Yes, Dr. Oz Is Wrong Half The Time, But Are We Really Surprised?

Billions of viewers tune in to shows like The Doctors and The Dr. Oz Show each day for answers to health related questions and to discover miracle remedies to cure certain syndromes and ailments. And, no it’s not an exaggeration to state that there are actually billions of viewers daily as it has been reported that combined, these shows draw an audience of over 2 billion people per day.

These medical professionals are on TV after all, so this must mean they are at the top of the medical hierarchy, does it not? The entertainment industry surely wouldn’t fill television time slots with these medical advisory episodes unless the doctors are the authority on all things medical, right? Wrong.

New studies have recently shown that Dr. Oz along with the MD’s on the show The Doctors are actually only correct half the time. Based on research-supported statistics that were published in the British Medical Journal, about 50 percent of the time Oz and The Doctors MD’s are inaccurate, incorrect or lacking any factual evidence to back up the advice they offer.

But are we really surprised by these findings? S.E. Smith, contributor at Care 2, makes note of the fact that the churning media machine often causes viewers to gain a false sense of security and influences us more heavily than we truly realize.

“Dr. Oz, like other celebrity figures, has become a figure of trust through social influencing. The networks that contribute to the creation of trust are a fascinating and complex subject, but in simple terms, think about how you trust people in your own life. If a friend introduces you to a new person and says she’s trustworthy, you’re inclined to believe your friend — because you trust her, and thus you extend the same courtesy to her friends (any friend of yours is a friend of mine, right?). The same is true on a larger scale: If you trust a public figure, you also rely on that figure’s endorsements.”

Oprah Winfrey, a public figure who has gained an enormous following over her years as a talk show icon, was the main catapult to the career of Dr. Oz. He benefited from “celebrity endorsement to win the attention and trust of viewers who might otherwise have been hesitant about him.” Essentially, Oprah said that Oz was worth listening to so the world took note.

Oprah Winfrey helped to catapult the career of Dr. Oz, via The Guardian
Oprah Winfrey helped to catapult the career of Dr. Oz, via The Guardian

Years later, reality is setting in that perhaps Oz isn’t the medical guru that Winfrey hailed him as being and the masses are starting to shake their heads at the ridiculousness of it all; the fact that we’ve placed so much trust in a man, not because experts of the medical world have spoken well of him, but instead because Oprah Winfrey did.

The specific results which have led to questioning Oz’s medical advisory competence revealed that only 45 percent of the claims made by Oz were backed by research. In addition, as IFL Science notes, “15 percent of the claims made were contrary to what has been reported in scientific literature.” For 49 percent of claims made, there was no evidence to support or reject the information as accurate or inaccurate.

However,these findings do not target Oz as being fraudulent, they simply indicate that it is not suggested that viewers take only the opinions of Dr. Oz and other TV personalities with a medical background above those of their own physician. Justice News Flash quotes the researchers’ conclusions based on the above findings.

“[R]ecommendations made on medical talk shows often lack adequate information on specific benefits or the magnitude of the effects of these benefits. Approximately half of the recommendations have either no evidence or are contradicted by the best available evidence. Potential conflicts of interest are rarely addressed.”

Consulting a physician is always encouraged and recommended. As IFL Science states, “A family physician would understand an individual’s unique medical history and could identify potential drug interactions associated with the supplement or dietary changes advocated on the TV show.”

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