Oz attacks! When we last left Dr. Mehmet Oz, you may recall, a group of 10 renowned physicians had called for his ouster from Columbia med, accusing him of egregious breaches of professional integrity that besmirched the university's rep and soiled the healthcare domain in general.* The docs didn't mince words, either, using terms including charlatan and quack. Although Oz's accusers focused chiefly on his for-profit exploits in the murky area of weight loss, their stinging rebuke applies just as well to the volumes of Woo he has spewed ever since Oprah Winfrey (The Fountain of Wooth) unleashed him on an unsuspecting public back in 2004. Your host (that's me) was one of the first to call Oz out publicly for his sins...back when it was politically incorrect to criticize any member of Oprah's stable, and could even spark threats of litigation (which, of course, has a tendency to chill criticism). As a side note, although at the time the Wall Street Journal was the usual venue for my sniping at the CAMsphere, my Journal editors wimped out at the last minute and the suddenly orphaned piece was claimed by ballsy opinion-page editor Josh Greenman for the New York Daily News.
On Friday Oz went public with a defense in which he claimed that he's just a good guy presenting the public with options, to wit:
"I bring the public information that will help them on their path to be their best selves. We provide multiple points of view, including mine which is offered without conflict of interest. That doesn't sit well with certain agendas which distort the facts..."That argument—so reasonable-sounding on its face—is surely applicable in many of life's realms, and might even have relevance to medicine if, say, we're talking about a case where two colleagues, both sane, differ about a given course of treatment for a patient who presents with a given malady. But the "multiple points of view" Oz has sponsored include absurd mind-body regimens like therapeutic touch, which is really just an updated spin on the laying of hands, or remote healing, which is akin to what some itinerant private-label preachers used to do in tents. That rationale also provides cover for the entrepreneurial charlatans who hawk bogus cancer cures and other quack products.
It'll be interesting to see where this goes. Hard to imagine Columbia summarily bouncing the good doc, but now that the two sides have staked our their turfs...it would seem that something's gotta give. If nothing else maybe this will lead to a wider discussion of alt-med and quackery and the New Wage movement's corrupting effect on various serious-minded disciplines.
* I regret the absence of that original post, as well as several prior ones lumped under that same date/heading. Blogger had one of its famed "Blogger moments" and zapped them. They appear to be gone forever, including the several dozen comments you folks were kind enough to take the time to write. My profound apologies.