Oprah: Shame on you.

By Phil Plait | June 7, 2009 6:41 pm

Oprah on the cover of Newsweek

So last week, Newsweek printed a heroic front-page article detailing the antiscientific medical swill Oprah Winfrey has been routinely doling out to her audiences. This nonsense includes, of course, Jenny McCarthy, as well as dangerous quackery by Suzanne Somers and others. The article really slams Oprah hard, as well it should.

Unsurprisingly, Oprah has released a statement about this, and it’s full to the brim of fail. I wouldn’t call it a lie, but it’s spinning like a newborn pulsar:

For 23 years, my show has presented thousands of topics that reflect the human experience, including doctors’ medical advice and personal health stories that have prompted conversations between our audience members and their health care providers. I trust the viewers, and I know that they are smart and discerning enough to seek out medical opinions to determine what may be best for them.

That, to be blunt, is baloney. First off, it’s wrong. She pounds home the New Age nonsense from Somers and McCarthy, giving them a platform to relentlessly mislead and misinform people millions at a time, and on those shows rarely gives more than very brief lip service to actual medical research.

Second, it’s at best a cop-out to say that her viewers will do more research. She has to know that’s almost certainly not true! The Oprah imprimatur can rocket a book up the best-selling list, as it has for Somers and McCarthy, as well as many others. Clearly, a vast horde of people will go out and buy what she tells them to because she’s the one who told them to.

And what she’s telling them to buy is dangerous medical nonsense.

The only good news coming out of this is that the mainstream media are taking notice. Besides Newsweek itself, other venues are writing about it too. Of course, the blogs are all over it as well (the Newsweek blog has links to more).

Oprah: shame on you. You had a chance to look this situation over carefully, investigate your methods and ideas, and make this right. Instead you resort to defensive posturing and spin. It makes me sick to my stomach. But how many people will your credulous platform literally make sick?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Skepticism

Comments (202)

Links to this Post

  1. Blog Article and Video about  Oprah: Shame on you. | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine - Oprah Winfrey | June 7, 2009
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  6. diychica's status on Monday, 08-Jun-09 11:28:17 UTC - Identi.ca | June 8, 2009
  7. via @badastronomer. If you like Oprah, don’t read this article http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/06/07/oprah-shame-on-you/ | Celebrity News Feed | June 8, 2009
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  22. Dystopian Lifetime Achievement Award Goes to OPRAH | ICED BORSCHT & Other Delights | July 11, 2009
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  25. The Best Journalism and Blogging of 2009! | ICED BORSCHT | February 27, 2010
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  27. More on Oprah and Kim Tinkham « rationalbrain | December 20, 2010
  28. Oprah moet zich schamen « Ernst-Jan Pfauth | September 16, 2011
  1. Everyone in the audience gets a LAAAAME EXCUUUUUUUSE!

    Oprah’s whole schtick is that she’s telling her audience what to do. Read this book because it’s got an orange “O” sticker on it. Try this diet because it worked for me. Then it didn’t. Then it did again. And NOW she assumes that people are smart enough to disagree with her if she’s wrong?

  2. Ibeechu

    One of the qualities of people I admire most is a person’s ability to update their opinions based on new information. And the inverse is also true. People with an inability to do that due to peer pressure, or cognitive dissonance, or whatever, I just lose my respect for them. Not that I ever respected Oprah, but now this gives me a reason not to. It is sickening, indeed.

  3. Careful Phil. She’ll send her zombie army after you.

  4. Jeff Blume

    All you guys are arrogant people who have to rain on other people’s parades. If people want to believe, then let them believe. Who made you turkeys authorities on any subject ??? Go get a panel of experts on a particular view of a subject and you can find a panel of experts on the polar opposite side of the subject. Go examine your own impressions on people and see what damage you probably have done. Otherwise, shut your pie hole !

  5. It’s interesting to note that a few weeks ago (May 18th), Oprah.com had web page up entitled “What should Jenny Do?” that was soliciting suggestions for topics to cover on the newly announced Jenny McCarthy show. I was about to post a link to that page here and recommend that folks go and offers suggestions. However, before doing so, I double checked the URL to ensure the page was still up.

    Guess what? The page is gone. (I’m guessing that Oprah and company did not like the gist of the suggestions that were coming in.)

    If you’re interested, you can still read the message from that page because I included it in a blog post:

    What Should Jenny Do?
    http://faseidl.com/public/item/232387

  6. Wow. Sure, if “conversations” = screaming paranoia.

    Paraphrased: “I take no responsibility for anything that I say or do or anything that happens on my show. So long, suckas.” [Not pictured: Her running her dump truck full of money to her mansion so she can swim in it.]

  7. It’s hard not to write off anyone who lets the Oprah mystique guide them in making important medical decisions. Unfortunately, they also tend to decide for others as well (especially their children). Otherwise, I’d say that gullible people pretty much deserve Oprah.

  8. WaitingforGuiteau

    I always laughed when I saw things like The Grapes of Wrath or Anna Karenina on Oprah’s reading list, imagining some forty year old soccer mom who kinda graduated from high school and enjoys watching Lifetime trying to power through some of the dense classics of literature. I have to admit that at least she drew attention to books that most people would not pick up.

    But the point of that isn’t this good thing she did for the world of literature, the point is that Oprah wields a tremendous amount of power. Imagine of Oprah got on national television and said that vaccines cause autism, and then on the same program, thirty seconds after that, Barack Obama got on the same podium and said “there is no evidence at all that vaccines cause autism”. I’m not certain of the outcome, which is disturbing enough, but I am fairly confident that poor Mr. Obama would suffer a bit of a tumble in his approval ratings. What Oprah’s figured out is that she has a controversy that sells, and there’s no way she’ll get sued for wrongful death because at no point does she go out and claim to be Dr. Winfrey, MD.

    What she’s doing is circling the wagons in the way that anyone who comes to a conclusion then finds the supporting evidence instead of the other way around does. This same effect is clearly visible in the Senate.

  9. WaitingforGuiteau

    I always laughed when I saw things like The Grapes of Wrath or Anna Karenina on Oprah’s reading list, imagining some forty year old soccer mom who kinda graduated from high school and enjoys watching Lifetime trying to power through some of the dense classics of literature. I have to admit that at least she drew attention to books that most people would not pick up.

    But the point of that isn’t this good thing she did for the world of literature, the point is that Oprah wields a tremendous amount of power. Imagine of Oprah got on national television and said that vaccines cause autism, and then on the same program, thirty seconds after that, Barack Obama got on the same podium and said “there is no evidence at all that vaccines cause autism”. I’m not certain of the outcome, which is disturbing enough, but I am fairly confident that poor Mr. Obama would suffer a bit of a tumble in his approval ratings. What Oprah’s figured out is that she has a controversy that sells, and there’s no way she’ll get sued for wrongful death because at no point does she go out and claim to be Dr. Winfrey, MD.

  10. Oy. OY, I say. Mz. Oprah, SURELY you’re smart enough to know that people look up to you (those poor saps), and SURELY you know that people see you as an authority on all SORTS of issues that you are not, personally, qualified to comment on (UGH!), so therefore SURELY you should realize that you are thereby leading people to the quite probable RUIN of the health of themselves and their families.

    Incidentally, some idiot at a mattress store tried to sell me a $7,000 mattress because “That’s the one Oprah sleeps on.” I know better, but I also know that there are fans who would really spend that much (also incidentally, my CAR didn’t cost that much!).

    So lady, who you tryin’ to kid?

    Thank the FSM that the mainstream media are finally figuring out what skeptics have known for years – that woman is DANGEROUS!!

    Great work as always, Mr. Bad Astronomer!

  11. This may seem a little immature and ummm rude on my part, what I really don’t understand is why people would listen to someone who is so far removed from reality that they don’t even know how to pump their own gas anymore.

    Oprah is so far in her own little world now, she can’t even do the most basic of tasks any longer. That is really someone I am going to get information from.

    When I was young and naive, I liked her. Then she got that pop-psych wacko the other Dr. Phil on her show and I lost all respect for her.

  12. Chris

    That sounds like a legal disclaimer. It’s saying if you follow Oprah’s advice without consulting a doctor, any negative outcome is your own fault. All she’s doing is “prompting discussions” i.e. not offering cures. She’s virtually admitting her stuff is most likely bogus, and you had better see a professional.

  13. Oprah could easily use her powers to do much good. And sometimes she does, by setting up schools for underprivileged girls etc (although there was some controversy surrounding this – I can’t remember the details). Then she endorses the likes of McCarthy who is indirectly harming kids? Can’t she see the hypocrisy?

  14. Just to be on-topic and picky, the fastest-spinning pulsars are actually much older than normal pulsars. Or are you saving “spinning like a recycled pulsar” for Oprah’s next announcement?

  15. The “my viewers will do more research and decide for themselves” has been a standard cop out in reality show and daytime entertainment boilerplates to release production companies from any liability. They’re misleading and give stars far too much leeway in dispensing medical advice without a license or requisite training.

  16. Mena

    personal health stories that have prompted conversations between our audience members and their health care providers.
    Which of course is probably a complete joy for the health care providers. Imagine having to deal with the same dumb question over and over, until the next dumb thing comes along. Does anyone else remember that episode of “House” where he had to deal with the anti-vax mother during his clinic duties? I suspect that a lot of doctors wish that they could do that!
    Updating:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/09/dr_house_on_vaccinations_1.php

  17. Kevin

    Yes, Oprah wields power, but it’s something fleeting that I’m sure she’s aware of, and that is one of the problems here.

    Yes, she could have went out and did some research, and then backed off on supporting McCarthy and her ilk. But there’s a big reason she doesn’t…

    She’s afraid.

    If Oprah would do the right thing, and come out against Jenny McCarthy, Suzanne Somers, or any of the other snake oil salesmen, word would get out that she’s against the Hollywood Elite, who think that they know what’s right and what’s wrong about any subject there is.

    You see it all the time: celebrities get on the bandwagon for some cause – whether just or not – and they are suddenly experts, testifying before congress (who are so in awe of the big Hollywood star that they salivate when the bell rings), etc., and they are talked about as “championing a cause.” Well, what if word gets out that they are being called out for their intentional (or not) misdirection? By someone as “powerful” as Oprah? Her credibility amongst said Hollywood elite would be in the trash heap, and no one would want to have anything to do with her. Her show would suffer, her website would suffer, her fans would turn against her, the whole nine yards. She’s not going to upset the golden oxcart of getting to hobnob with the Hollywood snobs.

    Oprah will not do the right thing, because by doing the right thing, she is harming herself. And that’s one thing she won’t do.

  18. Gavin Polhemus

    As a primary care doctor, my wife has participated in many of those “conversations between [Oprah's] audience members and their health care providers,” which is why she is considering buying a copy of the current Newsweek for every room in her practice. That article is the perfect place for Oprah viewers to start doing “more research.”

  19. Adrian Lopez

    Oprah says: “I trust the viewers, and I know that they are smart and discerning enough to seek out medical opinions to determine what may be best for them.”

    And yet, according to Newsweek:

    “In March 2007, the month after the first two shows on The Secret, Oprah invited a woman named Kim Tinkham on the program. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and her doctors were urging surgery and chemotherapy. But Tinkham wrote Oprah to say that she had decided to forgo this treatment and instead use The Secret to cure herself. On the show, Oprah seemed genuinely alarmed that Tinkham had taken her endorsement of The Secret so seriously.”

    If you peddle nonsense on your show, it is likely a number of your viewers will believe you and adopt such nonsense as that which you peddle.

  20. An excellentarticle on the subject by a fellow blogger in a mainstream media outlet:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/article/646830

  21. Chris

    I had another thought. This could be neatly used against Oprah. How about showing that statement to Jenny and Suzanne and Dr. Northrup and pointing out that Oprah never really believed their nonsense, and now has left them hanging out to dry? In the words of Kimbo above, “So long, suckas”.

