On Monday afternoon, yours truly will appear with Dr. Oz, “America’s doctor,” (the tag bestowed on him by no less than Oprah Winfrey) before a live audience in New York City. Although I have never seen the show, a New York Times magazine article written by the brilliant Frank Bruni, suggests that the show, and Dr. Oz himself, are both pretty entertaining.

As one of the most accomplished cardiothoracic surgeons of his generation, Mehmet Oz has transplanted lungs and repurposed hearts; implanted mechanical devices to provide the pump and pulse for patients that cannot manage that on their own; and otherwise pressed, pulled, cut and stitched inside bodies where a second’s lapse of attention or a millimeter of miscalculation could kill.

But on a morning not long ago, around a conference table high in the NBC building in Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, the challenge before him and dozens of assistants was less obviously urgent. They talked of testicles. Specifically, they discussed what sorts of props might accurately (and tastefully) mimic said sexual organs in a television demonstration, on “The Dr. Oz Show,” of how men should examine theirs for tumors and cysts…

The show holds him up as the sort of finely tuned machine that you, on the couch at home, yearn to be. And that underscores his determination to be an omniscient and omnipresent commentator on health-related affairs, one-stop shopping for all your somatic curiosities and some of your spiritual and intellectual ones to boot.

The topic tomorrow will be sustainable agriculture and genetically engineered crops.

Appearing with me will be Jeffery Smith, whose claim to fame is his opposition to genetically engineered crops. Despite the lack of any discernible scientific training or agricultural expertise, Smith makes 65 specific claims about the danger of these crops. Each of his claims has been thoroughly debunked by the non-profit Academicsreview team.

Science, pseudoscience and sustainable agriculture altogether on an entertainment/ health show? Will it work? Will the estimated 3.5 million viewers learn anything useful?

Tune in and find out.

Note: Although it will be taped live Monday afternoon, I don’t know when it will be broadcasted to the syndicated sites.

Comments

  1. #1 Custom Iron Gates
    December 28, 2010

    hey made me sit at the table- They wanted to hear my voice- I am better at Listening. … Tomorrow -Fine- Stay busy – Whatever you do, stay busy-Don’t .

  2. #2 NJ
    December 8, 2010

    Sad @ 22:

    You are a disgrace to education

    You are a disgrace to commenting. Elaborate or don’t bother.

  3. #3 Sad
    December 8, 2010

    You are a disgrace to education

  4. #4 plumbing supplies
    December 6, 2010

    The weather is a big consideration for agricultural crops and to people working on it.Rural areas are filled with fruits,vegetables and other crops like rice.It’s so sad that even they work hard to plant them,sometimes the weather destroy their plants.

  5. #5 Isabel
    November 27, 2010

    Please tell us the date that it is going to be broadcast.

  6. #6 Party Cactus
    November 24, 2010

    I called in to an Iowa NPR show to ask him why he kept saying gene expression was different in transgenics vs non-transgenic isolines without adding that natural variation in gene expression far surpasses that found between GMO and non-GMO. He basically sidestepped my critique and went on to make more fantastic claims.

    Reminds me of a poster: If it ducks like a quack… Different thing, same principle.

  7. #7 Anastasia
    November 23, 2010

    Pam, I hope at least some good came of the interview. Jeffery Smith isn’t really an easy person to talk to, he is really stubborn. I called in to an Iowa NPR show to ask him why he kept saying gene expression was different in transgenics vs non-transgenic isolines without adding that natural variation in gene expression far surpasses that found between GMO and non-GMO. He basically sidestepped my critique and went on to make more fantastic claims.

    Scott Smith, if you take a moment to put your sterotypes down, you’d find that many “GM proponents” have more in common with you than not. I personally live in a condo so as to have a smaller environmental footprint so I don’t have a garden at all, but I do have herbs on my patio that I don’t use pesticides on, except some insecticidal soap when needed. I also belong to a Community Supported Agriculture program because I enjoy supporting small farmers and eating locally produced food. My friend and co-blogger Karl is a bee keeper and has an organic garden plot on campus.

    I suggest that you read Tomorrow’s Table which shows examples of what Pam and a lot of other scientists think are careful uses of genetic engineering that don’t involve any corporate hegemony. You’re also welcome to stop by http://biofortifed.org, a group blog about genetic engineering and the science behind agriculture. You can ask questions on specific posts or start a new conversation in the forum.

