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When faith healing isn’t woo enough for Dr. Oz

There are times when I’m wrong again and again.

No, I’m certainly not referring to my writings about vaccines which, as much as anti-vaccine loons like to claim they’re wrong, are not. Nor am I referring to my writings about “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or “integrative medicine” (IM). While it’s possible that I’ve made mistakes here and there, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about being utterly and demonstrably wrong, something that, although it might happen in my real life with distressing frequency, is pretty rare on the blog.

Then came Dr. Oz.

You remember Dr. Mehmet Oz, don’t you? How can you escape him? He is, after all, Oprah Winfrey’s protege, and of late he’s really been living up to his television mentor. I first noted this nearly a year ago, when I pointed out that Dr. Oz’s embrace of woo was a profound abdication of professional responsibility. And so it was, as Dr. Oz had just invited a man whom I consider to be one of the foremost purveyors of quackery on the Internet, Dr. Joe Mercola. Prior to that, he had done an episode touting the glories of that form of faith healing known as reiki. Unfortunately, back when I asked whether Dr. Oz had “crossed the Woo-bicon” or not, little did I suspect that Dr. Oz had so much more in store for his viewers in his next season.

In the next season, in particular over the last couple of months, Dr. Oz showed me just how wrong I had been when I had previously been saying that Dr. Oz seemed to be mostly science-based but with a soft spot for certain kinds of woo. First, he not only invited Joe Mercola back on his show, but he did it defiantly, defending Mercola against what I consider to be much-deserved charges of being a seller of quackery and calling him a “pioneer of holistic treatments.” A couple of weeks later, Dr. Oz pulled the classic “bait and switch” of alternative medicine, bringing a yoga instructor on who also advocated all sorts of Ayruvedic quackery. Then, a mere few days later Dr. Oz, not satisfied at his transformation from nominally science-based to being based solely on whatever would bring him higher ratings, Dr. Oz completed his journey to the Dark Side of quackery by credulously featuring a faith healer on his show and hosting what has to be the lamest faith healing that I’ve ever seen. After that, I didn’t think Dr. Oz could go much lower; even his anti-vaccine-sympathetic episode on autism in which he featured Dr. Robert Sears.

That’s where I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. So wrong that I wasn’t even wrong. It turns out that Dr. Oz could go lower, oh so much lower! How much lower? Even my jaw dropped as you, my readers sent me notices about just how low.

As I found out from all of you, Dr. Oz’s guest on his show yesterday was psychic scammer John Edward, whose show Crossing Over with John Edward ghoulishly featured Edward convincing bereaved guests that he could speak with their departed loved ones. My first reaction was to wonder if Sylvia Browne wasn’t available or something. How low can a physician go to feature someone like Edward, who claims to be able to talk to the dead but in reality is nothing more than a so-so cold reader. My second reaction was intense nausea at the title of the segment, Are Psychics the New Therapists (part 2 and part 3). Dr. Oz even helpfully features a segment in which Edward gives his audience advice on how to harness your psychic power and a chapter from John Edward’s latest book. As I watched, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I guess that means I just haven’t become cynical enough yet, because Dr. Oz’s trajectory has been so obviously leading to something like this for several months now. I mean, after you’ve had a faith healer on your show, there really aren’t any boundaries left to justify not having someone like Edward on the show anymore, are there?

Perhaps the most telling part of the show happened right at the beginning of the John Edward segment, telling about Dr. Oz’s audience, that is. Dr. Oz introduces the segment by saying:

We’ve had more requests to join this show than any other we’ve ever done before, more than weight loss, more than cancer, more than heart disease. The topic? Do you believe we can talk to the dead?

Yes, apparently Dr. Oz’s audience was clamoring to be on the show when John Edward was being featured, and throughout the show the audience was completely enthusiastic and fawning, just like the show’s host, who asks the question: Is talking to the dead a new kind of therapy? People, I wish I were kidding, but I’m really not, and Oz even goes one step beyond by saying that “psychic medium John Edward believes it can be” and asking: “Could it help you someday?” What follows is a taped segment about grief from “devastating loss” and how some people even resort to trying to talk to the dead, for which, we are told, they need a person like John Edward. Edward then describes grief as an “energetic form of cancer” that will, if not treated, “metastasize. He even assures us that speaking to a psychic medium can be very therapeutic if you’re suffering from grief due to the death of a loved one. Then, after that, Dr. Oz comes back on and finishes the introduction by saying:

Now as a heart surgeon I have seen things about life and death that I just cannot explain and that science can’t study.

So, let’s see. Just because the great and powerful Dr. Oz can’t explain it, he assumes that talking to the dead must be real and that science can’t study it. It’s a massive argument from ignorance combined with special pleading, in which it is assumed that the methods of science are inadequate for studying this phenomenon. Dr. Oz lives that attitude as well, as he shows not even the slightest whiff of skepticism, nor does he offer anything more than the most perfunctory of challenges to what Edward is doing. Actually, he doesn’t even do that. Other than a brief question near the beginning about whether Edwards is taking advantage of the bereaved, Dr. Oz’s tone is more than just respectful. It’s fawning. He doesn’t even include a “skeptic” as he has with previous woo-filled episodes. The closest he comes to it is having Katherine Nordal, PhD of the American Psychological Association, who not really introduced on the show but is described on the APA website as “the executive director for professional practice of the American Psychological Association.” Her job is described as overseeing “the promotion of the professional practice of psychology” and ensuring “psychological services’ accessibility and availability through legislative and judicial advocacy, public education and marketplace initiatives.”

Actually, I’m not sure what purpose Nordal served. She didn’t really question whether Edward could speak to the dead, which makes her a pretty crappy candidate to play the role of token skeptic that is common on these shows. When Dr. Oz asks her whether finding a medium might be a form of therapy, rather than stating unequivocally that it is not, or at least not a good form of therapy, she says that it is. Some skeptic!

Then Edward goes into his routine. If you’ve ever seen his television show back when it was still on the air, nothing Edward does in his segment on Dr. Oz will come as a surprise. It’s nothing more than the old psychic medium trick of cold reading. This time around, he was actually a lot better at it than I remember him. His “hits” were more common and his “misses” fewer than I remember from the handful of episodes of his old show. In fact, there was one part that turned out so conveniently that I have to wonder if Edward’s people had managed to stage it. At one point, Edward insists that someone in the room has a death associated in some way with St. Patrick’s Day. (How convenient, given the proximity to St. Patrick’s Day of the day on which the show aired!) After badgering the audience, finally a young woman says that a friend of a friend had died in a car crash on St. Patrick’s Day. Predictably, Dr. Oz was awestruck. In fact, if you want to know just how lacking in skepticism Dr. Oz is, just check out this TV Guide article released before the show in which Dr. Oz Says Psychic John Edward “Changed My Life”:

I walked out of that studio thinking, “There’s something here. It’s bizarre. I don’t know what exactly is happening. But it’s definitely something.” I’m a heart surgeon. I can explain a lot of weird things. I’ve seen people who should have died who didn’t. Over the years I’ve had some pretty deep conversations with people who died and say they saw “the light” and came back with stories. I’ve heard many things that are not easy to reconcile with the western scientific mind, so you try to think of a reason for what’s going on. Could it be synapses short-circuiting in the brain that make people think they’re having an out-of-body experience? That’s what a doctor does. He tries to find a rational explanation. But I can’t make up an explanation for what John Edward does. And, again, what was most eerie was his level of detail, the concreteness of it all.

Or, one could say that there are times when Dr. Oz’s knowledge hasn’t kept up with that of skeptics who actually pay attention to these things. Otherwise he wouldn’t be so amazed by Edward’s schtick. But he is, and once again he uses the argument from incredulity. Just because he can’t imagine a scientific explanation for what John Edward does, Oz assumes that there isn’t one:

But I can’t make up an explanation for what John Edward does. And, again, what was most eerie was his level of detail, the concreteness of it all.

Which is, of course, what psychic mediums do. It’s what they do and have done for hundreds of years, if not longer. It’s not for nothing that John Rennie characterized Oz as the “great and gullible.” He was gullible when it came to faith healing and quackery, and he surpasses himself in gullibility in his treatment of John Edward and psychic mediums. What they do and how they do it are not mysteries to, for example, James Randi or Joe Nickell, who quite properly described Edward as “hustling the bereaved.” Both describe how Edward uses the technique of cold reading, and Nickell even describes how Edward was busted using “hot reading,” or having chatted up the audience before his show and presenting information thus gleaned as having come from the spirits. When he can’t guess right, Edward’s technique is to do this:

What separates John from other cold readers, is that John works with a sizable audience (the Gallery) and when his readings go like the above, as happens far too often, he will just say that he’s picking up the “energies” of two different or distinct families which is suppose to explain away wrong guesses. Enough wrong guesses or if the guest isn’t cooperating, he will just claim the “energy” is pulling back and then move on to someone else he hopes this time will be more volunteering of information.

After watching a sad spectacle like this, that of a once respected surgeon debasing himself with faith healers and psychic mediums, I asked myself what could possibly be going on here. My first thought was that reiki must be a powerful gateway woo, leading to the really hard stuff, like faith healing and psychic mediums. After all, Dr. Oz’s wife is a reiki master, and he got his start in the CAM world by famously allowing reiki masters into his operating room to work their magic (and I do mean the word “magic” literally) on his cardiac patients. (Ten or fifteen years on, that little incursion into woo seems very quaint now.)

In actuality, what’s going on here, I think, is more likely to be pure hubris. Dr. Oz has become so enamored with himself and his image as the iconoclast bucking the medical system, seeing beyond “Western medicine,” and being just so much more damned smart than any other doctor that it never occurred to him that he could be fooled by a psychic scammer just as easily as anyone else. Add to that his need to fill the insatiable maw of his TV show with new topics and new guests, coupled with the demands of his audience, who are clearly very much into this sort of thing, and it becomes easy for him to justify having a guest like John Edward as both evidence of his intelligence and open-mindedness and giving the people what they want.

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]

95 replies on “When faith healing isn’t woo enough for Dr. Oz”

Charlatans who prey on people’s grief – please let that be the bottom of the barrel. It can’t be possible to get any lower – surely?

I have been taping Dr. Oz for several months, and watching his show. I learn a few things. I am, however, often bothered at what looks like quackery. I guess I’ve been in denial. I hoped that he was just a little “loose” on the scientific honesty. Then, he had this faith healer on, who is a Catholic, and I, with a daughter who is seeing doctor after doctor, and a Catholic myself, thought how wonderful that would be if this guy were for real. If he (the faith healer) were for real, I’d fly my daughter out and have her worked on! Unfortunately, either I’m a bad Catholic with no faith, or I have too much common sense to believe fakers on TV. Then, Dr. Oz had this fake liar John Edward on today, and it destroyed any respect I might have had for Oz, and made me question every single bit of “knowledge” I have picked up from his show. It’s bad enough I have to fast forward through all of the stupid women who fawn and flirt with him, and the stupid games. (He’s not even that good looking! He looks like some kind of bird.) He treats the audience like they are third graders. Today, I learned that they are.

Thank you for your blog, because when I googled “Dr Oz fooled by the fake John Edward” your blog came up. Obviously, that liar has microphones in the audience, somehow or something akin to that, and that idiot Oz falls for it hook, line and sinker. I am disgusted.

It’s frightening how much woo gets onto American television these days. Presumably large audiences are attracted by this nonsense and so another generation of the credulous is spawned. The biggest problem is that, with the first amendment, there appears to be no way of stopping it.
For some light relief, my favourite shredded-wheat-sandal-wearer sent me a link which led to the following:

You may find that a lot of gas builds up in your system. So you may feel extremely bloated.

Did you know that solar flares caused farting?

I walked out of that studio thinking, “There’s something here. It’s bizarre. I don’t know what exactly is happening. But it’s definitely something.

Ummm yeah, a scam just happened. John Edward and other flunkies like him have been debunked time and again. It’s so sad that Oz uses his experience as a doctor to try to argue from his own authority. Sadder still is that by doing this he has quite possibly obtained more converts for Edwards (see The Biggest Douche in the Universe, per South Park).

I think Oz (who no longer deserves the title ‘Dr.’) is just so entranced with the attention he’s getting that he’s turned off any sceptical parts that his brain might once have had. The only ‘truth’ he cares about in any given subject is how much his TV audience will fawn and gush over him if he promotes it.

@qetzal I said the exact same thing when I posted this story on my facebook page. Oz has become nothing more than a ratings whore. If it will get him Nielson ticks he will put it on his show. Truth and the the public interest be damned.

“When Dr. Oz asks her whether finding a medium might be a form of therapy, rather than stating unequivocally that it is not, or at least not a good form of therapy, she says that it is.”

In Nordal’s defense, I would say that seeking out a psychic for a pretend chat with your dead relatives is definitely a form of therapy and it does work for quite a few people in search of closure. Whenever a loved one or a close friend dies, there’s always something unresolved and there’s always one last thing you want to say.

Psychics provide the illusion of doing it, and while what they do can only really be described as a ghoulish farce, if your mind is woo-friendly enough and you believe people can talk to ghosts, you can use them to say that one last thing. Just think of it as a placebo for the grieving.

Still though, John Edward? The sheister known to put plants in his audience to get that level of “uncanny detail” and whose cold-reading skills are mediocre at best? When a South Park episode can explain how you do what you do in a two minute scene, you suck at being a psychic.

I wonder what’s next for Dr. Oz. Are we going to hear about alien abductions and the New Space Lizard Order from David Icke, or is he going to stay closer to home and go for the Fifth Reich parables of Jim Marrs in order to capture more of the coveted tinfoil hat demographic?

I’m fascinated by your fascination with Dr. Oz.

The bottom-line: He’s become an entertainer. He’s no different than watching Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, or even that crazy guy on FOX (I refuse to use his name). And that’s the short list.

Other than a brief question near the beginning about whether Edwards is taking advantage of the bereaved, Dr. Oz’s tone is more than just respectful.

Whether or not he’s taking advantage of his customers is one thing, but it doesn’t even start addressing the fact that it is all a big scam.

Damn it. If Edwards really could talk to the dead, then we could ask whether taking money for it is “taking advantage”. But it’s not even fucking real. Argh. Argh.

Reminds me of all the idiots discussing how homeopathy works when it is crystal clear that it doesn’t work.

Man, I’m angry.

Of course the short answer is, Oz has run out of legitimate things to say, and so he has to start bringing in anything he can. I mean, there are only so many variations you can go on good nutrition, for example (eat lots of fruits and veggies, limit meat, control portion size). It works fine as a weekly segment on DOpraH, but it can’t carry a full hour 5 days a week.

So he adds filler, and unfortunately, it’s fluffy filler.

Of course, given that, a segment on methods of dealing with grief, including discussing whether having imagined dialogues with deceased loved ones is an effective therapeutic approach, is not a bad topic (although it needs to be expanded, as I have done, in order to make it worthwhile). But if you do that, bring in people who are experts in grief counseling to talk about effective methods, not friggin John Edwards.

John Edwards? John Edwards? John Edwards?? JOHN FREAKIN’ EDWARDS???!?!?!!

That’s it. There is no longer any hope whatsoever for Dr Oz. Okay, I kind of thought that after John of God, but John Edwards practiced his schtick on the Sci-Fi Channel, of all places. Oz has no excuse whatsoever for not having heard of this goofball long ago and realized that he’s a scam artist — and a washed-up scam artist at that, though perhaps this is the big break Edwards has been looking for, to get back into the action with a new audience. Which, in fact, makes so much sense I suspect that was in fact the point of this appearance. I suspect it was Edwards’ agent who approached Oz (or rather, Oz’s producers), not the other way around. Oz’s show is nothing more than a vehicle for scam artists now.

Clam — thank you for posting that link to solar flares causing farting (among other ills). That was exactly the laugh I needed. (Hate to see a fine website like show up on a woo page, but at least they’re citing an actual authoritative source for solar forecasting and maybe helping a few more people learn to look at the sky once in a while.)

As a pagan, there are certin things I believe in that runs contrary to most. I believe in the power of the human will to be able to change certin outcomes, just based on the pure will of the individual. Whether that is magick or not, that is in the eye of the beholder. Whether changing the enviorment physically, such as switching on a light bulb, or with a strong will along with the right medications you beat the death sentence your doctor gave you when you were diagnosed with cancer, these things can be done.

But stuff like this makes me angry. It makes me angry because it makes those of us who follow the pagan path look ridicoulous, and scams and takes away from the most vulnerable at a time when most likely, they can least afford it! I remember when I was still in high school and an Evangelical Christian when Benny Hinn came to town! I went to go see him, and what I saw was someone who was well practiced in leading group and self hypnosis!

The buzz was no different than what I get when chanting or preforming a ritual! When in a positive mood, and under the influence of such hypnosis, symptoms may SEEM to not be there! I watched as he “healed” a person with cancer, only to hear later that after said show she went off all her meds believing she was healed, and died later!

To me Edwards is no different than Benny Hinn! Oz should be slapped upside the head to allow him to come on his show and scam his audience! And another thing, as a pagan, I can tell you it is never a good idea to mettle in things that you don’t understand! Even if a person could speak to the dead (hypothetical, just work with me), that doesn’t make it a good idea! You have no idea what that thing could be, only it’s word for it! Not a good idea!

Now I do believe that there have been people who really truley believed they could talk to spirits and see them! People who could describe in detail what they have seen and heard. In most cases, these are folks who actually have disabilities, and those voices could be very well coming from their own mind, as well as the experiences they describe. Such folk need help, not codemination. But people like Edwards, well, you know what they say! Karma, she can be such a terrible bitch!

Orac touches on a topic near and dear to me ( well, actually, “sickening, though morbidly fascinating”): the infiltration of woo into psychotherapy and counselling- Orthomolecular for SMI ( i.e niacin mostly), Scientology, life coaches, EFT**, chakra balancing, meditation, journal writing, shamanism, on and on .

Psychics as therapists? I suppose so: if you believe that being ripped off while being fed a load of malarkey is therapeutic( I imagine if your chi is blocked by a surfeit of excess money, it could help).

Unfortunately, woo is not limited to purely physical complaints ( although that would be awful enough): it is an all-encompassing mind-body discipline. One of my all-time faves is the nutritional approach: psychological and LD problems can be “fixed” through proper diet and supplementation. Our web woo-meisters** denigrate pharmaceuticals for SMI and LD and consumers often like that: take these vites and the pesky symptoms disappear! Now, that’s fostering an independent, reality-based orientaion to life!

** I prefer ETF’s.

*** the usual suspects.

@greg fish –

My dad died about a year ago; my mom has dementia and doesn’t remember what we say any more; and I haven’t felt like there’s anything else I needed or wanted to say to them while it would still have mattered. I’m confident my brother and sister feel the same way.

(Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t often miss having them around to talk to about what’s happening in our lives and the world. I don’t need John Edwards to tell me they would have tbought he and Oz are full of crap and wilfully feeding off others’ grief and fears.)

In actuality, what’s going on here, I think, is more likely to be pure hubris.

You missed the obvious: Dr. Oz IS a scam artist, no better than John Edward. He found a gravy train of PT Barnum’s born-every-minute bozos, hopped on board and is slurping up great big globs of green. I despise these scumbags, which is why I don’t watch them. I like my fiction honest. Apparently, many (most?) people are still children and like to pretend make-believe is real. I am frustrated that these scam artists are getting rich and that their marks aren’t putting all that money into education and other useful things, but it’s their money and if they want to play pretend it’s their right.

@ Chris Caprette : re “gravy train” – Oz lives a few miles from me, probably on the cliffs overlooking Manhattan or next to Beyonce and JZ. A local “healthy Asian Fusion” restaurant mentions his frequent presence as a customer in its advertising!

