Medicine Politics Quackery Television

America’s Quack Dr. Oz and the failure of medical academia, revisited

It’s Election Day. Worse, it’s quite possible that America’s Quack Dr. Mehmet Oz could be Senator-Elect Oz by tomorrow. He was helped by a profound failure of medical academia in general and Columbia University in particular.

Election Day is finally here. By tonight or tomorrow, it’s quite possible that something I never would have dreamed of a decade ago (or even a couple of years ago) will have come to pass. America’s Quack Dr. Mehmet Oz might well be Senator-Elect Oz from Pennsylvania, because the polling as of today for his race against the Democrat John Letterman is too close to call. Never mind that Oz has spent his life since the 1980s in New Jersey and run his practice and The Dr. Oz Show from Manhattan, only moving to his in-laws’ house in Pennsylvania when his ambition led him to think that he could be a U.S. Senator. If Dr. Oz wins, he will join Rand Paul as the a quack turned Senator.

Longtime readers will remember that back in the heyday of the time when this blog was on ScienceBlogs I often referred to Dr. Mehmet Oz, who, I would admit, had at one time been a promising academic cardiac surgeon with dozens of good quality papers to his name as well as one major patent, as “America’s Quack.” I don’t know whether I coined the term or not, given that adding the term “quack” was a very obvious riff on the title of “America’s Doctor” bestowed on him by Oprah and that Dr. Oz even trademarked the term “America’s Doctor,” but it sure feels like it. The reasons were many but mainly centered on how Oz had turned into an advocate of “integrating” quackery into medicine (i.e., “integrative medicine“) and, after having become Oprah Winfrey’s go-to physician for dubious medicine, was rewarded by her with his own daytime “medical” talk show host (and I use the term” medical” loosely).

I last wrote about Dr. Oz less than a month ago, when I lumped him in with Dr. Joseph Ladapo, another academic physician turned quack turned government flack, specifically using both of them as examples of how medical academia had failed medicine by tolerating such purveyors of medical misinformation. So why revisit Dr. Oz so soon, other than because today is Election Day and I hope fervently that he loses? The reason is that I just so happened to come across an article in the The Eye by Megan Lunny entitled How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mehmet? The Eye is the online magazine of The Columbia Daily Spectator, and thus a publication of Columbia University, where until recently Dr. Oz had been a professor of surgery and vice chair in its department of surgery. The reason this article caught my attention is that it argues much the same thing that I have argued: Columbia University has long been complicit in boosting Dr. Oz’s career and supporting his promotion of quackery on The Dr. Oz Show over the years and, if Dr. Oz becomes Sen. Oz, will have played a significant role in that unfortunate development as well.

Columbia University: Enabling Dr. Oz

One complaint that I’ve long had regarding Dr. Oz and his relationship with Columbia University is how his affiliation provided him a patina of scientific respectability, even after he had embraced quackery as part of his quest to promote “integrative medicine” and then even later, after he had become a TV personality promoting snake oil. Lunny notes early in the article:

Throughout the election cycle, Columbia has stayed silent on Oz, whose campaign office did not respond to requests for comment. But the University has also gone further, quietly scrubbing Oz from its webpages and directories in what has struck many as a secretive attempt at disaffiliation. The recent changes come after years of criticism of Columbia by the medical community for maintaining ties to Oz despite his promotion of pseudoscience and misinformation on his influential talk show.

Now, for the first time since the surgeon rose to fame in the early aughts, the University might finally be distancing itself from Oz. But the belated and bizarre manner in which it has set about the task, and the context of Oz’s Trump-endorsed Republican Senate run in Pennsylvania, raises questions about whether the University is trying to erase its long history of enabling Oz.

I discussed this very occurrence earlier this year, noting too how Oz had quietly disappeared from a lot of university-affiliated websites. Noting that just over a year ago, not long before he announced his Senate candidacy, Dr. Oz had been teaching cardiac anatomy to medical students—including his own son, who was a second year medical student at Columbia—at at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Lunny goes on to ask:

So, what was a talk show host doing at Columbia just one year ago, teaching medical students about the anatomy of the heart? Who is Dr. Oz—both at Columbia and outside of the University gates—and why, only now, might the University be trying to erase public ties to him?

It’s not as though Dr. Oz’s continued affiliation with Columbia after he had become so well known for promoting dubious medical advice, dietary quackery, and even outright quackery on his TV show didn’t ruffle some feathers:

Indeed, for more than a decade, Oz’s Columbia ties have long been a source of confusion and frustration for many doctors and academics, according to Arthur Caplan, GSAS ’73, GSAS ’75, GSAS ’79, the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty professor of bioethics at New York University. Caplan says that many in the field wonder why Columbia did not cut ties much earlier and more decisively. “I think, inside baseball, many doctors of academic centers are aware that he’s on the Columbia faculty and feel angry about it,” Caplan said.

And, technically, Dr. Oz still is Columbia faculty, as when he left the university earlier this year he left as an emeritus professor, a title often granted to long serving faculty who retire or step back to a part time role. (Indeed, I hope that when I finally retire my department will let me do so as an emeritus given that I will have been with the department at least 20 years by that time.)

What’s interesting about this article is that it goes back to Dr. Oz’s early years at Columbia. Interestingly, it’s not as straightforward as you might think to find out much about these earlier years, beyond the hagiography and Dr. Oz’s self-promoting narrative. In fairness, it is clear that, after starting a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Columbia in 1986 after having graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Oz quickly distinguished himself as a a promising surgeon and academic researcher. It’s not for nothing that I have over the years described him during his early career as a resident in the 1980s through his early academic career in the 1990s as a rising star in academic surgery. He was definitely that, as Tully notes:

Oz first came to CUIMC as a cardiothoracic surgeon in 1986 after receiving his medical degree, along with an MBA, from the University of Pennsylvania. Mentors and colleagues who knew Oz during his first years at Columbia have recalled him as a gifted surgeon. Sharp-minded and energetic, Oz was a prolific contributor to research in his field. He is listed as an author of hundreds of articles on heart transplantation, surgical techniques, and ventricular assist devices published during his first ten years at the hospital and in 1989 co-developed a since-abandoned patent application on a new method of welding tissue.

