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 The world according to Oprah
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2009 :  13:23:23  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't watch her show, considering it just another mindless throwaway, but I've read about it. She encourages and supports some genuine woo-woo. Now, it seems, Newsweek has called her out on it. 'Bout time someone did. From the Skeptic's Dictionary:

"Nobody in the mass media goes after the all-powerful Oprah. Newsweek deserves beaucoup props for exposing the most dangerous woman in the world. Her medical advice alone could be killing and maiming thousands daily.

In Oprah's world, vaccines don't prevent children from suffering, they cause autism. In Oprah's world, you can cure cancer with happy thoughts. In Oprah's world, Suzanne Somers and Jenny McCarthy are medical experts. In Oprah's world, Rhonda Byrne and Marianne Williamson are philosophers. In Oprah's world, injecting hormones will keep you forever young. In Oprah's world, the HPV vaccine kills people. In Oprah's world, cancer-causing sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented by eating healthy foods. In Oprah's world, thyroid dysfunction is an energy blockage caused by "a lifetime of 'swallowing' words one is aching to say." In Oprah's world, if you're hypothyroid you should take iodine supplements and drink soy milk. In Oprah's world, all you need for a quick face-lift without having to worry about side-effects is a needle and thread, or radio waves. In Oprah's world, the typical Muslim woman is abused by her husband. In Oprah's world, psychics who claim to get messages from the dead are not exploiting grieving people, they are helping them through the grieving process. In Oprah's world, feelings always trump reason, intuition always trumps science, and hope always trumps fact. In Oprah's world, wishful thinking is considered science. In Oprah's world, if you want to be thin and healthy, all you have to do is hang around thin, healthy people. If that doesn't work, and it obviously doesn't, try regular exercise and eating sensibly. If that doesn't work, sit on the couch and watch Oprah. Wait until she brings on an expert who will explain why her world of magical thinking is so appealing to millions of her fans. You may not end up healthy, but I guarantee that you will end up very thin."


It's an enlightening read, providing not only an insight on Oprah Winfrey, but the incredible gullibility of her faithful fans.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2009 :  19:02:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
fithy has scooped me.

I've chosen the Newsweek article as my "Evil Pick" for the week. The summary isn't up yet, but when it is, and with filthy's Op on the same subject, this is as good a place to discuss Oprah and related subjects as any.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2009 :  20:41:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for posting this. I just read the entire article - quite enlightening. I wish Oprah just stuck to arts and culture topics and personal stories, and steered clear of anything scientific/health-oriented. She's done a lot of good for promoting some wonderful novelists such as Wally Lamb, who otherwise might be rather obscure mid-list authors struggling to make a living. Although I've heard that other novels she has recommended sucked. But at least that sort of thing is really up to taste and personal opinion, unlike the science which involves (or should involve) hard evidence and facts, not just personal testimonies. What scares me the most is not how reckless Oprah is with her powerful influence over a huge number of people, but rather, the fact that she has such power in the first place. She's a cult of personality right up there with the Dalai Lama and the Pope.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Randy
SFN Regular

USA
1990 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2009 :  21:49:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Randy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Given enough time, the Onion will cover most every topic...
http://www.theonion.com/content/news/oprah_viewers_patiently_awaiting

"We are all connected; to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, to the rest of the universe atomically."

"So you're made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?"
-Neil DeGrasse Tyson
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  03:57:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

fithy has scooped me.

I've chosen the Newsweek article as my "Evil Pick" for the week. The summary isn't up yet, but when it is, and with filthy's Op on the same subject, this is as good a place to discuss Oprah and related subjects as any.
Not intentionally, though. I simply dropped by SD, as I do sporadically. It caught my attention because Winfrey is huge; as big as Limbaugh wishes he was and I ain't talkin' 'bout cellulite. As such, she wields a considerable amount of influence, even power, as seen in our recent election.

I agree with Marf in that she is often a benefit to the community, but too often she embraces New Age crap of no benefit to anyone other than the purveyors of said crap.

As I stated, I don't watch her, but I have caught bits and pieces of her act; enough to wonder why Doc Oz wears scrubs on stage. Is he creating a persona or making a fashion statement, or are they simply more comfortable than a necktie?




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  06:48:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've caught Dr. Phil's show a few times - another career made by Oprah - and I've found his show to have similar problems to Oprah's in that it is just as exploitative as Jerry Springer but most people who watch it think it is about serious mental health. One of my relatives even wrote to Dr. Phil about a personal problem hoping to get on the show, and this relative of mine has a graduate degree and an extremely professional job and satisfying life. I'm never surprised when truly desperate people get taken in by entertainment and woo, but I don't get why people who have it good do. What do they feel their lives are missing that causes them to turn their critical thinking off?