  22. Murdats

    that sure is a nice quip at the end there phil

    I also have to use that pulsar line one time.

    also its great to see the mainstream media picking up on this, a small portion of faith in humanity gained

  23. Jeff Blume (#4): Thanks for making my point for me once again. Peddling quack medicine does real harm — check any of my blog posts about homeopathy or antivax to see how they kill babies — and if we all of us don’t sound the alarm then actively ignorant attitudes like yours will allow millions of people to make bad decisions about their medical saftey.

  24. Anne (#14): a newly born pulsar, left on its own, spins fastest then, and slows down over time. The fastest kind, millisecond pulsars, do indeed get spun up when they have a companion feeding them material. But that might have taken too long to explain and perhaps derailed the real content of the post. :)

  25. Gary

    You’re making the assumption Oprah has the ability to distinguish fact from fiction, to think logically, and come to valid conclusions. Like many people all of the time and some people some of the time, she judges mostly on emotional appeal. To stop her from doing any more damage it’s going to take a massive change in the way she thinks. That’s not likely to happen because that’s a hard change to make AND it would abandon her audience by moving beyond their capacity to think non-emotionally. The best you’re likely to get is a bit of time for the non-emotional arguments. So get yourself booked on the show and begin teaching people how to think. Maybe she’ll promote your book as a lead-in…

  26. @Gary I don’t think Oprah could handle Phil’s wonderfully quick wit and sarcastic sense of humour. But DAMN I would tune into that one.

  27. “Who made you turkeys authorities on any subject ???”

    The colleges who trained us to be experts in particular topics.

    “Go get a panel of experts on a particular view of a subject and you can find a panel of experts on the polar opposite side of the subject.”

    Everybody likes to call him or herself an expert so yes, you can find a panel of “experts” to oppose any view regardless of the evidence behind it.

  28. Trebuchet

    I couldn’t even read Oprah’s response due to a Diet Coke flash add that covered up the content, not matter what I tried to do. Same on Oprah, anyhow.

  29. Well put, Phil! Shame on Oprah indeed!
    This Newsweek article has finally pulled the curtain back on her seedy side. She now knows (or should know) that she’s got a problem. She’s surrounded by yes-men & women, so she’s gonna have to fix this one herself.

  30. Jeff Blume #4 – You seem to forget it is actually possible to be wrong about stuff. Just because you can find an opposing opinion for a discussion doesn’t mean the opposition has a legitimate alternative to present. Oprah has presented many, many guests whose positions are not just out of the mainstream, but are (a) wrong and (b) potentially harmful to audience members who follow them.

    For example Tom Cruise might lead people to skip their anti-psychotic meds. Or Jenny McCarthy might lead mothers to skip vaccinations and help bring back Polio and Measles epidemics. Or the folks who sling “The Secret” might induce watchers to think positive thoughts and go ahead and spend themselves into debt. Or take the blame for their abusive spouse because they’re not using the law of attraction properly.

    These ideas aren’t controversial – they’re wrong. An astonishing number of people have forgotten that Oprah can be wrong. And pointing that out doesn’t make somebody arrogant – it makes them correct.

  31. Trebuchet

    Edit: Ok, had to actually sink so low as to load IE to see the Entertainment Weekly article, which didn’t say much anyhow. The comments were illustrative, however: about even split between anti-Oprah (a good portion of those being because of her support of Obama, however) and the anti-vaxers raving that Newswek was a tool of big pharma.

    Once again, shame on you, Oprah.

  32. Trebuchet

    Edit: Ok, had to actually sink so low as to load IE to see the Entertainment Weekly article, which didn’t say much anyhow. The comments were illustrative, however: about even split between anti-Oprah (a good portion of those being because of her support of Obama, however) and the anti-vaxers raving that Newswek was a tool of big pharma.

    Once again, shame on you, Oprah.

    Ok, 2nd edit: I didn’t realize that editing obliterated the original comment! Which was not much more than to say I couldn’t read Oprah’s response due to a Diet Coke flash add which obliterated the comment, and I couldn’t get rid of it in FireFox. And shame on Oprah anyhow.

  33. ZenMonkey

    I would go as far as to say it’s completely disingenuous, not merely a cop-out, to assume her audience will do the extra research, for the reasons Phil and the Newsweek article have already outlined.

    The part of this that really gets to me, as mentioned in the Newsweek article, is that when the at-best useless and at-worst dangerous snake oil she endorses is later proven to be a failure…where is the retraction? Sure, when James Frey comes on and makes an ass out of her, she brings him on to bitch him out and save face, but apparently supporting BS medical “advice” doesn’t warrant a mea culpa of any kind.

  34. pvrug

    Oprah, the Rush Limbaugh of the far Left?

  35. What do you expect from someone who buys into the crap called “celebrity gossip” that the media shoves down our throats non-stop. This may not be a health issue, but I lost ALL respect for Oprah the first time she had that non-talented poser Brooke Shields on her show. And she did it more than once. Oprah, you’re an actress. Why are you buying into the 30-year-old nonsense that Brooke Shields can act? She can’t; she has not talent, and if you want to interview performers, you at least should pick someone who can perform. This loser should be working at minimum wage in a mailroom. And you should be smart enough to recognize the whole “celebrity culture” for the brain-cell-killing drug it is, pushed by the media to divert people’s attention from injustices and abuses by the corporate world, Big Money, and the politicians in bed with them.

  36. While I’m not disagreeing with your opinion of Oprah, the idea of Newsweek, of all magazines, exposing her is like Walter Mercado debunking Sylvia Brown.

  37. Rick Smith

    The Oprah will never stand up to McCarthy or Summers as then she would have to stand up to Obama for the same lies and fraud. Good luck with that one.

  38. Nice try, Rick Smith, but you only get about a 4/10 for right-wing troll. Go steep yourself in The New Republic for awhile, then come back and try again.

  39. Michael Gray

    Perhaps she can book a session with her Dr. Phil, and have him brusquely tell her to “wake up, get real, and be honest with yourself!”?

    (I could only stand to watch a few episodes of her show, years ago — before I pushed my TV off a cliff, and at that stage, her Dr. Phil impressed me a bit with his public intolerance for whining self-piteous cretins who had nothing wrong with themselves, save a self-perceived ‘the world owes me’ delusion.
    Phil may well have changed substantially in the intervening years, I admit.
    I do not have the will to seek another viewing, though.)

  40. dragonet2

    I emailed the link on Oprah’s site, not that it will do any good. The horrors of tetanus are among the issues I mentioned, it is a significant cause of infant death in third-world countries. And young infants just die. Older children and adults can have significant muscle spasms, enough to break their bones while it is going on. Before they die.

    http://www.princetonol.com/family/columns/pedgroup43.html

    Is one of the easier sites to read. Oprah should be blatantly ignored, though I think I may watch tomorrow so I can direct letters to her advertisers, which could cause an effect.

  41. John Kemp

    If you listen to Oprah please seek medical attention (and a good psychiatrist) immediately. Seriously, a waste of good carbon IMO.

  42. Bernhard Schulte

    Oprah seems like a kid from a dysfunctional family. They learn early on that the best way to be safe lies in pitching everybody else against each other. She has turned that skill into a mega business. Sad state of affairs that people like her can achieve such influential status.

  43. bemky

    i dnt think you should totally disregard jennys autism and vaccination speeches. theres att least some truth to that. but i agree oprah fails when it comes to almost anything except getting dumb people to buy books and do stupid things

  44. Zyggy

    Perhaps Oprah (and Dr. Phil, etc. or any other show that would conceivably offer pseudo-medical advice) should be required to place a warning “label’ of some type before and after the show, and after commercials. Something to the effect of:

    “The opinions presented on this show are individual viewpoints that may not be approved by the scientific and/or medical community. Some of these opinions recommend alternative treatments for health issues that should NEVER BE ATTEMPTED WITHOUT CONSULTING A PHYSICIAN. Always check with your family’s physician before attempting any “self-help” medical treatment. Serious injury or death can occur.”

    I mean, they put those warnings on late-night infomercials for “back pain” relief equipment. Why can’t this be a standard requirement?

    My cynical opinion is because these types of shows would then lose some of their power if folks wondered about the legitimacy of its advice. It could conceivably damage the credibility of those shows, and therefore that of the hosts. Then of course, the ratings of these shows would drop, and the almighty advertising dollars would fly out of the window, and they can’t have that. Oprah and Dr Phil, et al. make a TON of money for many people simply by their recommendations for “new medieval water diet” books, fads, farces and so on. I think it is this huge amount of money that prevents the FCC or the like from requiring that sort of strong warning.

    (ed. I have never actually watched any of these shows, so there may be some notice of that type on some of them. But I’m not really interested in sitting through one to find out =)

  45. DLC

    It’s good to see Oprah called on some of her nonsense.
    It’s also a shame that people are so ill-educated in this country that they actually buy into some of the crazy stuff she presents. I mean, come on now — The Secret ?
    (the secret is the producers of The Secret are raking in millions from the gullible)

    Not that I think she should be censored , just that I want her called on it when she promotes some of these zany ideas, especially when it’s some harmful quackery.

  46. Nick Weston

    New-age nonsense? Baloney? Really. Have you read any of these books?

    I read Ms. Sommers book with a jaundiced eye. It is full of good information, things that my doctor has concurred with.

    Newsweek gets a lot of money from the pharm criminals, and it is their job to discredit cheap, effective PREVENTATIVE medicine.

    What an irresponsible article by Newsweek, but more so by the “journalist” that wrote this article.

  47. lowell keyes

    Just her medical advice! It’s time to subject her other endorsements to some closer scrutiny. The woman makes bad choices all the time.

  48. @Zyggy I can shed a bit of light re: “I mean, they put those warnings on late-night infomercials for “back pain” relief equipment. Why can’t this be a standard requirement?”

    Because those infomercials pay for their time on whatever station they are playing, whether it be radio or television where as 3rd party advertisers support “regular” television. Oprah does not pay the broadcasters for her show, an infomercial is just a long commercial so they have to put a disclaimer (just like in drug commercials etc). Oprah (even though she endorses products) is not an advertiser.

    I do agree with you completely regarding a warning. I think that whenever you are talking about anything that is of a personal opinion that it is should be stated and you should release as many people as possible from liability for those opinions. Maybe if more pressure was put on the Corps who pay to have ads run during Oprah’s show (and probably pay extra because her show is during a high traffic air slot) or any other shows where they do not make it very clear that it is opinion and they are not dr’s etc, there would be more responsibility in both advertising and broadcasting.

  49. MadScientist

    Oprah, Somers, McCarthy – hey, I’ve got something I can peddle on the Oprah show: brain capacity is inversely proportional to breast size! All I need is three cases to demonstrate the correlation and it must be true! Unfortunately those evil “scientists” would say things like “he’s an idiot who can’t tell causation from correlation” and other such nasty things, but I know The Truth!

    I would only expect Oprah to equivocate and continue to promote nonsense. Look at the various popular charlatans of the day, especially psychics. On second thought, forget other charlatans, studying psychics provides more than enough material. They try to prompt answers out of the ‘mark’ (‘sitter’ in their terminology), go through the most incredible contortions of the imagination to relate their alleged predictions with prevailing facts, and whenever they are demonstrated to be a rank failure they’re never short of excuses. It seems to be a common psychological affliction; liars don’t like to be called liars. They don’t even like to be told they’re wrong and will do anything to maintain their delusion that they are right.

  50. menk

    Oprah’s not responsible for every nutty thing every person who comes on her show has to say. That’s like you being responsible for every comment made on your blog. It’s a talk show. People come to express their opinions. You’re holding Oprah up to a standard that no one in the history of media has ever lived up to.

  51. Steve Page

    pvrug: Oprah = Far Left? You’re referring to her enthusiasm for capitalism and her multi-billion dollar business empire, I presume.

  52. Mags

    Oprah peddles a lot of nonsense and her fanbase are a bunch of mindless drones, but I think we all knew that before Newsweek made it a cover story. My cousin’s son is autistic, and I’ve heard Jenny McCarthy’s autism diet ad nauseum from her. She, of course, is using it on her son but thankfully, with the medications her doctor has prescribed him too after the intervening of her grandmother. She swears by it, and swears the diet is what is making him show such progress regardless of the fact that he was progressing before she took all gluten and casein products out of his diet. I think she, like other Oprah followers and religious fanatics or anyone that chooses to put themselves fully in the comfort of an idea, will always block out what contradicts with what they choose to believe.

    Oprah is a business woman first, and a humanitarian second. She’s not in it for the warm fuzzy feelings – if she were those girls at her african school wouldn’t have been abused. If she sees something that will make her more money, she’ll take it and ride it like a horse in an old western. She did this with Dr Phil, Rachel Ray, and now Jenny McCarthy. She never admits when she’s wrong, and she’ll manipulate anything to get desired results. So for many, many reason, shame on Oprah is right.

  53. strongwolf

    Dude, you are scaring me worse than anything on Oprah… are you the thought police? Turn off your TV and wake up!

  54. dorothy

    Come on, every adult should be able to think for him/hir/her self, if that’s not the case then something in their upbringing has gone seriously and dangerously awry.

    Not that she ever would, but what if Oprah would say “let’s kill all cat’s, I am alergic to them” or say a thing like that about a group of people?

    Don’t gimme that look, it has happened before, charismatic people bringing a whole country, or even more, to do crazy things because their upbringing had learned them to obey instead of think.

    Start thinking, stop blaming!
    If you think for yourself you might make mistakes, but at least they will be YOUR mistakes, not someone elses.

  55. Jeffrey

    From a purely practical standpoint, as long as my child is properly vaccinated, why should I care if other children are? Will my measles-vaccinated child’s risk for getting measles increase if he’s around children who are unvaccinated? If not, this just seems a good way to cull the dim-witted from the heard.

  56. Retro

    #4, Jeff Blume says “All you guys are arrogant people who have to rain on other people’s parades. If people want to believe, then let them believe. Who made you turkeys authorities on any subject ??? Go get a panel of experts on a particular view of a subject and you can find a panel of experts on the polar opposite side of the subject. Go examine your own impressions on people and see what damage you probably have done. Otherwise, shut your pie hole !”

    ————————————–
    Ever had a relative killed by bad advice, Jeff? Ever lose someone close to you because of an uninformed quack?

    Children’s deaths have occurred because people have refused to give their children vaccines for easily preventable standard childhood diseases out of fear of the autism that McCarthy created out of thin air.

    Should we shut out pie holes while more kids die?
    ——————
    P.S. I’d imagine lawyers would have a field day with Oprah if she admitted culpability in any way in public. Not trying to defend her here, but I would not be surprised if she’s receiving clear legal advice to avoid any firm position whatsoever on this. If she says “My guests are correct”, she’s admitting a position. If she says “My guests are wrong”, family members of people that have been hurt by her support of quackery can sue her. So she says “People are responsible for themselves”, thus dodging the responsibility bullet while still offering some sort of response.

  57. Chadwick

    So… Basically, you’re ripping on Oprah. Hold on…. Let me put this one home again. YOU’RE RIPPING ON OPRAH. Do you feel stupid yet?

    You’re complaining that stupid people will make stupid decisions based on one woman’s show about, well, living life, which is full good and bad advice. Do you have an honest care for people who DON’T choose to research things? No, you don’t.

    So she promoted a few things that aren’t the norm in med practice, get over it. People get stupid dangerous procedures all the time, like cosmetic surgery, and that gets promoted to us by a majority of celebrities every time we look at their perfect little faces.

    Our government has dropped the ball or given us bad health info intentionally and unintentionally, and some would say it’s their job to keep us safe, yet they’ve failed before, and will fail many times in the future, I’m sure. I mean let’s think of how many things now cause or increase the risk for cancer. I swear every day there’s an article about how something has been discovered to (possibly) cause health problems.

    I guess what I’m really trying to figure out is; What the heck is your point in writing this article? To jump on the band wagon? Help burn this week’s witch? It seems pretty clear that you want to attempt to discredit this woman’s entire career because of some misinformed advice. I’m pretty sure she’s done quite enough good to have some slip ups. Or, you know… It’s effing Oprah, you could get a life and worry about something other than what house-moms are watching. Just a thought.

  58. Andy

    If it weren’t for the harm anti-vaxxers and their ilk can cause the general non-moron population I would say that Oprah’s viewers get exactly what they deserve for “believing” as one commenter so aptly put it.

  59. Sticks

    Phil Plait, be careful what you say about St Oprah, we can read it here in the UK, so she might decide to sue in our UK Libel courts.

    I’m surprised she has not done so already.

  60. Marina

    I pushed my TV, too off a cliff years ago (20) , but the fact that I don’t know what this is about in particular (as if it is anything new) doesn’t take away from my inspiration to comment on how brainwashed many of you sound touting “medical science”, which is full of corruption,
    as the industries involved are full of greed. We have a lousy health care system, and a lousy standard of “health”, and a drugged up population of people who are not really healthy at all.
    The medical industry essentially rules most all the media (magazines) women read. I am happy people are turning away from this and finding their own truths, even if the process of finding truth is imperfect- just like Oprah, who should never have been made into an authority figure to begin with. Grow up, America!!

  61. Spectroscope

    I wouldn’t call it a lie, but it’s spinning like a newborn pulsar:

    Great line BA, classic! :-D

  62. Jya Jar Binks Killer

    @ # 46 Sticks :

    Saint Oprah? Who’s that? Crikey, the Catholics are canonising more saints than anyone can keep track of these days .. ;-)

    Somehow I doubt that TV presenter qualifies for sainthood… Although telling lies or at, best, spreading misinformation and nonsense that risk people’s health is, arguably, in the Catholic spirit, eg. Pope on condoms & birth control.

    Still the libel bit is kind of – no, make that very – sad. Talk about squashing freedom of speech. :-(

    I’m no lawyer but aren’t there a couple of defences here in that :

    a) Oprah is a public figure speaking on public issues AGAINST the public good and thus open for legitimate criticism and correction. Given that her words (& show) are doing harm, isn’t there a ‘right of reply’ to correct her mistakes in the public interest?

    Do celebrities that court the media really have the right to abuse libel laws like that?

    &

    b) More importantly (?), what the Bad Astronomer writes is the TRUTH.

    Isn’t libel defined as a deliberate lie maliciously voiced to blacken an individual’s reputation?

    If so, surely the BA’s reasonable response to her anti-science baloney which is both the truth and NOT aimed at ruining her personal reputation (Oprah’s doing that to herself) doesn’t count as libel?

    Mind you, the law is often just ludicrous esp. when high-priced, nasty lawyers get involved.

  63. Elmar_M

    Well, I have yet to see a talkshow that has some niveau.
    Oprah certainly does not.
    Oprah should know that half of the population has an IQ below average. And most of the other half does not watch her show…

  64. Jason White

    LOL, anyone else get the feeling Oprah thinks she can actually walk on water?

    RT
    http://www.anonymity.2ya.com

  65. Cheyenne

    Oprah pumps this garbage for the obvious reason that it gets viewers and brings more money into her wallet. It’s pure greed. What a shame.

  66. Cheyenne

    @Phil – #25 – Sounds like a possible article for this blog! Pulsars are pretty cool!

  67. Anne

    It’s Oprah business as usual! Not much of a fan lately.

  68. “What should Jenny McCarthy do?”‘
    Shut up, read more then 2 websites. Just a couple of thoughts. Another thing I do not want to know what Suzanne Somers is injecting or where.

  69. Ilishe Mikos

    Newsweek made no mention of all the good advice and conversations that Oprah has initiated. They underestimate the intelligence of Oprah’s viewers as well. I have used the info I’ve learned from Oprah’s show to cause real change in my healthcare providers. I think Suzanne Somers was clearly whacked when on Oprah and I feel that Oprah let her ramble on to show what extremism looks like. I notice that Newsweek made no mention of anyone specifically hurt by Oprah’s advice. The whole article had a strong sense of sour grapes. This will not hurt Oprah or diminish her viewership or her calling to offer information and insight, no matter how unpopular, in the least.

  70. jerryork

    It is easy for those who rose from virtual anonymity and abject poverty to where Ms. Winfrey is now, to believe in the supernatural, divine intervention, magic and their lucky astrology mood watch. This in turn plays to the audience of virtually anonymous who wish to rise to Ms. Winfrey’s level of fame and riches. Sad but true.

    Ms. Winfrey should try to remember that with great fame and riches comes great accountability. Of course, the right lawyers can fix even that problem. My question is when will someone revoke Dr. Oz’s medical license. He must bear some culpability for this circus.

  71. Jan Rodriguez

    She will always get her publicity however she wants it, whenever she wants it, and peoples money with it. Right or wrong, same goes. It’s a pity how the masses have fallen under her spell.

  72. Jesse

    What made Oprah famous made beggars out of her fans?

    The skill she uses to make her very generous livelihood is relating to people, getting them to trust and like her. If she or her guests state opinions, many people will simply believe them. She surely knows this; it’s what she does. I imagine she’s either been told that she’s trustworthy so many times that she believes it or she’s afraid to admit she’s wrong on so large a scale because it might be devastating to her reputation and career. Be as cynical as you like there. The thing is, though, that being correct is not necessary for her to be successful.

    The thing that really gets me is that these skills are often not well represented in the medical and scientific communities. There are certainly exceptions! Overall, though, Oprah’s customers (which is what fans are) think she’d give them a hug and cry over their personal tragedies, and a doctor is meant to remain professionally detached. If Oprah is wrong she is instantly forgiven because “she means well,” and “she’s touched so many people!” If a doctor’s advice seems questionable we’re advised to get a second opinion and change to a different doctor. As a doctor, being correct most of the time IS necessary to be successful (I hope), but being personable and charismatic are less important.

    I’m left wondering whether the market selects for celebrities people trust and experts they don’t.

  73. It’s good to see Oprah called on some of her nonsense.
    It’s also a shame that people are so ill-educated in this country that they actually buy into some of the crazy stuff she presents. I mean, come on now — The Secret ?
    (the secret is the producers of The Secret are raking in millions from the gullible)

    Not that I think she should be censored , just that I want her called on it when she promotes some of these zany ideas, especially when it’s some harmful quackery..

  74. This vitriolic misogyny in previous posts is genuinely astonishing. Oprah is not the problem her interest in complimentary medicine is a symptom. For the record, and as an example, Chinese herbal treatments have been around for centuries. The treatments are not promoted for lack of efficacy they are not promoted in the USA because medicine people can get from the forest or garden is harder to patent and profit from. Medicine is a business in the USA. An ugly very well funded business and sits inside the pocket of big pharma-medical industrial complex disease profit industry,
    “Traditional” medicine in the USA—eg intrusive, parts-is-parts medicine treats the human body as a profit center. The last ten years of life in the USA are tantamount to a bonanza for “health care” which in fact is disease care as business.
    If the AMA were interested in health rather than profiting from disease they would insist on placing an emphasis on preventative medicine, and assist in devising a health care system that supports insurance practices and procedures that accomplish more in prevention. How does a doctor in good conscience ACCEPT a payment to remove a diabetic persons feet, rather than promote a payment for a gym membership and proper diet for the diabetic person? Old style finger pointing and name calling is so passe`. Solutions are needed. Oprah’s investigation into solutions might catch the attention of a thinking person.

