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The Great and Powerful Dr. Oz: Humbled by Senator Claire McCaskill

I almost feel sorry for “America’s Quack,” Dr. Mehmet Oz. Well, not really.

Remember last week when I took note of an upcoming Senate hearing, specifically a hearing on weight loss scams in front of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, which is chaired by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). At the time, I wasn’t pleased, because I assumed that the reason Dr. Oz had been invited to testify was in order to bring some star power to the proceedings and get some television coverage, given that the rest of the witnesses consisted of representatives from government regulatory agencies, from supplement manufacturers, and from Internet advertising agencies. (Talk about self-serving testimony and lies.) Actually, that’s what happened today after the hearing this morning, but not in the way I had predicted. In fact, as I learned a few hours after the hearing over at The Consumerist:

Missouri Senator Clair McCaskill, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, went straight for Dr. Oz’s jugular in her opening remarks on this morning’s hearing about the false and deceptive advertising of weight-loss products.

“When you feature a product on your show, it creates what has become known as ‘Oz Effect,’ dramatically boosting sales and driving scam artists to pop up overnight using false and deceptive ads to sell questionable products,” the Senator explained. “I’m concerned that you are melding medical advice, news and entertainment in a way that harms consumers.”

I couldn’t wait until I got home to see the actual video of Dr. Oz’s testimony, which has been posted on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation website and on C-Span:

Now, I’m not a politician, but I do follow politics, and if there’s one thing I know about Congressional hearings, it’s that they are very much like a Kabuki dance. It’s highly stylized and constrained, reminiscent of the Kabuki style of Japanese stage play. Indeed, there is even a term, Kabuki dance, that is used in politics to describe an event that is designed to create the appearance of conflict or of an uncertain outcome, when in fact the actors have worked together to determine the outcome beforehand. The question I have is what the original outcome was intended to be.

In fact, I rather suspect that Dr. Oz didn’t see this coming. Otherwise he likely wouldn’t have accepted the invitation to testify, which is why I also suspect that skeptics had a bit to do with this. For instance, “Dr. Joe” Schwarcz had some of his writings about Dr. Oz forwarded to McCaskill’s staff. In response to my post last week, I know several people (at least) forwarded some Orac-ian “insolence” to McCaskill and other Senators on the committee, as well as some writings from one of my favorite blogs (for obvious reasons) Science-Based Medicine. The reason I suspect that is because Sen. McCaskill used a term I’ve never heard used by a politician before: “science-based medicine.” Yes, she used the term “science-based medicine,” not the usual term used by most doctors and most people who know a little about medicine, “evidence-based medicine.”

My guess is that originally McCaskill wanted Oz primarily for his star power and didn’t plan on grilling him so harshly. But then the reaction and negative publicity Sen. McCaskill endured after announcing that Dr. Oz was going to testify at this hearing led her to change strategy. At least, I like to think that. Quite frankly, at this point, I don’t care that much what her original motivation or plan for the ending of her Kabuki dance was. I just like what the ending ultimately turned out to be, Dr. Oz squirming in front of several Senators and showing up on national TV doing just that. And, of course, every play needs a villain. They often say about such hearings that there has to be at least one villain and one hero. However, usually the hero ends up being either the chair of the committee or one of the committee, with seldom room for more. I bet that Dr. Oz thought he was going to be one of the heros. He found out otherwise, much to his dismay. Every hearing needs someone whom grandstanding politicians can lecture and berate for their offenses and thus use as an example of why a new law or policy is needed. Dr. Oz, being the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, had an enormous target painted on his chest, right from the start. Only he didn’t appear to realize it.

Part of the Kabuki dance of these hearings is that each witness gets to read a prepared statement. Oz’s statement was full of self-serving blather, about how he got to where he was and his commitment to fighting obesity and promoting health. Particularly telling is this passage:

To make the Dr. Oz Show succeed in its mission, we have to overcome certain obstacles I learned in years of conversations with patients. We have to simplify complicated information. We have to make the material seem interesting and focus on the “wow” factor.

All of which is true, as far as it goes. This becomes more important later in the hearing, particularly the bit about the “wow” factor. More revealing is this:

In 2012, we aired a show on a little known supplement called Green Coffee Extract. This is the supplement that is so prevalent in all the ads that are being exhibited today.

In this show I used the word “miracle” when referring to how green coffee could melt fat and I explored a new study on the supplement. I was enthusiastic that it could be a tool to assist people in losing weight and I knew the audience wanted and needed this information. After the show aired an explosion of ads and marketing followed along with criticism that our characterization went to far in describing green coffee. My way of dealing with it was to construct a second show and answer the criticism of our original segment. While we covered Green Coffee in the show, we devoted about half of the hour to me explaining to viewers that they are being duped by unscrupulous people who are illegally using my name in ads. The entire discussion of Green Coffee was prefaced with a warning to the viewer in the interest of protecting them.

