Friday, June 20, 2014

1347 Trust Me, I'm a Doctor

That publicity sponging medical televangelist Mehmet Oz was in the hot seat the other day and the heat didn’t come from brewing green coffee beans he’s been hawking as a weight loss miracle.

Green coffee extract and some of the other potions of promotion have -- to be kind -- limited effect on your fat.  But here’s the peppy preppy know it all prancing around the stage oozing charm and giving us the lowdown on this 21st century snake oil.

They had him in front of the Senate Subcommittee on Slippery Science and consumer con jobs and he admitted that the science behind the claims is weak.

What isn’t weak? His TV ratings.  Millions of (mostly) women tune in each day to listen to and see the pearls of wisdom fall out of this guy’s … um … mouth.  And much of it is said to be worthwhile by people who have no idea whether it is.

But wait a minute here.  If his stuff about weight loss is wrong, or at least unconfirmed, what else that he preaches is wrong or at least unconfirmed.  

Here’s a fine quote from his testimony:

"My job, I feel, on the show is to be a cheerleader for the audience, and when they don't think they have hope, when they don't think they can make it happen, I want to look, and I do look everywhere, including in alternative healing traditions, for any evidence that might be supportive to them,"

Rah, rah, Dr. Cheerleader.

For the most part, we look up to and trust people with MD or DO after their names.  After all, to get through all that training with your sanity intact is no small feat.  Gotta have brains. Determination. Stamina. Ability to hire rude incompetents for your office staff and coddle your patients for far less money than you were led to believe you were going to earn when you applied for med school.

It’s not that his millions of followers are suckers or dopes.  It’s not that he’s holding out completely false hope to sufferers.  But we trust him. He’s a doctor. His words and endorsement have power.

Using that trust helps many a patient.  Misusing that trust should be a crime.

If this were just some defrocked doc quacking about miracle pills, it would be bad enough.  But he’s not defrocked.  In fact, he operates on hearts a few days a week between guest shots and magazine articles and that annoying daily televised camp meeting.

If he were taking payoffs from the Homeopathic lobby, it would be almost understandable. But there isn’t a hint of bad money changing in this story. And in fact he reports he’s never paid for an endorsement and he never lets his image appear in an ad, let alone become graven.

Would you buy a transplant or a valve job from this man? How about a handful of green coffee beans?

Grapeshot:

-This ain’t the first time Ozzy’s been in trouble.  For an older story via CNN, click here.

Shrapnel:

--Time for the Washington Redcoats of the NFL to change its name to something that doesn’t disparage the British.  That teacup logo has to go.  And the nerve of them using Her Majesty’s image on their helmets. After all, the war’s been over for more than 200 years.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com or to my malpractice insurer flo@progressive.
© WJR 2014

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