This is a pretty good target for some skeptical activism. However, it’s going to take a large-scale effort to do something about Dr. Oz, the nation’s doctor, sad as that is. But, I think the clouds are forming over his head ever since his disgraceful display before a congressional hearing.
Benjamin Mazer is a third-year medical student at the University of Rochester. Last year, after becoming increasingly concerned with the public-health impact of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s sometimes pseudoscience health advice, he decided to ask state and national medical associations to do something about it.
“Dr. Oz has something like 4-million viewers a day,” Mazer told Vox. “The average physician doesn’t see a million patients in their lifetime. That’s why organized medicine should be taking action.”
Last year, Mazer brought a policy before the Medical Society of the State of New York—where Dr. Oz is licensed—requesting that they consider regulating the advice of famous physicians in the media. His idea: Treat health advice on TV in the same vein as expert testimony, which already has established guidelines for truthfulness.
Should Dr. Oz be targeted? Yes.
Doctors should be telling their patients that getting advice from a TV celeb doctor is not a substitute for professional medical consultation and may even be dangerous. Dr. Oz promotes a ton of ridiculous nonsense like reiki, supplements and psychics. It seems like it would not take much to show Dr. Oz in a less than scientific light and cast his medical reputation into question. It’s done rather regularly by science-based medicine bloggers. We can probably gather a dozen references in a few minutes.
Mazer notes that medical associations are not being proactive enough against bogus therapies and individuals who promote non-science-based medicine. But they should be. It’s part of their job. Many doctors do not know that people regularly use dietary supplements and self-help treatments but don’t tell doctors. They think it’s harmless. But as we’ve seen time and again, it may not be harmless.
It’s good practice to remind your loved ones who are fans of Dr. Oz that his TV show is not medically approved advice. It’s a guy, who happens to use his credentials to look authoritative on TV, to deliver hope and entertainment to people who do not have adequate background to judge what he is delivering.
Dr. Oz deserves his own anti-fan club.