Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Hooray for Newsweek!

Newsweek decided a couple of weeks ago to drop the "news" part of the week. Apparently conceding that it could no longer compete with Internet swiftness, the editors rejiggered the magazine to contain mostly opinion and interpretation of issues in the news rather than breaking news stories. It's, at best, a work in progress still. Magazine columnists work best as spice in the meal, not the main dish.

Each week also features a major cover story that they intend to function part as think piece, part as background for the educated reader. These have also been uneven, both in length and depth. They've interviewed Obama (yawn) and examined the "real" Iran (worthy yawn). In need of something to stop the yawning they pulled out the newsmagazine equivalent of a bunker buster. They dissed Oprah.

Specifically, Live Your Best Life Ever! by Weston Kosova and Pat Wingert smashes into tiny smithereens the lack of science and sense in the crackpots and quacks that dispense fraudulent medical advice on her show. Yes, that means you Jenny McCarthy and your anecdotes about autism that substitute for research and how the CFGF diet is an autism cure. And yes that means The Secret which, as I wrote two years ago in It's No Secret. You're a Moron, was actively dangerous in its proposition that positive thinking could beat cancer. The Secret's advice was so incredibly stupid that Oprah had to bring on a woman who was planning on using The Secret to conquer her own cancer to tell her to listen to her doctors instead. And Oprah went on to a year's worth of medical ills and weight gain right after that program, which in a rational world would turn viewers away from Oprah's medical advice. We do not live in a rational world.

The authors of the Newsweek piece do acknowledge that:

she gives excellent diet and fitness tips. Two of her longest-serving resident experts, Dr. Mehmet Oz and trainer Bob Greene, routinely offer sound, high-quality advice to Oprah and her audience on how to lose weight and improve overall health.

That's not enough.

Bloggers and commentators all over the world have been overjoyed by the audacity and scientific sensibility of the article, as Kate Dailey wrote on the Newsweek blog. They are even harder on Oprah than I've been.
The article really struck a nerve with Dr. Dave Gorski, a blogger at Science-Based Medicine (bookmark it: the site is a great source of thorough, critical reviews of both the latest research and medical fads). ...
No one, and I mean no one, brings pseudoscience, quackery, and antivaccine madness to more people than Oprah Winfrey does every week...Consequently, whether fair or unfair, she represents the perfect face to put on the problem that we supporters of science-based medicine face when trying to get the message out to the average reader about unscientific medical practices, and that’s why I am referring to the pervasiveness of pseudoscience infiltrating medicine as the “Oprah-fication” of medicine.

The article even resonated across the pond: Alex Massie at The Spectator ...
it's worth being reminded that Oprah peddles the anti-MMR nonsense that, if its supporters have their way, is much more likely to harm many more children than would be affected even if their crackpottery were based on a sound evaluation of the risks of immunisation. Which, as best I can tell, it isn't.

And of course, those kids at Gawker chimed in as well:
This lengthy article is actually far too kind (and brief) to baby-killing nut Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine crusade, and yet it still manages to be a very damning indictment of how Oprah is trying to kill your poor mother.

I apologize that others have been more condemning of Oprah's pet quacks than I have. I'll try to do better - or is it worse? - in the future. Especially since I'm sure that we will now be treated to the crocodile tears of this poor maltreated billionaire with only an entire magazine, network, and top-rated talk show to fall back on crying bitterly of how badly she, who wants only good things for people, has been maligned with no opportunity to respond.

Tell her it's hogwash. She brought this down on herself. Send the message loud and clear. No more quacks. Get them off the air. Then we can strive to get them out of the pages of the women's and "health" magazines, and then maybe even off the Internet itself.

I know. I can dream, can't I?

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