“It makes me angry…because…those of us who follow the pagan path look ridicoulous”. FTFY.

Seriously, if you’re going to believe in nonsensical batshit, who are you to criticize someone else’s particular brand of batshit? Why does it make more sense for you to claim that ‘pure will’ can switch on a light bulb than it does for Edwards to claim he’s talking to ghosties?

Guys, guys, you’ve got it all wrong!
Dr. Oz is going through a mid life crisis. All this woo is his Harley or Corvette! He’s gettin’ old, he’s attracting older and older babes to his show, he ain’t fittin so nice into the tighty blue scrubs. He’s freaking out.
It’s a spiritual crisis. He’s hoping all this crap will help him get his groove back.
It’s a like a call for help: There must be something else out there that will make me not be old and useless. It worked for Oprah! She’s still popular!
Apparently saving lives on the operating table wasn’t enough for Ozzy. He needs more! He needs the next dimension!!

How can you talk to the dead? They are, after all….DEAD.

If such “therapy” is useful for the bereaved, then it should be available through regular mental health outlets, with the appropriate disclosure statements to be read and signed.

This won’t be the end of Dr. Oz’s descent into woo. There will be no end. And somewhere along the way, he’ll find himself a spot as the celebrity doctor on some ghost hunting TV show, in case poltergeists attack.

Seriously. There’s no limit to what his flakey audience will believe. Why would there be any limit to the garbage he’ll tell them?

John Edward (not EdwardS – John Edwards is a scumbag in his own right, but Edward is the ghoul) came to Vancouver a few months back, so we decided we’d help his audience out with some critical thinking. Sadly, he’s built this unfalsifiable wall around him whereby skeptics aren’t ALLOWED to be there because they scare away the ghosts. The only people in the audience are those who are absolutely convinced that he’s real, so there’s never any conflicting voice to engender skepticism.

It’s disgusting, really.

Even if a person could speak to the dead (hypothetical, just work with me), that doesn’t make it a good idea! You have no idea what that thing could be, only it’s word for it! Not a good idea!

Even if a person could speak to the The Great Pink Unicorn (hypothetical, just work with me), that doesn’t make it a good idea! You have no idea what that thing could be, only it’s word for it! Not a good idea!

Ooh, spooky.

I never said the will by itself could do anything! I said that the old saying of mind over matter does have a seed of truth in it! I am saying that married to using proper medicine, having a positive out look and the will to fight DOES give someone more of a chance then someone who accepts defeat, even if they take all the right medicine. Calling something batshit that you don’t understand, well I guess that is your right. But you don’t have any clue about my beliefs! You are accusing me of being something without even having all the facts!

If you did you would know that Paganism is highly symbolical! It’s giving a personification to things that do exist in the world! We we call the Earth a Goddess, we don’t mean it is some being that controls all things! We mean as a mother nurishes and provides sustenance for a child it her womb, so does the Earth for us! It’s using spiritual language and symbolism to talk about things in the natural world! The Earth is called Mother because it brings forth life!

Please, try to argue with me that the Earth does not produce life and that which is needed to sustain it!

Please tell me that Anglachel will be posting in the vaccination threads.

We need more exclamation points!

“He’s all hung up on Peter Pan
Dr. Mehmet Oz – he’s a woo-ey old man.

(with apologies to Tom Lehrer)

Thanks, Orac. Reading this makes me physically ill.
Oz is nothing more than a fameball, and a pitiful one. Most fameballs are at least amusing. Oz is just disgusting.

Oz claims to be “America’s Doctor”. I don’t know who died and gave him the title. If so, all I can say is “Poor America”.

Aw crap, link fail.
When you get to the page, just go up one in the list of definitions.

Maybe John Edward used his powers of mind to screw things up.

Dr. Oz is one of Oprah’s proteges and everyone knows that once “designated” and given Oprah’s imprimatur…you are made.

Why would Dr. Oz want to discuss anything as boring as traditional medicine, when he can gin up his ratings with the charlatans? He is a media whore.

I’d love to see the complete (unedited) show, where Edward poses open-ended vague statements/questions to the gallery. Just a ghoul showman only slightly removed from storefront palm readers, who preys upon gullible people.

Rory @ 17:

Seriously, if you’re going to believe in nonsensical batshit, who are you to criticize someone else’s particular brand of batshit? Why does it make more sense for you to claim that ‘pure will’ can switch on a light bulb than it does for Edwards to claim he’s talking to ghosties?

Well, one significant difference is that John Edwards is almost certainly lying through his teeth. I’ve read accounts of tapings of his old show; the results were so abysmal that it’s clear he’s not even a very good cold reader. The producers would just edit the show down to remove the embarrassing screwups. One can argue philosophically about whether it is any nobler to believe in deities than to believe in talking to the dead, but there’s definitely a difference between having a weird belief and being an actual fraud bent on tricking people into giving you lots of money and damn the consequences to their personal lives.

BTW, it’s absolutely true that people can talk to the dead. You’re just not likely to get a response, and if you do, you should probably see a psychiatrist. 😉

Is Dr. Oz’s descent into woo complete? I’d say yes. He’s featured the Biggest Douche in the Universe on his show; he can descend no further.


What we know about your beliefs is what you’ve told us. And then we’ll fill in with what else we know about paganism: the thing about using a group label is that people will associate you with other members of that group. How do I know where you fall on (if you will) a continuum between someone who believes different things in circle and outside of it, and someone who not only goes to an herbalist but practices moxibustion and uses astrology to help her make decisions? (You use far more exclamation points than either, but I don’t think that’s terribly significant.)


“I believe in the power of the human will to be able to change certin outcomes, just based on the pure will of the individual.”

“I never said the will by itself could do anything!”

I’m not exactly quote mining here. Perhaps you’d care to either reconcile these two statements or revise one or the other.

I watch Dr Oz most mornings (or to be more precise, have it on in the background while looking after kids and doing chores). I used to see it as a nice difference in TV-watching options from the other magazine-style shows on at the same time; the ones that have segments about fashion and food and psychics…

Now I see no difference. Hell, he even has a fashion segment, since yesterday he had three women competing for who could find the cheapest shoes from online retailers.

I take everything on his show with a grain of salt now. If he won’t hold psychics and woo-merchants up to rigourous scientific standards and enquiry, then why take anything he says at face value. He now comes off as intellectually dishonest, and just after the quick buck that comes with a large audience.

There’s another possibility: Dr. Oz has fallen for a particularly popular form of religious apologetic I call “The Argument from Therapy,” or going into “therapy-mode.” People who do this subtly switch the topic from truth to benefit by focusing exclusively on individual people. Does God exist? Does reiki work? Can John Edward talk to the dead?