  75. Jeanne

    Oprah is only in it for the money, they probably have a hard time trying to find new subjects to “brainwash” into viewers, and It is such a shame that after all of these years people can’t take it for what it is, crap to take up an afternoon! Common sense is what people need and to apply it in daily life. Maybe the viewers are lured in by the “Fabulous Prizes” Oprah gives away, ha ha ha. By the way, I am an almost forty woman and the ONE book recommended (by Oprah) that I read was trash. In the real world it doesn’t take Oprah’s suggestion to read a classic either ( I hope).

  76. Rover

    Sadly, with all of the “Oprah’s getting too big for her britches” comments, the focus has been lost
    on what western medicine has truly become. It has devolved into “take a pill for this – take a pill for that”. We as a society have become equally brainwashed into believing this is top quality in medical care, and anything that my suggest doing it differently is “quackery”.

    What is any better about taking toxic chemicals as a long-term solution for a chronic condition that may be cured by other means, such as a simple change in lifestyle or diet? The problem is that doctors today don’t plan for taking the patient off of the medication. That goes against the pharmaceutical industry.

    I’ve heard comments about how much of a joy it is for doctors that people who watch an Oprah show go in asking them the same stupid questions. How is that any worse than having people going in asking them about a medication they saw on a freaking TV commercial? We have TV commercials telling us how to tell our doctors how to treat us!

    I have seen too many of my relatives die by the “quackery” of traditional western medicine. Think about it… cancer is treated by either poisoning the body with chemicals, or irradiating it in the hopes that the cancer cells are killed off before a critical number of healthy cells are killed off. That isn’t quackery?

    Western medicine has it’s place. It is premium for trauma care. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for getting my body put back together after an accident. However for chronic conditions, which are the result of many different circumstances, it falls gravely short. You don’t get a headache because you have an aspirin deficiency, yet that is the solution that is peddled to you.

    I think that the idea that we should completely revamp the idea of what health care means in this country can only be a good thing. If the experts here don’t like what Oprah is doing, they should lead the charge in what that idea means if they are brave enough to get out of the grip of the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies.

    Wake up folks, that is who is controlling our health care today and independent thought on this cuts into their bottom line.

    Maybe the solutions Oprah is talking about on her show aren’t the best ones, but anything that can get people out of the hypnotic state of the current medical industry brainwashing in regards to chronic conditions is a step in the right direction.

  77. Joshua Schroeder

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090607/ap_on_he_me/us_med_unproven_remedies

    We need to start seeing the mainstream media do more in this regard. I wrote a letter to the AP thanking them for this investigative report. Most people are simply unaware how little vetting has gone into “mystical mumbo-jumbo” of so-called “alternative medicine”.

    Just because “science doesn’t have all the answers” doesn’t mean that it’s somehow okay to take supplements that contain high levels of arsenic and lead, refuse evidence-based treatments like vaccinations or chemotherapy, or make claims about the “natural”ness of a product that has the capability to really do much harm.

  78. Brian M

    OMG, imagine if she threw her weight behind a political candidate with virtually no real world experience and a twisted anti-American foreign policy… oh, wait, she did.

  79. Muzz

    Did Oprah support Bush? Wow.

  80. Although this is a really serious topic, I did LOL at the pulsar line.

    We can do all we can individually to raise awareness of Oprah’s nonsense to our loved ones (or legions of blog readers as in Phil’s case!) but it is certainly nice to see a print magazine that reaches an audience that might not have heard yet. I know it sits in lots of doctor’s offices, and that is a good place to start. Maybe the cult of personality around Oprah will finally start to chip away?

    Spinning like a millisecond pulsar is more Jenny’s style.

  81. andyo

    Laurel Kornfeld, #34

    Your stopped respecting Oprah, because she decided to interview an actress that can’t act? That’s your beef? I haven’t paid much attention to Shields’ acting skills (nor Oprah’s BTW), but it’s mostly because I don’t really care that much. Why does Brooke’s un-talent (if I may) anger you so much? Perhaps you need a sit-down with Dr. Phil?

  82. Behavior at Infinity

    Yeah! Looks like the power of expression-through-blogs-accurately-characterizing-garbage dominated. Congrats Phil – I read a similar headline on yahoo.com also – so the Anti-vax moment is likely to be crushed further.

    On a more important note… Its important that people who have influence on the masses know, if you USURP the benefit of your influence (Oprah) to push a WACKY idea (Anti-vax) you are going to get burned. Now if we could only work on tempering the conflagration of human emotion that stirs up every time a mass manipulator like Oprah (or O’Reilly for that matter at FOXNews) intentionally stokes the fire.

  83. fred edison

    I get it. O thinks she’s innocent because she lays the veracity and soundness of any medical advice she endorses (if she lets it happen and doesn’t say anything she basically endorses it) on her inquisitive and investigative audience. Ummmm, NO! People are usually too lazy to research something when it’s easier for them to believe Oprah endorsed nonsense. “We trust Oprah!” The blame IS on her. Does she air a disclaimer before the shows starts saying there is no scientific proof/evidence that these “treatments” do anything besides waste your time & money, or give you false hope? Probably not is my guess.

    What would/did Dr. Oz say about her penchant for promoting quackery? If he’s a doctor with integrity and smarts, as I believe him to be (unlike McCarthy’s latest book co-author/pseudo-doctor), I don’t think he would be kind.

    Kudos to Newsweek for responsible journalism.

  84. Siphoneuphoria

    “I always laughed when I saw things like The Grapes of Wrath or Anna Karenina on Oprah’s reading list, imagining some forty year old soccer mom who kinda graduated from high school and enjoys watching Lifetime trying to power through some of the dense classics of literature.”

    This is snobbery.

  85. Jesse said: “I imagine she’s either been told that she’s trustworthy so many times that she believes it or she’s afraid to admit she’s wrong on so large a scale because it might be devastating to her reputation and career.”

    If it is the former, she needs to clean house and kick out as many yes-men/women as possible. If an adviser won’t stand up to you and say “This is the wrong thing to do” then they aren’t a good adviser.

    If it is the latter, then all she needs to do is say “When I had Jenny on the program, I believed her argument. Since then, I’ve looked into the facts of the matter and believe that there is no autism-vaccine link. Furthermore, any risks that come with vaccinations are minuscule compared to the protections they afford.”

    She could even dedicate a show to vaccines with real medical professionals. Going a step further, she could give people a bit of a history lesson by bringing people on the show who have had some of the diseases that we vaccinate against. They could tell of how they barely survived some of those diseases, show their scars/permanent injuries, and tell the tales of those who didn’t make it. In other words, serve as a reminder of what we don’t need to live with thanks to vaccines. (That seems to be the biggest problem with vaccines – they’re so successful that we forget how horrible the diseases are that we’re protecting against.)

  86. Replying to what @Mena: personal health stories that have prompted conversations between our audience members and their health care providers.
    Which of course is probably a complete joy for the health care providers. Imagine having to deal with the same dumb question over and over, until the next dumb thing comes along. Does anyone else remember that episode of “House” where he had to deal with the anti-vax mother during his clinic duties? I suspect that a lot of doctors wish that they could do that!

    My husband is an OB/GYN and has to endure the questions about bio-identical hormone therapies every time Suzanne Somers appears on Oprah. Of course, he tries to be tactful with every patient, but I know it can grind on his nerves every time he has to tell a patient that there’s no definitive research on the subject and whether it’s a safe regime. I remember working in a radiology lab as a receptionist and having patients calling in wondering if we had the new heart scanner that was shown on Oprah or the Today Show or whatever. The heart scan, mind you, that insurance most likely wouldn’t cover! It makes me sad that people like Oprah, who could do so much good in the world for the people who watch (and admire) them, tout such things without doing more in-depth research on their own to make certain what they’re touting is safe and affordable and actually reasonable. Oh, and I HATE how the media enjoys panicking the public on such issues as the swine flu, West Nile virus, and other such medical “epidemics”. My husband gets calls on those all the time, too, and has to reassure each patient that there’s no need to panic.
    My two cents.

  87. Mike Richards

    I just wanted to thank the people like Oprah for putting my friend into a hospital via Meningitis. Glad to see Oprah’s doing such good work.

  88. To say that she knows that her audience will not do additional research is almost like saying you believe her audience is ignorant and 2 kinds of stupid. So because her audience is largely female are you suggesting they are not smart enough and independent enough to research on their own?

    Follow me at http://www.twitter.com/thecrypticone

  89. Nate

    Much like Newsweek, this site is covering Oprah to generate buzz. Report real news and stop failing so pathetically.

  90. Jay

    Oprah is effectively a living, breathing argument from authority. For her to claim that she expects her viewership to perform any sort of due diligence before accepting the woo she endorses shows that she doesn’t understand her audience very well. (A less charitable assessment is that she does understand them but simply doesn’t care.)

    Nonetheless, her audience does share some of the responsibility. She wouldn’t have the fan base that she does if she wasn’t giving them what they want. She caters to people who want desperately to believe that anything wrong in their lives is caused by someone or something else – that they’re victims – and that those problems that can be fixed have a sunshine-and-puppies fix that doesn’t require any personal effort or change.

    It would be interesting if Oprah had to run a disclaimer during her show similar to the one that nutrition supplements have to include – “This guest’s opinions have not been evaluated by anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about…”

  91. Stone Age Scientist

    Brian M @ #54, you wrote:

    …a political candidate with … a twisted anti-American foreign policy.

    Pardon, but I’m a bit confused. How anti-American? Living outside the US and seeing things from another angle, I thought that said politician has been doing a good job at bringing international goodwill back to the US.

    It was widely understood outside the US that the reputation of America suffered greatly during the last administration. So why do we outsiders care? Well, suffice it to say, we hate it when democracy is being given a bad name, as this tends to reflect on everyone else who are partakers of that selfsame democracy.

  92. SLC

    Maybe Dr. Oracs’ Hitler Zombie has been chowing down on Ms. Winfreys’ cerebral cortex.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/06/the_hitler_zombie_decimates_the_anti-vac.php

  93. Rudy

    Hey Siphoneuphoria, I agree with the majority of the posts here but I must call attention to your remark. Why do you automatically assume that someone with only a high school education or no education at all cannot read a “dense” literary classic and fully understand and appreciate it. THAT is snobbery!!!

  94. Flying sardines

    @ # 70. Jason White :

    LOL, anyone else get the feeling Oprah thinks she can actually walk on water?

    Anyone can walk on water – I’ve done that myself – all you have to do is find some ice! ;-)

    Mind you given Oprah’s weight issues and the thinness of some of the ice she’s testing lately .. maybe not! CRACK, SPLASH! :-)

    @ # 92. Larian LeQuella :

    Nice graphic. It got a wry grin & nod. So true & so sad.

    @ # 86. Brian M :

    OMG, imagine if she threw her weight behind a political candidate with virtually no real world experience and a twisted anti-American foreign policy… oh, wait, she did.

    Are you a Troll or what? :roll:

    Obama is clearly pro-American in his foreign policies – in fact, he’s the best President your nation has had since JFK. In My Humble Opinion Natch – but also that of millions even billions more world-wide. ;-)

    @ # 100 Sone Age Scientist :

    Well said. Seconded by me.

    I’ll just add another reason why we care – the USA is the leading most influential Western nation. What happens there affects us even here in Australia as well as England, Canada and elsewhere globally. We all live in an Americanised (PC term “globalised”) world with US TV, culture, and ideas heavily prevalent everywhere. So its nice to have someone sane at the USA’s helm for the first time in 8 years.

