Dr. Oz: America’s Quack (and now, “G-Spot” enthusiast)

Last night I was watching Piers Morgan (when I have the TV on it’s usually on CNN, regardless of what time it is) and in case you haven’t heard, it’s Guest Host Week. That means that some random dude whom I’ve never heard of was sitting in for Piers (whom I had never heard of before last year) and running the show. The first guest was that dude from the Today show, which I haven’t seen in at least 3 years, but that was more “with it” than I usually am with Piers’s guests (I usually have no idea who his guests are; the main reason I watch that show is so I can feel in tune with popular culture). After that torture, they brought in Dr. Oz for the coup de grĂ¢ce.

Now I first became familiar with Dr. Oz last year when the James Randi Educational Foundation denounced him for featuring con-artist extraordinaire James Edward on his show. I did some research and found out he broke into stardom sometime around 2005 when Queen of the Deluded Gullible Douchettes, Oprah Winfrey, had him on as a guest. Apparently she thought he was great, which is usually a major warning sign for me. Usually, the likelihood that something is true is inversely proportional to how much Oprah seems to buy into it. I call this phenomenon the “O Factor.”

I did a little more digging and found out he’s a big supporter of integrative medicine. Us skeptics have a technical word for doctors like this: Quacks. I prefer to use the more scientifically accurate term, though: crazy, dangerous nutjob hucksters. Also, sometimes wannabe Messiahs or conspiracy theorists. Sometimes all of them at once (*cough* Deepak Chopra). I was quite puzzled to learn that Dr. Oz was sometimes referred to as “America’s Doctor.” I wonder if we can impeach him.

Anyway, last night Dr. Oz was explaining his latest quacky bit of advice: How to find the “G-Spot.” Strangely, he didn’t say anything I hadn’t heard before, but he also neglected to mention that if the “G-Spot” does exist, it only exists in a very small percentage of women (<20%). At the risk of sounding like one of those crazy conspiracy theorists I like to bash, I can see why belief in the G-Spot is so widespread. Since Victorian times, there has been this fear of clitoral stimulation, simply because it doesn’t seem to do anything useful in terms of procreation. Sex shouldn’t be about pleasure: it’s a reproductive act. On top of that, we live in a patriarchy, so the woman is inherently subservient to the man. This means the man’s pleasure should come first. For a dude, coitus is pretty damn pleasurable. Most women think it feels okay, too. However, most men are clueless egoists and don’t think of anyone but themselves (they’re conditioned to be that way), while women are told not to be too blunt about sex for fear of looking like a slut. The damage all this “G-Spot” talk does is as follows: It tells women that it is normal to be able to experience vaginal orgasms, which leads to the 70-80% of women who can’t feeling defective, like there’s something wrong with them. What’s normal about something the vast majority of the population in question will never experience?

So here’s the deal: You can try to find the G-Spot if you want, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t find some sort of magic pleasure button. Really, we should be teaching guys how to please a woman. So, ladies: Don’t be shy to take a guy by the hand and actually physically show him what pleases you. As a biological male-type, I have always found this most helpful. And guys, don’t be afraid to ask your ladies what turns them on. I know it can be kind of embarrassing, but your partner will have much more fun once you know how to push all her buttons.

Also, here’s a secret that a lot of men don’t seem to realize: You shouldn’t have to ask a woman if she had an orgasm, because most of the time you can feel it. When women cum, they usually experience a series of muscle contractions in the pelvis, vagina, and anus. Most of the time you should be able to feel it. Wikipedia says that not all women experience these contractions, but most of my partners have so I’m willing to bet the majority of women do (I’ve had a lot of partners; I used to try to fuck my way to manliness).

So, moral of the story: Dr. Oz is a nut, men need to think of their partners more. The end.

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Allergy Kids: Justified or Paranoid?