It doesn’t matter. The real question is — does believing in God/reiki/John Edward make someone feel better? Does it help them? Is it useful? Even a little bit, temporarily, in a specific case? Well, then. It’s okay. It “works” through “truthiness.” Case closed.

In this view, the actual truth doesn’t matter: people matter. The important thing is to help the patient by speaking to them on their own level. Just as a legitimate therapist will not counsel someone who is having problems coping with personal issues by suddenly trying to change their patient’s political views, someone who is acting in place of a therapist will not intrude irrelevant matters dealing with truth or falsehood into the important act of helping.

Dr. Oz is in Therapy-mode. He may not believe in John Edward: he believes in belief in John Edward. And then he probably convinces himself that that’s really the same thing.

JayK, if that happens, then we know his journey to the dark side is complete.

I’d say HuffPo is the next natural progression for Oz, of course it will probably be a ghost writer 90% of the time. Of course, the Templeton prize would look good on his CV for getting a HuffPo column.

I do believe in God, or at least I try to. I believe in the power of prayer. I was raised Catholic, and not abused by any clergy. I had a loving mom who shared that faith with me, so I try to stand by it’s teachings. But, I never proselytize to anyone, and I have respect for the main ancient religions, but not for the new cults such as Scientology. I have read extensively on the history of the gospel, and the church. I love science, and history, and learn in my spare time.

That said, I can see why an atheist would disregard what I have to say. However, I would never stand up and lie to thousands, or even hundreds of people, and take their money. Nor would I stand by quietly while my friends or family were suckered into such nonsense. People need their families and friends to point out lies, when they exist.

I would like to be part of an audience of John Edward’s, that was filled with people who know he’s a fake. While standing in line to get in, and while sitting in the seats with the hidden microphones, we could talk about our “pretend” dead loved ones. Then, when he pointed us out and commenced his ruse, we could all deny it, and say that we had lied in order to trap him. Then, what could he say, if half the audience said that?

Too bad Dr. Dean Edell retired. Although his rants on the Pope were tiresome, he was a good voice of reason. I miss him.

One more example of Oz’s fair and balanced presentation of ideas: his circumcision show. He is pro circumcision, and so in order to present “all” sides, he had a panel of all pro circumcision experts. Brilliant!

He’s back (Jay Gordon) and trying to bribe me with a half bottle of wine (“More dubious reasoning from animal rights activists”).

I (begrudgingly) give Dr. Gordon some credit for his website posting on Potassium Iodide purchases as an antidote for radiation exposure.

Give me a break. Dr. Oz did let a therapist speak and she did state that she thought this kind of “contact” could be helpful in certain situations. Even Edwards himself said that a therapist would be the number one priority over seeing s psychic. It seems like you’re just trying frantically to discredit Dr. oz.
Why not pour that energy into things like, let me see, getting the IAAC to see that people with autism are at high risk of wandering. Something like that.

@ Jen X 2: Doh, when faced with a Child Protective Services complaint of neglect resulting in death of child diagnosed with autism, always go to Age Of Autism website for support.

Er, Jen all developmentally disabled youngsters are at high risk of “wandering” and the parents/caregivers should be held responsible for not protecting them.

We don’t have to “frantically discredit Dr. Oz”…he is doing a splendid job of self-discrediting.

Wow, lilady, those are some kind statements toward those affected by autism (especially re. the wandering). The other comment (first paragraph) was a little obtuse for me to know what the heck you’re talking about.
I guess you didn’t see the show but Orac did neglect to relay that Nordal and Edwards did STATE that the first priority in dealing with grief would be to see a counsellor. Sorry to disappoint you with the facts. And yeah, y’all seem pretty frantic to discredit Dr. oz.

Before Dr. Oz writes for the HuffPo, he ought to get John Edwards to foresee if they’ll pay.

Jen — stating that the first priority is to contact a counselor and then going on to say talking to the dead could be helpful does not absolve Oz of responsibility for credulously hosting a known fake. Edwards is nothing more than a cold reader conning people out of money in exchange for pretending that he’s communing with their deceased loved ones. And he’s not even a very good one.

Nordal and Edwards did STATE that the first priority in dealing with grief would be to see a counsellor.

And the second step should be giving your money to a crook who preys on grief stricken people by pretending to talk to the dead? As Tim Minchin says “That’s fundamentally sick” and “Why would the dead want to speak to pricks like John Edward”.

Otis – John Edward doesn’t use hidden microphones. He has plants in the audience to pump people for information (hot reading) and he uses basic cold reading techniques. Cold reading uses a lot of vague statements that could apply to almost any thing as well as a lot of guessing. The cold reader relies on the tendency of people to remember the hits and forget the misses. For the TV show the misses can be edited out. Here is a link to the Rational Wiki article on cold reading.

There is a link to John Edward at the bottom of the page.


He’s back (Jay Gordon) and trying to bribe me with a half bottle of wine

I always thought Jay favoured CH3OCH3 over CH5OH since as Hunter S. Thompson said:

There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge

A lot Jay’s comments sound like they come from the depths of an ether binge.

Thanks for the info, Militant. Do you happen to know how the plants relay the info to the fako? Do they do it before he goes out to the show? Or, does he have some little microphone in his ear. What a jerk. I hate him, and Dr. Oz.

@51 – I don’t know, but I think they probably contact him before the show. Faith healer Peter Popoff used an earpiece to receive information from his wife and got busted by James Randi, who recorded her talking to him.

@ Jen: Read my comment again, carefully. Age of Autism is the go-to website when caregivers put their developmentally disabled child at risk…and have to deal with Child Protective Services and face charges of neglect.

Dr. Oz and his “guests” are the subject of this particular blog; go post at the Age of Autism blog…especially the article about the “caregiver” of an Oklahoma youngster with autism and his two year old sibling who both “wandered away” into a pond…the child with autism did not survive.

Orac nailed it here:

Perhaps the most telling part of the show happened right at the beginning… Dr. Oz introduces the segment by saying:

We’ve had more requests to join this show than any other we’ve ever done before, more than weight loss, more than cancer, more than heart disease. The topic? Do you believe we can talk to the dead?

