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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Dr. Oz and the High Irony Diet

By Phil Plait

The irony of anti-science can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. Fair warning: This post is NSFPWDWTHTA (Not Safe for People Who Don’t Want Their Heads to Asplode).

I haven’t talked about TV alt-med guru Dr. Mehmet Oz much here on the blog, but it’s safe to say I’m not much of a fan. He promotes all manners of anti-science nonsense, including homeopathy (which has been proven countless times to be nothing more than water … if you’re lucky), faith healers, and even the deplorable “talking to the dead” antics of John Edward.

In 2013 Slate featured an article highlighting some of his less-than-scientifically-supported claims. In it, Dr. Edzard Ernst says that Oz’s actions are “irresponsible and border on quackery.” Just to make the point clear.

So I got quite the induced moment of forehead-slappiness when in my morning news alerts I saw this: “Dr. Oz vs. the Scammers.” It links to a post on Dr. Oz’s Facebook page, where he was promoting an episode of his show:

I'm absolutely fed up with scammers using my name and likeness to sell my audience questionable products! On today's show, I go head-to-head with one of the biggest offenders to take my name back. We're going to shut down these scam artists for good!

Emphasis mine. But really, it should be his too, shouldn’t it?

The Facebook page has a promo clip for the show, and as I watched it, I could feel my irony meter overheating. When Oz says this practice “… makes me sick,” it pegged into the red. And then when he confronts a scammer and asks, “Do you feel badly at all?” the irony meter melted and then exploded in a white-hot ball of plasma.

Oz apparently defines “scammers” as someone who sells his audience “questionable products.” If only there were an apt phrase for this situation.

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