pharmacy supply middle man. They are one of several middleman who can buy drugs from pharmaceutical companies and sell them to pharmacies. I thought they were like Sysco is to restaurants.

  21. #21 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    June 20, 2014

    @Jeff1971

    Depends on how soon his mortgage payment is due.

  22. #22 RobRN
    June 20, 2014

    I’m retired military too and my prescriptions come from MAXOR – Did they donate to the senator too? Maybe they aren’t EVIL enough!

  23. #23 Roadstergal
    Faith in the Senate slightly restored
    June 20, 2014

    Oz even refers to acupuncture as the “gold standard” for stress relief.

    I call a warm beach and a Mai Tai the gold standard for stress relief.

  24. #24 Kaboobie
    June 20, 2014

    The only Express Scripts I know of is simply a mail-order pharmacy.

    https://www.express-scripts.com/

    They recently bought out Medco, a similar company. My employer’s health care plan requires that I get my long-term prescriptions filled through them in order to be covered. I can get a 3-month supply at a time.

  25. #25 Lawrence
    June 20, 2014

    I wonder why Mikey is concerned that she also received donations from Google & Comcast?

  26. #26 Denice Walter
    June 20, 2014

    @ Todd W.:

    Oh come on! Do you seriously believe that people like Andy ( read ‘successful’ in the woo field) even HAVE mortgages?

    Look, he has a posh place with acreage; his son graduated in Colorado recently; his wife doesn’t really work.

    For gad’s sake, *I* never have ever had a mortgage.

    ( Altho’ he is something of a special case being that his star has faded).

  27. #27 Helianthus
    June 20, 2014

    Andrew Wakefield wouldn’t get out of bed for $146,000.

    Oh, some others would.
    Dominique Strauss-Kahn (he of amours ancillaires) received 603 000 Frs (roughly $ 125,000) for unspecified services as a consultant during a merging of two French companies in the 90s’. Nothing illegal was proven (and no, it was not this type of “service”), but that’s still a lot of money for introducing two groups of people.
    But it was money given behind the scene, for a one-of-a-time, un-official favor.

    Now, talk about money given through official channels, for the purpose of financing an electoral campaign. You give me $150k and expect me to drop everything, including other backers, call in political favors, and go after a nation-wide TV celebrity on trumped-up charges? Either the charges are genuine, in this case I’ll do it for free, or you are better come with a lot more money if you want me to put my political career on the line.

    Strangely, McCaskill also received over $32,000 from Google, Inc

    No, seriously. Frelling Google is “buying” a senator and cannot be bothered to put at least a hundred grants.
    I have no doubt these generous donators are hoping to buy goodwill, if not friendship, but to believe that someone will become a mindless puppet for a fraction of their yearly remuneration…

    We are cheap, guys. We should ask for more. Let’s dare ask for a kettle and a dartboard.

  28. #28 Von Krieger
    June 20, 2014

    @Andy #7

    That was exactly the thought that crossed my mind as well.

  29. #29 Sasha
    Los Angeles
    June 20, 2014

    Why don’t Dr. Oz reviewed how much money he received from endorsing the Green Coffee Bean, Garcia cambogia, African mango, deer testicles,….

  30. #30 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    June 20, 2014

    @Denice Walter

    I suppose you’re right. Besides which, he doesn’t personally own the house, anyway. His living trust does.

  31. #31 Denice Walter
    June 20, 2014

    @ Todd W,:

    And whose names are on the living trust?

  32. #32 Guy Chapman
    June 20, 2014

    But you keep missing the point: when people make money from Evil Mainstream Science, they instantly become shills, but when they make millions from selling bullshit they do it out of the goodness of their hearts and are free of any taint of conflict of interest.

    Why is this not OBVIOUS, you pharma shill?

  33. #33 Kiiri
    The tail end of Friday
    June 20, 2014

    Mike at #16, yes I had an involuntary squee of delight reading that article yesterday. So much fun. But Oz might have received a bit of knock down but he is by no means out. He’ll be back. And probably smart enough to avoid Senator McCaskill in the future.

