Friday, June 25, 2010

A perfectly suit-able piece on Dr. Oz?

UPDATE, Monday, June 28: And, as if on cue, Oz wins his Emmy...

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I'll get around to Part 2 of my thoughts on modern-day misandry. (A couple of you have inquired about its status.) In the meantime, here's the New York Daily News' rendering of my take on Dr. Mehmet Oz and his new show, up for a daytime Emmy this Sunday. I gotta say, I don't know if I would've gone with that exact wording in the headline (gulp). We'll see what happens, I guess. Between this, the hullabaloo that erupted over my Journal piece on the James Ray debacle, and something else that's upcoming soon (he says slyly), I'm thinking we might bracket 2010 as my own personal Year of Living Dangerously....

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is really going out on a limb Steve! I agree with you about Oz, he's a flake, but you don't see people call a spade a spade like that, especially in print. Hope you guys know what you're doing. ;-)

Dimension Skipper said...

Playing Beelzebub's attorney for a moment, I'll just say it's stuff like the following LiveScience piece which contributes to spurring people to look elsewhere for medical answers. Sure, I don't trust the "quacks" of (with?) varying degrees out there, but I'm not sure how far I trust the medical establishment either if the issues described herein are as prevalent as made out (and they certainly sound plausible enough to these)...

Dark Side of Medical Research: Widespread Bias and Omissions
By Jeremy Hsu, LiveScience Senior Writer
(posted: 24 June 2010)

After reading that, I can see how some folks might be willing to head for their nearest alt-medicine man, someone with a little (or a lot of) charisma to go with that sincere gleam in his eye as he oh-so-convincingly assures them he can help.

Plus often enough the modern medical system can seem so cold and impersonal, dealing in volume. By offering more personal attention and devoting a little more one-on-one time, these alternative guys tap into a fairly common feeling of "my doctor doesn't really listen, he just wants to get on to the next patient."

I suppose in the end it just simply boils down to... Who do you trust? The answer for me is still the well-established system of modern western medicine, but... let's just say there appear to be troubling flaws there as well. And the larger the sums of money on the line (either for the "quacks" or the "real docs"... or the insurance, let's not forget the insurance!), well, that just muddies the healing waters.

And you can get second, third, fourth, etc... opinions, but if doctors aren't even aware that they're basing those opinions in many cases on incomplete or even outright biased information, then what good, ultimately, are the opinions? Maybe the quacks' opinions are just as valid in the long run? (OK, probably not, but I can see how some folks might get to that conclusion.)

(I'm mostly just thinking "out loud" here. I have no answers.)

JT said...

I'm still not quite sure what to make of this blog. I stumbled onto it because I'm interested in genuine quackery. On the other hand, I'm curious about what it is that leads some people to base their perspective on health and healing so narrowly on "science." I'm trained as a scientist, but I have no trouble accepting that there are many things, especially when it comes to life and healing, that science simply doesn't come close to explaining.

I'm not a fan of Dr. Oz--he promotes himself too vigorously. But I've had enough first-hand experience with some of the "alternative" or "complimentary" approaches to healing that I believe that many of those modalities have a positive effect, even if still not understood by mainstream science.

I have my own personal story. My wife was diagnosed four years ago with stage IV ovarian cancer. We went to a highly-ranked hospital and she went through the standard treatment of surgery followed by chemotherapy. It didn't work, so she started a standard second-line treatment, along with an additional new (and very expensive) targeted therapy. There was no change, and her doctor suggested that she needed a break from treatment. We then began investigating other options rather than just sitting around while the doctors scratched their heads. We began by searching PubMed for references to less standard therapies that had shown some indication of merit. These included mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, self-hypnosis, and and some supplements. And, yes--she has also worked at maintaining a positive outlook and moving past the anger she had initially felt toward her situation. It has now been 3 years and she has not resumed treatment. While her doctors tell her that there is no way to know why she is doing so well, they do admit their ignorance about why she is doing so well, have asked for details of what she is doing, and have encouraged her to continue. She will also say that getting cancer and making the changes in her life that the illness has prompted have been a positive force in her life.

