Sunday, April 19, 2015

Physicians want Dr Oz gone from Columbia medical faculty & Freedom of Expression

APRIL 17, 2015

NEW YORK — Columbia University has not removed TV celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz from his faculty position as a group of top doctors has demanded, citing his “egregious lack of integrity” for promoting what they call “quack treatments”.

“Dr Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine,” said a letter the 10 physicians sent to a Columbia dean earlier this week. They say he’s pushing “miracle” weight-loss supplements with no scientific proof that they work.

The New York Ivy League school responded yesterday (April 16), issuing a statement to The Associated Press (AP) saying only that the school “is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion”.

[Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression. So once you get a degree or doctorate, you can go senile and say anything you want under academic freedom and freedom of expression.

The problem is in a Freedom of Expression environment, there is a burden on the audience to be able to discern facts from fiction. We rely on "authority" to speak responsibly.]

Dr Oz first came to public attention as a frequent television guest of Ms Oprah Winfrey. For the past five years, he’s been the host of “The Dr. Oz Show”.

Dr Oz was not reachable last night, at his Columbia office number, which played a recorded message explaining how callers could get tickets to his TV show.

Led by Dr Henry Miller of California’s Stanford University, the doctors sent the letter to Mr Lee Goldman, dean of Columbia’s Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine. The nine other doctors from across the country included Dr Joel Tepper, a cancer researcher from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and Dr Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health in New York City.

The doctors wrote that Dr Oz, for years a world-class Columbia cardiothoracic surgeon, “has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain”. They said he has “misled and endangered” the public.

Last year, Dr Oz appeared before a US Senate panel that accused him of endorsing products that were medically unsound. At the time, Dr Oz acknowledged that some of the products he advised his viewers to use “don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact”.

A show representative did not immediately return a call yesterday from the AP seeking comment.

As vice chairman of Columbia’s surgery department, Dr Oz still occasionally teaches, said Mr Douglas Levy, spokesman for the Columbia University Medical Center. AP

[A doctor who found out he could make more money as a media personality, and selling his integrity to shill for "As seen on TV" crap. Really, if you see it on TV, you shouldn't buy it. At least not simply because it was on TV.

The doctors are raising a subtle point (or they should be): Does the freedom of expression extend to spouting lies and untruths that might harm people? 

A purist approach, a principled approach would be, "yes".

Here are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Or rather 4 quacks infesting the media.]]

US diplomat defends country's freedom of religion, expression

Kelly Ng,


17 Apr 2015

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel stress that the freedom of religion and free expression are key tenets of American society.

SINGAPORE: With the majority of radical websites and social media messages hosted on servers in the United States, the country's Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel on Thursday (Apr 17) found himself defending America’s stance of upholding the freedoms of religion and expression, including “the speech that we hate”.

This was in response to questions on why the US authorities are not doing more to clamp down on such communications.

“The great Justice (Louis) Brandeis once said that the idea of free speech is not to protect the speech that we love, but the speech that we hate,” Mr Stengel said.

While he acknowledged that it is a “sensitive and controversial” issue, Mr Stengel stressed that the freedom of religion and free expression are key tenets of American society. The US diplomat was among the panellists during a discussion at the East Asia Summit Symposium on Religious Rehabilitation and Social Integration.

Fellow panellist Professor Rohan Gunaratna, from the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, asked Mr Stengel why the US could not “take a tough position”. “Unless you address this, everyday there will be sympathisers and supporters of terrorist groups,” he said, to applause from the audience.

Mr Stengel said the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) generates between 20,000 to 40,000 social media messages daily and manages more than 9,800 websites. ISIS has reportedly started its own social media network, 5elafabook, after Facebook and Twitter clamped down on thousands of ISIS-related accounts in recent months.

Mr Stengel felt that social networks can be harnessed to disseminate “credible voices” rejecting terrorism.

“(Social media) is a powerful tool for them, but it should be an even more powerful tool for us.”

[Imagine, Mr Stengel, that it is 1943, World War II, and the Germans are operating a Radio Programme "Voice of Germany" which spread propaganda and fear, while at the same time they drop leaflets over US troops attempting to demoralise troops and encourage desertion. Should the US do nothing as this is freedom of expression? Should the US trust that other soldiers are "credible" voices and can help wavering soldiers reject the enemy's propaganda?

But this is why we trust the US more than we trust say, Russia or China. The US acts on Principle. Even when it is clearly stupid (defined as against their interest). 

But perhaps we have a duty to help the US realise that they are doing stupid things. Perhaps there are times when your enemies freedom of speech should not be allowed on the grounds that... they are your FREAKING ENEMY? 

Just as there may be grounds to tell people who are clearly promoting UNTRUTHS or incorrect information (like Dr Oz) to STFU.

Governments spend money on public education to explain to people why they should do certain things, like vaccinate/immunise their children. Should they have to also spend money to debunk conspiracy theorists who believe vaccines causes autism? Even tho this has been debunked again and again? This is getting us nowhere. 

Popular Science has decided not to allow comments on their stories on their website.
Society has this mistaken idea that some settled facts are still up for debate. People may disagree on these things, but the only reason that they disagree is that, well, some of these people are wrong. You do not have to give people who are objectively incorrect equal time. There is no point disagreeing about facts. If you are constantly reduced to proving hundreds of years of scientific consensus again before you can even start to talk, you waste everyone's time.

Also some untruths are almost impossible (or will take so long) to disprove, that it is the logical equivalent of a filibuster.

Which is the ludicrous extension of the Freedom of Speech principle. 

In case you are not familiar with the American (US) government, in Congress, if a bill is proposed which the other party does not support, a member of congress can speak during the debate on the bill but continue speaking until time allowed for the discussion on the bill is passed, and a vote cannot be called, and the bill lapses (it's probably more technical than that, but that is basically the gist of it). The ludicrous part of this filibuster procedure (speaking until time runs out) is that the speaker does not even have to speak relevantly! Filibusters have gone on for hours, while the filibustering member has read Shakespeare to Congress, phone books, recipes, other people's speeches, the Bill of Rights - anything to run out the clock. 

That's Freedom of Speech. It is also Freedom from Responsible Speech, Freedom from Relevance, Freedom from Responsibility, Freedom from getting things done. 

But I digress. Or was I filibustering?

The point is this question: Is the freedom of speech or freedom of expression absolute? There was always the classic illustration - if someone falsely shouts "Fire" in a crowded room, his freedom of expression is not protected. The judgement was that speech which was dangerous and false was not protected under the first Amendment.

So Doctors are trying to stop Dr Oz from leveraging on his status as a doctor to sell products of dubious value. False and Dangerous?

And we would like the US to stop hosting terrorists websites, because they are false and dangerous?]

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