By Julia Belluz - Friday, December 14, 2012 - 0 Comments
The year 2012 brought with it many opportunities for wielding a big, debunking stick and pointing it towards outrageous attacks on science. From the Science-ish archives, to be read with a festive beverage, here are the worst offenders from 2012:
1. DR. OZ, FAITH HEALER
Though he may have started out as one of America’s most-trusted MDs after earning a seal of approval from none other than Oprah Winfrey, the medical community has long known that Dr. Mehmet Oz can be a font of pseudoscience. This year, when he was in Toronto to give a motivational lecture about the “biology of blubber,” I had a chance to sit-down with Oz and grill him about his use of medical evidence. In particular, when asked about his promotion of raspberry ketones for weight loss—a dubious supplement—he said it was “an example of where I’m trying to give you hope.” Needless to say, he didn’t pass the evidence test. I’m pretty sure I was the only reporter in the room he didn’t hug that day.
Related link: Dr. Oz, faith healer
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 4:35 PM - 0 Comments
This is the third part of a series of articles adapted from the 2012 Hancock Lecture, “Who Live and Who Dies, Will Social Media Decide?” delivered at the University of Toronto by Julia Belluz. This installment looks at the credibility of health information on the Web, and the pitfalls and potential of social media for health. Read parts one, two, and four.
We started the Science-ish blog because it seemed there was a widening gap between science—what is known in health research—and how it’s presented in the media by key opinion leaders, and then implemented in health policy. The question was: If we believe what’s reported about health, what politicians say about health, could we really make well-informed choices about health? This is a public health problem.
Sometimes even sources that seem credible mislead us. This year, I had an opportunity to interview Dr. Oz. when he was in Toronto and ask about his use of scientific evidence to back the claims on his show. I was prompted to do this after hearing from doctors who had patients coming into their offices on myriad supplements because Dr. Oz told them to do so.
By Julia Belluz - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 6:16 PM - 0 Comments
He swept into the dimmed Sony Centre in Toronto, combing the crowd like an evangelical leader, and Science-ish half-expected audience members to fall down at his touch. But this was no high priest ready to encourage middle-aged men and women to start walking after being paralyzed or to see again after going blind. This was Dr. Mehmet Oz, here to give a motivational talk about the “biology of blubber” and weight loss.
The esteemed cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor made it big on Oprah demystifying the inner workings of the human body—from poop to the reproductive system—with plastic models and cadaver parts. In 2009, Oprah created the daily health and medical advice talk program, the Dr. Oz Show. Since then, Dr. Oz has been doling out American-style health evangelism to viewers in 112 countries. A recent episode on raspberry keytone supplements discussed how this “miracle fat burner in a bottle” can shrivel fat cells, while others have looked at foods that act as medicines, and “anti-aging miracles in a bottle.” Of course, this has galvanized a cadre of MD bloggers who have dedicated hours to dissecting and debunking the science on the show.
Today, the high-profile doctor is wearing a slim gray suit instead of his trademark scrubs. For two hours at this MukiBaum fundraising event, some two thousand audience members will hear a lecture on “reversing the obesity epidemic” peppered with hugs and jokes geared toward disgruntled housewives.
Science-ish was one of the few skeptics in the room. In order to understand how the doctor thinks about scientific evidence, his audience, and what really makes people healthy, Science-ish sat down with Dr. Oz before his talk. Continue…
By Cathy Gulli - Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
DNA tests may pinpoint who should eat what to lose weight—and why we crave certain foods
Few physicians have the cachet or the captive audience of Dr. Mehmet Oz. He’s written half a dozen books, and has been on the The Oprah Winfrey Show no less than 55 times. She nicknamed him “America’s doctor,” and every weekday he hosts his own radio and television talk shows. So, last month, when a segment of Dr. Oz was devoted to “exploring the perfect diet for your genes,” the nascent field of “nutrigenomics” was catapulted into pop science stardom.
“It’s totally sexy,” says Christopher Gardner, a Stanford University researcher who co-authored the study featured on Dr. Oz, which had not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal as of late April. The study suggests that a simple genetic test (a mouth swab) may pinpoint for individuals exactly what kind of diet they should be on—low-fat, low-carb or balanced—to drop the maximum number of pounds. “Lots of people know they should go on a diet. Lots of people are pissed because they went on the same diet that their friend went on and their friend lost more weight than they did,” muses Gardner, who is also a professor at Stanford’s medical school. Hopefully, this study, he says, “will explain part of that.”