An article critical of The Oprah? In a mainstream magazine?
Nice work, Weston Kosova and Pat Wingert of Newsweek.
They manage to point out the flaws in the thinking of anti-aging Suzanne Somers and anti-vaccine Jenny McCarthy. And they go after the idiotic message of The Secret. Basically, they go after the things gullible Oprah viewers have been taking as fact when, in fact, it’s all dubious or outright lies.
You know how they do it?
They talk to credible doctors who have expertise in the topics above instead of celebrities who crave attention by peddling pseudoscience.
This is where things get tricky. Because the truth is, some of what Oprah promotes isn’t good, and a lot of the advice her guests dispense on the show is just bad. The Suzanne Somers episode wasn’t an oddball occurrence. This kind of thing happens again and again on Oprah. Some of the many experts who cross her stage offer interesting and useful information (props to you, Dr. Oz). Others gush nonsense. Oprah, who holds up her guests as prophets, can’t seem to tell the difference. She has the power to summon the most learned authorities on any subject; who would refuse her? Instead, all too often Oprah winds up putting herself and her trusting audience in the hands of celebrity authors and pop-science artists pitching wonder cures and miracle treatments that are questionable or flat-out wrong, and sometimes dangerous.
But at the same time, the viewers who buy into what Oprah says without doing any critical thinking or fact-checking themselves should be reprimanded. If they didn’t fall for the lies, Oprah wouldn’t have this much power.
What’s sad is that with her wealth and celebrity, Oprah could actually be doing a great service to the country. She could be promoting sound science. Instead, she misleads her audience when she allows people like McCarthy and Somers to go on air. It hurts all of us in the process.