I've become a regular reader of the Science-Based Medicine blog, and was interested to hear that one of its contributors, Dr. Steven Novella, would be going on the Dr. Oz show to talk about alternative medicine. I listen regularly to the SGU and, knowing enough to know that Dr. Novella is pretty straightforward and no-nonsense when it comes to science and medicine, I was interested to hear how it would go down.
Watching the video (see the links on Science-Based Medicine to get to it), it was peculiar to see the differences between the two (in fact, there were several more than Drs. Novella and Oz) in how they handled both the arguments being put forth by the other and how they presented their opinions. Despite both being trained physicians, each took a different tact when dealing with the arguments of the other - Dr. Novella was straightforward and clear that, in his review of the literature for particular techniques, they did not seem to be effective as prescribed; Dr. Oz, claiming often that Dr. Novella was "dismissive", was dismissive in his own right and claimed that our scientific analysis of certain "Eastern" techniques was not an effective means of determining their efficacy. I may be a little biased (I do like both the SGU and Science-Based Medicine), but the thought that kept going through my head was this:
Wasn't Dr. Oz trained as a doctor? Wasn't he taught science and the scientific method?
As someone who's been in training as both a scientist and a physician, I think I have a slightly different perspective, appreciating science and scientific analysis more than some, but come on now. I'm fairly certain that all physicians have at least some training in scientific principles, and have enough logic and critical thinking skills to distinguish between correct and incorrect conclusions.
I also found it interesting that, when going to "here's what your doctor thinks" about different alternative medicine methods, the experts that he referred to often were critical of the techniques! If he was trying to prove the point that those methods were safe and effective, why show a clip of a doctor saying that it is not safe and effective (or, instead, why it is unproven)? Kind of weird.
I can only hope that, when put into that position in the future, I can be in the role of critical thinker, and not in the role of true believer unwilling to listen to any other evidence.