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 06/07/2009 06:49:35
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  06:54:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Given enough time, the Onion will cover most every topic...
http://www.theonion.com/content/news/oprah_viewers_patiently_awaiting
LOL! The article even mentions Wally Lamb. I gotta say, I picked up his first novel, "She Come Undone", which he was able to write because of an NEA grant, because I liked the cover. Oprah hadn't yet endorsed the book. I loved it, and only later did the Oprah endorsement appear on every published copy of the novel. I didn't read it because of Oprah, and in fact, had the cover had the Oprah label on it when I first noticed the book in the book store, I probably wouldn't have bought it because I might have assumed it had some wishy washy, touchy feely, overly sentimental crap in it.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 06/07/2009 06:54:54
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  11:23:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Newsweek cover story on Oprah

Okay, so now that our Weekly Summary is up, I'll quote my lead in to the Neewseek article that I chose as my Evil Pick:

Me:
What struck me while reading this article (which discusses the quackery on which Oprah Winfrey places her stamp of approval) is that she is easily more dangerous than Kevin Trudeau or any of the wee-hour infomercial hucksters who are much more interested in parting you from your money than they are in helping you in any way. She is more dangerous because she is bringing the purveyors of very bad ideas on to her TV show and in to her magazine, and even though she is not actually selling any of the products, books, devices, methods or medical advice that she clearly endorses (and more scarily actually believes in herself), she is featuring really bad ideas to a huge audience that hangs on her every word. An audience willing to try just about anything Oprah smiles on. What Oprah likes, sells. And what Oprah likes is very often bad medicine.


Oprah Responds To NEWSWEEK's Cover Story this way:

Oprah:
For 23 years, my show has presented thousands of topics that reflect the human experience, including doctors' medical advice and personal health stories that have prompted conversations between our audience members and their health care providers. I trust the viewers, and I know that they are smart and discerning enough to seek out medical opinions to determine what may be best for them.


What a lame statement. I might give it to her is she didn't regularly endorse the crap her guests were selling, but it gets worse. Anti-vax Jenny McCarthy is about to get her her own show, to be produced by Ophra's production company, which also brings us Dr. Phil.

More from Newsweek:

Hey, Did You Hear We Took on Oprah? The Blog-o-sphere Reacts

The above article quotes the reaction of some important bloggers including PZ Myers among others.

PZ Myers:
I'm impressed. It's a highly critical article about Oprah's peddling of quackery, and it's about time one of the big media players pointed out that she is promoting dangerous fake therapies…all with a happy smile, of course, and a message of positive self-esteem for women. It's still credulous glop, though.


Kudo's to Newsweek for taking on Oprah. I meant it when I said that she is more dangerous than Kevin Trudeau. She reaches a much wider audience. Enough is enough. It's time put pressure on Oprah for presenting crap. And worse yet, endorsing it…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  11:58:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Suzanne Summers Responds:

Newsweek Attack - Huh? The Truth About Bioidentical Hormones vs. Synthetic

…Why, then, are the attacks against me so violent and persistent when the hormones I take and write about have never been known to harm anyone even though they have been used by thousands of people? Could it be that if we all figure out how well we can feel by replacing what has been lost by aging we won't need any of their expensive drugs? Is it all about big business bottom line? You decide.

Being unfairly portrayed as in the case of the most recent Newsweek article, it was not noted that I bombarded writer Pat Wingert (per her request) with dozens of studies showing the efficacy, safety and protective nature of these hormones; but she chose to ignore the data.

Of course, Newsweek should have put a writer on this article who did not have a conflict of interest. I should have been informed that Ms. Wingert and her boss had written a pharmaceutically biased book on hormones and menopause that was in direct conflict with my books and message. Newsweek should also inform their readers that they are heavily funded by pharmaceutical companies; it would then put the right slant on articles such as these.

My information all comes from the doctors I interview. I am, in essence, a filter for those cutting-edge western doctors who cannot be heard…

Snip

...Drugs should be reserved as the last resort in the practitioners back pocket. Drugs are excellent for pain, infection and mental illness and other conditions outside my scope. But at the moment drugs are over-prescribed and the build- up of chemicals is killing our brains. After a while this chemical build-up makes the patients whacky so that they can't think, and that's when we send them off to the nursing homes. If we don't wake up, this is the terrible end that presently awaits all of us. And you can be sure, when the insurance dries up, the patient dies…after they have squeezed every last cent out of the family...

Bolding mine.

So it's only the drugs that are the focus of her crusade that are dangerous?




Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  12:37:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Obviously, Somers has a hormone build-up in her brain that's making her whacky enough to try out the Pharma Shill gambit.

Who does she pay to get her hormones, anyway? That couldn't possibly be about the big business bottom line, could it?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  15:28:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Good for Newsweek! Good for Filthy, and good for Kill!

