Expensive Beliefs

Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. – Ambrose Peirce
Posted: September 16th, 2011 | By Bruce Gorton

Dr Oz went from being a bit touchy feely to downright dangerous by selling faith healing and necromancy last year. This year he is doing it by selling fear of apple juice.

Basically the story goes he sent off some apple juices to various labs in order to test them for total arsenic as a sort of quick and easy scaremongering campaign. It has been a slow few weeks.

The thing is a certain amount of organic arsenic is natural and pretty much harmless. It is the inorganic arsenic that will getcha as the Food and Drug Administration told him a week before the episode aired.

If the FDA sends you something to say “Hey, your testing isn’t all that relevant and here is why” the ethical thing to do is pay attention. Instead Dr Oz pretty much ignored the people who make a living doing these tests as a matter of routine, and went ahead with the show anyway.

This sort of stuff is annoying because there are times when you really need people to pay attention to expertise. We of the media – not simply news media but any media that purports to be about true events – have a duty to make sure our audience doesn’t end up being subjected to these scares.

Because one day something really serious will come around and you will have a certain number of people saying “heh, remember when they said apple juice was poison?”

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