    I have to admit that before I read Tomorrow’s Table I thought the whole organic thing was bs. After reading it, I see a lot of value in decreasing inputs and moving towards a more ecological farming system, so much so that I ended up getting a minor in Sustainable Agriculture in my PhD program. It’s a great book, one that I think has a lot to offer to people with a wide range of viewpoints on genetic engineering, organics, and more.

  8. #8 Ewan R
    November 23, 2010

    I believe “natural systems” are default for human health

    So you heap scorn on your organic garden alongside manure? Or do you just redefine what natural means so that it fits everything you like, and excludes everything you don’t?

    I also suspect that not 1 of the GM proponents has and tends and organic vegetable garden.

    I put it to you then that you are an enormous clown – Pam’s husband is an organic farmer. Organic farm trumps organic garden (if not I have an organic window box which surely therefore beats out your garden, and the guy down the street has a single particle of soil on which he grows organic bacteria, and is therefore surely the ultimate source of knowledge in this arena)

    As someone who does, it’s an enethma to consider any chemical-based adulteration to the system

    1. Anathema.
    2. So I presume you add only compost that has had all the chemicals removed?

    And reading about how GM is going to help solve all developing nation’s poverty and food issues is grotesque.

    Where exactly have you read this? That’d be like me claiming that Mike Holmes runs around telling me that a hammer will solve all my home improvement problems. Sure, it’ll solve some of them, but I’d have to assess on a case by case basis.
    Only a blustering fool would suggest either that a) GM is going to help solve all developing nation’s poverty and food issues or b) That anyone who is pro-GM is suggesting this.

  9. #9 Scott Smith
    November 23, 2010

    NSIB,
    No vendetta at all except that I do take exception to intellectual elitism.

    I believe “natural systems” are default for human health. Splicing one creature to another so it can withstand regular soakings with weed poison in support of unsustainable industrial farming practices is wrong-headed on every level.

    I did channel a good portion of my disgust over GMO in our food supply in my prior post. But who can blame me? Having complicit government agencies allow this garbage into the food supply is the height of arrogance and neglect. And reading about how GM is going to help solve all developing nation’s poverty and food issues is grotesque. It’s just more industrial farm propaganda in a clear cellophane non-biodegradable, short-term profit-driven unsustainable wrapper. Oh, did I just write that?

    The proponents of GM do so because there is prestige among their colleagues and like-minded benefactors such as Bill Gates. I also suspect that not 1 of the GM proponents has and tends and organic vegetable garden. As someone who does, it’s an enethma to consider any chemical-based adulteration to the system and the seed in the name of scientists’ meeting human need….in the name of more grants and licensing their finds to the GM companies.

    Ciao.

  10. #10 electronic cigarette
    November 23, 2010

    I find it interesting that you are married to an organic farmer, but are a GMO advocate. I have not read your book, but that association intrigues me enough. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the Oprah episode.

    Best of Luck, even though I tend to go more organic than GMO.

  11. #11 pam ronald
    November 22, 2010

    Update:
    Ambushed! Dennis was right. More soon. They made me swear I would not blog on the show until it was out in 2 weeks.

  12. #12 nsib
    November 22, 2010

    Scott Smith,

    What the heck is up with you? It sounds like you’re on some sort of vendetta against Pam; I mean your whole rant is only tangentially related to this post. I didn’t see anything Pam wrote that even related to this: “Independent scholarship does exist outside the halls of the grant-sustained institution.”, so what’s up with all the strawmen?

  13. #13 Scott Smith
    November 22, 2010

    Wow, Pam. Step off the pedestal. Independent scholarship does exist outside the halls of the grant-sustained institution. As an inventor, I know firsthand solving problems doesn’t require an advanced degree. Knowledge, to be sure, is acquired through experience and diligence. Between the lab and the real world there’s a vast chasym beyond what your paid sponsors are selling.

    I also note with interest that the Academicsreview, which you cite as having discredited the GM claims, are both huge GMO fanboys. I take my vegetable Round-up free, thanks very much.

    17 years ago the USDA loosed GM products into the food supply without our permission or any labeling. As a parent, I’m acutely angry and concerned over this madness and don’t particularly like the way our government has handled the matter then and now. When the rGBH contamination first showed up it was my first step into organics. Reading about your GM-for-all attitudes only heightens my concern.

