Complementary and alternative medicine Entertainment/culture Medicine Quackery Television

Has Dr. Oz finally crossed the Woobicon?

I’ve had it with Dr. Oz.

Although I haven’t seen his show today (for one thing, I work for a living; for another thing, even if I had today off I wouldn’t waste it watching Dr. Oz’s show), readers have informed me that yesterday, on March 1, 2010, Dr. Oz threw away whatever shred of respectability that he had left. On March 1, 2010, Dr. Oz had Deepak Chopra on his show.

But that wasn’t enough.

After all, Chopra is a never-ending font of woo in categories too numerous to recount here, a small subset of which includes evolution, neuroscience, and medicine, but most of his woo is is fairly “mainstream” in that it’s basically a lot of acupuncture and Eastern mysticism wrapped up in a cloak of quantum woo-ey goodness. As much as I detest Chopra, I can’t work up a hate on him as I can with some other quacks, particularly cancer quacks.

Not so Dr. Oz’s other guest. Who was Dr. Oz’s other guest, you ask?

Joe Mercola.

I didn’t believe it when I heard it, but apparently it’s true. Mercola posted a picture of himself and Deepak Chopra on the set of the Dr. Oz show:


If Mehmet Oz had Joe Mercola on his show, he’s definitely crossed the woo Rubicon (or should I say Woobicon?). He’s passed the point of no return. After all, Mercola is a supporter of some of the most blatant quackery out there. The worst example of his support of quackery occurred when he promoted the cancer quackery of Dr. Tullio Simoncini, the Italian “oncologist” who believes that all cancer is caused by fungus and that he can cure it using baking soda. He’s also claimed that baking soda can cure H1N1, making it the all-purpose cure-all. Add to that Mercola’s support for homeopathy and anti-vaccine views, and Mercola is rapidly approaching Mike Adams territory.

And Mercola was apparently a welcome guest on Dr. Oz’s show.

I must confess, I didn’t watch the show; so I’m counting on you, my readers, to give me the blow by blow and point me to video and/or transcripts. If I can stand to wade through it, it may require a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful insolence. In the meantime, all I can say is this:

“Have you no shame, Dr. Oz? Have you no shame?”

By Orac

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

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

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

To contact Orac: [email protected]

62 replies on “Has Dr. Oz finally crossed the Woobicon?”

I happened across a National Enquirer article that quoted you and Steve Novella on Dr. Oz. That was a pretty surreal moment if I do say so myself.

The Woobicon…I love it. It’s too bad – Oz used to be a reasonably sensible guy and he’s a skilled communicator but as of now he can never be taken seriously again.

Aren’t these types supposed to be ageless?


To somewhat quote from Beckett’s Murphy, I’d love to:

“engage with the arse of the statue of Cúchulainn, the ancient Irish hero, patron saint of pure ignorance and crass violence, by banging their heads against it.”


My other job is woo-peddler, and boy, do we hate Dr. Oz. Sure, he sells a lot of placebos, but every time he has some stupid made up cure on his show we’re buried in fools who suddenly have to have peppermint oil to rub on their temples or passionflower extract (60+ percent grain alcohol) to help them sleep.
I sure hope he gets paid by these companies-I’d hate to think he actually believes any of this.

If I am not mistaken, Dr. Oz recently had on a surprisingly positive and accurate show on transgender individuals. It was the first I’d heard of him (I am in Australia, and don’t watch any shows of this ilk), but I’d hoped it was indicative of one less quack on TV.

Alas, apparently not so.

This guy’s throwing away any shred of respectability he may have had. It’s almost like watching a man throw his life away into alcoholism or drugs addiction. It starts with a few tipples with the friends, and progresses to secret drinking, and then finally to “I don’t care” binge drinking.
I suspect that Dr Oz is into the binge stage, and this may only be the first bit.
Too bad.

Oz did say at the very first of it he didn’t agree with everything Mercola said, but it was pretty sad to see him not explain why, or list all the dangerous quackery Mercola supports or give him the shaking by the collar he needs.

Oz once flouted reflexology, which holds that the body is mapped to the soles of the feet, so that pressure on the relevant spot on the foot will relieve symptoms in the corresponding part of the body.