This is what television celebrity does. It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, turning beings that were once human into fameballs (thanks for hipping me to the new word, TBM!). It’s like crack or something, but without the short-term crash. It’s all there: more money than you could ever imagine, and yes, the attention… There’s no point in hating Dr. Oz, anymore than there’s a point in hating a corpse. See, there really ARE zombies. They’re on reality TV. John Edward says he can talk to the dead to conceal the fact that it is he, and all of television, which is dead.
To try to explain this in a non-scientific way, I’ll throw in some more quasi-Baudrillard. The hyper-real (TV) has displaced the real. Reality shrinks in envy under the shadow of its way-way over-pumped simulacrum. To be merely alive and human becomes to feel dead in comparison to the apparent energy bouncing off the screen. So we must turn ourselves into mediated surfaces to validate ourselves. Hey, look at me on YouTube!! Daytime TV is like YouTube to the 100th power. Mehmet Oz, actual person, physician, etc. has been swallowed by “Dr. Oz!”
Of course, the evacuation of meaning is concommitant to the process. Obviously, there is no substance behind what “Dr. Oz” presents, only the calculus of mass attention: MORE REQUESTS TO JOIN THIS SHOW THAN ANY OTHER!!!

Today no performance can be without its control screen video. Its goal is to be hooked up to itself. What develops around the video culture is not a narcissistic imaginary, but frantic self-referentiality, a short-circuit which immediately hooks up like with like, and, in doing so, emphasizes their surface intensity and deeper meaninglessness. J.B. (slightly edited)

The futility of everything that comes to us from the media is the inescapable consequence of the absolute inability of that particular stage to remain silent. Music, commercial breaks, news flashes, adverts, news broadcasts, movies, presenters—there is no alternative but to fill the screen; otherwise there would be an irremediable void…. That’s why the slightest technical hitch, the slightest slip on the part of the presenter becomes so exciting, for it reveals the depth of the emptiness squinting out at us through this little window.” J.B.

So, Iv’e been thinking how would it be possible for Oz to stoop any lower? Perhaps David Miscavage singing the praises of the e-meter? I’d love to see him do a run-down (or whatever they call it) on Oz live. After all Oprah loves having all those nutty celebrity Co$ types on her show. Surely it’s a natural progression for Oz to pick up the baton and run with it?

Hi Anglachel:
There’s not much tolerance for outsiders here. And when it comes to anything ‘symbolical’ folks here are mainly not going to ‘get it.’ They’re going to assume you mean everything literally. (It’s sort of like dealing with Asperger’s kids; they can’t help it.) I’m a bit confused myself by your reference to turning on lightbulbs with the will. That didn’t sound particularly ‘symbolical’ to me.
Vicki says people here will fill in the blanks with what they know about the group you’ve self-identified. Since what they know is pretty clearly ‘not much’ that would generally be called ‘stereotyping’ and be considered un-scientific.
Since I used to teach experimental film, a field in which a major figure is a Crowley-ite, I’m guessing that’s the source of your spelling of ‘magick’. And to be fair to the skeptics, a major part of Crowley-ism, of being a magickian, is to confuse the audience, hide the trick, to not let on how much of what one professes is just theater. I get that as a kind of aesthetic move, but there’s a point where that runs out, which you apparently realize since your opposed to medical scams that lead people away from necessary medical treatment and perhaps to their death. But that’s going to be very hard for the folks who post here to parse, even if you cut down on the exclamatory punctuation.
Personally, even granting the theatrical parts, Crowleyism creeps me out and strikes me as pretty wacky with all the Astral Plane stuff. But I’ll take a pagan who wants people to take their meds over a board certified surgeon who thinks going to a medium is a valid form of therapy.
I might also take a sensible pagan (yes, we arts and humanities types embrace oxymorons; it’s a trope, folks) over someone who thinks, “I believe in the power of the human will to be able to change certin outcomes, just based on the pure will of the individual.” and “I never said the will by itself could do anything!” are necessarily contradictory. Again, you probably confused things with your use of the word ‘just’, but I took your meaning to be that the will can provide that ‘something extra’ that tips the scales from one outcome to another, assuming an underlying set of enabling conditions. Or, in pop culture terms: Knute Rockne’s observation, “I’ve found that prayers work best when you have big players.” I don’t happen to believe in prayer or will at all myself, but that’s another discussion.
Can you say more about the lightbulb trick? Does it work with dimmers? Three-way switches? Can you reset breakers without going down to the basement, because that WOULD be cool. 🙂

I think that sometimes, it helps just to have someone to talk to, whether it’s a therapist, a medium, or your cat. If a medium is genuinely taking on the role of “listener” for someone, who are we to say it “doesn’t count” as therapy?

I see it when I do divination, usually when reading the cards for someone — the cards do nothing but provide a launching pad for a psychological journey. I, personally, have delved into some pretty interesting psychological depths with people who have asked me to read for them. The cards? The “divination”? The “medium”? It’s all psychodrama.

A lot Jay’s comments sound like they come from the depths of an ether binge.

Having gone through a few quarts in my time, I wouldn’t recommend that one rely on Thompson’s description any more than the adrenochrome story.

that crazy guy on FOX (I refuse to use his name).

You’re going to have to narrow it down a bit, at least…

Too bad Dr. Dean Edell retired. Although his rants on the Pope were tiresome, he was a good voice of reason. I miss him.

I guess to some the truth is tiresome. I loved Dr. Dean, met him quite a few times at different events for KGO Radio.

Can you say more about the lightbulb trick? Does it work with dimmers? Three-way switches? Can you reset breakers without going down to the basement, because that WOULD be cool. 🙂

I can reset breakers without going down to the basement (mainly because I don’t have a basement, or an attic for that matter, but I do have to go outside in the rain to reset them sometimes. ;.> )

Next time, on ‘Doctor’ Oz:
Gene Ray will present his revolutionary theories on the Time Cube, and why we’re all educated stupid.

WMDKitty@58: Years ago, I went through a Spiritualism phase and even completed some training as a medium (I was never any good at it, though). I saw plenty of mediumship displays in small Spiritualist churches and gatherings, and I agree that they often served as a form of therapy.
But they also served a role for the mediums as well. The mediums I saw at work, two or three times a week, were usually women and often poor and uneducated and not exactly bright. But, as mediums they had status and importance in their community, plus a sense of self-worth and a modicum of independence.
In that setting, ‘speaking to the dead’ was indeed a psychodrama, where both audience and medium knew their respective roles and played then out; the audiences were almost wholly regular ‘congregants’ who went every week to speak to their dead loved ones, much as they would pay regular visits to a grave. And I never saw or heard anything in these meetings that I would now judge to be psychologically harmful.
Such meetings, of course, were completely different from TV appearances by celebrity psychics today. They’re nothing to do with therapy or psychodrama – just cynical exercises in making money off the grief-stricken.


Why do you expect me to disregard what you say? Do you disregard what I and other atheists say, just because we’re atheists.

I think you are wrong about religion. That doesn’t mean I think you’re dishonest, or that you are necessarily unreliable on other topics. The woman I love believes in God. She knows I don’t. It’s not a problem.

I think Orac believes in God. I’m not sure, because it’s not relevant to most of what we talk about here.