Of note, on his old Columbia Department of Surgery webpage (archive here), it used to say that Dr. Oz had as a resident won the prestigious Blakemore Research Award four years in a row, from 1988-1991, but a perusal of the actual Blakemore website shows him as only having won it once, in 1991. (Maybe someone more familiar with the prize can explain this discrepancy to me.) It’s still a very prestigious award, and I noticed a fair number of names that I recognized on the list of winners since the 1980s. It makes me wonder if there are second and third place prizes, but, then, none are listed on the website.

In any event, back in the day cardiothoracic residencies were at least seven years, five years of general surgery followed by 2-3 years of cardiothoracic surgery residency, three if a research year was elected. (Today there are six year integrated programs that decrease the general surgery component.) That means that the earliest that Dr. Oz could have finished his residency was 1993, although he very likely did take the research year and didn’t finish until 1994. (I can’t find a good source that states when he finished his residency., and most residency websites don’t go back past around 2000.) Whenever Dr. Oz actually finished his residency and joined the surgical staff of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, he rose rapidly. For example, in 1994 Dr. Oz was awarded a Florence and Herbert Irving scholarship at Columbia to study patients’ quality of life, and the same year he co-founded with registered nurse Gerard C. Whitworth the Complementary Care Center at Columbia Presbyterian to study diet, meditation and hypnosis, and manual therapies like massage and energy medicine. It was around this time that Dr. Oz started to make news for letting reiki masters into his operating room to do reiki on his patients before he started his surgeries. Interestingly, Lunny reports something that I had not previously known before about this part of Dr. Oz’s history:

A prospective program, the center never appeared in any official listings with CUIMC, where it was housed, and did not receive University funding. Whitworth and Oz’s initial goal for the center was to produce a substantial enough body of research to make a strong plea for funding from Columbia. In the meantime, Whitworth invested $100,000 of his personal wealth into the center, in addition to receiving some donor funding, he told the New Sun in 1999.

Oz’s tenure at the center was characterized by his relentless efforts to garner media attention for the nascent research program. Monique Class, who worked at the center as a family nurse practitioner, told Vox in 2015 that Oz’s infatuation with the media undermined the center’s operations. According to Class, Oz frequently did not prepare for consultations and would ask for case information when he wanted to be recorded with a patient by a visiting camera crew.

“He was always acting,” Class told Vox about Oz.

Oz was always acting even as a freshly minted heart surgeon? Quelle surprise, as I like to say. Also, consistent with his later career, in which a famous and/or wealthy patron promoted him, even back in 1994, Dr. Oz was relying on money and the spotlight from those with money in order to promote himself and his work.

As Julia Belluz reported in 2015:

It wasn’t uncommon, Class said, for Oz to say some version of the following to her or to the other employees: “Give me a patient because the cameras are coming in, and tell me what I need to know.”

Class said, “He was always acting. He didn’t know this patient. He was not connected to this patient. We’d give him a two- or three-minute sound byte and he’d sit there in front of the cameras like he’d done this work and had this deep connection.”

It rather sounds as though, even 25+ years ago, Dr. Oz was training to be a TV personality.

It’s particularly interesting to read this New York Times account of Dr. Oz’s activities from 1995 through the lens of what has happened since. In the account, Dr. Oz was described—nauseatingly—as “probably the most accomplished 35-year-old cardiothoracic surgeon in the country,” although in fairness, by all accounts he was really, really good back then. Indeed, he was quite extraordinary, with a patent for an organ transplant preservation solution and two more patents pending, including one for an aortic valve that can be implanted without open-heart surgery. By 1995 he had contributed chapters to eight books, written 56 abstracts and 135 papers, while performing 250 heart operations a year. These accomplishments led the reporter to gush:

Mehmet Oz is one of those rare beings who seem incapable of sloth. “He’s doing a heart transplant right now,” his secretary says on the phone, “and he’s got a double-lung transplant waiting, and those are in addition to his two regularly scheduled open hearts, and then at 3 he’s supposed to fly to Boston to deliver a lecture.” So exceptional is Oz’s energy that some of his colleagues use him as a benchmark, correlating their own vitality as a fraction of a “full Mehmet unit.”

The problem with Dr. Oz in the mid-1990s wasn’t so much his surgical skills, his research or his work ethic. All appeared stellar. Rather, it was his embrace of quackery even then, an embrace that the NYT reported portrayed as brave and groundbreaking, as this account of his surgery on a woman named Joyce Donadio:

At the invitation of Oz and his patient, there were two other people on hand in surgical gowns and masks: a second-year medical student named Sally Smith, stationed at Donadio’s feet, and a 52-year-old healer named Julie Motz, who was standing at Donadio’s head. As volunteers in Oz’s Cardiac Complementary Care Center, they worked for free through the operation, seldom moving except to reposition their hands. As Oz requested sutures and clamps and units of lidocaine, Motz called softly to Smith to move her hands from the small toe of Donadio’s right foot to a point on the sole known as “the bubbling spring.”

What they were doing no one else in the operating room knew how to do, or had ever seen done during a coronary bypass, or had ever thought worth doing, even as an experiment. In this ultimate theater of scientific medicine, the women were using their hands as kings once did to treat subjects with scrofula and as Jesus is said to have done and as shamans and mothers and Chinese qi-gong practitioners still do. They were using their hands to run a kind of energy, which science cannot prove exists, into Donadio’s “kidney meridian,” which also may or may not exist.

I will give the reporter some credit. Whether he realized it or not, he did “get” the essence of reiki, which is that it is faith healing—a laying on of hands—that substitutes Asian mysticism for the Judeo-Christian beliefs that undergird faith healing in the US and Europe. The problem is that this realization was not treated as a bad thing—quite the contrary. Also, kidney meridians do not exist.

