The Sciences

Steve Novella goes to Oz

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitApr 25, 2011 11:00 PM


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If you've read this blog for more than a few nanoseconds, you may know I am not a huge fan of people promoting "alternative" medicine. Overwhelmingly, these things turn out to fall far, far short of the claims made for them. Homeopathy, acupuncture, supplements, on and on -- these tend to rely on anecdotes and not tests. When tested properly, they are almost universally shown to be ineffective*. That's why I am also not a big fan of Mehmet Oz, a doctor who has his own TV show where he has been known to promote provably ineffective treatments. My friend Dr. Steve Novella is also not a fan of Oz's, and has commonly criticized him on his blog Science Based Medicine as well as on his podcast Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. So I was quite surprised to hear from Steve the other day, letting me know that he will appear as a guest on The Dr. Oz Show this Tuesday! If you click that link you can see a promo for the show... which has my hackles rising. I know that Steve wouldn't appear on the show unless he thought he would get a fair shake, but I imagine would also still be cautious of, let's say, judicious editing. The promo does nothing to alleviate my fears. Of course, that promo is designed to draw people in to watch, so it may not represent the show's actual content. We'll see. I plan on recording the show so I can watch it carefully. I also imagine Steve will have something to say after it airs as well.

[I'll note Steve happened to write an excellent, thoughtful piece about pseudoscience and medicine today. I don't say this often, but it's a must-read.]

^* This isn't always the case, of course, and some do turn out to work. Aspirin came from willow bark, and so on. But that doesn't mean they all work, so please spare me more anecdotes. When you have double-blinded test results that show a clear statistical spike in efficacy above the placebo effect or random chance, then we'll talk. But even then, you know what we call alternative medicine that works? "Medicine". The alternative to medicine is staying sick, getting worse, or getting better on your own.

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