Like anyone who despairs at the prevalence of pseudo-science in our culture, I’m delighted at the cover story in the latest Newsweek: Crazy Talk — Oprah, Wacky Cures and You. If this is the kind of story the new Newsweek is going to run, I’ll start paying attention.
But credit should be given to the science bloggers who have been hammering away at this subject for ages. Here’s Respectful Insolence just a few days ago:
Arguably there is no single person in the world with more influence pushing woo than Oprah. Indeed, she puts Prince Charles to shame, and Kevin Trudeau’s is a mere ant compared to the juggernaught that is Oprah’s media empire. No one even comes close. No one, and I mean no one, brings pseudoscience, quackery, and antivaccine madness to more people than Oprah Winfrey does. Naturally, she doesn’t see it that way and likely no one could ever convince her of the malign effect she has on the national zeitgeist when it comes to science and medicine, but that’s exactly what she does.
Respectful Insolence has been detailing the nonsense of Jenny McCarthy (shown above, with Oprah) and other “woomeisters” for a long time. The examples in Newsweek map closely to Respectful Insolence, although Newsweek approves of the advice of Mehmet Oz while Respectful Insolence groups him with the quacks who regularly appear on Oprah. (Disclosure: I know Oz a bit — I had the thrill of standing in the operating room while he did a transplant a few years ago.)
Orac, the pseudonymous blogger who writes Respectful Insolence, is a surgeon. Once again, if you know where to look sources going direct can give you the news long before it hits more conventional publications.