Most importantly, in this show I spent an enormous portion of the broadcast demonstrating the false ads and how the various retail scams work – again trying to protect the viewer. I also reexplored green coffee this time using the audience to reveal their anecdotal experience after trying the supplement for two weeks. Some had lost weight, others had not. It seemed to help some people in their weight loss efforts. The internet lit up again, the illicit ads proliferated, and we faced additional criticism.

Yes, indeed. As I’ve pointed out time and time again, however, whenever I saw segments with Oz discussing supplement scams, his concern seemed to be far more focused on protecting his name from being used by supplement hawkers than it was on protecting his audience, culminating in an “investigative” report in which he burst in on nefarious supplement scammers using his name to sell Garcinia gambogia weight loss products like a cut rate Geraldo Rivera opening up Al Capone’s vault. It’s as though he thought he were Morley Safer and Dan Rather in the glory days of 60 Minutes showing up with a camera crew to confront a ne’er do well.

In fact, it was all of that that got Sen. McCaskill started. She started out by showing a clip of Dr. Oz promoting the virtues of green coffee bean extract and then listed some quotes from Dr. Oz during his shows:

  • (On green coffee extract) — “You may think magic is make-believe, but this little bean has scientists saying they found the magic weight-loss for every body type.”
  • (On raspberry ketone) — “I’ve got the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat” (raspberry ketone)
  • (On garcinia cambogia) — “It may be the simple solution you’ve been looking for to bust your body fat for good.”

In other words, typical Oz hyperbole, the likes of which we’ve seen dozens of times. Here’s a key part of the exchange between Sen. McCaskill and Dr. Oz:

Just look at Oz’s reaction to the first barrage, in which McCaskill, who was once a prosecutor, shows those old skills as a prosecutor and berates Oz, basically calling him a liar to his face:

I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true. Why, when you have this amazing megaphone, and this amazing ability to communicate, why would you cheapen your show by saying things like that?

It is a thing of beauty:


Oz’s response is, for once, not particularly slick, at least in the beginning. He was clearly taken off guard, and let his body language show it. After all, it’s not every day someone is called a liar to his face on national TV by a Senator. And, make no mistake, that’s exactly what Sen. McCaskill did: Called him a liar. (What else does it mean to accuse someone of saying things he knows to be untrue? By definition, that’s lying.) Dr. Oz starts out by disagreeing that green coffee beans don’t work and trying to cites multiple studies, but McCaskill had done her homework, even pointing out that the study he relied on was small and funded by the company. He then retreats into a highly disingenuous false equivalence by saying that many of the things we recommend with respect to diet are controversial and blathering about how medicine advances by embracing new ideas and challenging old ideas. It’s a huge load of fetid dingo’s kidneys, of course, because the controversies over these sorts of issues tend to be based in far better evidence on both sides than the evidence Oz has used to defend his green coffee bean extract show. Unwittingly, he basically admitted that the “clinical trial” he himself did with green coffee bean extract wasn’t a real clinical trial and admitted that it wasn’t done under “appropriate IRB guidance.”

In other words, Dr. Oz just admitted that he had performed human subjects research without proper ethical approval, as I accused him of lo these many months ago! Thanks, Dr. Oz!

He also points out that he has done shows on the power of prayer and was criticized for it, arguing that he does, contrary to McCaskill’s intimations, believe in the things he features on his show and says his show is all about “hope”:

Oz took great issue with the Senator’s assertion that he doesn’t believe in the treatments he endorses.

“I don’t think this ought to be a referendum on the use of alternative medical therapies,” said the doctor. “I’ve been criticized for having people coming on my show to talk about the power of prayer. As a practitioner, I can’t prove that prayer helps people survive an illness.”

Countered McCaskill, “It’s hard to buy prayer… prayer’s free.”

“I do personally believe in the items that I talk about on the show,” responded Dr. Oz, who acknowledged that statements he’s made in the past have encouraged scam artists and others looking to make a quick buck on people looking for an easy way to lose weight.

And so it went. Oz tried to defend himself. He admits that he uses flowery and over-the-top language to express his enthusiasm for the products he discusses on his show and regards himself as a cheerleader for weight loss and health, although he was forced to admit that none of his recommendations besides diet and exercise have actually been proven to work. He also kept saying that those shows that McCaskill was harping on were two years old and that he “doesn’t use that kind of language any more,” having become a lot more conservative. (Actually, one of them was less than a year and a half old, but let’s not quibble too much.) McCaskill, wily old prosecutor that she onces was, had done her homework, however. She called Dr. Oz out on his lies—and, yes, I do believe that Dr. Oz was lying—by listing examples of language just as “flowery” from a mere three weeks ago and a couple of months ago. Indeed, I went over Oz’s website earlier today and I found many such examples in just the last few months, more than I could list (for example, his show about forskolin).