Vicki, Eirinn go Brach, first of all. No I do not disregard what atheists have to say, just because they’re atheists. Many are incredibly bright and curious, which I love.

Perhaps I am a bit sensitive in that area, because for the past few years I have been exposed to a fair amount of atheist teens (who my kids drag home) and to their parents. The teens in particular say demeaning things about faith and religion, in my own home, behavior which seems condoned by their parents. My children would never act smug, superiour, or insulting in the home of a non believer. I’d smack them upside the head if I heard about it (okay, not really). I know that teens can be hard to control, but there is a lack of respect in the half dozen or so that I’ve met. Maybe it’s just a bad bunch.

@ Otis: I bet the posters here come from traditional religious backgrounds and many of us have held on to our religious faith. But, we are skeptics when it comes to alternative medicine practitioners, internet purveyors of supplements…and celebrity experts. Most of them have no training in research or the medical sciences; their woo is so easy to pick apart.

What is especially irksome to us are the celebrity MDs who have had excellent training and credentialing in their specialties who base their practice of medicine on alternative anecdotal information and who “run with” the charlatans, providing them a slot on their TV shows…all with the proviso to show “the other side of a scientific debate”.

IMO, anyone who seeks celebrity and financial gain by preying on the religious beliefs of people who have suffered a loss is the lowest form of life. Your point of view is valued here and you will need your belief system for the most heroic task of all…bringing up teenagers (been there, done that).

I hope you enjoyed your St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

What is the harm in faith healing?

Look, I am not religious, but if the disease is causing stress and anxiety, what’s the harm in faith healing if it helps that. In fact, if you can blunt the stress response, you can increase immunity.

Ok, ok, I am walking on thin ice once again, but I think faith healing could be powerful for certain individuals, but in the case of a serious disease, so-called faith isn’t likely to bring a fix. But if someone wants to take that approach even in the face of something like cancer, shouldn’t that ultimately be their decision?

I didn’t see the show, and I didn’t get to see the ayurvedic “woo” as you call it, but nevertheless, don’t dis my Neti Pot!

Note: I do not expect to make friends here. 🙂

“Live prayer takes on recent Saddleback Church speaker Dr. Oz and his friend John Edward”

“John Edward is a fraud, a fast talking con artist who preys on grief and pain people experience when they lose a loved one.

At best, Edward and those like him are highly polished carnival acts…”

Well said, my friend.

“… at worst, they are operating with demonic powers.”

Oh, dear.

@ Anonymous: Thanks for the link; it provided me with the name of Jeanne Dixon…I must revise my retrieval techniques from my brain store of trivia and minutiae.

Long before Sylvia Browne achieved celebrity and before John Edward was even born, Dixon received adulation from a gullible audience. She used to make the (early) TV show tours with so many predictions about world events…that her accuracy rate was never questioned. She was raised as a Catholic and wore a huge gold cross that would put the pope and today’s rap artists to shame.

Dogma in Christian churches hasn’t changed as I recall from my childhood religious instructions; communicating with the dead was either a scam or “the work of the devil.”

communicating with the dead was either a scam or “the work of the devil.”

Or a scam run by the devil 🙂

There is no devil, only God when he’s drunk

Tom Waits – Heart Attack and Vine

@lilady; thank you for your post. Today in fact, I am calling upon all my strength in trying not to worry to death about my son, who doesn’t listen so well. I appreciate your comments.

I too have a major problem with alternative medicine. My sister is an alternative medicine consultant; mainly homeopathy. When I (carefully) told her my concerns, mainly that there is absolutely no science supporting the benefits of homeopathy, she told me that she believes “quantum physics” is at play. Huh? Meaning I guess, that because I don’t understand quantum physics, which in truth I don’t, I can’t understand homeopathy and how it works. Sadly, I must only wish her success in her work, even though I think it’s all a scam. So many people around me buy into it, so I appreciate that I found this blog site.

Otis, all teenagers have “selective” hearing…or they say yes and then…

See Orac’s other posts about homeopathyy practitioners and their use of “quantum” and other “sciency” words.

Physics was not one of my favorite courses, but my husband is fascinated with the TV series “Through the Worm Hole”…he has all the programs on DVD. It explains and incorporates quantum physics in a (relatively) simple fashion.

I have no clue how I got from reading science articles @nytimes online to your blog—perhaps some pesky spirits at work.

I have seen John Edward and several other mediums. I did it out of pure desperation, suffering, like almost everyone around me in the audience, from the endless and excruciating pain of having just lost a child. As a participant I had several reactions to Mr. Edward. He is a stunning family therapist–let go of your baggage, it doesn’t go over to the other side; issues are unresolved but all is forgiven; your pain is real but your loved one is safe and happy. He sets the rules and limits–don’t argue with me or you can leave if you want, which immediately creates a paternal image of power–we are told to trust. He is distracted by the people who respond with “my aunt’s younger sister’s second husband’s first wife had a name that started with the letter S” but continues like a divining rod until he gets to a hot spot. He does read the body language, the sudden gasp, the moisture that begins to trickle into the eyes of the beholder.

I am a therapist, a writer and scientist at heart, but all I wanted was for him to point to ME and tell me that my son was talking to me. If Mr. Edward could communicate with my son, maybe, in some crazy way, my son was alive and talking, but I just couldn’t hear.

I heard him make statements to others that seemed unbelievable but for the families “receiving” these messages, for just a moment, they could suspend the reality of their losses.

Theater is the suspension of disbelief (were the Klingons or the Borg really going to attack Earth!) and maybe Mr. Edward is just powerful theater. But the overwhelming desire to have relief from pain, physical or psychological, makes people do strange things. In my mind, and heart, could Mr. Edward’s readings be any less true the banging on my door when the police came to tell me the news?

So the saddest part of your essay was not about Dr. Oz. He is a businessman and we can choose to buy his product or not.

It was about all the people calling for tickets, hungry for something they could not seem to find.

And on a lighter note, I did have a client tell me that she had gone to see a psychic who, she reported, said the same things I did. She ended therapy for awhile for more other worldly pursuits. And she did come back.


Hi Sandy: I’ve viewed your posting several times today…and was searching for words to reach out to you; I too lost a child six years ago at age 28, but had and continue to have a wonderful support system. The pain at times was unbearable but it does lessen somewhat and he is as close to me as my next thought.

I found your first hand experience at the John Edward show to be very interesting. We “sometimes” get raucous on this blog, but I hope that you will continue to visit here.

It is incredible what the powerful establishment can do to some underdeveloped brains.
Really, some need study more than others. And, of course, travel and see what other less advanced cultures than us can do.
I do not know how I dare to try talking to bricks.

