Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Claire McCaskill vs. Dr. Oz

On Sunday, I wrote, "Shame on Sen. Claire McCaskill for asking Dr. Oz to testify about health scams. He promotes them regularly!" I also linked to a piece by science blogger Orac who offered some background on Oz's claims. But I'm happy to report that when Oz appeared before McCaskill's Senate hearing yesterday, she and the other senators went after him for endorsing bogus weight loss products...

McCaskill did a good job trying to put Oz in his place, but like any great huckster, he still writhed out of it by claiming he's on his audience's side and if he finds something that might make them feel better, or lose a few pounds, he's going to recommend it.

That's not science. That's telling people what they want to hear and making them believe things that aren't true. As McCaskill says, Oz should be telling viewers, "There is no magic pill that will make you lose weight. Period."

Unfortunately, two things will now happen that will not make things better. One is that Oz will no doubt go on major media outlets and defend his bullshit with what he calls "flowery language," and the uninformed viewers (and interviewers) will swallow it, if you'll pardon the pun. The other is that while McCaskill's hearing did shine some light on the many useless products being sold under the guise of diet and health, Congress has no power over the industry. Only the FTC can regulate it and that agency has done -- and will do -- nothing about the con artists selling garbage, just as it has turned a similarly blind eye to homeopathy.

Previously on Harris Online...