I would have asked him why walking barefoot on the beach did not cure all ills. And what to make of any discrepancy in the diagnoses given by the feet. And what spot on the soles maps to the soles of the feet.

I have a hard time being surprised when anyone in the Oprah Universe crosses into the Land of Woo.

So, to complete the analogy, when he crosses the Woobicon is he headed into Woome or out into the Woolderness?

Oz did say at the very first of it he didn’t agree with everything Mercola said

Well, that makes everything OK, then, doesn’t it?

No, I’m not ragging on you at all, merely pointing out that saying that he “don’t agree” with a quack like Mercola on everything does not absolve Dr. Oz of responsibility for giving him such wide visibility. My reader also said that Dr. Oz said he subscribed to Mercola’s newsletter. Of course, I also subscribe to Mercola’s newsletter, but it’s because I’m always on the lookout for blogging material.

My wife, when not working, watches Dr. Oz and used to let me know if something good was on. I will query her on this particularly dismal episode and see what she remembers. She is not a woo user and usually picks up on rank crap. I smell a test!

“…or should I call it the woobicon?”

Yes. Yes you should.

Mercola doesn’t have the head-sploding insanity of Mike Adams, but I’ve seen him partake in pretty much every bit of woo under the sun, even the old “Coca Cola will eat your stomach lining” tale.

As for Dr. Oz, I sympathize with library guy @#5, my job is selling fruits and vegetables, and if Dr. Oz has a guy on about some weird south american miracle fruit/vegetable, we go through the “Oprah effect.”

I’m always amazed at how quickly they forget, though. All this tumeric and no one’s buying it anymore, because now it’s fennel and onions. It must be such a miracle cure that they only need to eat it for a week.

Maybe I should subscribe to the Dr. Oz newsletter so I know what produce to stock up on.

Eat your veggies.

If I’m not mistaken, Oz called Mercola a “revolutionary”, or something along those lines, for leading the alternative medicine movement.


I think this has something to do with his wife, too. Last Oct or Nov, he was discussing vaccines on Oprah. As I was stricken with shingles at the time, I was interested in if he thought old folks should get the vaccine. Thankfully he said yes. I think he said yes to the flu vaccines & assured pregnant women they were safe, but when the subject of childhood vaccines came up….

Then it comes out that his wife is a Reiki master (snicker) and it was insinuated she is anti-vax, but they compromise on a ‘delayed schedule.’ So these kinds of things can happen, I guess:

@1 1t was actually Orac’s “friend” who was quoted in the National Enquirer article. Interestingly, Orac’s “friend” was the only quoted skeptic who whose picture did not appear in the article. The others were Steve Novella (Skeptics Guide to the Universe and Science based Medicine), Stephen Barret (Quackwatch) and a woman I had not heard of. For “balance” they only quoted one woo. If I recall correctly, the atricle was titled “Dr. OZ is a Fake” and was the headlined on the top of the cover. It made my wait at the checkout much more enjoyable. I think getting the skeptical message into places like the National Enquirer is a great step forward for the skeptical movement.

I had a feeling that it was Mercola. I guess pretty soon it will be McCarthy and Null. Why no faith healers? Psychic surgeons?

I used to hear bits about the Dr. Oz show from both my mother and my sister, but neither watches anymore. Both considered him to be a “total quack.” So that is the one thing that I will thank Oz for. I long knew that my mother and sister were pretty skeptical of woo, but I did not know that their baloney detection kits were as sharp as they are.

Mercola advocates taking *extremely* large doses of vitamin D (e.g. 5000 mg. daily;see vitamin D resource page @,plus sun exposure(even selling expensive tanning beds), as *panacea*( Mike Adams is of similar mind- see NaturalNews) while followers of Linus Pauling(in his woo-begone later years; see Quackwatch) recommend *huge* doses of vitamin C (10,000 to 100,000 mg.)as a cure for cancer and most other ills:this includes Gary Null(see website) and various other quacks(see PalMD today: relief quackery in Haiti).Perhaps Dr.Oz can schedule a debate between these factions-“Which Vitamin Cures ALL?”- since he appears to enjoy being surrounded by medically trained individuals who have descended into the Woo-topia of pseudo-science(being one himself) as well as snake oil salespeople enhancing their spiel with appealing mysticism,from east or west(he’s married to one).