Similarly, the belief in alternative medicine led Dr. Oz to do clinical studies whose glaring flaws—I hope—even my readers can spot:

They obtained the consent of 22 patients scheduled for surgery at the hospital. Nine were designated a control group; the remaining 13 were taught self-hypnosis. The instructors focused on helping the patients to relax their jaw and throat muscles in hopes of lessening the stress of having a breathing tube inserted down the throat. They suggested that the patients try to extend their hypnotic state to the surgery itself, in essence to program themselves to minimize their bleeding, maintain normal blood pressure and, in some unknown, subliminal way, reduce their experience of pain and discomfort. After their operations, the patients were to concentrate on healing quickly. The goal was to see how hypnosis changed the patients’ quality of life — an outcome Oz and his colleagues assessed by having patients check off their levels of stress and depression on a standard psychological-mood inventory.

The results, which Oz hopes to publish in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, suggest that patients who were taught self-hypnosis were significantly less tense after the operation than patients who didn’t have the training. Their scores for depression and fatigue were also lower.

Can you say no blinding? Can you say no control for placebo effects?Sure, I knew you could. Never mind, though. Dr. Oz was a brave maverick, even in 1995:

Oz wasn’t interested in leading a revolution. Many notable doctors from Bernie Siegel to Deepak Chopra had been advocating alternative therapies for years. Dean Ornish’s pioneering program to reverse heart disease through exercise, a vegetarian diet and daily meditation is now so respectable that a dozen insurance companies have embraced it as a viable alternative to bypass surgery. If there were new approaches that might improve the quality of life of cardiac patients, Oz was willing to raise some eyebrows to evaluate them and do what he could to nudge a major medical center in new directions. More than willing — he felt ethically obliged.

Because of course he did.

But back to the question of how Columbia could have or should have solved a problem like Dr. Oz.

Dr. Oz vs. The Wizard of Oz

America’s Quack, or: The Oz problem

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about the quackery promoted on his show, and I’m not just talking his dubious diet supplements. I’m also talking quackery as bad as The One Quackery To Rule Them All (homeopathy) and even faith healing, as well as the promotion of the antivaccine views of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and even psychic scammers like John Edward and Theresa Caputo. In addition, he’s promoted unproven (and almost certainly nonexistent) links between cell phones and breast cancerGMO fear mongering,  By 2014, Dr. Oz’s reputation for quackery had gotten so bad that he was increasingly facing less than adoring press and was hauled before Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) committee for his unscrupulous boosterism for unproven weight loss supplements, where he was soundly humbled. All of this happened long before the pandemic hit. Indeed, Dr. Oz even once had Mike Adams—yes, that Mike Adams, founder of Natural News!—as a guest on his show.

There was also the dishonest and biased treatment of actual experts who made the mistake of agreeing to be on The Dr. Oz Show. Lunny reports about one aspect of Dr. Oz’s grift with which I had not been familiar:

In the fall of 2012, Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam and Dr. Martina Newell-McGloughlin appeared on The Dr. Oz Show. Both highly accredited, well-respected researchers, Van Eenennaam and Newell-McGloughlin were aware of the show’s record of scientific delinquency, especially when it came to their own fields: Oz had been waging a campaign against genetically modified organisms for years despite scientific consensus contradicting his claims of the overwhelming harms of GMOs. Van Eenennaam worried that an appearance by a pair of scientists might confer legitimacy on what she considered “a science-fiction show,” but when producers reached out to her and McGloughlin saying that Oz intended to host a good-faith debate about the effects of GMOs, they agreed to appear.

However, during initial conversations, it became apparent that the show’s producers had misrepresented its intentions. The show had arranged for the anti-GMO side of the debate to be represented by CEO of organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm Gary Hirshberg, who bore no scientific credentials. What Hirshberg did have, however, was a vested financial and political interest in an upcoming California referendum on GMO labeling. Oz, too, had a financial interest at stake; his show was sponsored by a number of organic food companies, and his wife Lisa Oz, was actively involved in campaigning for GMO labeling in the California referendum.

I say again: Quelle surprise. It turns out that behavior like this on his TV show was very much of a piece with his academic behavior, which in retrospect strikes me as a warmup for his TV grift. Perhaps the most disturbing issue to me has been the recently revealed scandal about mistreatment of animals in Dr. Oz’s research program at Columbia. First, by around 2000, the first iteration of Dr. Oz’s Cardiac Complementary Care Center shut down due to disagreements between Whitworth and Oz, but that didn’t stop Dr. Oz, who just Oz rebranded the program as the Cardiovascular Institute and Integrative Medicine Program, and continued it under CUIMC.


During the time that Oz operated the center, he was implicated in a research scandal in which Columbia paid a $2,000 settlement to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a series of studies in which the USDA alleged that dogs and primates were mistreated, with some dogs injected with expired drugs. The incident has recently resurfaced on Twitter, where posts denouncing Oz, who was the principal investigator on the studies, as a “puppy killer” abound, and in campaign ads against Oz. Such language contains a degree of exaggeration: As a PI, it is unclear whether Oz was involved in the daily operations of these studies, although PETA records claim that Oz had direct physical involvement in carrying out research on the dogs. Despite the alleged animal abuse and the USDA lawsuit against the University, Oz and others published findings from the studies in five papers between 2007 and 2009.

In the years that followed the incident, the National Institute of Health declined to fund Oz’s research. By the end of 2007, the Integrative Medicine Program was absent from the list of Vagelos and CUIMC centers, departments, and programs in Columbia’s annual report, though it had previously appeared in this list every year since its creation, and never returned to the list. For years to come, however, Oz’s name, appearing in media publications, would be accompanied by the title of co-founder and director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Integrative Medicine Program, although the program had apparently gone defunct.

When I first heard of this incident, my first reaction was simple. When you are principal investigator (PI) of a grant, you are responsible for everything about the research in that grant. If the animals were mistreated or had substandard veterinary care as part of that research, you are responsible, period. It matters not one whit if you ever personally had any contact with the animals. You are responsible. The attempts by Dr. Oz and his apologists absolve Dr. Oz of responsibility for the treatment of the dogs are, quite simply, dishonest. Personally, I was shocked that Columbia was. only fined $2,000. That’s not even a slap on the wrist.