“In a letter to producers of “The Dr. Oz” show [APA’s Katherine] Nordal said, “I provided very balanced responses to Dr. Oz’s questions during the show’s taping, however, the editing of my responses did not capture my full comments or give viewers an accurate portrayal of my professional view on John Edward’s methods. Instead, it seems that ‘The Doctor Oz’ show intentionally edited my responses in a way that gave the appearance of my endorsement of Edward’s methods as a legitimate intervention.”

TV Skeptic: The medium and Oz

It is incredible what the powerful establishment (which one?) can do to some underdeveloped (in what regard?) brains (whose?)


Really, some (who?) need study (of what?) more than others (who?). And, of course, travel (to where?) and see what other less advanced cultures (which ones?) than us can do (in what field?).


I do not know how I dare to try talking to bricks.

Bricks respond better if you provide more details.  As it is, I deduce that you are criticizing the rational commenters on this site, as opposed to those deceived by faith healers, but only because of the reference to less advanced cultures, which is kind of a “tell”. But that’s about as far as I can go in responding to your factless slur. 

Hmm, my comment didn’t have those extra returns in preview. But then, I got this error on submission, even though the comment went through:

Ocurrió un error

Petición no válida
Ir atrás

Anonymous @77

I am not surprised. Pam Ronald of the Tommorow’s Table blog on Science Blogs had a similar experience with Dr OZ when she debated a whackaloon from the Natural Law Party (the political wing of the Transcendental Meditation Cult) about GM Crops.

I had a chance to plug some great science-based, academic, non-profit sites (bioforitifed,org, and but all of my case specific examples (reduced insecticide use in GE cotton fields, enhanced biodiversity, disease resistant papaya, Golden rice) were cut from the TV version. I guess the producers did not want to mix too much scientific evidence in there with the fantastical stuff.

to LW comment 79. I may be out of line, but I think your comment was a peticion muy valida.

To Sandy and Lilady, my heart goes out to both of you and to anyone who has experienced such a huge loss. I’m sure it’s not easy to write about, and I want to thank you for sharing what you do. You are looked at with awe and respect because you have held yourselves together and go on, despite the pain. God be with both of you.

to LW, the other day, my service provider called and said that my computer had a bot. I don’t know where I got it, but I’d hate to think it was this website. I had to install everything fresh.

Otis, I assumed the odd message had something to do with the ongoing DDoS attack. I’m commenting from an iPad, which I thought would be too locked-down to acquire any malware.

Sandy, thank you. I too am sorry for your loss.

Thanks Militant Agnostic and Anonymous for the links. We at RI aren’t the only ones who are watching Dr. Oz’s choice of guests and the “selective” editing.

When Oprah fawns over a physician or a psychologist (Dr. Phil), it is a powerful force. You know you have reached stardom, when you get your own TV show.

I wonder if there is room now for other celebrity doctors…Gordon, Mercola….on the Oprah Network.

h/t Otis, and thanks.

@ Militant Agnostic: Oops I posted a reply to you just now at the “Reiki is a sin blog”.

sadmar @ # 55: … what television celebrity does.

What television per se does. Shallowness and bias are inherent in the medium, both technologically and economically – just about anything that draws eyeballs thrives, and the rest is tertiary. When this reaches the point where entire subcultures are defined by their entertainments (and their entertainments by advertisers) over multiple generations, the f/x & calculated manipulation accumulating steadily over the decades … well, it ain’t pretty.

Reality-based epistemologies are irrelevant to the exact degree that you set your mental priorities on The Screen (be it a 64-incher or some iToy). I don’t follow the stats on this, but don’t most “Westerners” spend well over half their “leisure” time watching packaged amusements?

TV may still be the dominant medium politically and culturally, with the Net steadily gaining. Both tend primarily (yes, with visible exceptions) to favor low-content short-attention-span information: following the full chain of cause and effect, as required IRL, is to violate the 1st Law, “Thou shalt not bore.”

When the jumps in the story move along guided (mostly) for dramatic effect, non sequiturs become the norm. Combine that with ads, strong political influences, more ads, various sacred cows, plus some ads, and the broadcast media in particular become sound-&-picture hash. The “news” shows being even more cubist than anything except the ads, what we now call connecting the dots becomes a matter of personal preference. Every word that becomes a buzzword rapidly empties of semantic meaning and is refilled with emotive charge, which in turn drains away leaving only cognitive ozone.

Without doing any field research (nor having lived under the same roof with a tube for decades), I beg to hypothesize that those who watch Ozprah-type shows are those most addicted to gaudy eyeball candy, the type produced by hypercompetitive market pressures. Considered as a drug, TV would be categorized as addictive, hallucinogenic, depressive, and so on through the DSM and Marx’s notion of opiates. (I also hypothesize that funding for corporate media-dependence research will tend to lag even as the affected demographics & correlated pathologies increase.)

For a growing plurality of social purposes, reality isn’t even a consensus delusion any more – except within delineated market categories. How could anything but the grossest woo survive in an environment simultaneously selecting for escapism and raw Machiavellianism? Without adequate mental hygiene, parasitism spreads across our cultural petri dish while the bodies in Japan/Haiti/Afghanistan/Iraq/Congo/Colombia/Libya/Burma/Palestine/Pakistan/Cote d’Ivoire/Chechnya/… magically disappear from Our Screens.

Once again, we can now see that Philip K. Dick warned us about this…

[Ye gawds. One mention of B**dr*ll*rd and I get all pseudo-Sorbonne … G’night, y’all…]

Militant Agnostic, I remembered what happened to Pam Ronald, but I wasn’t aware of the TM tie-in.

Don’t know if you’ve seen this; it’s a video that was forced off of Youtube by the David Lynch Foundation.

The light bulb thing I was referring to is it is an act of will to turn on a light bulb. First you decide to do it. Therefore, you will that the light be on. Then you get up, walk over, and flip on the switch. Now the light is on! Not everything about magic is MYSTICAL!! It simply means a change in the enviorment made by a person who willed it so and took the steps nesscery to make it occur. Clearer now?

Better yet, replace the word will with want, if that makes better sense to you.

Clear as mud, Anglachel. At this point you’ve made it sound as though “magic” is just a synonym for “human action,” and not one we need. Even if you distinguish deliberately turning a light on from doing so automatically first thing in the morning (or a sleepwalker turning a light on at 3 a.m.), I see no magic.

Not everything about magic is MYSTICAL!!

I’ll take mysticism over magic any day. And mystification is worse than either of those.

“Life is magic, and magic is an illusion. So life is an illusion! Thank you”

(best if done in the voice of Doug Henning)

In actuality, what’s going on here, I think, is more likely to be pure hubris.

With respect doctor, might I suggest you run a full workup for indications of pathological greed, with metastasis to the conscience.

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