I was pleasantly surprised to read this week's Newsweek article entitled "Crazy Talk: Oprah, Wacky Cures and You". The article discusses how Oprah, wielding considerable influence with her talk show, often features health, beauty and medical topics; unfortunately she doesn't always feature credible people to discuss these topics (for example, the actress Suzanne Somers, who apparently takes 60 supplements daily including 'bioidentical hormones" and does some pretty crazy stuff ). The gist of the article as Newsweek suggests, is that "some experts offer useful information. Others gush nonsense. Oprah can't seem to tell the difference." And for the many daily viewers of Oprah, this can be hazardous to their health.
I'm no medical genius, but I have a little more background than the average person. I love the arts, but my training was in the sciences. I have a really low tolerance for 'experts' on TV who babble stuff that is totally nonsensical from a scientific standpoint. I truly believe our country will be left in the dust if we don't start doing more than paying lip service to the need for more math and science training. I wish that shows like Oprah (or the science and health segments of cable news) would really spend a little more time with the actual doctors, researchers and scientists who study these subjects. But of course the problem is those people aren't the pretty people. They don't do sound bites. They would need time to explain the background information to viewers. And that's boooo--riiing -- we'd rather listen to the pop culture folks who entice us with suggestions we can cure our psoriasis by thinking positively. Sure, a good attitude helps and a good overall state of health helps, but what people really need is to be educated about their illness with solid scientific information.
And I love how these people call themselves "Dr." Whatever. Dr. Phil is NOT a doctor.
Dr. Drew is NOT a doctor. Which is not to say you can still be an actual doctor and not be a little loopy (sorry Dr. Grumpy, I don't mean you.) Check out this tidbit from the website of one of Oprah's frequent guests, Christiane Northrup, M.D. , as mentioned in Newsweek:
"In many women thyroid dysfunction develops because of an energy blockage in the throat region, the result of a lifetime of "swallowing" words one is aching to say. In the name of preserving harmony, or because these women have learned to live as relatively helpless members of their families or social groups, they have learned to stifle their self-expression."
WTF ??????? How do you think your professor would have graded that answer on your endocrinology unit? Energy blockage?
No, I'm sorry. That is NOT what causes thyroid dysfunction.
But Oprah's got a big platform, and if she's got no one there to challenge that then we've got a long way to go. I was glad to see a news magazine shine a light on this subject.