Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Dump this useless information into a garbage bin if you really care about evidence based medicine!

Time and again I have been telling people that what media or even ''experts" who advice on various media give only half truths or zero truths or garbage to support their words. These days everybody is behaving like an expert after reading/watching something on the net or on TV. I myself am receiving crap all the while from the followers of these 'pundits'. People, journalists included, even share all the rubbish they come across in the media with their friends/readers spreading ignorance, stupidity, false information, pseudo-science and don't know what. I just put this nonsense where it belongs i.e., in the dust bin without looking at it twice.

But when people who are qualified to give advice to others too spread misinformation and disinformation? Won't people believe it and follow it? And when they are told this, what will happen? Utter chaos! Confusion, disbelief and distrust!

Should we keep quiet even when we know that some well qualified people too are playing with the emotions of their followers? No! Truth, no matter how bitter it tastes, must be told.

That is what some people who want to preserve the integrity of science are doing.

Some scientists recently have investigated these advices that are being given by 'popularity seeking' doctors in the media. And to their utter shock found that some of the things these doctors say have no evidence at all! And some are even working for a few commercial establishments and promoting their products which are quite useless!

Researchers recently have tallied up the “scientific” advice offered by popular US TV programs The Dr Oz Show and The Doctors, and found that half of it was blatantly wrong or had no evidence behind it (7). The team of researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada came up with the number after watching random episodes and investigating 479 recommendations The Dr Oz show and 445 from The Doctors.

Their research showed that, on average, the shows give their viewers around 12 different recommendations per episode. But only half of them are supported by research.

The other half are either baseless or actually contradict what the best-available science tells us. The results are published in the British Medical Journal (ref 1).

Dr. Mehmet Oz thought green coffee extract was miraculous. Indeed, the celebrity doctor had no qualms promoting the weight-loss potion as "magic" on his afternoon television show in 2012. The pills recommended in these shows for weight loss were no better than placebo for weight and fat loss. One of those authors of the research paper, Edzard Ernst, has dedicated his career to analyzing research on alternative and complementary medicine; he found that the supplement may be linked to adverse gastrointestinal effects. According to him, “Dr. Oz's promotion of this and other unproven or disproven alternative treatments is irresponsible and borders on quackery.”

The researchers have concluded that recommendations 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. Therefore, they say, public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows as details are limited and only a third to one half of recommendations are based on believable or 'somewhat believable' evidence.

But people are taking Dr. Oz's advice seriously and following it. Why? Because he is the most credentialed of celebrity health promoters. He’s a professor and vice-chair of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He earned his degrees at Ivy League universities, namely Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. He’s won a slew of medical awards (in addition to his Emmys) and co-authored hundreds of academic articles. He’s clearly a smart guy with qualifications, status, and experience. It’s reasonable to assume he is well-versed in the scientific method and the principles of evidence-based medicine. But unfortunately he is not following the rules of the game. So some people are boldly and scientifically challenging him now to provide evidence for his 'advice' on TV shows (ref 2).

Another person who promotes evidence-less treatments on the net is Dr. Joseph Mercola (ref 3), according to science based medicine website. And people are being asked to ignore Dr. Mercola (ref 4) by giving valid reasons by this site. One of it is - Dr. Mercola is asking people not to vaccinate children against flu by giving misinformation. You can read the full informative story on this by clicking on ref 4 link.

Some three years back somebody from India told me that Dr. Mercola gives good medical advices and sent me a link to his site (ref 5) asking me to follow them. I read some of his articles by subscribing to his news letters. But then I found something fishy all about his propaganda and I discontinued visiting his site. I think most people of science can find out his intentions as soon as they read his articles and watch his videos. But can general public find the truth about the pseudo-scientific information these people spread? I am sure thousands of people from all over the world visit these dubious sites and watch them on TV and videos on the net.

So why are these well qualified people spreading misinformation you might ask? The reasons I can give are:

1. These people have lost the ability to reason neutrally. They are being attached to some 'beliefs' and therefore are not able to see things with clarity (ref 6). It seems Dr. Oz's wife believes and practices some of the alternative 'medical therapies' and he is greatly influenced by her!

2. They are after celebrity statuses and popularity ( Dr. Oz was made popular by Oprah Winfrey by hosting him on her show a few times). They are not true people of science.

3. They are after money, and are victims of human weaknesses.

4. They are not 'well  informed' to know all the facts. They just believe dubious things they come across and don't question them.

What more can I say?









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