Despite Dr. Oz’s fall after such a promising start to a career in academic surgery in the 1990s, Columbia nonetheless stuck by him. Tully notes that even after two unsuccessful research programs, and accusations of animal abuse, Dr. Oz nonetheless continued his rise at Columbia, where he was appointed the vice-chairman of the department of surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia. Moreover, after his show started, Columbia apparently accommodated him with a much less rigorous clinical load. in 2010, Dr. Oz was still operating on as many as 200 patients a year. However, three years later he was only performing one operation per week.

Even after Dr. Oz’s promotion of quackery and embarrassment on national TV in front of Sen. McCaskill’s committee, the relationship continued:

In the years that followed, Oz continued to be entrenched in the University, not only on an academic level but in the University’s public presentation.

Between 2014 and 2018, Oz appeared in at least five promotional videos for the Department of Surgery. In 2021, Vagelos included him on a diversity panel; on October 19, 2021, a Facebook post shows him attending a showing of Moulin Rouge with “a dozen” other Columbia faculty members. In 2021, the University was also still advertising Oz as one of CUIMC’s “prominent faculty” on admissions pages.

And, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Oz went on Fox News and misleadingly suggested that he was initiating a study at Columbia about hydroxychloroquine—the anti-malarial drug that Trump touted, without evidence, as a COVID-19 treatment. He offered the University a donation of 2,070 doses of hydroxychloroquine, along with $250,000 to fund a study of the drug, which the University eventually declined.

Yes, Dr. Oz did indeed promote COVID-19 misinformation early in the pandemic. He latched onto Didier Raoult’s poor quality studies promoting hydroxychloroquine as a cure (or at least highly effective treatment) for COVID-19. He was forced to apologize for having suggested that reopening schools was a “very appetizing” opportunity because it was estimated that it would “only” increase the number of COVID-19 deaths by 2-3%. And yet Columbia apparently only finally moved to severe ties with Dr. Oz after he had announced his plans to run for the Senate in Pennsylvania. All the previous scandals didn’t lead to at least a questioning of whether it was a good idea to keep Dr. Oz on its faculty or not. I don’t know if he had tenure (although I assume that he did), but there’s one thing about tenure in medical academia. It doesn’t mean nearly as much as it does for other academia, mainly because tenure only guarantees a physician’s academic salary and most academic physicians’ salaries derive more from clinical revenue than from their universities.

What the Dr. Oz story does demonstrate is what I’ve been talking about all along. Universities are far too tolerant of faculty who promote pseudoscience. After quoting a physician complaining about how Columbia had “enabled” Dr. Oz, Tully notes:

Some maintain that the University should have pressured him to resign, if not dismissed him outright. Allyse, who has called Oz a prime example of the loopholes in the medical profession’s ability to self-regulate, said that she would not have expected Oz to “do the right thing” and resign from Columbia. “I do think I would have expected Columbia to generate enough pressure. And so the fact that either they didn’t try, or they didn’t try hard enough—or Dr. Oz just has a really good lawyer, I don’t know—but there’s ways in which Columbia could have made known that they didn’t support him,” she added.

What this might have looked like in effect could have included challenging Oz on the disclosures that faculty are required to make to the University on outside commitments. Oz’s main external commitment, The Dr. Oz Show may have created conflicts in several categories that the University could have challenged him on: conflict of interest or of commitment, inappropriate use of the University name, and, above all, effect on academic judgment.

That’s one thing I never understood. The Dr. Oz Show was at least a half-time job; that is, if one assumes that the producers did most of the work and that Oz mainly just showed up to tape the show and did a small amount of prep work. It could easily have been a full time job, though, as Dr. Oz was clearly heavily involved in planning what his show would feature.

However many hours per week Dr. Oz put in doing his show, however, I was always gobsmacked that any university would continue to employ him as full time faculty, much less as vice chair of a major department when he had that extensive of an outside commitment, and a very profitable outside commitment at that! Meanwhile, his patient load had fallen to a very low level, and he wasn’t doing any significant research anymore. The three pillars of medical academia are teaching, research, and patient care. If you aren’t doing very much of two of them, then you’d better be doing a lot of the third. There’s little evidence, though, that Dr. Oz was doing any significant teaching during his years on TV, his yearly session teaching anatomy of the heart to medical students notwithstanding.

The beginnings of Dr. Oz the carpetbagging politician who embraced MAGAism in the name of power can be seen in the ambitious young surgeon of 30 years ago. The thirst for fame and power was there, as was the willingness to deny or distort reality, which has only gotten worse with time. While it’s easy to understand why Columbia supported Dr. Oz 30 years ago, given his track record then, it became harder and harder to understand as his performance as a rising star in academic surgery drifted further into memory, to be replaced first by the believer in reiki faith healing and other alternative medicine and then by America’s quack hosting a grifting TV show. Unfortunately, come January 1 he could well be the new Senator from Pennsylvania, and it couldn’t have happened without Columbia University’s support.

Even if that happens, he’ll still be America’s Quack, although maybe I’ll call him Senator America’s Quack.

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]

56 replies on “America’s Quack Dr. Oz and the failure of medical academia, revisited”

So who are the local officials who will have to meet with pregnant women and their doctors to discuss options, Mehmet.

Orac, tell us what you really think about Oz!
Of course, I jest.

However I looked at Oz’s campaign website and it’s truly horrendous. Just look. Let’s hope that 538’s predictions are wrong.
He lives in NJ: I wonder why he didn’t run there since they had an election in 2020?
This election is nearly as sickening as the BS I survey regularly.

There is more than one philosophy of medicine, and Orac seems to not be aware of this. If your philosophy is materialism/atheism, then you are absolutely certain that no other philosophy could possibly be in any way correct. All ancient methods of healing, to a materialist/atheist, absolutely must be fake.

Orac, and most of his loyal commenters here, are so immersed in this particular ideological perspective they can’t even see that it is an ideological perspective. Or that other valid perspectives exist.

