The Great Courses

Oprah 2020? Let's Hope Not.

Jan 8, 2018 at 11:40 AM
7 months ago


I'm so thankful for Oprah's message last night at the Golden Globes. And one can't help but admire the success story of Oprah's life.

Oprah Winfrey

But this is a case where we should resist deifying the messenger. Remember that Oprah's hugely popular television platform has been a massively large conduit for pseudoscience, woo, and bad ideas.

Via Oprah's show, Suzanne Somers promoted "nanotechnology" sleeping patches for better rest, youth, and "detox," as Oprah told an adoring audience that Somers might "be a pioneer."

One of Oprah's favorite physicians is woo-meister Dr. Oz, an insanely popular medical celebrity who promotes green coffee extract for weight loss, GMO warning labels, "tongue diagnosis," reiki healing (Eastern mysticism), and people who claim to speak with the dead (John Edward). Dr. Oz even pitched a do-it-yourself method for whitening teeth using strawberries and baking soda. Oprah boosted him into his own free-standing television show and stratospheric celebrity.

Dr Oz

Oprah promoted frequent guest Dr. Christiane Northrup, a gynecologist who promised fantastic orgasms through the increase of "qi gong" (Chi-aligning body positions) to send positive vibes to the vagina.

And of course, Oprah's couch has seen multiple appearances by anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy, whose fearmongering and propaganda about vaccines causing autism constitutes, in my opinion, a threat to public safety.

Yes, there's much to admire about Oprah. And I so appreciate her stand for women, for human rights, and her desire to inspire tomorrrow's world-changers.

But I agree with a few others who've already declared - against the fervor - that they wouldn't celebrate an Oprah 2020 presidential ticket, because despite Oprah's admirable success story and good intention, her track record of promoting pseudoscientific nonsense does not represent the kind of grounded, evidence-based attitude the world so desperately needs.

Oprah 2020 poster

This is an older article from Skeptical Inquirer, but it remains relevant. Let's hope that Oprah can course-correct and provide an even greater - and healthier - role model for tomorrow's leaders.

Seth Andrews



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