  34. #34 Denice Walter
    June 20, 2014

    @ Guy Chapman:

    I know, I know. But we can’t let the newbies, the un-initiated and altie spies in on it, can we? GSK FOREVER!

    Oooops!

  35. #35 Dangerous Bacon
    June 20, 2014

    “I wonder why Mikey is concerned that she also received donations from Google & Comcast?”

    Mikey has it in for Google, since if you search “Mike Adams crazy” you get over 4 million hits, and one of the first links to come up is this:

    http://americanloons.blogspot.com/2010/05/1-mike-adams.html

  36. #36 JTa
    June 20, 2014

    I’m part of a large company’s benefits team, and we use Express Scripts as our pharmacy benefits manager, meaning they both supply medications via mail order & cover scripts delivered at the retail pharmacy level. They offer but we (the company) ultimately determine what is accepted in our benefit plan’s formulary. They can sometimes be downright antagonistic to Big Pharma when they feel prices for certain medications are too high. They also got into a public kerfuffle a couple years ago when Walgreen’s didn’t want to renew their delivery contract at the then rates E-S was offering.
    I’m always amused when people talk of the big, monolithic Big Pharma as if the entire thing is one massive corporation, all players of whom are marching in lock-step, when behind the scenes all these separate companies are just that – separate companies, all with their own goals & directions. It’s like the anti-conspiracy theory – do you really think all these big companies are going to give up their chance to make some really nice profits to prop up an only tangentially related business, much less a direct competitor?

  37. #37 ann
    June 20, 2014

    Oh come on! Do you seriously believe that people like Andy ( read ‘successful’ in the woo field) even HAVE mortgages?

    If their money comes from income rather than investments, yes.

    (Tax advantage.)

  38. #38 ann
    June 20, 2014

    Or,,,,I guess I really meant “If they have to pay income tax on a large sum of money, yes.”

  39. #39 SpaceTrout
    Inna gadda Velveeta.
    June 20, 2014

    @Julian Frost – Dr. Grumpy Cat’s bad day on the Hill:

    http://zots-n-krambles.smugmug.com/Other/Pic-A-Day/i-F2GMfbd/0/M/Ozgrilled2-M.jpg

  40. #40 Denice Walter
    June 20, 2014

    @ ann:

    There’s a possibility that Texas is one of those places where, if you go bankrupt/ get sued / etc, they can’t take your house so people sink their net worth into chateaux and manor homes in rural areas.

    Also if the house is in SEVERAL people’s names…

    Remember he’s a guy who already had to shell out lots of sterling ( more than a million) because of his… eh… legal habits.

    Hopefully he’ll be in the same position again.

  41. #41 Narad
    June 20, 2014

    There’s a possibility that Texas is one of those places where, if you go bankrupt/ get sued / etc, they can’t take your house so people sink their net worth into chateaux and manor homes in rural areas.

    Oh, yeah.

  42. #42 ann
    June 20, 2014

    A mortgage is still a tax advantage, though.

  43. #43 Michelle
    St. Louis
    June 20, 2014

    Express Scripts is one of the largest companies in St. Louis, so it’s no surprise that Claire is getting money from them (and Boeing, Enterprise, and other large companies). Voila! Mystery solved.

  44. #44 Militant Agnostic
    June 20, 2014

    Orac trying to belittle the evidence he is a Monsanto GMO Shill

    I received no money other than reimbursement for travel, lodging and meals</bB for an overnight stay

    I wonder what those Monsanto provided meals cost. Roast puppy isn’t cheap folks.

  45. #45 Denice Walter
    June 21, 2014

    Altho’ it may be Caturday, I have no cats for you but I do have something from Dan Olmsted which makes me say:
    ” Meow!”:

    Dan gets all excited because a study has shown that pollution may be related to both autism and schizophrenia: mice exposed to pollution behave differently.
    Now, he tells us, Fuller Torrey wrote about the rise of schizophrenia during the Industrial Revolution so…

    Dan pops in and explains how his and Mark’s book explained ALL about how pollution caused both schizophrenia and autism years ago: he even cites a 2004 study ( Opler et al) which found a relationship between PRE-natal lead exposure and schizophrenia.

    Dan seems very proud that ideas in both his book and blog “appear to be gaining”.