So seeing as how I quit drinking seven months ago and am currently trying to quit smoking, I opted not to go to any New Year’s parties and be tempted by naughty vices. Instead, I’ve been spending the evening perusing paranoid conspiracy theories on the interwebs and came across an interesting GMO PCT that goes by the name of AllergyKids.com. I really like this one because it’s more subtle than your run-of-the-mill Illuminati theory. It could end up convincing unsuspecting parental units that GM foods are lurking everywhere just waiting to attack their child’s immune system. Some of what the site claims is true, but most of it is misleading. For instance, the site claims that “20% of children have allergies.” Technically, this number is much higher if we’re to include all allergies, including hay fever and drug allergies. However, speaking only of food allergies, only 8% of American children are at risk, and most of them outgrow it [1]. In that same section, the good people at Allergy Kids claim that over the past few decades there has been:

  • 400% increase in food allergies
  • 300% increase in asthma, with a 56% increase in asthma deaths
  • 400% increase in ADHD
  • and between a 1,500 and 6,000% increase in autism.

I spent quite some time scouring Ebsco, JSTOR, and MedLine, but couldn’t substantiate any of these figures. I know there has been an increase in the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, but it is quite obvious that that particular disorder is grossly overdiagnosed, and some are even skeptical that it’s a real disorder. I know that as a child of the 1990s I was diagnosed as having ADHD and prescribed Adderall despite the fact that I was usually quite mellow and calm. (I was diagnosed based on poor academic performance, which was later found to be due to the fact that I have an IQ of 142 and simply wasn’t being challenged by my school district’s regular curriculum. Gifted children are even more likely than the average ones to be misdiagnosed with this disease du jour.)

Other outlandish claims are that allergies can cause “behavioral/temper changes” and “inflammation in… the brain (ADHD) [not].” This is sheer quackery and seems to be taken from the multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) playbook.

Also, the site claims that any food can cause an allergic reaction. While this is logically possible, there are many foods which have never been known to cause any allergic reactions, so there is no reason to fear them.

So, questionable statistics and apparent quackery aside, what are we to make of GM foods? The site in question does a decent job giving the rough idea of one side of the GM debate. Here’s how GMing works:

  1. Biologists identify a gene or protein, usually in a bacterium or virus, which they think will be beneficial in another organism.
  2. They isolate that gene and insert it in the target organism.
  3. A battery of tests is carried out to determine what effect (if any) the modification has had.
  4. More tests are usually then carried out to determine possible allergenic properties.

While the Allergy Kids web site correctly notes that there are currently no FDA regulations for GM plant matter (there are for animals), this is misleading. The industry has a good track record of self-regulating. They have to; if they let a product that had unknown allergenic properties get to market without adequate testing, they run the risk of massive lawsuits. In fact, that’s my advice to anyone who thinks a GM food has harmed them or their child: sue them. I doubt you’ll win, since GM foods are generally safe and there is no evidence that they cause harm, aside from the possibility of tainted l-tryptophan in the 80s, which Allergy Kids obviously notes. (Anyone taking any sort of dietary supplement is always gambling with their wallets if not their health, since there is no evidence that supplements are beneficial in any way to the majority of Americans and as of 2000 they are not regulated by the FDA, thanks to mumbo-jumbologists in congress who answer to the Health Food Industry as opposed to their constituents.)

And in case you’re wondering, that GM foods may cause allergic reactions is logical, since an allergic reaction is a reaction to a foreign protein that is mistakenly perceived by the body to be a threat. (Allergies are not caused by “toxins,” as Allergy Kids seems to claim.) However, fear of GM foods is illogical, since they are rigorously tested.

Another flaw in this form of paranoia is the false hope: organic foods. No study has ever found any sort of benefit to organic foods in humans. One study that I’m familiar with found that organic farming may be better for the environment, but that same study has also been accused of bias. Know what is good for the environment? GMOs. Organic foods are generally more expensive than traditionally grown foods, so really you’re forking out big dollars for no tangible benefit. (Some people claim that organic foods taste better, but I’ve never been able to tell the difference.)

In conclusion, at best AllergyKids.com should be taken with a grain of salt. At worst, it’s paranoid delusion.

See what Quackwatch has to say about GMOs.

Medical frauds get busted by the FBI

Three men have been arrested for a scam involving the harvesting, sale, and use of stem cells for non-FDA approved uses. A fourth man involved with the quack ring is on the run and a warrant for his arrest is still out.