I wish I could be surprised, but based on my limited previous exposure to Dr. Oz, I’m not.

On a lighter note, did anyone else read the title of this post and immediately hear Gilda Radner as Baba Wawa saying “Woobicon” in their head?

Who was Dr. Oz’s other guest, you ask?

Even though I know it has zero chance of happening, I couldn’t help but hope that it was Happeh. That would have been glorious.

I’d love to tell you about this show but I had to turn the tv off. I rarely watch Oz, and occasionally thought he had a bright idea or two although I was always suspicious and he has snuck some woo in here and there. When he started with this episode I thought, “what the hell” and when he introduced Chopra I turned the whole thing off.

This is the reborn “We deserve a Pulitzer for our investigative journalism when no other paper would touch the story”* Enquirer. If they can lure people in with celebrity gossip and tell them a few important truths, great.

Jre – “Mercola figures if you stare directly at the sun, you can derive your nutrition directly from sunshine.”

Sounds reasonable. Will my eyes turn green?

Don’t laugh too hard at the Enquirer.
even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and again.
And it was a tabloid rag that first broke the Iran-Contra story in the USA. Or so the tale goes.

Honestly, as a former Dr. Oz viewer, I think this has less to do with his increasing acceptance of woo and more to do with his desire to pursue ratings at all costs. I stopped watching because I got sick of all the sex and beauty tips being sold to anxious housewives who lap it up. I could (but don’t) get that in any one of the numerous “women’s magazines” at the checkout stand. Add in the numbingly repetitive crying obese people in the “Truth Tube” who pledge to eat better (and then make amazing transformations just 30 days later—no long term follow-up) and inane “demonstrations” and “games,” and I got my fill of Dr. Oz real fast.

So why are Mercola and Chopra on his show? Because they are big names that a lot of his housewives are at least aware of as some sort of authority. And aren’t the things they say AMAZING and SO HELPFUL and GOSH I NEVER KNEW THAT.


Thanks, Orac, for the links to the older Choprawoo posts…more ammo to arm myself against the Chopra-lovers in my life.

News to me. From what little I know from realityland I thought Oz had stepped across that hypothestical creek long ago.

Well, I have wondered about the fungus/cancer connection for some time. There are numerous causes for cancer – heredity, environmental toxins, viruses, poor immune system, unhealthy lifestyle, etc.

I am not one to believe that baking soda is a cure for anything other than refridgerator stinch and not even good at that.

However, I am very anti-vaccine because they do more harm than good.

Mercola is an iffy person. I don’t trust his every word but some things he says makes good senselike the Baxter /h1N1 connection.

I read Natural News every day becuase it has good articles and news about our commie overlords at the FDA and what illegal, unethical, immoral, and downright fascist agenda they are up to from day to day.

And… we continue the apology for big pharma and well paid doctors. No wonder we’ve yet to have any real health-care reform. Chopra proposes cheaper alternatives to expensive therapies. I fail to see what’s so bad about that.

I read Natural News every day becuase it has good articles and news about our commie overlords at the FDA and what illegal, unethical, immoral, and downright fascist agenda they are up to from day to day.

?? You obviously need to read more closely. Natural news is not a proponent of some kind of right wing conspiracy theory, that the FDA is controlled by communists. What they do question is the blind promotion of vaccines and perscriptions by drug companies out to maximize profit and minimize consumer safety (Note the supressed publication of Paxil, Vioxx and so forth). If the FDA were run by people interested in holding the public’s interest first instead of having its agenda set by corporations we might actually avoid such incidents.

“?? You obviously need to read more closely.”

The two of you need to take an introductory course in critical thinking.

I’m confused.

Are the FDA dirty commies or fascist bastards in fantasyland today? The loons can’t seem to agree.

“The loons can’t seem to agree.”

They agree about the important parts:

1) There is a conspiracy.
2) It’s a big one.