    HOWEVER:
    he leaves a few things out-
    – E. Fuller Torrey did important research that focuses upon the great degree which genetics plays in SMI ( bipolar and schizophrenia) through the use of family data
    – schizophrenia may have environmental origins in addition to the genetic influence ( see schizophrenia.com for a graph of _relative_ risks)
    – most of the environmental data is concerned with prenatal/ perinatal effects
    – data also focuses upon lead
    – the ‘autism epidemic” “occured” during a time period of post-industrialism, environmental laws and “clean-up” operations
    – etc.

    When you’re totally lost in the wilderness, every path that you chance upon may appear to the the way out of the woods but that doesn’t mean that it is.

  46. #46 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    June 21, 2014

    Thanks SpaceTrout! It was exactly as I imagined it would be. :D ^_^

  47. #47 herr doktor bimler
    June 21, 2014

    Fuller Torrey wrote about the rise of schizophrenia during the Industrial Revolution

    Tuberculosis rose during the Industrial Revolution too. Lots more people, living together in high-density slums. Lots of diseases rose. No pollution required.

  48. #48 Lurker
    June 21, 2014

    Julian @ 1: No need to Photoshop ‘Grumpy Cat’ onto the Woozard of Oz’s already mightily sour puss in that photo. It truly is priceless the way it is.

    Near as I can tell from what I’ve been reading here, Oz’ precipitous fall from scientific rigour is most likely traceable to the influences of his wooful wife. About which I can only say, the number of people whose objectivity has been thoroughly compromised by a good shagging is astoundingly large, including many who one might think were too smart for that sort of nonsense.

    Prediction: Oz is going to tone it down in the first half of next year, and then gradually crank up the crankery, ever so slowly, so his critics can’t quite spot a clear point at which he crossed the line again. This will also be good for his ratings, because a gradual increase in any variable that produces a stronger emotional response from an audience, and drives an appetite for more. Think ‘suspense’ and ‘mysteries’ and the like.

    Re. Google & Comcast: There are plenty of reasons to hate both of them without plunging into a cesspool of conspiracy theory. Keyword search (on Ixquick or DuckDuckGo) ‘google’ + ‘privacy’ and read up. Also ‘Comcast’ + ‘net neutrality.’ Google has also descended into the worst sort of quackery by embracing Ray Kurzweil’s pile of fetid dingos’ kidneys known as The Singularity, aka the AI Messiah and Machine Immortality. Kurzweil himself deserves sympathy for his terror of death, but the rubbish he’s foisted on people who should know better deserves a thorough takedown from James Randi & Co.

    Denise re. your #27 in a previous column:

    I was also raised to believe that tooting one’s own horn is highly crass and not done. For which reason I have come to dislike TED and other forums in which high-tech entrepreneurs are treated as celebrities, with emphasis on Personality with a capital P. And for which reason I have never been comfortable with keeping a resumé (fortunately I haven’t needed one).

    People can become ‘reasonably expert’ in a range of fields, if they’re as keen on reading as most people are on entertainment. ‘Reasonably expert’ is sufficient for practical purposes and for encouraging others to learn more for themselves, as long as one is aware of the limits of one’ s knowledge. That’s not the same thing as ‘professional expertise,’ much less ‘widely-recognised expertise,’ but it’s better than giving up learning after university.

  49. #49 AC
    June 22, 2014

    “Of course, I’m actually surprised that Oz couldn’t find any contributions from pharmaceutical companies, given how pervasive pharma influence is in Congress.”

    Adams?

  50. #50 Denice Walter
    June 22, 2014

    @ lurker:

    I’m not talking about being ‘reasonably expert’ through study- all of us can accomplish that easily- that makes sense. Instead I am speciifically referring to woo-meisters, alt media entrepreneurs and anti-vaxxers who set themselves up a critics of complex areas of science and/or social science in which they have had no formal training but they criticise consensus and expert opinion based largely upon ideas that pop up in their minds, not research or study.

    A few examples:
    an antivax parent purports to understand the hidden intricacies of immunology- beyond what research tells us- as she constructs a model of autism causation that explains away her daughter’s severe condition ( Conrick @ AoA). Jake knows more about vaccines than a man who has developed them. He constructs vast conspiracies out of fantasy. Mike and Gary are critics of medicine and psychology _across the board_ although neither has ever really studied or worked in these fields and THEN they branch out into new areas of in-expertise to pontificate about economics and politics.

    Of course most of this is to impress readers/ listeners about how brilliant they are.. which may lead to increased sales.If you read some of these Meisterwerke of woo, you’ll notice how superficial their ‘knowledge’ is.

    Thus, I’m not talking about reasonable, educated adults learning from meaningful sources: this is woo.

  51. #51 jrkrideau
    June 22, 2014

    @ 50 Denice Walter

    in-expertise — I love it . A word to cherish.

  52. #52 janerella
    June 22, 2014

    A nice little collage of Dr “I have not been talking about products in that way for two years” PantsonFire Oz:
    http://i.imgur.com/wFO0pDP.jpg
    via The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe page.

  53. #53 Denice Walter
    June 22, 2014

    @ jrkrideau:

    I appreciate that.

    – as an addenum to #50:

    in a hilarious expansion of their meager comprehension of the social sciences, both the aforementioned woo-meisters fancy themselves to be psychologists and economists.

    Unfortunately – for them- some people who read their tripe HAVE studied a bit in both of these areas and understand how they impersonate social scientists ( both poorly and sloppily in an outdated fashion) on a nearly daily basis. The psychology part is too complex to discuss as an aside here- BUT the economics is not.

    Mike has dwelt upon future economic / societal collapse making use of the tropes of one Porter Stansberry who fearmongers about China and gold, selling investment advice** – see Brian Deer for his detailed portrait of Porter as a young (con) artist.

    Gary Null relies on the “trend casts” of Gerald Celente ( see his website- Trends ) who follows a similar bent as Porter does. One of his most frequent predictions is that cities will become uninhabitable and the ‘smart people’ will leave now, prior to the eventual collapse. He and Null constantly talk about in what dire straits people will soon find themselves. They also give investment advice on the air.

    Leave the city behind, they rant, live the natural,oganic life in the country : farming, being an artist or a revolutionary.

    -btw- Celente has invested in a mouldering old town and farm land about 100 miles north of NYC. He also sells a newsletter, advises companies ( he claims) and will hold a weekend retreat this summer for futurists- @ nearly 1000 USD a pop- in that mouldering town, hosting a “revolutionary barbeque”.

    ** one of my gentlemen was acosted a while ago by a Porter fan/ subscriber who begged him to buy Egyptian gold stocks “before it’s too late”. The incident provided yours truly with much merriment.

  54. #54 Mackinz
    June 22, 2014

    The direct link to NaturalNews… IT BURNS!

    When discussing the quack that is Mike Adams, why contribute to his google rating, or give him ad revenue? The site “donotlink.com” allows the average to not-so-average skeptic to link to nonsense without directly linking! Pretty much a necessity.

  55. #55 Orac
    June 22, 2014

    I use the rel=”nofollow” tag.

    I do not use donotlink.com.

    That is my policy, and I’m not changing it.

  56. #56 Narad
    June 22, 2014

    why contribute to his google rating

    DNL’s underlying premise seems to be that PageRank is really, really important, which is antiquated, to say the least. There’s also no particular reason to think that Adams has the least problem with PageRank in the first place.

  57. #57 Dangerous Bacon
    June 22, 2014

    If we don’t get our health advice from Dr. Oz, we’ll just have to depend on the Internet.

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpa1/t1.0-9/10442543_327206300765924_2729635586536406792_n.jpg

  58. #58 Vicki
    June 22, 2014

    I am probably not your only reader who prefers rel=”nofollow” because it doesn’t hide the link.

  59. #59 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    June 23, 2014

    To the subscribers of HBO –

    John Oliver takes on Dr. Oz in his show airing tonight. He spends several minuets considering that he only has 30 to work with and has a whole week to cover, and hits all the high points of the (lack of) regulation of supplements.

    I recommend it to your attention.

    No link because I couldn’t find one yet.

  60. #62 kruuth
    June 23, 2014

    Hopefully Orac, this’ll be his last season. Even Hollyweird sometimes turns on their own and this might be the bit that gets his show killed.

  61. #63 Evan
    United States
    June 24, 2014

    I wonder what Penn thinks about all of this. Hmmm ….

  62. #64 Greg
    NYC
    June 24, 2014

    To expand on JTA and Michelle’s comments, Express Scripts is both a hometown company to Sen. McCaskill and is one of the largest buyers of pharmaceuticals in the country. That actually make them far more of a threat to “big Pharma” than Dr. Oz or anyone else. Express Scripts makes more money selling a generic drug than selling its brand-name counterpart. Enough additional profit that they are among the largest forces moving patients from brand-names to generics in the country.

    They’ll tell this to anyone who will listen. From their annual report as filed with the SEC: “Our results reflect the ability to successfully achieve synergies throughout the Merger. Our results also reflect the successful execution of our business model, which emphasizes the alignment of our financial interests with those of our clients and patients through greater use of generics and low-cost brands, home delivery and specialty pharmacies.” https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1532063/000153206314000006/esrx-12312013x10k.htm (page 37).

    So yes, Mr. Adams’ comments are factually correct. Sen. McCaskill took a campaign contribution from a company which employs thousands of her constituents and which is perhaps the biggest challenge to “big Pharma” profits in the whole world.

  63. #65 Politicalguineapig
    June 24, 2014

    *Raises eyebrows* Greg, are you a new Greg or the old Greg?

  64. #67 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    are you a new Greg or the old Greg?

    You seem to have overlooked the absence of boneheaded gibberish.

  65. #68 Greg
    June 24, 2014

    Oh, ha! I should have considered the probability of another commenter with such a common name and, on a blog of this nature, the possibility that such a person might be a nitwit.

    This is my first comment to this or any related blog.

  66. #69 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    I should have considered the probability of another commenter with such a common name

    PGP avowedly parses the world through primitive stereotypes; it was an interesting glimpse of the bootstrap procedure.

  67. #70 Lawrence
    June 24, 2014

    Definitely Greg, not Gerg….lol

  68. #71 Politicalguineapig
    June 24, 2014

    I was just wondering if old Greg had had a brain transplant. I realize it’s a common name, but not that many people use first names. My apologies, new Greg.

    Oddly, the trolls have gone on vacation.

  69. #72 squirrelelite
    June 24, 2014

    Anyway, Greg, a good point and welcome to the blog!

  70. #73 phil shaffer
    Columbus
    June 24, 2014

    McCaskill was very, very,,,,,very gentle with him. I would have been asking him if he prescribes herbals for his cardiac patients, or whether he sticks to proven medications. In the case of cardiac arrest, which herbal does he use. What kind of proof does he require to use a drug in practice? Is the proof he requires to use a drug in practice the same as what he required for promotion on TV. Where are the long term studies of these herbals for weight loss? What – in detail – is the proposed mechanism of action, and how has this been verified. Why have these products not sought FDA approval?
    And so on.

  71. #74 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 25, 2014

    Phil –

    You think she was gentle? Really? I think she was employing a sound prosecutorial strategy (IMHO, IANAL) of guiding him repeatedly onto those grounds where she knew she could spring a trap made from his own words.

    Sure, it’s fun to imagine asking the pompous Oz a question like “And what herbal do you recommend for cardiac arrest??” but in reality he wouldn’t squirm guiltily and evade the question, he’d counterfeit a wounded dignity and assert that he’d never do such a thing – and unless McCaskill could prove then and there that he had done *exactly* that, that round would go to him, not her.

    IMHO McCaskill went about it very well indeed. She didn’t take the sheer number of shots that we might feel WE could have taken, were we in her place… but it seems like every shot she did take, Oz felt.

  72. #75 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    June 25, 2014

    Speaking of new Greg, I’d like to remind everyone that Old Greg (aka Gerg, gregger etc.) basically asked to be banned, and our esteemed host decided to grant his wish.

  73. […] his overenthusiastic boosterism for supplements, without of course making any specific promises, I had little doubt that Dr. Oz would revert to his old ways as soon as the new season […]

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