Oz also kept repeating that he himself doesn’t sell any supplements. That is obviously true, but so what? As I’ve pointed out, he’s had many, many people on his show who do sell supplements, worst among them Joe Mercola and Mike Adams. It’s as though Oz lends his name to certain “approved” supplement sellers. Indeed, Oz went straight into one of the more nonsensical defenses I’ve ever seen, in which he claimed that he did his audience a disservice by not giving his audience a list of “reputable” companies that sell the products he’s featured on his show. Yeah, right. He doesn’t admit that the products he’s been pushing don’t work for weight loss, and the worst things he can find to “confess” about are using too much flowery language and not doing right by his viewers by telling them where to buy these products. Anyone wonder whether Dr. Oz will soon be coming out with a list of “Oz-approved” companies and products? I don’t. He will. He even basically said as much. Never mind that there is no supplement that has been demonstrated to result in reliable long term weight loss.

McCaskill saw right through that as well:

I know you feel that you’re a victim, but sometimes conduct invites being a victim. I think that if you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized quite as frequently.

Or, as I put it, if you promote “miracle weight loss” supplements on your show, like Garcinia gambogia, why are you surprised that companies making Garcinia gambogia think you recommend it and want to take advantage of your recommendation for marketing purposes?

At the end of the Kabuki play, McCaskill gave Oz the required chance at redemption, saying:

We didn’t call this hearing to beat up on you but we did call this hearing to talk about a real crisis in consumer protection, and you can be part of the problem or you can be part of the police.

At this point, the Great and Powerful Dr. Oz, chastened and chastized, promised to be a good boy from now on and promised that he wanted to be part of the police. After all, there must be a repentance at the end of these proceedings, and Oz delivered. In addition to telling his audience what supplements meet his exacting standards, use less “flowery” language in the future. We’ll see. If he does that, though, his show’s ratings are going to tank, and I bet he knows that. It’s also why I bet that Dr. Oz will clean up his act for a little while—but just a little while. Meanwhile, right on queue, Mike Adams amps up the crazy, accusing Sen. McCaskill in a gut-bustingly funny post of “unleashing an Orwellian thought crimes attack on Doctor Oz for trying to help Americans overcome obesity.” I leave the deconstruction of his rant as an exercise for my readers. (Why should I have all the fun?)

In the meantime, it looks to me as though a bit of skeptical activism had an effect, although I can’t prove it. I hope it did. This is the sort of thing that can make a difference.

ADDENDUM: Apparently Dr. Oz really was blindsided:

A production source close to the 54-year-old cardiologist — full name Mehmet Oz — said he was perplexed.

“We were invited down to Washington to testify at a hearing about scams and instead it became all about how much we hate your show,” the source told the Daily News.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

172 replies on “The Great and Powerful Dr. Oz: Humbled by Senator Claire McCaskill”

At one time he did have approved products although he did not sell them. I blogged about it in 2011,

The Live Better Newsletter still has:

Oz-Approved: Health, Diet and Beauty Essentials!
Dr. Oz gives his official seal of approval for the remedies, treatments and foods he’s most passionate about. From alternative health care to better beauty, they’ve improved the Oz family’s life and can do the same for you, too. Tune in today!

Get the complete Oz-approved list! at

but it leads to

Access denied
You are not authorized to access this page.

So he took it down. sort of.

It is not in the way back machine

Unexpected and wonderful. And nothing tops it off quite like an Oracian take down commentary. I’ve been waiting all day for that cherry on top of Dr. Oz’ testimony.

You know, I’m not so sure that McCaskill didn’t know exactly what she was doing from the start. This is the woman who hand-selected Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin to be her opponent in her last senate race. She seriously bought ads to promote what a hardcore conservative he is to get him through the primary, and then just sat back and let him ruin himself with his own words.

I can EASILY believe that this was a set-up from a start. Invite him, put out the glowing press release, and let his own ego walk him straight into a trap. She would know that he’s enormously popular and that grilling him would guarantee her headlines for the issue she’s trying to promote.

What I’m trying to say is that I kind of love Claire McCaskill.

Kudos to Senator McCaskill for keeping her foot on Dr. Oz’s throat. She has a reputation of doggedly going after government programs and other initiatives that she feels strongly about. Perhaps she is a born-again crusader against fake science.

It was a very pleasant surprise to see someone in Congress who understands that the frauds are taking advantage of the vulnerable.

The victims are not the ‘Great and Powerful Ozs,’ but the people who are duped into buying these supplements that are not as safe as drugs, not as effective as drugs, but are as expensive as drugs.

We do need to take the same approach to ‘conventional’ medicine.

There are too many treatments that are the inverse of science-based. They have biological plausibility, but have not been demonstrated to improve outcomes that matter, yet they are FDA approved.


That naturalnews article made me physically sick. Like, I couldn’t read more than a few paragraphs before I felt like throwing up. And that jab at the top abot McCaskill’s weight – way to stay classy, Mike. Way to stay classy.

Oh Mikey.

This is from one of his *real educated* commenters:

TOM WHITMIRE for CONGRESS • 6 hours ago

It Is issues like this that have led me to Run for Congress in MI’s 5th District. The real educated people of this country need a voice in DC and I plan to be heard. That you (sic) natural news for inspiring me to RUN for CONGRESS! NUTRITION, HEALTH, EDUCATION & AGRICULTURE are my main platforms. Thank you for your support!

Regarding the hearing, it was a pleasure to see Oz squirm, in payment for all of the squirming he has caused me when I see his miracle magic pills plastered on magazines in the checkout aisle.

And I can speak from some experience that the FTC is underfunded and understaffed to go after all of these guys (or even more than a very small fraction)….it really is an uphill battle, especially when morons like Dr. Oz create this atmosphere that these types of things are “okey-dokey.”

Good takedown by the Senator….

I’ve never read anything from Natural News before … is this their usual standard of reporting? Just for starters, even before I opened the article, I’m confronted with a really nasty photo of the Senator, overweight, scruffy-haired and snarling, next to a photo of Dr Oz, clean-cut, well-groomed and with a hurt expression on his face. The article starts and continues for some way with an attack on Big Pharma (what’s new?) and it ends with a lengthy hagiography of the cruelly-persecuted Saint Mehmet..

Kathy, that’s pretty much NaturalNews’s MO. Mike’s arguments are transparently awful to anyone with a basic understanding of how cranks work, but alas, that doesn’t include everyone.

I saw a clip of that on the NBC nighlty news last night. My wife is a pharmacist and gets lots of questions from Oz viewers who want to purchase some questionable product they saw on his show. They get mad at my wife when she tells them that based on her professional understanding, the products don’t work like Oz claims. She was clapping by the time the news segment ended.

Senator McCaskill has the power to call for testimony and shame publicly, exerted to its fullest yesterday. Now if only state medical boards would exercise their power to sanction MDs who are clearly not practicing within the limitations of their licenses (well, I can dream, can’t I?).

Ha!, just splendid! I saw this in the news elsewhere and figured Orac would swing into action against the Woozard of Oz.

AngryScience @ 8: Nothing like a good ‘puke challenge’ to get me to go read an article! And lo & behold:

The opener, a ‘satire parody’ [sic] where Mikey has Senator McCaskill saying ‘promoting green coffee beans for weight loss is unacceeptable,’ and Oz replying ‘is that because you want them all for yourself?’ actually got a chuckle out of me. It’s at least slightly funny in the genre of partisan sniping.

Mikey’s claim that 750,000 doses of Gardasil were recalled due to having ‘tiny shards of glass’ in them should be actionable as libel.

He says ‘green coffee bean extract, [is] a supplement that really does help support sensible weight loss efforts.’ Does this stuff have caffeine in it, by any chance? Any other stimulants? In which case it’s an ‘all natural’ analogue of old-fashioned diet pills that contained amphetamines. But even Mikey knows enough to say ‘support’ weight loss, as in, blowing your nose also ‘supports’ weight loss if you have to run up and down stairs to get some bog paper for tooting your hooter.

Apparently Mikey didn’t just ‘appear’ on Oz’ show, he ‘experienced the honour’ of appearing there. YES, You Too can Experience the Honour, and Prove to Yourself that the Placebo Effect Really Works (excess capitalisation intended).

‘He simply wants to share the Good News with his fellow Americans…’ Oh hurrah!, another telly-evangelist, preaching the bloody Good News! I thought we’d all had enough of those nowadays. ‘Are you saved?’ ‘No, I’m wasted, here have a puff of this…’ Right!

‘Not only is it a crime in America to sell fresh cow’s milk…’ No it is _not_ a crime to sell ‘fresh’ milk, it’s a crime to sell _un-Pasteurised_ milk, because it can make you sick six ways from hell.

Lastly, anyone who writes an ‘about the author’ six-paragraph hagiography about himself, is clearly a narcissist of first order.

Let’s see – according to Natural News, Sen. McCaskill unleashed an “Orwellian thought crimes attack” on poor Dr. Oz over his endorsement of unproven weight loss products.

This is the same Natural News that delivered a venomous attack on Oz as a “pharma shill” for belatedly endorsing vaccination:

Now I’m confused. Just what is a thought crime, anyway?

@ Anj #15– Arizona already *is* having these outbreaks. For 2013 there were ~ 1300 cases of pertussis ( ) with current tracking for about 800 cases this year (however, it is summer and about half of AZ goes to CA beaches rather than melt in 110 degree heat, so I expect counts to increase in AZ as some of AZ’s unvaccinated bring pertussis back from vacation.