We certainly don't even suggest to others facing serious illness that taking similar measures will produce similar results, but we both are also mystified and at times defensive in the face of dogmatic and vociferous claims that these kinds of approaches are just self-deception and that the only people who know anything about how the human body, and the human spirit, function and how people heal are narrowly-trained scientists and physicians. It's possible to walk a middle path that takes advantage of what medical science is able to do well, and also explores around the edges of what medical science admits it still doesn't understand.

Steve Salerno said...

JT: Thanks for weighing in here. I concur that people in tough situations have every right to pursue the course that seems most promising to them, when there is little left to lose. I also agree that modern (allopathic) medicine doesn't have all the answers.

But...

Just because one approach admittedly fails to provide all the answers doesn't (or shouldn't) mean that we flee from science and reason itself in order to embrace notions that have never been validated (or in some cases, even tested) in any kind of meaningful way. I have interviewed leading figures from the CAM realm, and their mantra tends to reduce to the following: "Our methods don't answer to traditional science. Our methods don't require clinical validation. Our methods have a rhythm and energy all their own." Once you throw the door open to that outlook, what's the difference between science and religion? What's the difference between your faith in therapeutic touch and my faith in the Easter Bunny? Furthermore, while I am glad that your wife is doing well, surely you must acknowledge that anecdotal evidence really isn't evidence at all...?

JT said...

Steve--I fully agreed that you can't reject clinical methods and clinical evidence. Traditional science is of great value, within the bounds that it must operate. But outside of those bounds, which can be very restrictive and highly influenced by many subjective factors, I personally think we need to stay open to exploring and testing knowledge on our own.

Until CAM approaches receive the same level of funding and support for clinical trials it will not be possible to validate them by the same measures as more mainstream (and more profitable) therapies. So, no, I do not agree that anecdotal evidence is no evidence at all. It is very tangible evidence that people get ill and also heal in many different ways. Can you extrapolate from anecdotal evidence to generalized treatment? No. Can you use anecdotal evidence as a starting place for further investigation, and remain open to the possibility that it may lead to greater understanding of the complexities of how living beings function. I think so. I'm sure you are aware that in the history of modern medicine there are many, many clinically validated therapies that grew from anecdotal evidence.

I'm trained as a scientist, as is my wife. But we neither of us has an uncritical faith in science, any more than we have uncritical faith in any other claims to knowledge. I'd say that I have less faith in the Easter Bunny than I do in Merck or Eli Liily or Sloan-Kettering, but that doesn't mean that I accept all the knowledge the latter profess as of great value, or that some of it actually can lead to great harm.

My concern is simply that many people who are legitimately critical of blind acceptance of unrealistic claims go too far when they try to close the door completely on what cannot be fully explained by current science.

Clearly I'm still working out the balance of approaches in my own mind, and from my own experience. But I appreciate the opportunity to try to express those thoughts here.

bueny said...

Would love to see Steve Salerno update his book, or do a new book, which includes the many Shamsters of the "Secret" book/DVD as well as SuperShamster Kevin Trudeau.
Tim

bueny said...

Had to tell you about a recent interesting experience I had with SuperSham Kevin Trudeau. As an admitted self-help junkie myself, I saw an infomercial Kevin recently did on TV for a 14-set audio CD program called "Your Wish Is My Command." It sounded great. I was hooked. Kevin said he'd recorded it at a "conference" he had put together (someplace in Europe I believe) where he was speaking to a gathering of "masterminds," a group of the wealthiest, richest and wisest men in the world. I listened very carefully to the tapes, and there was not a single crowd sound or background sound on the entire set! He even read the questions from the "crowd" himself. And the questions from the "audience" were obviously geared to the message he wanted delivered. Not a skeptical question in the bunch. I even heard a screen door slam a couple of times in the background of the CDs, and it was clear the set was recorded in a home (probably one his many), not at a conference. That may be a small thing, but I thought it was very deceptive. I emailed Kevin with my concern about this and got no response. I emailed an associate of his I know and told him my thoughts. He did not deny my suspicions. He merely said, "You know Kevin. That's just Kevin being Kevin."