    Bush the lesser was a shocker – the worst US President in living memory and quite probably ever. Again my opinion, but, again, I’m in the vast majority there.

    @ # 93. Siphoneuphoria Says:

    “I always laughed when I saw things like The Grapes of Wrath or Anna Karenina on Oprah’s reading list, imagining some forty year old soccer mom who kinda graduated from high school and enjoys watching Lifetime trying to power through some of the dense classics of literature.”
    – This is snobbery.

    Maybe so, but come on, you know it’s also true - at least for many of Oprah’s viewers.

    Never mind being Politically Correct, lets call things what they are – and, yes, most if not quite all the people who watch Oprah are plain dumb. Why else waste your time watching a show that insults your intelligence so much? ;-)

    In fact watching Oprah without a very good reason for doing so (like, say, the BA going on the show ;-) ) strikes me as being a confession of stupidity considering the tripe she spruiks on it.

  95. 1st time poster long time reader. Just wondering big picture… I’m hoping your writting up a new post for it right now. They are featuring Mercury and MESSENGER. I’ll check back later I’m sure you’ll have a post about it either tonight or tommorow. Here is a link for all your readers. http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/06/mercury_and_messenger.html

    Since this my 1st and maybe last post I just wanted to say great work Phil keep it up. And for every loud mouth knucklehead that posts here you probably have hundreds if not thousands of readers who enjoy your site, and just don’t bother replying.

    -James

  96. Daffy

    Flying Sardines,

    Off topic, but you must remember that to many (most?) Republicans simply being a Democrat makes one “anti-American.” It’s sad and pathetic, and scary, but that really is how those people think. They want a one-party system, pure and simple.

  97. #98 @Enigma,

    It has nothing to do with the gender of the audience. It has more to do with their track records as well as their fawning approval of Oprah’s drivel. Add in the intellectual lazines that is pervasive in the US…

  98. OMFG - Dallas

    You are totally buying into the TV machine’s robotic antics. If this is big news on your site, or Newsweek, or anywhere…you are just being pathetically LAZY. Do some real journalism and write something interesting on a subject that is of the real world and not from the fairytale land of Oprah TV.

    If you don’t, you are risking becoming irrelevant. Our culture is swarming with trash journalism; whether it is Oprah airing shows with questionable medical advice or Newsweek writing about Oprah airing questionable shows, or you blogging about Newsweek writing about Oprah airing questionable shows…quit drinking the coolaid and get serious!

    OMFG – Dallas, TX

  99. Stone Age Scientist

    Btw,

    As for Oprah, I hope she changes direction after this. I’ve read before that she is quite involved in charity works. If so, she’s a good person; though I have to admit that her seemingly endorsing these misguided, ascientific nostrums also do much harm.

    Flying Sardines @ #101, the ICE bit was very funny.

  100. Darren Garrison

    From the Article of Oz: “some commentators wonder whether, at 55, Winfrey can carry on for ever.”

    Really? I’d like to know which commentators aren’t quite convinced yet that Oprah won’t “carry on for ever.” Are there really “commentators” out there who are still open to the possibility that Oprah will be “carrying on” until the heat death of the universe?

  101. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Ow-prah.

    I’ve read before that she is quite involved in charity works. If so, she’s a good person;

    Perhaps in the wacky religious sense, where intents but not results matter. But if she is willingly involved in activities that is hurtful and even kills people, most of which is children, she isn’t doing good.

    Woo-prah is a bad, bad person. She is so full of bad that it leaks out into the press, which should tell us something.

  102. Mrs. BA

    Rover @#83 says “I have seen too many of my relatives die by the “quackery” of traditional western medicine. Think about it… cancer is treated by either poisoning the body with chemicals, or irradiating it in the hopes that the cancer cells are killed off before a critical number of healthy cells are killed off. That isn’t quackery?”

    You’re kidding, right? Go look up the rate of cancer deaths over the last 50 years. Notice anything? The mortality rate has dropped dramatically. That means that the science behind the treatments works. It’s called DATA. Of course, you’ll probably just say that the statistics are misinformation put forth by the evil, money-hungry Western medicine industry.

    If you or anyone else has an alternative cancer treatment that actually works and has no serious side effects, please do let the rest of us poor, misguided suckers know. Until then, I’ll continue to put my trust in my board-certified, highly trained, and dedicated physician.

  103. Geek

    Jeffrey #58:

    From a purely practical standpoint, as long as my child is properly vaccinated, why should I care if other children are? Will my measles-vaccinated child’s risk for getting measles increase if he’s around children who are unvaccinated? If not, this just seems a good way to cull the dim-witted from the heard.

    I assume you’re being facetious about “culling” from the “herd”, but there is a small chance that your vaccinated child is not immune: approximately 1%, according to http://www.vaccineinformation.org/measles/qandavax.asp . That works out at a large number of people who, despite being vaccinated, are still endangered by antivaxxers.

  104. Lawyer

    @ to Dallas

    YOU MUST BE COLBERT?

    The only trash journalism I see is your post. No sooner do you trash “trash journalism” than supplicate it with your categorization of Oprah and this blog in the same bucket. Oprah supports Anti-vax which is not scientifically grounded, this blog criticizes it and cites Newsweek, affirming that criticism.

    What is irrelevant, is the ad- hominem style attack on this blog, without delving into the details of the argument.

    Leave the ad-hominem to people who are funny (like Colbert), not some Texan name-caller who when cornered on an argument has little more to say than – YOU IRRELEVANT, Partner. Texans have a long history of this – because quite frankly, thinking is above the Bush’s pay grade (how’s that for ad-hominem).

  105. The best part of the entire Newsweek piece is that cover image. I wonder where it’s from.

  106. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Uh, and charity works? Most of that seems to be based on woo as well, doling out stuff without checking the consequences because it makes the givers feel good. (Which is Woo-prah’s mode of action anyway.)

    Last I heard it is fiercely difficult to give long-time help without harming the societies that gets it, because of a large number of effects such as building dependencies, supporting corruption, siphoning off money for specific groups and guns, et cetera. I’ve seen few analyzes, but they all seem to paint a pretty gloomy picture to me. The best results I’ve heard of come from low-level local stuff like loan services that observably do good, which charities possibly could support.

  107. John Phillips, FCD

    @Enigma, to the first part of your post, effectively yes. Otherwise, if they did proper research, they would know that much of what Oprah covers on her show is garbage and thus the celebrities and their pet fad that she features on her show would not become the big sellers they often do.

    Remember, that unfortunately, we live in a culture were celebrity, for some very strange reason, bestows authority. Of course, this has always been true to some extent. If it didn’t then advertisers, for one, wouldn’t use them as much as they do to sell things that they have little or no expertise in.

    But it has nothing to do with the audience being mainly female, as can be seen from the number of men defending her on this blog alone.

  108. andyo

    I have only seen Oprah’s show twice. One when Jerry Seinfeld and the show’s cast went on, and the other when Jon Stewart went on. Seinfeld seemed to have been influenced by his wife, but in any case, the highlight was after an astoundingly stupid clip of Oprah audience members, after years that Seinfeld had been off the air, doing the kick-and-thumbs Elaine dance. Julia Louis Dreyfuss was trying so hard to laugh, but her face of being so weirded out and probably creeped out was priceless.

    #98 Enigma:

    What a ham-handed play on the gender card. Have you ever even seen a clip of Oprah’s audience hysterically yelling and crying and shouting? I gotta say it’s probably even worse than Springer’s or Povich’s.

  109. DankJemo

    I am not sure if she is trying to save credibility for something that is quite obviously true, or if she honestly believes that the majority of her fan-base is going to actually second guess her. People treat the woman like a Entertainment God. She does need to stop plugging the snake oils on her show, my mom watches Oprah quite regularly, and she’s definitely tried things that just seem absolutely ridiculous to me… I typically don’t say anything, but sometimes I have to tell her to look into things, make sure she isn’t being fed a line.

  110. Mike Gates

    2 things come to mind;

    1 – Natural selection. If Oprah is putting people at risk, they will be removed from the gene pool, hopefully before they reproduce. The issue isn’t limited to Oprah – at some point, we need to recognize that humans are influenced by celebrities, simply because of their “celebrity” status. The institution of media in America, and the medium itself overwhelms critical thinking for everyone. Some might be “on to Oprah”, but I bet there are other areas where they are unquestioning in their trust of what is presented to them by media. Say what you want about individual responsibility, but there are enough examples of individuals being overwhelmed by institutions that makes me think that the “individual responsibility” mantra is unrealistic.

    2 – No one likes a Black Woman having this much power.

  111. Laurel

    Maureen and Rover:

    What manner of doctors are you seeing anyway? Every doctor I’ve seen in my adult life (I’m 44) has stressed the heck out of preventative medicine. When my cholesterol tested high, my doc recommended diet, exercise, and supplements, with the result that I do not have to take a statin or any other cholesterol-lowering drug. Think of all the bucks “Big Pharma” isn’t getting out of me for that one visit alone! And she put me on supplements, which doctors never do because it cuts into their/”Big Pharma’s” profit margin, right? When I ruptured two discs in my neck, the orthopedist and neurosurgeon I saw gave me exercises/PT to do and told me to walk three miles a day. Shouldn’t they have gotten together and recommended potentially crippling, expensive, unnecessary spinal surgery so they could milk a ton of money out of an insurance company? And since it was on the market at the time, they missed their chance to Rx Bextra and maybe kill me outright.

    My doctors have always been kind, compassionate, willing to listen and very eager to stay and talk with me in the exam room for as long as it took to educate me. All I had to do was ask questions. I’ve dealt with one or two doctors who seemed grumpy and short, but none, not one, who gave any sign of thinking of me as a condition that needed drugs pumped into it instead of a person.

    I’m supposed to believe every other doctor out there is cackling with glee at the thought of sawing off another foot? Really? Because they don’t tell diabetics they should change their diet AND they participate in a conspiracy to keep us all from knowing arcane medical secrets like “diabetics should watch their diet”? Puh lease.

    There is one situation in which I often have to “argue” with doctors, and that’s over antibiotics. When they offer me the Rx, I tell them I don’t want to take antibiotics unless a white count shows I need them. Nobody has ever been unreasonable about this request.

    Why do I do that? It’s (in part) because I don’t want to ruin antibiotics for everyone else by helping to create resistant bacteria. Unlike Jenny, I can think beyond myself and my family. I get vaccines for diseases I never expect to get because I care about herd immunity, and I don’t take unnecessary antibiotics because I care about antibiotic resistance to diseases I never expect to get.

    I also don’t want another damned yeast infection. I’ll admit it. (-:

  112. Yojimbo

    The commenters about evil western medicine, greedy drug companies and “natural” remedies all paint a pretty sad opinion of their fellow man. Somehow our entire species is so stupid that it insists on using standard medical care when a little research on the internet shows that it is obviously flawed. Amazingly, even cultures like China and India, the homes of some of the most important eastern medical traditions, are so misguided that they fall for the greedy pharma companies and their enslaved doctors, when they already have much better cures right at home.

    Is is possible that most people are smart enough to go with what actually works? No – they’ve obviously been duped. Thank the FSM that Ms. O is helping get the truth out.

  113. Gonzobot

    Leave her be. Frankly, this world could do with several million fewer people who watch Oprah. If she spouts off about how you can cure the flu with iodine painted on your throat (famous cure from before actual medicine), then hey, she’ll lose plenty of paying fans to influenza. And you know what? GOOD RIDDANCE. These people are what is wrong with the world, and the basic cause is the need for the rest of us to protect them from their own idiocy for some reason. There is no good excuse to let these people continue to ruin the world for the rest of us – especially when they’re so easily led to death, why should we be preventing it? The world would be better off – we wouldn’t have anybody left who was dumb enough to listen to Jenny Mcarthy’s lunatic medical advice.

  114. Cheyenne

    This article is tearing it up at Digg!

    “Anyone can walk on water – I’ve done that myself – all you have to do is find some ice! ;-)

    Naw that is cheating. Give me a barefoot boom attached to a boat that can hit 40 and I’ll show you the real thing!

  115. 80. Maureen E. Mc Bride Says:

    “Solutions are needed. Oprah’s investigation into solutions might catch the attention of a thinking person.”

    I work in the medical field and agree that it’s a really screwed up industry that needs serious reform beginning with eliminating insurance.

    But that’s really not the point.

    Science is doing it’s part even if the medical industry and big pharma misuse the results for the own personal gain.

    Your claim that Oprah is “investigating” other solutions isn’t accurate.

    She’s not investigating. An investigation includes honest opposition which Oprah doesn’t include.

    She brings on quacks who are allowed to spew their nonsense with loving approval from Oprah but where are the people a real investigator would speak to who have differing opinions?

    Regardless of what Oprah claims to cover her backside, she is fully endorsing the quacks she has on her show.

    Seriously, the people I know who give Oprah any credibility at all have more personal problems than other people I know because they don’t do anything real to resolve their problems. They hope Oprah will give them some magic to solve their problems with no effort whatsoever.

    Oprah is the last person on the planet I would want advice from unless I was willing to discard my integrity and get rich by taking money from stupid, gullible people and then she’d be the first person I’d speak to.

  116. Jesse

    Sounds like the pharmaceutical companies are getting ready for a major push in vaccine scares (a lot of their employees are posting on this website).
    “Simply put, it is not ethical to give a medicine that will kill and maim persons for no demonstrable benefit. Assuaging fears about vulnerability to a potential disease is not a benefit any physician should accept.”
    ~ Dr. Jeffrey S. Sartin, MD

  117. 100. Jay Says:

    It would be interesting if Oprah had to run a disclaimer during her show similar to the one that nutrition supplements have to include – “This guest’s opinions have not been evaluated by anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about…”

    —————————————————

    That’s not accurate either. The guest’s opinions HAVE been evaluated by people who know what they’re talking about.

    Her disclaimer should read, “The Oprah show does not host guests who are qualified to speak on the subjects covered.”

  118. So what can Oprah do to repair her image? First step -invite Phil Plait to her show, and give you an honest ear.

  119. Ann

    Okay, here’s the thing. Suzanne Sommers did have breast cancer. Yes? She has survived it. Yes? Many people do not survive breast cancer, even with conventional medical treatment. Yes? Why is it wrong for her to tell people she survived breast cancer and this is what she used? Is it not true that she survived it. She was diagnosed by conventional medical methods as suffering from this horrendous disease so you cannot say she did not have it. She did not opt for whatever her doctors prescribed. And she seems to still be here. So….. She isn’t allowed to say I beat this and this is what I used. Get real. Of course she is and Oprah can let her say this on her show. If what she did didn’t beat the cancer she was diagnosed as having, what exactly did? Whatever her “wacky cure” was it seems to have been effective. Or am I mistaken as to why she is still here with the living some ten years later? Spontaneous remission? What? (As an aside, shout out to Paul Stamets medicinal mushrooms. Great stuff). Whatever she did, seems to have given her body what it needed to heal itself from cancer. Not a bad outcome and something, surely, that someone actually facing cancer might want to consider in conjunction with conventional medical treatments which can be very debilitating or in lieu of them since she did have a pretty good outcome. Her being alive and all. Who are you, exactly, to tell people they cannot hear about this from someone who has lived through it. This kind of thing goes on all the time in communities all across the country and the world. It is called ‘word of mouth’. Oprah’s show is more like a community than anything else. People who watch her show know that it is more akin to listening to a neighbor tell you about so and so who beat cancer using this and if you are facing that problem you might want to look into it. It is no more sinister or powerful than that. But that can be quite powerful, of course. She has also had on her show, several times, Christina Applegate, who opted for radical breast surgery when facing the same disease. Her viewers are intelligent enough to discern that having a guest on to tell their story is not an endorsement of a course of treatment. They are people talking about what happened to them and how they dealt with it. The only people given the imprimatuer of experts on her show are people who actually are experts such as Dr. Oz, who wears his scrubs and all and they call him Dr. a lot. And the last time I paid any attention to Newsweek was before they went nuts over Monica Lewinsky and gave a lot of coverage to the likes of Kenneth Starr, as if he was doing something honest and did the worst reporting imaginable with respect to legal issues. I won’t even get into the Jon Benet Ramsey case and their reporting on that. Pot calling the kettle black, comes to mind. Can you say “handwriting expert”? But I digress. Autism, of course, is a more complicated issue. But Jenny McCarthy, scientologist that she is, is bucking that organization by admitting her child even has autism as opposed to a “learning disability”. I have also seen her interviewed on Oprah and noticed that the interview was prefaced with this. (Not exact quote but pretty close). Oprah: Now, let’s be clear, you are not saying don’t vaccinate, right? McCarthy: Oh no, I’m saying be informed and ask questions and this book will help you know what questions to ask. The inference was that you go to your DOCTOR and ask questions. Not that you do nothing with respect to vaccinating your child.
    Additionally, Jim Carry happens to be right that the court case does not prove that her child was not affected by the shot regimen he was given. As you noted, the burden of proof is 51 percent probability. The standard of proof for either side is “more likely than not”. Now, I know you say that there are studies that were not entered into evidence that are more conclusive but since the cause of autism is likely to be chemically induced or triggered, how can you say that her child was not an anomaly. Just curious as to how you can say conclusively that no chemical agent used in the shot could have caused this in any child at any time. People are different. Anomalies exist. Do they not? And if they do not, how is it that a very infinitesimal percent of the patients given the drug imitrex for migraines had such severe reactions to it that they died. (actual fact) And this was a drug approved through FDA testing and all.

  120. 123. Mike Gates Says:

    2 – No one likes a Black Woman having this much power.

    ———————————

    Who is “no one”?

    I would love Oprah (as well as the power she wields) if she used it for good.

    You know, make people aware of a lot of the bad stuff going on and get them involved. Stuff like that.

    But her concern isn’t the greater good. It’s the greater personal wealth.

    Sorry she had a crappy childhood. Now I guess she believes she’s entitled to everything she gets regardless of the method or who she screws in the process. She got screwed and overcame so it’s ok to screw others.

  121. Ken

    @Jeffery #58:

    > [...] as long as my child is properly vaccinated, why should I care if
    > other children are? [...] this just seems a good way to cull the
    > dim-witted from the heard.

    … And cull those who, for legitimate medical reasons, cannot receive the vaccine (e.g. allergies).

    … And cull those who received the vaccine but for whom it was ineffective.

    … And cull those who are too young to receive the vaccine (newborns).

    Nice going.

  122. Kabayo

    The worst snake oil she pushed is now making the entire country sick:

    OBAMA

  123. Ann

    And one more thing. The only reason for me to get involved in this little internets brouhaha is that I have watched particular shows that are referred to here and what you say occurred on them, simply did not occur. What goes on elsewhere, The Doctors and all, I do not know. But I have seen McCarthy on Oprah talking on this very subject and in no way, shape or form did I feel they were trying to dissuade anyone from seeking proper medical advice or vaccinating their children. Quite the contrary. As I said, she has had Christina Applegate on as often as she has had Suzanne Sommers as a guest. I did not interpret her presence on the show to be an endorsement of radical breast surgery. I fear only brilliant scientists would do that. And it is offensive that you go after individuals in this fashion. Dr. Oz mentioned on his last appearance that due to the overprescription of antibiotics a superbacteria had evolved that was immune to most antibiotics. This superbug killed 13,000 people last year, many of them children. Where’s the tote board?
    Or are we selective about our outrage?

  124. Gary Ansorge

    ,,,and for those who are reflexively bashing Oprah, please note the following:

    Charities she supports:

    46664
    Charlize Theron African Outreach Project
    Clinton Foundation
    Elevate Hope Foundation
    Free The Children
    Heifer International
    Mississippi Animal Rescue League
    Mpilonhle
    Oprah’s Angel Network
    Project Cuddle
    V-Day
    Women for Women International

    Causes she supports:(don’t click on these, as they are imbedded links, unless you’re actually interested)

    Abuse, Adoption, Fostering, Orphans, AIDS, Animals, Cancer, Children, Creative Arts, Disaster Relief, Economic/Business Support, Education, Environment, Family/Parent Support, Health, Human Rights, Hunger, Miscellaneous, Peace, Poverty, Rape/Sexual Abuse, Women

    Oprah may not be a rational (read; logical, analytical) genius, but she DOES have solid insight into what really makes people tick. It’s PASSION, folks and she understands that, which makes her very rich and provides real world resources for those undertakings that might do some good.

    Charity requires compassion, which, while not a uniquely human capacity, seems most highly developed in humans. Zinging her audience because they are analytically challenged is most likely useless(and I’m not referring here to using honey instead of vinegar). BAshing Oprah because she uses her knowledge of human motivations is also not particularly useful.

    What we SHOULD be doing is requesting equal time (on her show) to cooly, analytically, explain WHY vaccines are necessary for a healthy, HIGH density population to continue to live together, HOW there is no evidence for an autism/vaccine link,(and the money and effort scientists expend to KNOW that), in other words, to behave as rational people, not reflexive no-it-alls; hey, I expect I’m a lot smarter than 90% of the posters on this site. Does that make me expert in ANYTHING? Probably not!!! But I expect when I said that, the very first impulse any reader might feel is “What a smart ass,,,” and they would be correct, as long as they didn’t read the reminder of the post.

    If you really want to influence people in a constructive fashion, appealing to their rational side is unlikely to have much effect( but we have a responsibility to TRY). A rational human can lead, if they understand what they’re leading is non-rational and plays to that side of human nature.

    HAving said that, I must note: Smart I am, yet it still took me nearly a half century to begin to understand that humans are basically non-rational and no matter how one tries, appealing to their rational side will likely prove fruitless(but still I try,,,isn’t that kinda nuts?).

    It’s a bummer, but those are the facts. Now, what will Y’All do about it???(Note: I’m dumping this in younger laps. The fires of passion have burned low in this one,,,).

    GAry 7

  125. Lawrence

    @Ann – one of the major reasons behind the over-prescribing of antibiotics is parents demanding drugs from their doctors whenever their kids are sick – whether it be a cold, the flu, etc. Of course, in most of those cases, the antibiotics don’t do anything (against the viruses) and/or the parents discontinue the prescription as soon as their child appears better.

    This lack of follow-through, along with the rabid demands of parents for doctors to “do something” – which normally is to prescribe antibiotics in all situations (against their better judgment), is what has created the “super-bug” problem we’re facing today.

  126. John Phillips, FCD

    Gary Ansorge, we are not bashing her because she uses her knowledge of human motivation, but because she abuses it.

  127. Daffy

    Lawrence,

    I agree with you 100%, but you left out the very real threat of a lawsuit from parents if the doctor DOESN’T prescribe the antibiotics they want.

  128. mk

    @ Gary 7…

    Rational has been tried. She isn’t interested in rational discussion. Just ask Randi.

    And further, there is nothing irrational about pointing out she’s doing great harm. And lastly, your concern has been noted.

  129. Blogger

    Does this mean scientists like Phil will get a great big audience like Oprah has?

    No way, and never ever. This will be just another bump in the road for her — like the beef trial, and like the plagiarist.

    Next…

  130. RTM

    People need to stop taking advice from celebrities.

    Keyboard Cat, play me out!

    -RTM

  131. Siphoneuphoria

    @Rudy

    You misunderstand me. I agree with you. I was quoting post #9, calling it out as snobbery.

    I think it is a really unproductive viewpoint.