Using the unfair advantage of knowing in advance that Kil was planning his Oprah offensive, I scooped the scooper, Filthy, two days early with my "Big Farmer" spoof. Too many cannot pile on (even as in my case when the contribution is merely content-less, mindless humor) when such major league quackery is being promoted on TV networks.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  17:25:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Reader's Digest had a thing about Oprah and Jenny and Elizabeth.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  19:58:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Gorgo

Reader's Digest had a thing about Oprah and Jenny and Elizabeth.
That was very good stuff in Reader's Digest, Gorgo. It was presented in a balanced, non-absolutist manner, telling the scientific facts about each issue. They didn't let the big personalities dominate the truth, but concluded each section with a summary of the health facts.

Sometimes it's too easy to focus too intently upon the liars and fools, and not see the lies and facts.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Zebra
Skeptic Friend

USA
354 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2009 :  21:40:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Zebra a Private Message  Reply with Quote
From US News & World Report (that hotbed of reporting on menopausal hormone therapy) comes this, from late 3/2009:

Still, [Dr.] Fugh-Berman stresses, "we shouldn't assume human hormones are our friends. After all, women with naturally higher estrogen levels have higher rates of breast cancer, and men with higher testosterone levels have higher rates of prostate cancer. So more is not always better." Where bioidenticals may come in handy, she says, is to treat that subgroup of menopausal women who suffer miserably through sleepless sweaty nights and seek a product that may be safer than traditional hormone therapy. But most doctors agree that those who take bioidenticals should still follow the "lowest dose for the shortest amount of time" rule of thumb.

At the moment, that message may be getting lost in the homage being paid to bioidentical hormones by megawatt celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and actress and bestselling author Suzanne Somers. A January Oprah show featured both discussing their positive experiences on the hormones, which came across as a virtual cure-all for aging. Somers, who takes much higher doses of bioidentical hormones than most experts recommend, believes that the supplements keep her young and feeling sexy and are preventing her breast cancer from coming back. On her website, Winfrey writes, "After one day on bioidentical estrogen, I felt the veil lift. After three days, the sky was bluer, my brain was no longer fuzzy, my memory was sharper. I was literally singing and had a skip in my step."
Amphetamines might have had the same effect, but for some reason she's not pushing those.

Many medical experts have expressed alarm over the hype. Susan Love, a breast cancer surgeon and author of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, says Somers is taking a "crazy" approach to breast cancer prevention. "It isn't the flavor of the hormones," Love says, "but the fact that we're not supposed to have high levels of hormones during the second half of life." Days after the Oprah show aired, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a press release reiterating the group's stance against the use of "so-called bioidentical hormones." The organization is particularly concerned about the use of those hormones that are compounded from individual ingredients on a patient-by-patient basis by pharmacies. The process can vary widely from pharmacist to pharmacist. Unlike with drugs made in large manufacturing facilities, there is no way of knowing if the product is pure or contains a standardized dose.

"Bioidentical" is one of those feel-good words that doesn't have a set meaning. It's usually used to mean a combination of estradiol (the major human estrogen), estriol, and estrone - though there is interconversion of these forms, so if a woman takes just estradiol (the major pharmaceutical form of estrogen for use after menopause, other than Premarin), some that estradiol IS converted to the other forms, to make a "bioidentical" cocktail. Naturally, so to speak.

And those forms of estradiol are "semisynthetic" from "plant sources", which makes them both natural and unnatural at the same time, depending on your definitions and your point of view.

I think, you know, freedom means freedom for everyone* -Dick Cheney

*some restrictions may apply
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/08/2009 :  06:46:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Our good friend and absentee SFN member, Phil Platt, has a statement: Oprah, shame on you!
So last week, Newsweek printed a heroic front-page article detailing the antiscientific medical swill Oprah Winfrey has been routinely doling out to her audiences. This nonsense includes, of course, Jenny McCarthy, as well as dangerous quackery by Suzanne Somers and others. The article really slams Oprah hard, as well it should.

Unsurprisingly, Oprah has released a statement about this, and it's full to the brim of fail. I wouldn't call it a lie, but it's spinning like a newborn pulsar:
It covers pretty much what we've got already, but Phil's always a good read.

Y'know, this could get interesting. I just might take a big slug of Maalox and tune her in, just for the hell of it.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 06/08/2009 :  10:53:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm hoping that this isn't just a passing criticism that Oprah and staff think they can just wait out. I would like to see the skeptical community continue to monitor what she presents, and how it's presented, and keeps the pressure on. Just as Robert Lancaster created a page to watch Sylvia Browne, perhaps someone should step up and create the same kind of page that keeps an eye on Oprah.

We need to become a big thorn in her side.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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