  14. #14 pam ronald
    November 22, 2010

    I googled James Randi and Oprah and found this delightful tale:

    We all knew beforehand that her viewpoint would not be the “popular” one, especially in such a venue as this show. We did, however, hold some hope that it would offer an opportunity for a reasonable discussion about the topic, as she had been led to believe that there would be a panel interspersed with individuals who believed in psychic abilities and those who held a more skeptical view. Unfortunately, this was not the case whatsoever, as she was the only guest on the show with a truly skeptical perspective.

    Now that I’ve had some time to reflect a bit on the whole process, it is quite apparent that the show is not ever meant to be a discussion about the topic at hand at all, but is instead a strictly controlled forum to showcase what Oprah’s audience wants. Although the planning for this starts well before the topic’s blurb on the website looking for show participants, that blurb seems to be the initial “hook” which allows the producers to not only get a good sense of the audience’s position on a specific topic, but also to begin their search for individuals who, unbeknownst to them, will be filling the roles in the play that’s already been scripted.

    My brother, Roberto, said it best when he observed:

    I think it is quite clear that this was all orchestrated to get the outcome they wanted. The show is after all – business. They obviously know their audience quite well – and set up a show that would appeal to them. They needed to set up an environment where on the surface it appears as if they were really trying to be fair and balanced – so that the people on the fence might still get drawn into the show. But they had to make sure that the outcome would be clear, and the one that they knew the majority of their audience would agree with.

  15. #15 Orac
    November 22, 2010

    Prepare to be ambushed. Maybe check with some of your colleagues on SB about Oprah production tactics. And good luck.

    Indeed. Google “James Randi” and “Oprah.”

    http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-03/030207harpo.html

  16. #16 Party Cactus
    November 22, 2010

    It seems the two have already spoken. http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/Genetically-Modified-Foods_1 I didn’t hear Oz ask any of the hard questions, like what specific compound produced exclusively by GMOs is causing the alleged danger, how insertions of a gene by humans has so many dramatic consequences when, say, natural horizontal gene transfer doesn’t, what amount of evidence he would accept as sufficient enough to falsify his claims, ect.

    Maybe you should take a page out of Giorgio Fidenato’s book and eat a GMO while you talk, perhaps carve up a Rainbow papaya and give Oz & Smith a friendly offer of a slice of genetically modified goodness :) Good luck.

  17. #17 pam ronald
    November 21, 2010

    Thanks for the tips everyone. I appreciate it.

    Dianne gave me a good idea. If it gets too bad I am going to leap up and yell “fight the woo!!!”

  18. #18 Dennis
    November 21, 2010

    Prepare to be ambushed. Maybe check with some of your colleagues on SB about Oprah production tactics. And good luck.

  19. #19 Dianne
    November 21, 2010

    My issue with a show like this one is the mere fact that they will place someone with no scientific experience alongside a scientist. To the average person, it equates to both people having equal knowledge about a subject. Fight the woo!

  20. #20 pam ronald
    November 21, 2010

    oh my. The article by Bruni did not reveal that dr. Oz was so into the woo. But I am not surprised. After all he did invite woomaster Jeffrey smith on to his show.

    Apparently it is Dr. Oz, two wooists and me.

    Could be ugly. But maybe interesting.

  21. #21 Orac
    November 21, 2010

    You might want to search my blog for “Mehmet Oz” before tomorrow just to be aware of what you’re dealing with. Dr. Oz has a serious blind spot for woo, and you can’t count on him to be on the side of science.

  22. #22 Kevin R
    November 21, 2010

    Based on your post it sounds that at the least, Dr Oz is giving equal billing to an unqualified publicity hound as one of the voices in the debate. You would be well advised to watch some of his shows and familiarize yourself with the format.
    Expect to be faced with sound bite buzz words like Frankenfoods that resonate with the audience. It isn’t about facts, I have never heard of Jeffery Smith, but I would expect overblown fear-mongering, with him as the defender of families and children fighting the good fight against profit driven agri-businesses trying to fill grocery shelves with genetically engineered products that are full of unknown risks and consequences.

  23. #23 ERV
    November 21, 2010

    Getting a real scientist on day-time TV to talk about agriculture– Ill take it!

    Are you actually getting to speak and answer Qs? Are you sure you arent going to be The Token Scientist seated in the audience, while major wooers are getting the stage and 99.999% of the time? Can you report back to us before it airs?

  24. #24 Tara C. Smith
    November 21, 2010

    Um, you may want to read up on Dr. Oz. He’s also deep into some forms of pseudoscience, so be careful–I just blogged about him briefly regarding his appearance in the rock stars of science campaign.