And… we continue the apology for big pharma and well paid doctors. No wonder we’ve yet to have any real health-care reform. Chopra proposes cheaper alternatives to expensive therapies. I fail to see what’s so bad about that.

aaaaaand again the voice of no knowledge or practical experience calling conspiracy….*hint;it’s not a cheap alternative if…. it…doesn’t….work.If Chopra is behind anything having to do with health care reform there will have to be a payoff for him in there somewhere ,don’t kid yourself.And if you think that the lack of health care reform has much to do with physicians who are often as much the pawns of insurance companies as the patients, then you really are as stupid as your posts.

then you really are as stupid as your post.

Or maybe just as stupid as a post. If I had a hundred alties and some barbed wire, I could build a fence.

“Chopra proposes cheaper alternatives to expensive therapies. I fail to see what’s so bad about that. ”

Well, they don’t work. That’s pretty bad.

Would you take the advice of a doctor who wears scrubs everywhere, goes commando, and brags about it in public?

Said it before, will say it again: A doctor who wears scrubs everywhere is to be taken about as seriously as a semiconductor engineer who wears his shiny silver “bunny suit” everywhere.

If I had a hundred alties and some barbed wire, I could build a fence.

Ooooh, way to stick it to Big Timber. 😀
*Clenched fist salute*

Chopra proposes cheaper alternatives to expensive therapies. I fail to see what’s so bad about that.

I can do one better:

1) Send me some money
2) I give you nothing

It’s just as useful as what Chopra is doing. Heck, you don’t even have to send me as much as what Chopra charges. I am providing and even CHEAPER alternative.

What they do question is the blind promotion of vaccines and perscriptions by drug companies out to maximize profit and minimize consumer safety (Note the supressed publication of Paxil, Vioxx and so forth). If the FDA were run by people interested in holding the public’s interest first instead of having its agenda set by corporations we might actually avoid such incidents.

Projection at its finest!

I see your vioxx and paxil and raise ephedrine and hydrocycut OH NOES supplement makers selling dangerous substances for profit. if there is profit to be made there are people out to rip u off. Just because someone slaps the happy face on a product makes it neither good or safe.

To me, alt med promoters sound like this guy:

a whole lot of nothing disguised as a whole lot of something.

The commentators on this site seem to be living in the same cognitive shoebox. Perhaps because of your learnedness, you seem to prefer reductionism and premature closure. Being opinionated makes it easier to keep track of the “truth,” doesn’t it?
Undoubtedly, there is a lot of quackery and non-critical thinking in the World of Woo-Woo. But assuming there is no bit of truth worthy of pursuit does nothing to advance true science. As a biologist, I still need an explanation for how 40,000 cellular chemical reactions per second can routinely happen in a coordinated fashion, much less the symphony of the entire organism in dynamic feedback with the environment. I am willing to consider that there are meta-levels of physical reality that we have yet to understand. If you are willing to get off the beaten track in your journal reading, you might find that there are biophysicists and other hard-core scientists who have left or been propelled from comfy tenure to pursue the reason for “anomalous” findings. You may find that there are ways to detect and measure things like biophotons, energy emissions from the hands of “therapeutic touch” healers, etc.
As an older physician, I am always looking for ways to help my patients get better. Sadly enough,pharmacologic manipulation of the human body rarely arrests, much less reverses chronic degeneration that progressively characterises the American phenotype. Empty promises from the paradigm I was born into.
I have been around long enough to notice that findings touted as quackery by the mainstream turns into common knowledge 15 years later (eg. Helicobactor pylori, bacteria causes gastric ulcer). By the way, Vitamin D3 50,000 IU/week (at least) is becoming standard procedure for repleting deficient stores (the further from the equator, the lower your cholesterol to Vit D3 conversion in the winter months. Even worse with sunscreen use; high serum vitamin D3 correlates with a lower incidence of many types of cancer). The pharmaceutical industry only promotes patented molecules; I have found that “pharmaceutical” grade melatonin (OTC) works about as well as ramelteon. We don’t need dietary supplements to undergo the same rigors of testing as novel molecules, but we do need to have a law that says you can’t put it up for sale unless the label accurately reflects the contents in the bottle.