The three arrested are Francisco Morales of Brownsville, Texas; Alberto Ramon of Del Rio, Texas; and Vincent Dammai of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Lawrence Stowe of Dallas is wanted in the case, but he done got away (for now).

Morales and Stowe both represented themselves as licensed physicians even though they aren’t and each ran his own quacky company (Morales ran the Rio Valley Medical Clinic and Stowe ran the Stowe Foundation and Stowe Biotherapy, Inc., which was shut down after a scathing 60 Minutes report). Stowe’s foundation and company promoted quacky uses of stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood. (The Stowe Foundation also seems to have a soft spot for energy medicine.)

The way the scam worked was as follows: Ramon, a licensed midwife at the Maternity Care Clinic in Del Rio, would collect umbilical cord blood from birth mothers at his practice. He then sold the blood to Global Laboratories of Scottsdale, AZ, who would then send the tissue to Dammai, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine in Charleston. Dammai would then use university resources to harvest the stem cells from the blood without the university’s knowledge or permission. (I would imagine he won’t be working there much longer.) He would then send it back to Global Laboratories, who would market the stem cells to treat cancer, ALS, MS, and a few other incurable diseases. (In case you’re wondering, stem cells can’t cure these diseases, although they may hold some answers for treating them in the future.)

The accused frauds made a grand total of $1.5 million for treating patients with incurable diseases with snake oil. (I’m actually surprised at how little they made, considering homeopathy has been making hundreds of millions of dollars for years and it’s just as effective and doesn’t have the allure of seeming to be based on real science, like stem cells might to the uneducated.)

I’m not sure if all stem cell scams are the same, but the one I’ve heard of most is that the stem cells are injected directly into the blood and said to just magically go where they’re needed most. From what I’ve read and been told, stem cells don’t work this way. (I’m neither a doctor nor a biologist, so I’m probably not an authority on the subject. I would recommend reading Quackwatch’s article on embryonic stem cells for a real doctor’s take on the field.)

I understand why people with incurable diseases might want to give “alternative” medicine a try: they are suffering and will cling to even the thinnest shred of hope. It’s the same reason people believe in magic and gods and the afterlife: humans need hope. However, when it comes to medicine, I urge the sick to let logic prevail. (In fact, I urge everyone to let logic prevail most of the time.) If a doctor promises a miracle cure that no other doctor you’ve seen has even mentioned, it stands to reason that the miracle medicine man is a quack. There is no logical reason for there to be a huge conspiracy to cover up perfectly viable cures for deadly or debilitating diseases. Claiming such a conspiracy is analogous to claiming that Barack Obama was born in Kenya or that the Apollo 11 moon landing was staged. There is no logical reason to believe any of this shit, and people who do are severely deluded. Listen to logic and don’t waste time or money on snake oil.

[The full story of these frauds can be found here.]

Judge to Fraud: You’re a douche

Notorious fraud Kevin Trudeau has finally got what’s coming to him! In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, Trudeau is one of those dietary supplement scammers. He outrageously claims that his coral calcium supplements can prevent and cure cancer. At one point he was even recommending dozens of grams of calcium a day. (In case you’re one of those people who thinks “the more the better,” you might want to look up “calculus” in the dictionary. It’s not just a math theory.) He had numerous informercials where he hocked his calcium supplement (which is several times more expensive than an equally effective store-brand supplement) until finally in 2008 he was ordered to stop advertising his supplement by the FDA. He then switched to advertising a book he wrote, which I’ve never read, but is apparently just itself a major ad for a webpage where you can buy his products. A judge found that this violated the 2008 court order and ordered him to pay almost $38 million in penalties and set up a $2 million bond in case he decides to sell snake oil again. Take that, douche!

In case you’re one of those people who swears by your dietary supplements, I hate to break it to you, but you’re wasting your dollars. Most people in America don’t need any sort of supplement unless they drink heavily or take certain drugs. Most people get sufficient nutrients in their regular diets. If you’re still unsure if you may need a supplement, I recommend you check the NIH ODS fact sheets for more information. More information on the supplement scam can be found at Quackwatch.