Dr. Oz: Shaman and Charlatan

Following is an email I sent to the Dr. Oz Show on November 17, 2011. As expected, I got no response.

Please thank Mehmet Oz for today’s show featuring Joel OSteen. I had written an essay, partially included in my forthcoming book, entitled, “Dr. Oz the Evangelist: Surgeon or Shaman?” I can now update my essay and change the title to, “Dr. Oz: Shaman and Charlatan.” A few weeks ago Oz did a show suggesting that there was scientific evidence for life after death. There is NO scientific evidence. All evidence for life after death in anecdotal and anecdotal evidence is NOT science. OZ is a professor of medicine. He should know better.

Now he has Osteen identifying prayer with miracles. There is plenty of evidence that miracles occur. The Catholic Church identifies dozens of people every year who have been the recipients of miracles. The issue is, is there a scientific explanation? And there is: the placebo mechanism, among others. All of the miracles documented by the Church have to do with remission from cancer. There are no cases of spontaneous remission from muscular dystrophy or Parkinson’s disease. Does god only care about people who are afflicted with cancer? Osteen’s mother was “cured” from liver cancer.

This phenomenon has been known for a century. It is called spontaneous remission from cancer and one study shows spontaneous remission in about one out of 100,000 patients. In a carefully designed 2008 study on mammography, it was found that 22% of all breast cancer cases underwent spontaneous remission. A majority of spontaneous regressions from cancer occurred after a feverish infection, according to two other studies. Triggering the placebo mechanism is another explanation of how the body heals itself. If nothing else, these scientific explanations should have been offered to your audience. It was not.

Joel Osteen sells Jesus to ignorant people, one dollar at a time. It seems Oz does something similar and it would appear that the audience of the Dr. Oz Show is quite unsophisticated. Doesn’t Oz feel any social responsibility to educate the undereducated public with science instead of science fiction? Medicine is making great strides and Oz comes up with non-scientific explanations for miracles and suggests there is tangible evidence for life after death. Neither is the case.This leads to one, and only one, conclusion. Mehmet Oz is a shaman and charlatan. If he is going to talk about faith, he ought to become an imam and not refer to himself as a doctor, a man of medical science, on his show.

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