We trust our doctors. They have all that fancy schooling and they make us feel better when shards of bone are peeking out of our skin. Three of the top four most trusted professions in America are related to medicine, and other polls from around the world show similar results. Doctors are supposed to be among the best and brightest society has to offer, and they’ve devoted themselves to curing the sick, not to gambling away our money on the stock market. Of course we’re going to trust them. Besides, who else would tell us if that drug we saw on TV was right for us?
But doctors are still human, which means there are going to be a bunch that abuse their considerable power within society. Still others have somehow slipped through the cracks of a rigorous medical education, having gone on to prove themselves to be surprisingly ignorant people. These are the doctors who lie, who - through greed or stupidity - give the masses advice that is actually bad for their health.
And then there are the celebrity doctors who lie. A regular doctor’s lies will probably only affect their own patients. A celebrity doctor’s has that extra reach that allows him or her to poison the minds of millions around the world. Hyperbole? Unfortunately not. The advice and opinions of some notable celebrity doctors could land you in the hospital, where real doctors would have to take care of you. At least one of the following doctors is responsible for the illness and death of many children. Yeah. He’s not good people.
Here are the five high-profile doctors from whom you're likely to hear a lot of advice, which you really need to ignore.
5 Deepak Chopra
The only man on this list who tries to scam people both medically and spiritually, Deepak Chopra is a physician, spiritualist, and champion of alternative medicine. For those who are not in the know, alternative medicine is made up of those treatments that haven't stood up to rigorous testing the way certified medicine does. Think crystals, smoke, and homeopathy.
So what is Deepak’s hustle? Besides the usual supplement/herb/aromatherapy racket, he’s the proud poppa of this idea he calls “quantum healing.” The idea is that a person’s state of mind can affect their physical state, allowing them to overcome pains and ills without the hassle of going to a medical professional. It extends beyond that, too: Not attractive? According to Chopra, believing you’re attractive will make you attract others. Chopra dresses this up in terms borrowed from quantum theory, terms like “observer effect” and “entanglement,” which are very real things, but have nothing to do with what he’s talking about.
Quantum theory deals with things at the subatomic level, and has nothing to do with the healing process of the body, but there’s a very real, well-documented phenomenon that explains why some people can think themselves better. It’s called the placebo effect, and it means our bodies can react positively to fake treatments that we believe are going to work. For all his fancy talk, Chopra’s expensive lectures, books, and products are nothing more than snake oil.
4 Dr. Oz
Oh, Ozzy. So much has been made of this man’s recent spanking by the American senate, but it bears repeating: Dr. Oz has been lying his face off.
For the celebrity doctor crime of touting miracle weight loss solutions, Oz was brought before the senate and thoroughly chewed out. And rightly so. There is no such thing as a miracle weight loss product. Oz knows that. Other doctors know that. The viewing public... not so much. They know that doctors know things, and so when a doctor tells them some special beans will help them lose weight, they’ll willingly shell out whatever money necessary to nab this magical product. The senate pointed that out, and a shamefaced Oz promised to stop shilling for miracle products that, again, don’t work. Of course, until some solid regulations are put in place, some other doofus with a degree is going to come around with the next miracle product and the cycle will continue.
So, you ask, what does work? Well, an ordinary writer discovered a weight loss secret, and it’s making doctors furious! Ready? Consume fewer calories than you burn, and you will lose weight. Want to only eat McDonald’s? This guy did it, and he lost a ton of weight. It’s monstrously unhealthy, but it works. Can I have a TV show now?
Oz promising to back down is good news, but less encouraging is the fact that he still plans to share products he thinks might work, but that don’t have the scientific data to back them up. Part marks to the good doctor?
3 Michael Roizen
So there’s this guy, Dr. Michael Roizen, and in 2008 he said that people could live a healthy, active life all the way to 120. And that his prediction would increase to 150 within the next 15 years. That’s incredible news for all those people out there who like being alive.
Of course, it’s not true. See, Roizen’s claim is based on advances that could be made in the coming decades. Which means they have not yet been made. Which means that our lifespans are, until proven otherwise, likely going to hover in the 70-90 year range.
So why does Roizen say we’re dying earlier than we should be? For starters, he blames telomere shortening, saying it’s responsible for much of what happens to us when we age. The fact that there’s no definitive proof of that is just a technicality. Especially when there’s money to be made.
Like most of the others on this list, the lack of evidence to back up his claims hasn’t stopped Roizen from selling books and products that claim to help people “turn back the clock.” It’s also not stopping him from rubbing shoulders with another guy on this list, with Roizen serving as the Chief Medical Consultant for The Dr. Oz show. It looks like shady docs band together.
2 Joseph Mercola
Joseph Mercola is another alternative medicine guy, selling products on his personal website to help people escape allopathic – a word which here means “real” – medicine.
Of course, he wouldn’t be on this list if the remedies he recommended actually worked. On an appearance on Dr. Oz, he went on about the incredible power of astaxanthin supplements. Astaxanthin is the chemical that gives salmon and flamingos their colouring, and Mercola claimed it was an incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, one that could also help prevent vision disorders. Sounds amazing. Surely Mercola had plenty of data to back that up. Right?
Not so much. According to Berkeley wellness, studies have found the compound has mixed results in humans, and the studies that are being touted by the pro-astaxanthin crowd have been criticized for being poorly done. Berkeley also warns of unpleasant side effects, like yellowing skin, to go along with the drug. So much for that.
It gets better. Mercola has twice been called out by the FDA and told to clean up misleading descriptions of products sold on his website. It turns out you can’t say that a product “help[s] to virtually eliminate your risk of developing cancer in the future.” Probably because there’s absolutely no way that’s true. Fake cancer shields aside, Mercola keeps selling ridiculous, expensive supplements in the interest of helping consumers to “Take Control Of Your Health,” and will continue to do so until everybody wises up and stops listening to his scumbag advice.
1 Andrew Wakefield
Anyone who has seen former Playboy model, current The View co-host, and self-appointed medical expert Jenny McCarthy talk about vaccines is witnessing the legacy of one of the worst ever famous doctors ever. EVER.
See, she believes that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine caused her child, and other children, to get autism. She believes that because one Andrew Wakefield published a medical paper in 1997 that said that vaccines might cause autism. Her activism, as well as the efforts of many others, have led to an increase in the number of people not getting vaccinated. And that is leading to a resurgence in the diseases the vaccines are meant to prevent in areas where they had previously been eradicated. Some of the people who got these diseases have died. Also important: Wakefield’s study was deemed fraudulent and there is no support for the idea that vaccines cause autism.
It turns out that autism is diagnosed in those formative years where children are starting to interact with others and the world around them. Incidentally, those are also the years during which the MMR vaccine is supposed to be administered to kids. But that doesn’t mean the vaccines are causing the autism. The two are correlated, which means they look like they may be related, but no study has ever found vaccines to cause autism, which is an important distinction.
Even after being called out as a fraud, losing court cases, and being deregistered as a physician and barred from practicing medicine in his native England, Wakefield maintains that he’s had it right all along. Even after his studies led children to get sick, even after people died from being unvaccinated, Wakefield has stuck to the lie that has defined his life. It’s a shame there’s no vaccine for him.