    Oprah tells these women that they can do anything, including read and understand Anna Karenina.

    We tell them that they shouldn’t bother trying because they are just not smart enough. Their very attempt is laughable.

    I wonder why they listen to Oprah?

  132. @Lawyer

    The true facts have benn discussed many times here, so much that a website was formed by one poster.
    http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.html
    Also Dr Plait was only praising Newsweek for telling the truth about Oprah’s medical advice not citing it about vaccines. Now before you say anything else go do some real research, this goes for many othere as well.

  133. Zar

    Puh-leeze, Oprah. She is not simply discussing issues in a neutral way. She is making heroes out of total quacks. She calls an ignorant, hypocritical, anti-vaccine quack a “Warrior Mom” and gives her a show. Where is the proud and noble “Warrior Physician”? The “Warrior Scientist”? The fact of the matter is that Oprah promotes certain inaccurate viewpoints. The quacks like Suzanne Somers are Wise Noble Women and the knowledgeable scientists and physicians are misogynistic fuddy-duddies who want to oppress womanity. As a feminist, I find this use of the gender card loathesome and slimy; there are real problems with sexism out there and an insistence upon science-based medicine is not one of them!

    And yes, Oprah does some good stuff too, but that doesn’t give her a get-out-of-criticism-free card. Promoting harmful beliefs is bad, and a person who does such things should be called on it.

    Science-based medicine is why most of us can expect to live past the age of 40. It’s why we no longer practice bleeding or trepanation. It’s why we stopped using dung as a contraceptive. It’s why smallpox is gone, why polio is nearly gone in this country, why the infant mortality rate is so much lower, why so many parents can expect all of their children to survive into adulthood.

  134. Matt

    Just the mere fact Opra gave a platform and venue for Jenny McArthy to vent her anti-vaccination hysteria and vitriol makes her dangerous. People chosing to follow Sommer’s hollistic cancer BS is one thing, because these are usually grown men and women who chose to eat 3 servings of wheatgrass a day instead of going through chemo, but the real victims of this anti-vaccination nonsense are the children. Misinformed parents who believe the Jenny Mc. hype not only put their own children at risk, but countless others who interact with their children. I’m glad someone finally called O-blah Windbag in her BS.

  135. Matt

    Just the mere fact Opra gave a platform and venue for Jenny McArthy to vent her anti-vaccination hysteria and vitriol makes her dangerous. People chosing to follow Sommer’s hollistic cancer BS is one thing, because these are usually grown men and women who chose to eat 3 servings of wheatgrass a day instead of going through chemo, but the real victims of this anti-vaccination nonsense are the children. Misinformed parents who believe the Jenny Mc. hype not only put their own children at risk, but countless others who interact with their children. I’m glad someone finally called O-blah Windbag in her BS.

    Oh and children are vaccinated for measles at a year, therefore there is overlap time where measles-infected children can interact with regular children awaiting their vaccination. Therefore even responsible parents can pay for the mistakes of ignorant uppity new-agers.

  136. Matt

    Just the mere fact Opra gave a platform and venue for Jenny McCarthy to vent her anti-vaccination hysteria and vitriol makes her dangerous. People chosing to follow Sommer’s hollistic cancer BS is one thing, because these are usually grown men and women who chose to eat 3 servings of wheatgrass a day instead of going through chemo, but the real victims of this anti-vaccination nonsense are the children. Misinformed parents who believe the Jenny Mc. hype not only put their own children at risk, but countless others who interact with their children. I’m glad someone finally called O-blah Windbag in her BS.

    Oh and children are vaccinated for measles at a year, therefore there is overlap time where measles-infected children can interact with regular children awaiting their vaccination. Therefore even responsible parents can pay for the mistakes of ignorant uppity new-agers.

  137. You hit the nail on the head Phil. Oprah is using that disingenuous get-out-of-jail-free card by just saying she is presenting information. I dare her to have you, Steven Novella, Michael Shermer, and James Randi on her show. I doubt she will ever allow skeptics on her show beyond the usual token skeptic in the audience, if that. And Mehmet Oz does not deserve a free pass. The Newsweek article was not critical of him at all. He promotes a lot of quackery on her show:
    http://skeptologic.com/2008/05/15/the-not-so-wonderful-wizard-of-oz/

  138. @Ann, 132

    The logical fallacy that you are using is post hoc ergo propter hoc, basically I did this and then this happened but how did you know it actually worked or something else did not happen. The harm is that others might take this regiment and the cancer might come back or die. The way of telling what thearapies work is in large studies of many different people not just one.

  139. 102. SLC Says:
    Maybe Dr. Oracs’ Hitler Zombie has been chowing down on Ms. Winfreys’ cerebral cortex.

    Reminds me of two ‘Hitler’ movies that are worse (yes, really!) than Plan Nine From Outer Space:
    They Saved Hitler’s Brain
    The Yesterday Machine.

    118. Torbjörn Larsson, OM Says:

    Uh, and charity works? Most of that seems to be based on woo as well, doling out stuff without checking the consequences because it makes the givers feel good.

    I wonder on ‘charity’ how many of them follow the classic saying: If you give a man a fish, he eats for one day, if you teach a man to fish, he eats the rest of his life (paraphrased)

    J/P=?

  140. Jhonny

    i have always hated Oprah for the crap she commercializes, glad to see others are not catching on to her fakeness.

  141. blackHat

    This is what happens when people sanctimoniously exploit the mobility of their position to pervade their ignorance throughout society.

  142. Eddie Van Helsing

    “I wouldn’t call it a lie, but it’s spinning like a newborn pulsar.”

    Great metaphor!

  143. The fact is, Oprah’s show and brand are a business. She goes for what sells. And what sells is woo.

    People who are desperate are far more likely to reach into their pockets and give her their money than people who are standing in a place of logic, reason, and healthy critical thought and insight. Appealing to gut emotion and personal anecdote sells: products, ads, magazines, “services.” I wouldn’t be surprised if people actually paid Oprah to be on the show (in fact, I always assumed they did).

    Oprah doesn’t care. She doesn’t care about you, or your health, or your family. She’s a businesswoman, and she cares about her business. If she makes herself feel better by using some of her fortune to support charities, bully for her. But if you want to convince me she really cares about others, you’ve got a really hard sell in front of you.

  144. Susan Stanko

    @107 They will get their wish if they stay the course their on. Of course the one party will be the Democrats.

  145. Billy

    I’d say it’s in her viewer best interest to perform research before taking medication OR getting a medical procedure. Too many people assume that everyone is too dumb to figure things out on their own – Oprah gives advice – it’s up to us to use our brains!

    Billy

    *Help pets through Petfinder and http://DoGreatGood.com – saving pets with every search*

  146. I say that someone should start a movement to get Phil on Oprah. That was he can tell it the way it is.

  147. Boogie_Bangin

    According to, Forbes Magazine (if I’m not mistaken), it is Angelina Jolie your vitrious should be aimed at seeing as how SHE is the most influencial celebrity on the planet. Not Oprah.
    Good Day.

  148. R D

    Evolution in action?

  149. Mark Hansen

    I didn’t know Angelina Jolie had her own TV show or had anti-vaxxers (amongst other woo) on it. Thanks for setting us straight there, Boogie.

  150. Mekei

    Remember when those guys from the beef industry sued Oprah and lost? At the time, I thought they were loony. Ok, then, it was hamburgers, but now she’s literally playing with children’s lives via McCarthy-woo. Her credibility has plunged by giving these celebrities a platform on a health and politics.

  151. ras

    i’ve been saying that oprah is wrong for years ever since i saw her belittle that dude who made up a story and got on her book club sold millions only to find out his true story was actually fake………..which left me to question then hmm why didnt oprah and her people research it first before cosigning it then i realize oh its just another way for her to make money what killed me is the way she handle the situation when after all she been ******** people for oh so long.

  152. TJ

    One day Oprah’s media tooldom will bite her back.

  153. Thousands of books are released every year and many hundreds would be perfectly eligible for Oprah’s book club. She could have very easily avoided this whole debacle.

  154. Whooping Cough

    Don’t call it a comeback.

  155. menk

    How many of you guys actually watch Oprah? I saw the episode where Jenny McCarthy discussed autism, and the discussion about vaccines was very very brief. McCarthy did NOT go an any anti-vaccine rant, she simply stated her opinion and Oprah then read a statement contradicting from mainstream science. And I see Jenny McCarthy on all the talk shows (Larry King, the View) so I’m not sure what all this hate directed at Oprah is about. And all McCarthy is asking for is a test to make sure all babies have an immune system that can handle vaccines at the current pace. She is not anti-vaccine.

  156. couchjumper

    Just say your name is “Dr. Phil.”

    (Oprah = Scientology?)

  157. Crudely Wrott

    She trusts her viewers to be smart and discerning?

    Silly Oprah, those are the ones that are not watching your show.

    What? You know that?

    I knew you did.

  158. Roger Zuehlke

    Anyone that watches entertainment folks for health advice already are deficient in reasoning ability so why would they do further research concerning anything said by entertainers concerning health?

  159. Oprah: “I trust the viewers, and I know that they are smart and discerning…”

    When reading those words, I can’t help but imagine the voice of David Duke: “Hey, I don’t tell people what to think — I trust my fans to make up their own minds as to whether Blacks should be treated as human beings.”

    Like it or not, Oprah, the shoe is now quite irrevocably on the other foot. “I trust the viewers…” In a word, my dear, BULLCOOKIES.

    You didn’t get where you are by trusting viewers, or by believing that they have even the faintest glimmerings of real intelligence. You founded your media empire on the sadly correct assumption that most people are breathtakingly ignorant and gullible, but absolutely adore putting on what they see as the trappings of wit and wisdom — and then you got where you are today by doing everything in your power to keep them that way.

    Yes, by your own design, your audience is composed of vapid pretenders. You know this better than anyone: the more “smart and discerning” your would-be viewers are, the harder it is for you to even get their attention; but, the dumber your viewers are, the easier your job is, and the richer you and your corporate media juggernaut get.

    Ironically, however, that juggernaut now owns YOU, lock, stock and barrel — having failed to heed all of history’s most dire and timeless of warnings, the power you sought to possess now enslaves you. You are now as deeply corrupted and deceitful as the “Big Pharma” you pretend to despise. For those who really do possess the wisdom you pretend to respect, watching absolute power corrupt absolutely is a very sad thing.

    But, for whatever it may be worth, I’m sure Dick “Tater” Cheney has enormous “respect” for you.

    With such a diet of self-indulgence and contempt for mankind, my dear Oprah, this shame now fits you perfectly. Wear it well.

    Shame. On. You.

  160. menk

    Actually Roger Zuehlke, anyone who watches entertainers discussing their own experience concerning health is probably really interested in health and thus the type of person who would do more research. And I don’t recall Oprah ever giving health advice on her show. She simply lets guests share experiences but is clear that people should check with their doctors. I see nothing wrong with opening up a dialogue on taboo health topics. I think it does more good than harm.

  161. Dan I.

    @ 173. menk

    But that right there is the problem, Oprah “read a statement” disputing McCarthy. She didn’t bring on a doctor or a scientist to contradict her.

    McCarthy wasn’t “confronted” about her ignorance she was allowed to spew and then Oprah said “Well to be fair, there are some that disagree and this is what they might say…if we actually let them on here.” And read a stock statement that was not tailored to directly contradict McCarthy.

    Jenny McCarthy got to testify, the scientific community got hearsay.