I never saw Dr. Oz’s TV show since I don’t have a TV. But from reading this blog post, I got the sense that Dr. Oz decided surgery might not always be the best answer to heart disease. Yes, of course, sometimes it is needed to save lives. But it is much better to prevent it by correcting the deadly modern lifestyle that causes most heart disease (and other common diseases).

I am very glad that physicians like Dr. Oz had an influence on the medical profession. I am glad things like nutrition, exercise and meditation are now recommended by some MDs.

Orac seems to think drugs and surgery are the key to a healthy life. He obviously thinks meditation is stupid, and I am sure he has never experienced it himself. After all, meditation is an ancient practice and therefore must be useless.

Maybe he thinks nutrition and exercise can play a limited role in disease prevention. But it should not be the focus of modern medicine, which is the use of toxic drugs and surgery. The body has no natural wisdom or ability to heal itself, so we all depend on drugs and surgery to keep us alive past middle age.

Orac is typical of mainstream medicine today, sadly. I am glad there are doctors like Oz.

There is a wide world and there are philosophies other than materialism/atheism. And there are health practices that make sense that are natural and holistic. Yes, sometimes drugs and surgery are needed to save lives, but they should not be seen as the only path to health.

Atheism (or philosophy) is irrelevant here. Medicine works or it does not work

It is to some people, as it enables IR and her friends to frame this as an ideological disagreement. To them, labeling those who disagree with them as an ‘materialist/atheist’ is a way for them to disregard their arguments, without dealing with the issue.

It’s funny how much money people like Oz have made, despite not being materialist…

He obviously thinks meditation is stupid, and I am sure he has never experienced it himself. After all, meditation is an ancient practice and therefore must be useless.

I’ve never said that. Ever. Don’t believe me? Try to find an instance. The worst criticism I can recall ever having leveled at mediation is that its adherents often make overblown claims for it, which is true.

Maybe he thinks nutrition and exercise can play a limited role in disease prevention.

It depends on what you mean by “limited.” If “limited” means “is not the be-all and end-end all of disease prevention,” can’t protect you against vaccine-preventable disease as effectively as a vaccine,” and “can only go so far in delaying the onset of genetically determined diseases,” then, yes, I say their role is “limited.” However, as I’ve recounted on a number of occasions, both here and on Twitter, several years ago I realized that I’d gotten…large and, to put it charitably, out of shape. My weight was around 215 lbs and trending upward alarmingly. So I started an exercise program (mainly bike riding), seriously altered my diet, gave up alcohol almost completely, and as a result eventually lost over 50 lbs. (Granted, I didn’t do all that at once, but added interventions on top of each other over the last five years or so, but you get the idea.) About a year ago, I took up weight training in addition to my previous lifestyle interventions. Now, although no one would ever describe me as swole or jacked (nor do I want to be either), I’m a lot stronger and well-toned compared to even a year ago. In fact, although I’m a lot closer to Medicare age than I’d like to admit, I’m nonetheless now arguably in better shape than I’ve ever been. True, I’m not as thin as I was as a college student and young man, but I don’t want to be that thin. I was actually arguably too skinny back then.

An added benefit of my lifestyle interventions over the last few years, a result of losing all that weight and greatly boosting my cardiovascular fitness was managing to get completely off of one blood pressure medication that I had been taking and weaning the dose of the other drug to one-third of what it was back when I still weighed 215 lbs, when I was on a high dose of both drugs. If the diagnostic criteria for hypertension hadn’t been broadened, I would be off that drug altogether as well. As it is, though, my blood pressure off medications fell from ~160-165/100-105 to ~120-130/80-90. On my low dose of antihypertensive drug, it’s ~110-120/60-75. I show no signs of type II diabetes. Unfortunately, as I like to say, genetics can’t always be overcome by lifestyle; so I’ll probably have to continue to take the low dose of my current antihypertensive for the rest of my life, as I can’t lose much more weight without entering an unhealthy range, and I don’t know that increasing my weekly bicycling miles above the 40-50 mi/wk that I’m at will make much of a difference in my blood pressure, although I do want to increase my endurance to the point where I can pull off a 100 mile bike ride next summer.

Basically, if you’re accusing me of dismissing the health benefits of dietary changes and exercise, you really don’t know WTF you’re talking about. I’ve never done that, and in fact have embraced alterations in diet and lifestyle to greatly improve my health as I get older. You just don’t like that I have a realistic take on what the limits of those interventions happen to be compared to the magical claims made by someone like Dr. Oz.

I hate to tell you this, but encouraging sensible diet and increased levels of exercise have been standard issue medical practice over here (UK) as far back as I can remember.

And being as fit as the proverbial lop and eating healthily does not protect you from genetics; certainly didn’t for me, so bring on the “toxic medication”, thank you very much.

I spend about 1/3 of my day in clinic counseling patients about practical exercise and realistic nutrition practices.

” I got the sense that Dr. Oz decided surgery might not always be the best answer to heart disease. ”

Where did you get that? Dr Oz continued to do heart transplants long after he started his TV show. Heart transplants often aren’t about “didn’t do enough prevention” and more often are needed due to things like congenital malformation or damage caused by disease (including infectious disease).

Heart transplants are literal life or death surgery. Or rather, life and death surgery, since someone else had to die for that heart to become available. When a patient needs a heart transplant it is because everything else has failed (everything) and they are about to die. It has nothing to do with “medical philosophies”.

There is more than one philosphy of airtravel.
There are people who prefer science-based airtravel, by plane, helicopter or some other flying machine, perhaps an autogyro.
But one could also use a magic carpet, or try to fly by denieing gravity.

Yes, there are a number of “philosophies” to human health. Perhaps “approaches” would be a better term. Some are rational and some are not. Why should anyone pay any attention at all to those that are irrational?

I am very glad that physicians like Dr. Oz had an influence on the medical profession.

As ir and others of the same bent continue to show, quack is a hell of a drug.

NBC News has called the PA senate race for Fetterman, who is giving a victory speech as I type.

I just came here to pass on the same good news:

Tweet by John Letterman:

“It’s official. I will be the next U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.
We bet on the people of Pennsylvania – and you didn’t let us down
And I won’t let you down. Thank you.”

I literally jumped off my seat when I read it.

Sadly, Oz will likely go back to television and dispense his nonsense to his adoring public.

I doubt he would have taken to the Senate in any case, with all the other grandstanders in there.

Oz could decide he’s really from New Jersey after all and attempt a run for the U.S. Senate in 2024 to displace Bob Menendez* or whoever else might run on the Democratic side.

*he’s facing a new federal investigation.

Maybe, but TV itself is full of grandstanders and he rose to the top there: some would say he even surpassed the grandstander who launched his career on her show.

Sadly, Oz will likely go back to television and dispense his nonsense to his adoring public.

I doubt that; recall how he unceremoniously dumped his TV staff without warning or severance in order to run for office.

Oz is too high profile to be a target for the Big Pharma hit squad. For this job the Conspiracy (TM) had to covertly alter the election results. Oz won’t disappear but he may have to find a smaller pond to quack in.

By the way, many medical doctors have been noticing large increases in excess deaths since 2021, in many countries, but this is not really being investigated. No one can be sure of the causes, but the vaccines could be at least part of it. And it should be investigated. One obstetrician, in particular, is hysterical about the number of miscarriages he has been seeing.

But I am not talking about any one doctor, there are many. Some of them you will automatically label quacks, just because they are concerned about the safety of the covid vaccines. But there is nothing wrong with being concerned, when they are seeing such a great increase in deaths. It should be looked at, but instead it is being ignored and denied.

I am sure Orac and most here will deny it. But if you look at the actual numbers you will have to admit that something is wrong. Is it just after effects of the lockdowns? It needs to be studied.

Again, you do not give data about these excess deaths. Some citation would e useful

“…large increases in excess deaths since 2021, in many countries…”
Wow! Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that there is a COVID epidemic?
You are so obvious it’s pathetic. You are trying to insinuate that the vaccines are causing excess deaths, but you have no good evidence that that is the case, so you resort to implying it.

“But there is nothing wrong with being concerned, when they are seeing such a great increase in deaths.”

You mean like are caused by a pandemic, global energy shortage, major disruption to the global food supply, medium sized war in Europe, medium sized ongoing conflict in the Middle East, like those deaths?

You mean like are being studied and reported on by public health and global health researchers worldwide?

Just because you don’t see it on the cover of USA Today doesn’t mean that the WHO isn’t working their butt off about it.

Excess deaths over the past two years in the US can be attributed for the most part to Covid (not vaccines, which save lives), and to how it overwhelmed the health system and made it difficult for many months to treat other life-threatening diseases and conditions.

@ Indie Rebel

You just don’t give up.

First, I started becoming a vegetarian in my late teens. And though a lousy athlete have always swam, bicycled, jogged, some moderate weight-lifting, and even trained a bit of Aikido many years ago. For many years went to local YMCA, three days a week swam 1500 yards, three days a week did 45 minutes moderate weigh-lifting and half hour on stationary bike. Also walked my dog twice daily, mile each time. Since pandemic bought few weights and stationary bike, which I do 30 minutes a day on. Over past two decades have been a vegan, lots of veggies, fruit, whole grain breads, tofu, nuts, beans, and brown rice. And I take modest supplements; e.g., B12, D3, and iron because I am a regular blood donor, every four weeks donate one unit plasma, one unit platelets, and every eighth week also a unit of red cells. So, at 76 I am 5’9”, weight 162 lbs, BP 120/70, total cholesterol usually 170 or below. So, I agree that exercise and healthy diet are beneficial; but I also get every vaccine, Moderna COVID, two shots, two boosters, and bivalent booster for Omicron and got flu shot; but when go shopping wear an N 95 mask. And if everyone did the above, we would have a much healthier population; but people would still get sick, develop disabilities, and die.

As for meditation, yoga, etc. yep, we live in a stressful world and they help calm us down. I used to just get up early, bicycle to hill near me, sit and watch sunrise while doing slow deep abdominal breathing. Good days start.

So, I agree that it is much better to prevent, for instance, heart disease, than treat once developed. However, you omit people with various genetic disorders that can cause hypercholesteremia, etc. And you ignore that Orac and other doctors can’t force people to change their lifestyles, that powerful corporations who control our governments to some extent fight against any changes. They even fought for decades against labels on foods. And what about PE in schools?

I really doubt Orac or any doctor I have ever known or worked with think meditation is stupid; But you are STUPID assuming its all or none. Despite my extremely healthy life style I could still develop, for instance, cancer from toxins in environment, etc.

You write: “Maybe he thinks nutrition and exercise can play a limited role in disease prevention. But it should not be the focus of modern medicine, which is the use of toxic drugs and surgery. The body has no natural wisdom or ability to heal itself, so we all depend on drugs and surgery to keep us alive past middle age.”

I suggest you look at life-expectancy tables going back 100 years and you will find it has increased. As for the “focus of modern medicine” yep, it is to treat disease, etc; but we also have severely underfunded, understaffed public health, etc.

You write: “There is more than one philosophy of medicine, and Orac seems to not be aware of this. If your philosophy is materialism/atheism, then you are absolutely certain that no other philosophy could possibly be in any way correct. All ancient methods of healing, to a materialist/atheist, absolutely must be fake.”

“Must be fake???” There have been studies of ancient healing; but what you, in your continued immense ignorance, don’t understand is that in many cases people recover from serious illnesses and so, while meditation, etc helps people with stress, creates time-out from hectic day, etc. and may help, people do heal for a variety of reasons, mainly that our bodies are resilient; but you can rant and rave about healthy diets, exercise, meditation, etc.; but won’t change current status of Americans, including over 40% with comorbidities and/or obesity. If you want to do something useful instead of making a fool of yourself on this blog, get involved with groups trying to get our government to, for instance, tax unhealthy foods, and subsidize healthy ones, to create more bicycle paths, parks with jogging/walking trails, funding and requiring PE in schools, etc.

So, for once I agree with you; but not your extremist approach. A healthy life-style is a good thing, including, for instance, meditation or yoga or Tai Chi or . . . I personally do slow abdominal breathing for 10 minutes twice daily in addition to my diet and exercise.

And stop your ignorant attacks on Orac. Do you know what type of advice he gives to his cancer patients? I would be willing to bet diet is one of them. Your antivax stance based on a rigid ignorant bias results in really stupid posts.

“Did any of them mention the pandemic?” [as a cause of excess deaths since 2021.

Yes, they all mentioned the pandemic. They are talking about excess NON-covid deaths.

So you should give us data aout excess non COVID deaths. Do no jus tell tales.

@ Indie Rebel

You write: “By the way, many medical doctors have been noticing large increases in excess deaths since 2021, in many countries, but this is not really being investigated. No one can be sure of the causes, but the vaccines could be at least part of it. And it should be investigated.”

Despite your continuous stupid ignorant position on vaccines, both US and worldwide data show they have saved lives, reduced suffering, lowered hospitalization rates, etc

You are a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect: TOO STUPID TO KNOW YOU ARE STUPID

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

I am glad you appreciate the importance of diet and exercise. I never said that’s all we need to stay healthy, and it is possible to get a life-threatening disease in spite of the best efforts. I have never said modern medicine is useless. I am saying it is one of at least two different approaches. Each is needed depending on circumstances.

And yes, our average lifespan has increased, however the reasons are complicated. One obvious reason is decreased infant deaths, maybe mostly because of antibiotics. It is also very hard to make simple comparisons. We live longer now than they did when and where? Life was short in filthy early industrial cities. Was it also short in clean agricultural societies? If you remove infant mortality, that dramatically changes the average. Also, tribal societies had a lot of deaths from warfare. I am SURE that prehistoric and primitive people were NOT dropping dead of old age in their 30s and 40s. That is a myth promoted by the medical industry.

I am glad you are very much into exercise, and so am I. I think even holistic doctors don’t emphasize it enough.

But, as you say, most Americans aren’t interested in having a healthy lifestyle. You say their doctors can’t convince them, but I don’t agree. People would be convinced if they really understood the facts about lifestyle. Telling patients to eat a low fat diet, and exercise one hour a week is not very helpful. And I suspect many doctors say if you don’t want to eat right and exercise, here’s a pill that has the same effect.

Of one cures adults now too, not just infants. They ge anibiotics,too. and of course ohermedical care
Average life expentacy among Romans 30 years. It was an agricultural society, of course.

“And I suspect many doctors say if you don’t want to eat right and exercise, here’s a pill that has the same effect”

You suspect an awful lot of shite that you haven’t backed up with actual evidence.

You should spend some time on some of the forums frequented by fat, unhealthy Americans. You’ll see regular complaints when doctors suggest diet, exercise and weight loss as a treatment. They WANT an instant cure and constantly seek different opinions when they don’t get it. I know who specialises in miracle cures though, quacks and alternative medical practitioners. Lose weight with these special pills, cure cancer by praying, wear a copper bracelet and this crystal amulet to protect you. F@#king ghouls.

Try finding a different philosophy of bridge building you woolly minded fool.

@ Indie Rebel

Though I agree that a healthy diet and exercise is important, not just for health. Animal husbandry is both cruel and contributes to environmental degradation; e.g., pollution of water and soil, global warming, etc.; but despite what you believe, survival of individuals determined by many other factors, including genetics, exposure to toxins, etc. Here is something I wrote a while back:

The 18th and part of the 19th Century were called the Age of Heroic Medicine. Didn’t matter what your problem was; e.g., cancer, flu, pneumonia, infections from a cut, etc. you would be treated exactly the same. You would be bled, given purgatives and emetics causing explosive vomiting and diarrhea, and mercury, which I’m sure you know is a poison. And people survived. No denominator of how many were treated nor classification by illness; but doctors remembered those who lived and so believed they were doing the right thing and continued with heroic medicine. Obviously, some of the conditions would have survived regardless and good chance that fewer of these survived because of the above treatments.

Then came Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician. He used none of the above. When available, he gave his patients fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. And if the sun was out he put them, wrapped in blankets, in a chair facing the sun, even in the middle of winter. And we know that sunlight hits our skins which in turn produce vitamin D which is an overall fighter against various illnesses. Hahneman also believed one should treat like with like, so, for instance, if a patient had a fever, he gave them a plant known to cause fever. However, he first took the plant, ground it into minute bits, then mixed it with 10 parts of water, shook it up, then mixed it again with 10 parts of water. All in all he did this 28 times, so result was 1 / 1028. A scientist figured it out that this became less than one molecule in our universe. Well, homeopaths weren’t defeated, they just hypothesized that the water maintained the memory. In any case, we know that some of the above named conditions would have survived regardless and logically more from fresh fruit, veggies, meat, and sunshine than heroic medicine; but Hahneman believed it was his diluted treatment. And, as with heroic medicines, he didn’t have denominators of all treated, so we could not see percentage that survived, nor divided by types of medical condition.

Notice that people survived even the most horrible treatments. We are a somewhat resilient species. And despite Hahneman not giving percentages, etc. some of his patients died!

“Basically, if you’re accusing me of dismissing the health benefits of dietary changes and exercise, you really don’t know WTF you’re talking about. I’ve never done that, and in fact have embraced alterations in diet and lifestyle to greatly improve my health as I get older. You just don’t like that I have a realistic take on what the limits of those interventions happen to be.”

Congratulations on improving your health through a better lifestyle. It is SO important, and our country would be much better off if more MDs did what you did, and told their patients about it.

I NEVER say drugs and surgery are never needed. I know that not everything results from a bad lifestyle. But MOST of the major health problems in the US (and other industrialized countries) ARE caused by lifestyle.

Anyway, it’s great you take nutrition and exercise seriously. It is essential for good physical health, but also for mental health, and we seem to be having epidemics of depression and other mental illness.

The challenge for MDs is to figure out how to convince their patients. I think you have set an example for your patients, and that is great.