Also (as I live and practice pediatrics in AZ) worth noting is that at least the law in California requires all schools to track and publicly publish vaccination rates–so a parent in California can make sure their child isn’t going to a school with only a 50% vaccination rate. For the last several years, attempts to get such a law passed in Arizona have failed in the state legislature. Here, parents are facing a crapshoot when it come to knowing whether their kid’s school has herd immunity or not. I was practicing there last year when the outbreak hit ( and there was clustering of cases at 2 schools that clearly had below-herd-immunity level vaccination rates. What was deeply frustrating was that the parents who do vaccinate had no way of knowing that their child attended such a school until news of the outbreak was released to parents at that school–as the school district was under no compunction to disclose such information. Caring for children who are especially vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases (those who’ve had chemotherapy, those with organ transplants and those with immune deficiencies), I think it is criminal that parents cannot know if their vulnerable child is walking into a death trap.

@ Anj #15 – current pertussis tracking at about 800 cases for the whole year based on It is odd (which is why I had to link to the 2013 end of year data from the file I had downloaded myself from AZDHS) that AZDHS has still not finalized 2013 infectious disease reporting.

I thought it was a bit comical how Oz kept retreating to and arguing that he uses “flowery language” to describe his own descriptions of these supplements. To my ear (coming from a law background) it sounded as though he was referring to “puffery” – basically a term for a sales pitch so outrageous that no reasonable person would believe it to be literally true. So does Oz believe that what he is saying is puffery and that his audience should be smart enough to realize that these claims cannot possibly be fulfilled? But to do that, wouldn’t he basically have to admit that he is effectively no longer a physician, but merely a salesman?

Now I’m confused. Just what is a thought crime, anyway?

Mike Adams is one of several woo-pushers whom I suspect know as much as they do about 1984 because they have been using it as an operations manual. We are allied with Eurasia and at war with Eastasia, and have always been allied with Eurasia and at war with Eastasia, notwithstanding your (obviously false, as of this week) memories that just last week we were allied with Eastasia and at war with Eurasia. Likewise, Mike has always been a friend of those who push the right kind of dietary supplements (e.g., Dr. Oz) and a enemy of those who support vaccination of kids (e.g., Dr. Oz). This week, Mike calls Dr. Oz a hero for holding his views on dietary supplements in front of a hostile Senate committee. Are you going to believe Mike, or your lying eyes?

@ Lurker:

If you enjoyed his “6 paragraph hagiography” please read his bio/ history @ It’s longer. And funnier.

I was raised in the belief that one shouldn’t ever ‘ toot one’s own horn’, i.e. if you are indeed brilliant, excellent, well-versed, accomplished, superlative etc
let OTHERS take notice and comment.

But perhaps that tells us something about people who DO write ( or videotape) long, self-serving bios:
– they’re trying to market their personae as well as products
– they may be trying to make up for their apparent lack of real credentials by inventing accolades and awards
– they may not have the skills that inform them doing so is rather gauche, obvious and un-cool
– they may be aiming at an audience who doesn’t have the skills to label braggadocio as advertising, i.e. clueless

Because I hear audience feedback from another woo-meister, I am (almost) surprised that fans fall for his over-padded bio, false accomplishments and self-deifying con artistry:
they thank him for “all he does”
they ask advice about family members with serious conditions BEYOND what doctors have advised or prescribed
and they continue the exultation and praise he began.

While I support sceptics leading readers to scientific articles on research and theory, as well as more formal study, I think that there is a ground of common sense about the the world and other people to which we can appeal first.
Reading and studying take effort and time that many may lack or not want to invest at first.

BUT if we can engage them by showing them the _apparent_ we up our chances of getting through to them.

That’s why I try to question :
How likely is it that ONE person can be expert in several un-realted fields ( health, economics, politics) when most professionals need to specialise in ONE part of ONE area?

Oh, that’s UN-RELATED.

-btw- the look on Oz’s face is precious!

Good for Senator McCaskill, whatever her initial strategy was, the end result was amazing.

As for Mikey, does he understand that making a claim that a product does something when all available says it doesn’t isn’t a thought crime, it’s fraud? Then again, he seems to think the manufacturerers of Vioxx, Baycol, and Serzone never appeared before any government body to explain their decisions. This despite referencing Merck’s hearing in an article from 2004: So, how deep is the memory hole Mikey? Who are we at war with this week?

I noticed the reference to “science based medicine” as well. I agree that it is not proof of anything, but it sure is suspicious(ly awesome).

Yesterday I “liked” her facebook page, sent her an FB message of congratulations, put her clip on my FB page with congratulations, and tweeted both her and my (very few) followers with solid praise.

I think it is very important to vigorously praise our politicians when they do the right thing and heartily throw our support behind them while spreading the word. I can only hope that this sort of thing will snowball into the the death knell of Dr. Oz .

@ Denice

How likely is it that ONE person can be expert in several un-related fields ( health, economics, politics) when most professionals need to specialise in ONE part of ONE area?

Careful, here, polymaths do exist. Look in the linked article, “Real Life” section, for a few examples of these Renaissance men, modern examples included.
For the American reader, I will just drop the names of Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt.

