Friday, April 24, 2015

1476 If it Ducks Like a Quack

Alas, poor Dr. Oz.  Some colleagues are trying to get him thrown off the faculty at Columbia University.  And the good doctor is ducking as the brickbats keep coming.


It’s not that he’s a bad teacher on those few days he gets around to teaching.  And it’s certainly not because he’s a bad doctor.  If we’re to believe the words of patients and peer reviewers, he may be one of the best cardiothoracic surgeons now practicing.


But there’s a little matter of his TV show.  Five hours a week he appears before the cameras dispensing advice to young and old, lean and fat.  “But,” he said in taking the witness stand and cross examining himself on his program a day ago, “it’s not a medical show.”


Oh?


This is where he gets in trouble with other professors who think he should be removed from the faculty.


In words kinder than these, they believe he’s dispensing quack remedies to the unwitting swarms of (mostly) middle aged women who consider his every word the last word on whatever is the program’s subject of the day.


He’s showy. He’s self promoting. He has the oozy charming personality and leading man good looks right out of movies like “Topkapi” or “Istanbul Beneath my Wings.”


Thing of it is, part of his bedside manner -- or tubeside manner -- is 1950s used car salesman.  The Columbians object.  Bad remedies, bad science they say. And a bad reflection on the school.


Academics, especially disheveled ones, always say that about the better looking and more successful. And this crew has ties to grants from places pushing Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs.


Oz wants foods with GMOs labeled.  But it’s easy to infer that he opposes them and wants you to, too.  Fair enough. There isn’t really enough evidence of their effects yet.  You should have a choice.


But the lotions and potions Oz promotes on TV often don’t have a whole lot of scientific heft either.


So is this academic politics and jealousy?  Or an effort to protect the public? Or both? Or neither.


In truth, Ozzy is stretched pretty thin.  Five hours of TV a week, probably recorded in two or three days, doesn’t leave him a lot of time for thinking, for surgery, for teaching or for running the various “public service” programs he is head of or nominal head of.


Oh, and in making personal appearances before congress… invitations that are tough to decline.


At one hearing, he admitted that he used “flowery language” about some weight loss stuff he was hawking.  He says he “passionately” studied them. Believes in them.  Passion?  Perhaps a dispassionate study would serve us all better.


When does he exercise his passionate studying?  On the limo ride to the studio?  Or perhaps during a moment’s pause while operating on someone’s heart or lungs?  Maybe on the shuttle from New York to Washington for more fun with congress?


So is he God’s gift to medicine, or is he a quack ducking?


(For more on this subject, please see Wessay 1437 from June, 2014.)


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2015

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