Cardiac surgeon, TV host, and purveyor of what is essentially medical witchcraft Dr Mehmet Oz shared an article on his Twitter feed yesterday. Linking to text appearing on The Dr Oz Show website, it tries to explain – citing astrologer Rebecca Gordon – that “astrological signs may reveal a lot more about our health.”
“For centuries, we have used astrological signs to examine our personality and how we interact with those around us,” Oz’s tweet begins, adding: “however, these signs may reveal a great deal about our health as well.”
Clicking on the slideshow you’re presented with, it starts with Aries. The accompanying text? “An Aries can tend to ‘ram or dive in to things head first.’ When an Aries feels blocked, this pent-up energy may appear in the form of migraines, sinus issues, or even jaw tension.”
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we can’t have nice things.
Update: The tweet was deleted some time on the morning of July 7, but fortunately we took a screenshot of it:
Now, if you’re here, we probably don’t have to tell you that astrology is total bullshit. We can’t even count all the ways in which it’s bullshit. Thanks to the wobble of Earth on its rotational axis, by the way, it’s not even “accurate” within its own parameters – all the star signs are a month out.
The entire premise reveals as much about you and your health as do the randomized patterns and shapes of your dog’s poop. Although one might hope this is a joke, Dr Oz’s sketchy history suggests otherwise.
As noted by several places – including This Week Tonight’s John Oliver – Dr Oz peddles alternative medicines and healthcare products with spurious and unfounded claims. Gizmodo reminded us that he was recently summoned before a Congressional hearing, where he had to explain under oath why he was endorsing and promoting products not backed by scientific evidence.
As noted by Vox, Oz has had Gordon, that aforementioned astrologer, on his show to explain the health-astrology connection on multiple occasions. These segments and tweets strongly suggest a very tongue-in-cheek attitude toward the topic – and it’s highly likely Oz doesn’t believe in what astrology promises – but that’s not the point here.
Few would think that a medical professional should ever talk about astrology in this context. Normally such shenanigans could be easily dismissed, but the reason this matters, sadly, is that Dr Oz has a following of millions.
Many hang on his every word, and will take this as evidence that the movement of the stars really do explain why they feel poorly or not. Inadvertently or not, this is promoting a dangerous way of thinking about the world, and healthcare.
Lest we forget, he’s even on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, which means he has a direct line to Donald Trump’s ears. This couldn’t be more 2018 if it tried.
The world is exhausting enough as it is for scientists and science communicators. We’ve got climate change to deal with and climate deniers to push back against. We have volcanic eruptions in Guatemala and Hawaii – two very different threats – that are difficult enough to handle as is without false rumors spreading about them online.
We’re living at a time when the head of NASA saying he changed his mind about climate change by reading a lot and listening to experts is, in fact, good news. With that in mind, we absolutely do not need people like Dr Oz linking astrology to your health.