However, you are right pointing out that due to the massive amount of knowledge to acquire, excelling in more than one field today is difficult.

You would also be right pointing out that most, if not all of these multiple-fields experts were sought after by political leaders and by mainstream scientists. In other words, recognized for their value by other experts.
Something which is not happening to Mike Adams.

@ Denice #27

How likely is it that ONE person can be expert in several un-related fields ( health, economics, politics) when most professionals need to specialise in ONE part of ONE area?

Careful, here, polymaths do exist. Look in the linked article, “Real Life” section, for a few examples of these Renaissance men, modern examples included.
For the American reader, I will just drop the names of Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt.

However, you are right pointing out that due to the massive amount of knowledge to acquire, excelling in more than one field today is very unlikely.

You would also be right pointing out that most, if not all of these multiple-fields experts were sought after by political leaders and by mainstream scientists. In other words, recognized for their value by other experts.
Something which is not happening to Mike Adams.

@ Helianthus:

Of course.
HOWEVER these guys aren’t even accomplished in ONE area. They need to pad the paucity: Mike and Gary have only two standard degrees between them ( a four year one in an unspeciified science at an unspecific locale and a two year business one in West Verginia, respectively).

Whilst I really shouldn’t admit it, I studied across more than one area myself and have relevant degrees which don’t emanate from distance learning programmes or alternative universities. I won’t bore you with the details.

And it’s no big deal- I’d guess that it’s not at all uncommon @ RI ( you know who you are). If education is more than window dressing, it usually makes itself known.

That woo-based window dressing requires constant maintainence because the real deal isn’t there. They have to keep reminding their audiences of how brilliant they are.

And degrees aren’t entirely the thing either but they do give us a bit of a standard measure of *external* evaluatiion. It’s taken for granted that most experts in a field have at least a graduate level education. The poseurs need to cover-up that simple fact: they don’t have it; they didn’t do it; they weren’t accepted and they need to claim substitute qualiifications to make up for this lack.

The self-aggrandisement seen here is probably a inherent facet of personality as well as advertising copy.

a four year [degree] in an unspeciified science at an unspecific locale

I’m getting a whiff of the other kind of B.S. here.

Poor Dr. Oz. The video of his testimony in Congress has been picked up by every mainstream media outlet and the only one who is defending him is Mike Adams.

Senator McCaskill really stuck it to him about that Indian study for a weight loss product with 16 participants, paid for by the manufacturer. His smarmy veneer collapses as McCaskill repeatedly questions him about his extraordinary claims for these crappy supplements.

The bottom line is that Dr. Oz traded his reputation as a competent cardiac surgeon to become just another media whore snake oil salesman.

@Casual Observer–

Yeah, Sen. McCaskill is a breath of fresh air in the fetid cesspool that is Missouri politics. Our state legislature is really a piece of work: banning Sharia law, nullifying federal gun laws, attacking science. It’s really depressing. Kansas is worse, but just barely. It really sucks sometimes being a blue person in a very red state.

The bottom line is that Dr. Oz traded his reputation as a competent cardiac surgeon to become just another media whore snake oil salesman.

Do we know he was a good surgeon?

Is it worth writing to Columbia’s IRB to point out that he conducted an unauthorized trial? How about to the FDA, since he conducted a trial intended to support marketing for the product?

Do we know he was a good surgeon?

Yes, we do. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s he was considered one of the best.


How about to the FDA, since he conducted a trial intended to support marketing for the product?

Ah, but is it marketing or entertainment? Did he conduct it so he could sell it for that use?

I doubt that the FDA angle would work. Going to Columbia’s IRB or even to OHRP might. Does the Federal Rule apply?

I would argue that it does. Columbia University receives federal funding, and Dr. Oz is faculty at Columbia University. Consequently, the Common Rule should apply. Whether Dr. Oz could weasel out of it would depend on how strict the Columbia faculty code of conduct and ethics is.

We get the impression that altho’ he IS rather affluent ( see ‘Dr Oz’s house in Cliffside Park/ Celebrity House Gossip) he ISN’T down the road hanging out with Beyonce and JZ.


Well, I guess I was wondering more, did he conduct the trial using Columbia’s resources or as an employee of the university? If he conducted it outside of employment hours, off-campus as a private individual, then the Federal Rule wouldn’t apply and the IRB would have little it could do to sanction him.

But, if he used any materials or space from Columbia’s supply, I think it could probably be argued that that is enough to involve the university, so the Federal Rule would apply, and all of the IRB review regulations would come into play.

It’s not entirely clear. A certain “friend” of mine quoted the Columbia University Human Research Protection policy, which states that it doesn’t matter where a Columbia faculty member carries out human subjects research. The policy still applies, and the research is subject to a Columbia IRB:

At the very least, Oz arguably violated Columbia human research subjects protection policies.