@ Indie Rebel

So, now you realize that Orac does give advice on diet, etc. to patients; but, without knowing where he stood, what he did, you attacked him. Typical of you, a real despicable jerk!

I heard predictions that alties/ anti-vaxxers made recently : a red wave, a red wedding**, a blood bath, a rising of traditional values, parents’ revenge etc.- as well as poll-based sources- ( 538) :
— Bill Maher’s dire scolding that “woke-ism” leads to great defeat
— anti-vaxxers ( Del, Katie Wright) said that there would be retribution for Covid PH measures and required vaccines including that NY’s governor would lose. Health Freedom will reign!
— Null and Adams rejoiced that soon “fascism” would be defeated: there would be comeuppance, retribution as well as tribunals. “People are deserting NY, NJ, CA for Florida and Texas!”
More reality based sources opined that abortion/ women’s rights would not be much of an issue.

They were wrong: young people and women were important factors in the results. Black people contributed mightily as well.
Usually the president’s party loses many seats with rare exceptions. Extreme right wing candidates were not popular.
Along the way, I heard many vicious comments about older leaders, a guy recovering from a stroke and women and minority candidates in general.

Orac should be pleased: Dr Oz is out – of Columbia and the Senate!

** Game of thrones reference to a massacre

I am indeed pleased. Even better, he would have a very hard time recreating his old TV show, given that the production team that produced has been let go, and his former employees are pissed off at how he left them all in the lurch:

Loyal staffers, who have worked on “The Dr. Oz Show” since the beginning, are depressed and seething after he abruptly ended his show to run for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat in November.

“People who have worked for him for [13] years are now scrambling for work and are furious that he’s left them in a lurch financially after they worked their asses off for him for so long,” one source told Page.


Another source told us he “blindsided everyone” at the show and most people found out about his run from the media.

“It was abrupt. No one had a clue. There was supposed to be another season. It was picked up, so that was almost two more years of guaranteed work that’s just gone like that,” the insider said.

A third insider described his behavior as “heartless and selfish,” adding that “people have been depressed” about the situation.

“They’ve lost jobs and they’re losing health benefits. No health benefits after working for America’s doctor for 13 years. He’s leaving his staff without benefits. No one was prepared for this,” they said.

And to make matters worse, Dr. Oz had staffers unknowingly working on his campaign before he dropped them all, sources claim.

“The last week of work, producers were working like dogs to get content related to the campaign,” the first source said.

The third source added, “He was definitely asking for pictures and videos, but wasn’t saying what it was for. He was just asking for additional things and it turns out it was for his campaign.”

Maybe Dr. Oz will be forced to go back to honest work, like seeing seeing cardiac patients and operating on them. He might need to do some remedial surgical training, though. He hasn’t operated in a long time, and heart surgery isn’t the sort of surgery that is easy to pick up again after a long absence doing it.

A friend of a former colleague worked on Oz’s show. She said she was just supposed to find material for the show, not to research the claims for their validity.

I doubt Oz will go back to real work. He is too wedded to the idea that he is a celebrity.

Perhaps he will feature in Andrew Wakefield’s next movie, or Hirewire with Del Bigtee, or maybe on one of those COVID-19 denier internet stations.

Here’s an interesting take on Oz’s prospects from a political commenter. As a result of the heightened scrutiny from a political campaign, some people who thought he was a medical expert are now aware of his checkered research past and vindictive side. Show employees who were cast aside with no safety net may be unlikely to sign up for a reboot as well.

Or Surgeon General if the Republicans take the White House in 2024 (Gods forfend!)

He’s got enough Covid denier cred now that he can make the rounds of radio and tv talk shows — Rogan, Carlson, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become Fox’s go-to doctor.

I quickly followed up three of my cited loons for reactions:
one seemed to deny the result ( Adams), one avoided the topic ( Wright) and one declared the need for a new society so he’ll build a community of “Hobbit homes” (?) at his Texas estate ( Null).

I was too lazy to sift through Maher’s twitter but I’m sure it’s fab.

Still, we shouldn’t be complacent because many election deniers won . Perhaps there was a solidification of sorts: liberal areas remained and conservative areas dug in. If NY rejected its governor that would have meant something.

I continued watching to see how the cited alties reacted to the non-red wave and they’ve mostly moved on although Adams hints about fraud.

Maher has been strangely silent ( on his latest show he spent the last few minutes predicting disaster because of ‘woke’ messaging). He did however, as a guest on another talk show, lecture the stage workers because they were wearing ….masks. Oh, the horror!
Woo always comes shining through I suppose.

Young voters, women and Black people spoke up. There was no red wave or Q ball.
Perhaps the urban/ rural divide was accentuated. And best of all, Oz is out of the game.

Perhaps the urban/ rural divide was accentuated

It was here in MI in our race for governor: the republican candidate did quite well in the smaller, rural counties, while Whitmer carried the main population areas and larger counties. I haven’t checked the numbers for our sec state and attorney general races, but I suspect the same thing would be true.

He’s not alone.

Andrew Weil Integrative Medicine Center, University of Arizona
Deepak Chopra, Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego

Antivaxers must be gnashing their teeth in Minnesota, where Scott Jensen lost the governor’s race to incumbent Tim Walz.

Jensen, a family medicine doc who has questioned the childhood vaccine schedule, was a “quiet” member of America’s Frontline Doctors (he joined a lawsuit filed by Simone Gold to block Covid-19 vaccines for children under 16) and was featured in “Plandemic”. He has compared anti-Covid-19 health measures to the rise of Hitler while promoting hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to treat the disease.

Recently he was on the speakers’ schedule at an antivax rally (which included luminaries like Sherri Tenpenny and Del Bigtree) but later backed out, claiming he had to attend a wedding (he apparently wound up attending a football game instead). He may have recognized that his highly publicized stands on the above issues were hurting, not helping him.

Jensen: “I can’t tell you how many times I would talk to my team and I say, ‘We have got to move away from COVID. We have got to start talking more about what can we do to make people’s lives better.’ … But it seems like COVID, or something COVID, always seems to raise its head and pull us back.”


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