Pardon me this morning while I rant a little. In fact, it’s worse: pardon me while I rant a little about something that I’ve ranted about before. I refer to that disgrace to the medical profession, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
I haven’t mentioned him on the site in a while, because really, why bother? Nothing that a person like me can say will derail that juggernaut of TV viewership, publicity, and money. Sweet, sweet money. Oz has a fan base of the credulous and the underinformed, and when he comes on his show talking about the latest all-natural extract that will Melt The Pounds Off or perhaps Fight Cancer, product moves off the shelves. And that’s what’s important, right? As long as the rubes reach into their pockets?
Don’t forget (see that first link above) that Oz himself is on record with the New Yorker about cancer: “We could sell that show every day“, says this heir of Hippocrates. You may remember the scene in Huckleberry Finn where the (self-named) Duke and Dauphin are putting up notices of their “theatrical performance” at a riverside town. After inspecting the wording, the Duke says, with satisfaction: “There. If that line don’t fetch them, then I don’t know Arkansaw!” Dr. Oz knows how to fetch ’em. And he doesn’t even need to escape on a raft downriver after the audience catches on, because they never do.
What’s set me off this time is this tweet from Dr. Oz’s busy Twitter account. Update: it appears that it’s been deleted! But check his website (for now) if you want to see it anyway. . .It’s not about cancer per se, nor about dieting nor even about ways to as look young and untroubled as someone who’s never heard of Dr. Oz. No, the latest bulletin from the frontiers of medicine is. . .astrology. Yes. “For centuries,” says this egregious huckster, “we have used astrological signs to examine our personality and how we interact with those around us. . . Discover what your astrological sign can tell you about your health“.
So it’s come to this. It was Cicero who wondered how one fortuneteller could pass another in the street and keep a straight face. But that’s Dr. Oz’s main qualification – he keeps a straight face no matter what he’s holding up to the camera. What’s next? I can just see this credentialed hack earnestly pointing at maps of the soles of the feet to enlighten the masses about reflexology, or extolling the diagnostic benefits of the bumps on the skull. What am I saying – he’s probably done those already, and if he hasn’t, it’s not for lack of shame. Dr. Oz is a double recessive for shame.
You wonder what a younger, less. . .flexible. . .version of the man would have thought if he could have had a vision of himself in 2018 touting star signs for better health. Would he have been shocked, appalled, wondering how it ever came to this? Or would he have noted the TV studio backdrop and his later self’s easy familiarity in front of the camera and thought “Hmm. Not bad.” We’ll never know. All we have is the current version of Mehmet Oz, and he has a TV show to host, products to move, guests to nod at thoughtfully, books to plug. And checks to cash. Never forget those.
There was a sequence in Walt Kelly’s classic Pogo strip where Barnstable the Bear realized to his horror that (although he was illiterate) when he actually tried writing, his productions were wildly catchy and annoying advertising jingles. Albert the Alligator saw this as a big opportunity to get rich (several of the swamp’s characters were always on alert for such), and tried to persuade his friend to keep cranking out more of them. “No! I can always rob graves!” was the bear’s anguished response.
So allow me to appropriate that advice. It’s a more honorable career than using the tatters of one’s medical reputation to shill crap about astrology to the living, anyway. Let’s buy Dr. Oz a shovel and see if we can persuade him to alter course.