I'm getting great response to my Phil Plait interview, in which he went after Jenny McCarthy and other anti-vaxxers -- as well as Oprah, who allows her guests to spew all sorts of medical claims that have no scientific evidence to support them.
When Oprah endorses pseudo-science -- with claims that go virtually unchallenged, without any real equal time for skeptical rebuttal -- it carries tremendous weight with her audience, and that can be very dangerous. So, it was nice to get some reinforcement from Newsweek, which just published a cover story on Oprah's crazy talk, exposing some of the ridiculous medical claims she and her guests have been pushing on her show and website and magazine, and their impact with the world of women who worship All Things Oprah.
A couple of weeks ago, there was a lot of coverage of Colleen Hauser, the Minnesota woman who refuses to follow medical advice and allow her 13-year-old son, Daniel, who has Hodgkin's lymphoma, to have radiation and chemotherapy. She disobeyed a court order and took Daniel on a road trip, probably headed to Mexico for some "alternative" medical treatment, before returning home and agreeing to obey the judge. Hauser and her husband were rightly lambasted for their anti-science beliefs and claims, and called child abusers for denying their son a treatment that is effective with 95% of cancer victims.
The Hausers didn't learn their anti-scientific viewpoint from Oprah, but they could have. How is their belief system any more bizarre than Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaccination campaign or the other new age quackery espoused and endorsed by Oprah? It's not just a matter of some of her viewers getting some weird procedure done after seeing it on her show. It's the "don't trust science" attitude that she engenders, in an atmosphere that we know sways viewers' opinions (look at her impact on book sales).
I'm not holding my breath for Oprah to do a show spotlighting real medical experts who can easily debunk the junk science she has preached for so many years, but it's good to see other media outlets picking up and running with the story.
Even Stephen Colbert is going after her (wait for it)...
Note: this video will not be available after July 1, 2009.