In summary, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Closed minds shrivel; open minds flourish. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know. We NEED your wonderful minds to remain open, ask the questions, work to find answers. Refuse to be a minion of the status quo.
Thanks for considering my words.

May I say that you folks posting your comments are a strange bunch. “Hate” doesn’t seem to be an appropriate word for an emotional outpour of disagreement, and a closed mind usually keeps one in a dogmatic box. Why don’t you hate the old men who send the young ones to wars, why do you keep a dogmatic vision that death penalty belongs with the civilized humans?

Gregor, you seem to be bringing a lot of things into this that have not been discussed at all. Why are you assuming everyone here are people who love war and the death penalty? Where do you get that? I really rather doubt that is the case. I would guess there are rather a large number of people here who are pretty liberal, dislike the death penalty, and are hardly jingoist warmongers.

However, they also like science and want to see some evidence when people make claims. Mercola and Chopra do not bring this to the table.

every time i see chopra’s smug face, i am reminded of a particular experience during my time in india. i don’t know if you are aware of it (how could you not be?), but india is the LAND OF WOO. it is where woo goes to ferment and replicate and spread like a cancer upon the world. i don’t mean the locals, who definitely have their own brand of religious and mystical woo which, as a honkey atheist from the states, i feel is not my place to criticize or change. i mean the westerners who travel to india in search of this or that religious epiphany, guru, mystical awakening, and/or drug experience, and often stay- for far too long- without being forced to come back to reality.

case in point: several years ago, i founded an animal rescue organization concentrating on the street dogs in a small village in northern india. our primary mission was to stabilize the breeding population and reduce rabies incidence, as well as to increase local understanding of the problem and foster compassion towards the animals (at the time, the indian government was using strychnine to poison the animals in the streets, or locals were stoning the dogs to death, out of fear of rabies). as part of my involvement in the larger indian animal aid community, i was a member of a google group whose purpose was to facilitate communication and cooperation among the thousands of local and foreign NGOs with similar goals. we often exchanged messages regarding this or that piece of impending legislation, or spay-and-neuter clinics which were being held in various locations, etc., but one particular encounter left me with a terrible taste in my mouth: an email began to circulate which included a link to a book which suggested a causal relationship between animal slaughter and earthquakes. yes, you read that right. and many of the smaller, westerner-run organizations, in their infinite woo-iness, thought that it would be a great idea to put this information on their websites, in the literature, etc., in an effort to increase donor appeal. i, for one, wanted to be taken seriously as an animal aid organization by people who actually knew a thing or two about the scientific method, worried that such a large consensus of western organizations spouting such nonsense would be detrimental to that goal, and wrote an email condemning the study and pointing out its methodological flaws. but my email was attacked by an avalanche of anger and woo so strong that i eventually gave up any attempt at talking sense into those people, in favor of actually getting something DONE.

india: land of woo. there ought to be some sort of debriefing one has to undergo if one spends too much time there.

Amazing that when someone goes outside the box he is labeled a “Quack”,
Avandia is proven to cause heart attacks. Vioxx was finally pulled because of numerous deaths, but hell they were FDA approved.
The “Psychiatric” drug Seroquel has a class action suit against it, and every drug advertised has disclaimers about the severe problems caused.
Yet another FDA approved drug “Darvon” has been stopped.
60 Minutes had a whistle blower who worked for “Glaxo-Smith-Kline” on revealing the vast mistakes made at one its largest facility.
Give me a break “American Greed” revealed how doctors were rewarded by the drug companies to give testimony on the safety of their garbage.

So Bob, I assume you make it a priority to lobby for health care to be taken off of a for-profit model? And you vote for politicians who favor strong government regulation of pharmaceuticals as well as supplements?


Yawn… another “pharma shill” gambit.

Citations please, or we will have to assume that you are an conspiracy theory idiot who doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about.

dr oz goes through the internet and gets his seems like.
he is all about money or and not forgetting the glamorous mrs. oz who is suddenly a self proclaimed psychologist.

Comments are closed.


Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading