Keywords: Mehmet Oz
, alternative medicine
Probably the biggest illustration today of how health woo concepts have made it into the mainstream virtually unchallenged is personified by doctor Mehmet Oz, co-author of the YOU books and endorsed by the queen of television herself, Oprah Winfrey.
It's dismaying that he's become so popular and his health advice is often taken as gospel by so many, because a lot of what he has to say is pure nonsense.
The interesting dichotomy here is that Dr. Oz is a trained, and by all accounts competent, heart surgeon. He knows how to fix your ticker, and with the exception of possibly allowing a medically untrained woman into the room to align your body's healing energies while you're under, he adheres to the best medical practices for doing so.
But his knowledge of other areas of medicine is decidedly spotty. He's like a mechanic who can fix your engine with the best of them, but if you ask him to take a look at your brakes he's suddenly out of his depth. And it wouldn't be so bad if he'd admit his limitations, but instead he pretends that he actually knows what he's talking about, and has fooled a lot of people into believing it.
The biggest problem is that he has very little understanding for the standards of scientific evidence required in medicine. That's not necessarily an impediment for a doctor - after all, diagnosing and treating medical conditions doesn't absolutely require that kind of skill. But if you want to keep up with the latest medical research, you should have enough an understanding of science and statistics that you can read the research critically.
Otherwise your forced into choosing between credulous acceptance or cynical denial, neither of which is useful at all. Dr. Oz falls into this camp, credulously accepting many woo claims while cynically playing down the abilities of western "allopathic" medicine.
He explains his view in this quote from his book "Healing From The Heart", where he explains his feelings on the Grandmother Cell Theory, which suggests that everything we know and feel about a person (such as a grandmother) is contained in a single neuron in the brain: