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We need more doctors and scientists in Congress. But not Dr. Oz.

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast/Getty

Dr. Oz, the cardiothoracic surgeon and TV personality, is running for an open US Senate seat in Pennsylvania. He’d be one of the worst possible choices, because his “medical recommendations” are generally bullshit. Members of Congress need to discern the truth, not make it up.

What’s wrong with Dr. Oz?

Dr. Oz is a famous guy. Everybody knows him from his TV show.

His relationship with the truth is tenuous as best. He spreads misinformation and scams on nearly every show.

According to a study published in 2014 by the BMJ, a peer-reviewed British medical journal, a random sampling of claims made by Dr. Oz and his guests showed that most had no scientific support, or were contradicted by medical evidence. Here’s how the LA Times described it:

What do real-world doctors have to say about the advice dispensed on “The Dr. Oz Show”? Less than one-third of it can be backed up by even modest medical evidence.

If that sounds alarming, consider this: Nearly 4 in 10 of the assertions made on the hit show appear to be made on the basis of no evidence at all.

The researchers who took it upon themselves to fact-check Dr. Oz and his on-air guests were able to find legitimate studies related to another 11% of the recommendations made on the show. However, in these cases, the recommendations ran counter to the medical literature.

Dr. Oz pushes weight loss fads like green coffee bean extract and has said “I’ve got the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat. It’s raspberry ketones.” (Note to the good doctor: Pennsylvania is the Keystone State, not the ketone state.)

Dr. Oz has cited the death toll from the virus in announcing his candidacy, but also promoted hydroxycholoroquine, a treatment the FDA has said is not a fit treatment.

In his announcement, Dr. Oz said this:

Doctors are trained to tell it like it is because you deserve to hear our best advice and make your own decisions. It’s why I have fought the establishment my whole career.

Guess what, dude. The “establishment,” at least in medicine, is usually working based on the best possible science available. And when the science changes, the establishment view changes, too. Doctors who “tell it like it is” shouldn’t be making shit up when there’s no actual science behind it.

Face it: the guy’s a hack and a quack.

First rule: do no harm

A politician that believes in restricting abortion might belong in Congress, as might one who believes in preserving that right.

A politician who believes we should spend more to stop global warming might belong in Congress, as might someone who has qualms about that position.

I believe in a healthy debate between points of view. I’d like to believe the truth will win. I know which kind of politicians I would vote for, but I’m capable of respecting politicians from across the political spectrum, so long as they deal in actual facts.

But we don’t need liars who make things up and pretend they’re based on science.

We have enough loonies in the Congress already — people who believe in Jewish Space Lasers and imply that fellow congresspeople are Islamic suicide bombers.

I’d love to see competent and knowledgeable people in the Congress — doctors who understand the reality of infectious disease, scientists who are familiar with climate problems, and engineers who are used to solving technical problems with fact-based analysis.

But no quacks please. That way lies madness.

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One Comment

  1. MDs in Congress tend to be conservative-leaning. I suspect that’s more to protect their bank accounts and the wealth of others than to help the ordinary American citizen.