Ah, your friend is correct. Even if he doesn’t fall under OHRP jurisdiction, he clearly is covered under Columbia’s IRB regulations. Has anyone contact Columbia’s Human Research Protection Program regarding his antics?

Uh oh. Mikey will not be pleased if Orac says that about his new bestie.
It may mean an investgative report by Natural News: ‘Who is Orac?’

Regarding Mikey: it’s curious how he throws all his ire at Senator McCaskill’s treatment of Dr. Oz while completely ignoring the other panel members, including the representatives from the FTC, Council for Responsible Nutrition, and the Natural Products Association. One wonders if Mike watched the whole thing.

Regarding the hearing: if there really any teeth in it? What’s to prevent Dr. Oz from making a show of complying, and then going right back to his old ways?

[email protected]: Do you mean the other Senators, or the other witnesses? The news reports I have seen only mention McCaskill’s questioning, but I also have not watched the video of the full hearing. The people you list would be witnesses before the committee.

As for your other question: The hearing by itself doesn’t mean anything, but since Dr. Oz was not testifying under a grant of immunity, other federal agencies (as well as Columbia’s medical school, per the comments of Orac’s friend) could use it as evidence in any actions they take against him. If, of course, they choose to take action.

I love Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. The money quote in her article today on the not-so-great Dr. Oz:

“If you search on his site for the word “miracle,” you will get 1,890 results, which is considerably more than you’ll find in the entire bible and 1980 US Olympic hockey team combined.”

The picture in the Salon article makes Oz look like a deer caught in headlights.

Dr. Chris, having just left public health in AZ for public health in NC I can tell you that ADHS is underfunded and chronically understaffed suffering from high turnover. I am not at all surprised they have not finalized last years data. It routinely takes them until July to get the final dataset out. Which plays merry hell with everyone else’s report writing, as the final state numbers are used by all the counties. So much fun. AZ is ripe for an outbreak as are many areas in the US. There are a lot of charter schools in AZ and those tend to have much lower vaccination rates than public schools. Add in the shifting population and an international border and it’s a matter of when not if.


You should admit that you screwed up and misunderstood her intentions. I almost let her have it as well, but then went back and reread the release on her site, and my gut was telling me that it was going to go exactly the way it did, because of the careful wording of the release. You jumped the gun and practiced very poor journalism, and now you’re trying to take credit for her lambasting him, saying it put pressure on her? Give me a break. I didn’t see her amazing performance as something pulled out of a posterior orifice at the last minute because people assumed the worst of her. That kind of grilling seems like it has been planned for a while.

Usually you do good work, but this time, your arrogance is showing. You owe Senator McCaskill an apology and should do a full mea culpa for accusing her of having “fried” the irony meter. You leapt to an improper conclusion based on an assumption.

And I called you out for it here:

You’re welcome.

James Fell

Something odd (in addition to everything else that’s odd) about NaturalNews – instances of phony quotes and headlines that are labeled (rather inconspicuously) as “satire”.

In addition to a fake quote in the McCaskill hearing story attributed to Dr. Oz, there’s a current NN story about the Washington Redskins’ denial of trademark protection, using a headline proclaiming that 20 U.S. states are being required by the federal government to change their names (only in the body of the story is the word “satire” mentioned).

Maybe we should start doing the same thing in reference to NaturalNews. For instance, NN has just posted stories* with the following headlines:

“Mike Adams’ Lab Is Cited For Numerous Health And Safety Violations”
“Natural News Store Shut Down Due to Heavy Metal Contamination of All of Its Supplements”
“Vaccines Proven To Prevent Disease, Save Lives”
“Mainstream Medicine Was Right All Along About Quackery, Admits Shamefaced Mike Adams”
“Natural News Subscribers Found To Have Extremely High Rates Of Mental Illness”


@ Dangerous Bacon:

Mikey is calling out the senator’s “hidden”** COIs-
it appears that she received contributions from a pharma retail company and ((shudder)) Monsanto!

Therefore she is mere;y trying to damage Oz’s- the competition’s- credibility.

** so hidden that they’re public

@James Fell
Wow, dude, reeeeaaally needed to get that dig in, didn’t you?

Oz: “I thought it was going to be a hearing about scams — OTHER PEOPLE’S scams.”

Yes, we do. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s he was considered one of the best.

I have looked for and cannot find any metric that suggests Oz is any better than any other surgeon; mortality rates, infection rates, length of stay, re-op rates are not published anywhere I can find. 30 years of infection control and quality have made me skeptical of surgical reputations;

And I called you out for it here

Well, so long as its enshrined at… “Ask Men,” I guess that takes care of that.

Managed to resist the temptation to call Mike Adams for being a snake oil salesman. He might be sincere, but that doesn’t change anything, does it?


That just happened to be the vehicle which I used, a place I’ve had a column for over 3 years. I chose them for this piece because timing was important I knew they could get it posted immediately, and they let me write precisely what I want with zero agenda. They never change my message and I have an amazing editor.

If you bothered to Google me you’d learn that I have a syndicated column with the Chicago Tribune that runs in dozens of respected newspapers as well as another column for TIME Magazine. Not only that, but Michael Shermer endorsed my book published by Random House.

But no, all you can see is “AskMen,” and you leapt to an erroneous conclusion the same way that Orac did, blasting away without actually understanding the full story. If Orac wants us to trust him, he needs to be more careful. He’s not doing medical and health skepticism any favours by making the assumptions that he did, and the way to recover from such a thing is to apologize and promise to do better in the future, not be arrogant and act like it was all because of his writing that put McCaskill on this path in the first place.

We should all be holding people like Orac to an exceptionally high standard, not acting like a bunch of starstruck fan boys.

Oops. The above comment was actually primarily targeted towards @Narad. I made a mistake by commenting too quickly, and now I’m going to apologize for having done so.

See how that works?

@ James Fell: Did you actually read this post by Orac and his prior post and actually read the comments? I doubt it.

If you had read the comments, you would find that a number of people actually contacted Senator McCaskill and provided her with information directly from Respectful Insolence and from the Science Based Medicine bloggers about the products Dr. Oz has promoted on his show. Apparently, those communications had an effect on Senator McCaskill, because she definitely used the material during her opening statement and during her dialogue with Dr. Oz. Do you think her use of the phrase “Science Based Medicine” is her own neologism?

I’ve read some of your columns about fitness; there is nothing objectionable in them. There is also nothing of substance which could have been sent to Senator McCaskill for her to use in her opening statement or during her questioning of Dr. Oz.

You’re welcome.

One notes that I also acknowledged that it’s quite possible McCaskill had intended this result all along, which is why I said I don’t much care whether this is the original ending planned for the Kabuki play or whether there was a rewrite in response to skeptics contacting McCaskill’s office and only said that I “like to think” skeptics had something to do with it. Certainly her use of the term “science-based medicine” suggests that this is so, because that is not a term commonly used (or even known) by politicians or the general public, which is why its use grabbed my attention so.

In other words, Mr. Fell’s “disappointment” in me does not particularly resonate. We have no way of knowing whether McCaskill intended this all along (and, no, I don’t think her press release is sufficient “evidence” that she did). Certainly, she’s unlikely ever to say one way or the other, at least not while she’s still in office. (Maybe if she ever writes her memoirs…) However, given the history of politicians and science, there were lots of perfectly valid reasons to doubt McCaskill when she invited someone like Dr. Oz to testify. Sure, she deserves praise for ultimately having done the right thing, regardless of whether she intended it all along or changed course after some prodding by her constituents, but I don’t see any apology necessary. If Mr. Fell is so horribly, horribly “disappointed” in me for that, well, I won’t exactly lose any sleep over it.

Given the tendency of politicians to double down on their positions when encountering contradictory evidence, McCaskill is even more praiseworthy if she was influenced by the information she received.

Tincture of Oprah

You know you’re on the ropes when you become the butt of nighttime talk show jokes. Letterman:

Top Ten Products Endorsed by Dr. Oz
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

10. Fat-burning mayonnaise
9. Contraceptive grout
8. Swedish Nyquil balls
7. Spray-on abs
6. Tincture of Oprah
5. Non-stick band-aids
4. Weight-loss fedora
3. Self-inflating latex glove
2. Appendix-be-gone
1. Self-locking duck gates

We might have to wait until next season. His season’s almost over, and chances are that all of this season’s remaining episodes have already been taped.

A goole search for “science based medicine” comes up with 2.3 million results. Not exactly proprietary. And “horribly, horribly” is a significant overstatement. I consider myself at most moderately disappointed. I would have thought a man who otherwise shows so much wisdom and critical thinking would be reflective enough to admit to an error. Regardless of you qualifying your statements in a follow up piece (“like to think”), it doesn’t change the fact that in your first piece you nailed her to the wall by making incorrect assumptions. In my world, that at least calls for an “I’m sorry.”

Are starstruck fanboys all you really want? I would think you’d welcome some critical feedback.

He has a Facebook post up about the hearing:

I was pleased that the hearing yesterday dealt with some complicated issues and had all the players present whose cooperation will be necessary to move forward in protecting the consumer. For years I felt that because I did not sell any products that I could be enthusiastic in my coverage and I believe the research surrounding the products I cover has value. I took part in the hearing because I am accountable for my role in the proliferation of these scams and I recognize that my enthusiastic language has made the problem worse at times. To not have the conversation about supplements at all, however, would be a disservice to the viewer. In addition to exercising an abundance of caution in discussing promising research and products in the future, I look forward to working with all those present yesterday in finding a way to deal with the problems of weight loss scams.

Oh, and McCaskill’s release does indeed give no indication of grilling Dr. Oz. However, it also gives no indication of the opposite: kissing his ass or bringing him in for his “star power.” That’s your error. You assumed it was her intention without any evidence.

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