  162. menk

    Dan, Jenny McCarthy was not on the Oprah show to talk about vaccines. The discussion about vaccines lasted only about 30 seconds. And Jenny McCarthy is NOT, I repeat NOT anti-vaccine. She simply advocates testing babies to make sure they have the immune system to handle vaccines at the current rate. But she did not discuss even that on the Oprah show. Maybe in the early days McCarthy might have gone a bit far in her anger and frustration, but these days she is mostly interested in sharing nutrion that she feels helped her son with some of his symptoms. True it’s not yet validiated by science, but to silence mothers of autistic children from sharing their experience goes too far.

    And shame on you dkmnow for your disgusting rant against Oprah. You obviously don’t watch her and know nothing at all about her.

  163. Trimegistus

    Oprah doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does, makes snap judgements, and then pushes them on millions of people. She can do a lot of harm.

    Look at how her political endorsement turned out…

  164. Chris

    menk:

    She simply advocates testing babies to make sure they have the immune system to handle vaccines at the current rate.

    Do you have the name of that test, and the papers showing how effective it is in predicting their immune system? Plus, can you share the papers in the medical literature that support a connection between autism and vaccines? Because, these show the opposite (and they is only for the MMR, there are also similar ones for thimerosal):

    Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy:
    A Case-Control Study. Hornig M et al. PLoS ONE 2008; 3(9):
    e3140 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140 *Subjects: 25 children with
    autism and GI disturbances and 13 children with GI disturbances alone
    (controls)

    Measles Vaccination and Antibody Response in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    Baird G et al. Arch Dis Child 2008; 93(10):832-7. Subjects: 98
    vaccinated children aged 10-12 years in the UK with autism spectrum
    disorder (ASD); two control groups of similar age: 52 children with special
    educational needs but no ASD and 90 children in the typically developing
    group

    MMR-Vaccine and Regression in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Negative
    Results Presented from Japan. Uchiyama T et al. J Autism Dev Disord
    2007; 37(2):210-7 *Subjects: 904 children with autism spectrum disorder
    (Note: MMR was used in Japan only between 1989 and 1993.)

    No Evidence of Persisting Measles Virus in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear
    Cells from Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. D’Souza Y et
    al. Pediatrics 2006; 118(4):1664-75 *Subjects: 54 children with autism
    spectrum disorder and 34 developmentally normal children

    Immunizations and Autism: A Review of the Literature. Doja A, Roberts
    W. Can J Neurol Sci. 2006; 33(4):341-6 *Literature review

    Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada:
    Prevalence and Links with Immunizations. Fombonne E et al. Pediatrics.
    2006;118(1):e139-50 *Subjects: 27,749 children born from 1987 to
    1998 attending 55 schools

    Relationship between MMR Vaccine and Autism. Klein KC, Diehl EB.
    Ann Pharmacother. 2004; 38(7-8):1297-300 *Literature review of 10
    studies

    Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Institute of Medicine.
    The National Academies Press: 2004 (w w w . nap.edu/books/030909237X/
    html) *Literature review

    MMR Vaccination and Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Case-
    Control Study. Smeeth L et al. Lancet 2004; 364(9438):963-9 *Subjects:
    1294 cases and 4469 controls

    Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children with Autism
    and School-Matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study
    in Metropolitan Atlanta. DeStefano F et al. Pediatrics 2004; 113(2): 259-
    66 *Subjects: 624 children with autism and 1,824 controls

    Prevalence of Autism and Parentally Reported Triggers in a North East
    London Population. Lingam R et al. Arch Dis Child 2003; 88(8):666-70
    *Subjects: 567 children with autistic spectrum disorder

    Neurologic Disorders after Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination. Makela
    A et al. Pediatrics 2002; 110:957-63 *Subjects: 535,544 children vaccinated
    between November 1982 and June 1986 in Finland

    A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination
    and Autism. Madsen KM et al. N Engl J Med 2002; 347(19):1477-82
    *Subjects: All 537,303 children born 1/91–12/98 in Denmark

    Relation of Childhood Gastrointestinal Disorders to Autism: Nested
    Case Control Study Using Data from the UK General Practice Research
    Database. Black C et al. BMJ 2002; 325:419-21 *Subjects: 96 children
    diagnosed with autism and 449 controls

    Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Bowel Problems or Developmental
    Regression in Children with Autism: Population Study. Taylor
    B et al. BMJ 2002; 324(7334):393-6 *Subjects: 278 children with
    core autism and 195 with atypical autism

    No Evidence for a New Variant of Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Induced
    Autism. Fombonne E et al. Pediatrics 2001;108(4):E58 *Subjects: 262
    autistic children (pre- and post-MMR samples)

    Measles-Mumps-Rubella and Other Measles-Containing Vaccines Do
    Not Increase the Risk for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Case-Control
    Study from the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project. Davis RL et al. Arch Pediatr
    Adolesc Med 2001;155(3):354-9 *Subjects: 155 persons with IBD
    with up to 5 controls each

    Time Trends in Autism and in MMR Immunization Coverage in California.
    Dales L et al. JAMA 2001; 285(9):1183-5 *Subjects: Children
    born in 1980-94 who were enrolled in California kindergartens (survey
    samples of 600–1,900 children each year)

    Mumps, Measles, and Rubella Vaccine and the Incidence of Autism Recorded
    by General Practitioners: A Time Trend Analysis. Kaye JA et al.
    BMJ 2001; 322:460-63 *Subjects: 305 children with autism

    Further Evidence of the Absence of Measles Virus Genome Sequence in
    Full Thickness Intestinal Specimens from Patients with Crohn’s Disease.
    Afzal MA, et al. J Med Virol 2000; 62(3):377-82 *Subjects: Specimens
    from patients with Crohn’s disease

    Autism and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine: No Epidemiological
    Evidence for a Causal Association. Taylor B et al. Lancet 1999;353
    (9169):2026-9 *Subjects: 498 children with autism

    Absence of Detectable Measles Virus Genome Sequence in Inflammatory
    Bowel Disease Tissues and Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes. Afzal MA et
    al. J Med Virol 1998; 55(3):243-9 *Subjects: 93 colonoscopic biopsies
    and 31 peripheral blood lymphocyte preparations

    No Evidence for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine-Associated Inflammatory
    Bowel Disease or Autism in a 14-year Prospective Study.
    Peltola H et al. Lancet 1998; 351:1327-8 *Subjects: 3,000,000 doses of
    MMR vaccine

    Exposure to Measles in Utero and Crohn’s Disease: Danish Register
    Study. Nielsen LL et al. BMJ 1998; 316(7126):196-7 *Subjects: 472
    women with measles

    Immunocytochemical Evidence of Listeria, Escherichia coli, and Streptococcus
    Antigens in Crohn’s Disease. Liu Y et al. Gastroenterology
    1995; 108(5):1396-1404 *Subjects: Intestines and mesenteric lymph
    node specimens from 21 persons from families with a high frequency of
    Crohn’s disease

  165. Astra

    Oprah is in the stratosphere of celebrity who believes their own PR. The power that woman has over the brain dead stay at home moms and old people is frightening. Who else has an ego big enough to not only (1) name a magazine after themselves but (2) put themselves on the cover every month?

  166. Wendy

    I agree with Oprah. Her audience is SMART and they can decided for themselves which guest they want to listen to. It’s absoultely ridiculous to say that Oprah can’t interview the same celebrities that Larry King interviews because her female audience is too stupid to handle controversial ideas. Oprah obviously has a lot of respect for traditional doctors or she wouldn’t have Dr. OZ as her most frequent expert, even giving him his very own show. So what if she has a few strange celebs on now and then. Most of the time they do not discuss medicine and the few times that they do Oprah warns her viewers that mainstream scientists don’t agree with them so check with your doctors. All Oprah was trying to do with these few rare shows was draw attention to the needs of women and inform them about some of the ideas that are out there. And Oprah has interviewed hundreds of people a year for 23 years. It’s very easy to cherry pick, out of ten thousand guests, easy targets like Suzanne Somers to ridicule Oprah’s excellent show. I guess any excuse to attack a successful black woman. You should be ashamed of this blog. A bunch of elitist pigs trashing a talk show host they don’t even watch based on second hand reports. I find you guys reprehensible.

  167. Wendy:

    Wow, so many ridiculous statements in such a short comment!

    First, really, the racist misogyny card? Really? On what evidence in my post do you base that?

    Second, as I point out, it’s clear Oprah is endorsing these nonsensical medical beliefs of her guests. It’s clearly spelled out in my post. Did you not read it?

    Third, I never said her audience is too stupid to handle controversial ideas. That’s a strawman on your part and totally false. I said that her saying her audience will seek out other advice is baloney. We have evidence that a vast number of people do whatever she says when it comes to consuming what she’s endorsing.

    Fourth, if I have a talk show where I pet puppies all the time, but once a year have a special show where I eat them live, is that OK with you? Will that get a pass?

    Fifth, I don’t ridicule Oprah’s show as a whole, only the nonsense she endorses.

    But gee, besides all that, you have a point.

  168. @ andyo: It’s not Brooke’s lack of talent with which I have a problem; it’s the media’s continued indulging of her narcisstic need for attention and upholding of the idea that she is any kind of “celebrity” to begin with. Oprah buys into and validates this media nonsense by keeping up the charade and having people like Brooke on the show not once but multiple times. Acting is a craft with a proud tradition, and the media cheapens it by promoting as “actors” people who do not have one shred of talent.

    And I’m talking about losing respect for Oprah about 20 years ago before all these controversies, not now. For a while it seemed she would be different by focusing on real, often controversial social issues. Unfortunately, she bought into the brain-cell-killing “celebrity culture.” I had expected better than that from her. Like, how about doing a weekly show on an astronomy-related topic as part of IYA?

    See Dr. Phil? I’m a not giving a dime to that quack. I’d rather donate money to research about pulsars!

  169. Andrew MW

    Hey Phil

    FYI, that NZ article is a reprint of this Independent article:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/oprah-defends-her-experts-accused-of-talking-nonsense-1698770.html

    …with a slightly better title, courtesy of PZ… :)

  170. Sampson

    Everything should always be taken with a grain of salt. Including Oprah, and including this article. One should never listen to only one source, however I understand that it is hard in this day and age to trust any source so one may trust one source as the overarching truth. I remember watching Oprah with my mother and on many occasions disagreeing, but for the most part she has some valuable information, if you just take it along side other things. I’m glad this article has surfaced, not because I want to see Oprah attacked, I don’t, but because I think it may help educate the average reader/watcher to look for other sources and other opinions.

  171. TheBlackCat

    @ Sampson: That’s great in theory, the problem is that a large number of people don’t take what she says with a grain of salt, they accept it as the unquestionable gospel truth. If everyone was careful and verified her statements before acting on them, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  172. I don’t watch Oprah or take bioidentical hormones and I have no clue who most of the celebrities that Newsweek cites are–and I’d guess that the writer of this article, and the comment writers, never watch the show either, and don’t really know what they’re talking about. They just take Newsweek’s word for it.

    I have no opinion about most of the article. However, I do know about Gardasil, and Newsweek’s ridicule of Dr Christiane Northrup’s absolutely correct assertion that a good diet can help deal with HPV makes me suspect that Newsweek’s research is sadly lacking. Personally, I wouldn’t take that article as gospel any more than I’d take Oprah as gospel.

    I find it quite amusing that the writer does. That’s not very scientific.

  173. rich

    Remember, Oprah is the corporate world. If you think she is against it you are not correct. She just has you believing that she is like you, a regular working stiff. She isn’t. She is the same as any corrupt corporate executive. She also is being over paid for what she does and part of her act is to convince the weak minded that she is generous and her opinions are all truth. Politically, she is for spending your money, while keeping her own. I’ve heard the business billionaires say they aren’t taxed enough. I’ve never heard one of the Hollywood billionaires say that. I’ve heard that several corporate billionaires say they will be giving away all of their earned riches. I haven’t heard the Hollywood set say that yet. Hmmm, what am I missing?

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