Name that Fallacy: The “Dr. Oz” Edition!

First of all, it’s apparent from asking friends of mine, not many know who Dr. Oz is — So if you want to know – Google him. šŸ˜€

That being said, Steven Novella from the SGU Podcast (and of course the Neurologica Blog) was invited on to his show recently. And what WAS the video being from that show on YouTube was removed due to Copyright Violations.

And so, I will post what I completed as my draft when I WAS going to play “Name that Fallacy!”


00:00-00:15 – Fallacy of Presupposition

The Introduction comprises of rhetoric that includes “Why your doctor is afraid about Alternative Health!”. This is a Fallacy of presupposition as it is not proven, or agreed to that Doctors are afraid of “Alternative Health”.

Additionally, Dr. Oz asks Dr. Novella a question, which he answers. Right after Dr. Oz answers, the introduction cuts to a scene where two women are nodding. To me, they appear much more surprised than what I would expect given Dr. Oz’s statement – So, what I am suggesting that the clip was not an actual reaction to Dr. Oz’s disagreement, but to a different statement all together.

02:27 – False Attribution

“You’ve Shown You’re not Afraid..” – The audience’s opinion – the public in general – is irrelevant; The General Public is not qualified, nor an authority on Alternative Medicine, or Medicine.

02:28 – Appeal to Antiquity

“Time honoured Traditions of Alternative Medicine” – Asserting that Alternative Health is correct because it was long held to be true.

02:37 – Appeal to Emotion via Appeal to Gender

In practice rather than rhetoric, the very fact that Dr. Novella is juxtaposed against a FEMALE Cardiologist who uses Alternative-Medicine will appeal to the emotion to some women. Dr. Novella will be portrayed as oppressive – As is a common notion in this segment. I’m giving it the name of “Appeal to Gender”.

03:55 – Fallacy of Composition / Ad Hominem via Poisoning The Well / False Analogy

Dr. Guarneri stated that “And certainly, I don’t think today we could call Nutrition, Alternative Medicine; or Exercise, Alternative Medicine”. By phrasing her argument in this way, Dr. Guarneri invites the audience to commit a circumstantial Ad Hominem on anyone who considers Nutrition or Exercise Alternative Medicine. However, this is largely irrelevant — because it is a false analogy.

Neither Nutrition or Exercise are considered Alternative Medicine. However, two of the other modalities she mentioned are – Acupuncture, and Prayer.

So, what does Dr. Oz say: “Well, that was a pretty compelling argument”.

Seriously?! – That wasn’t an argument at all, Dr. Oz. Dr. Guarneri made a statement about her job, said she suggested Alternative Therapies to her patients, and implied Dr. Novella thought that Nutrition and Exercise was Alternative Medicine.

If anything, I should be adding a Fallacy of Composition to her list, as it is fairly evident that she believes that because most of the advice she passes to her patients is, hopefully, is good & evidence-based advice, that ALL advice she gives is good & evidence-based advice – Actually, I will.

04:52 – Red Herring / Appeal to Emotion via Pragmatic Wishful Thinking

Dr. Oz makes it clear why he uses Alternative Medicine:

“it gives folks, my patients, me – a customized tool, that I can use, that benefits me.”

It is crystal that Dr. Oz uses Alternative Medicines on the basis that he, and his patients BELIEVE they gain something from a “customized tool”, not that they ARE gaining efficacious results from doing so.

07:13 – Straw Man

Dr. Oz responds to Dr. Novella with “I totally disagreeĀ  – that these have not been studied, and some evidence found to support them”.

This was not the position of Dr. Novella.

Dr. Novella make it clear that his opinion was with the evidence, and that the evidence demonstrated through research (studies, trials, etc) that many oral Alternative Medicines do not work for the ailments they are commonly suggested use.

07:30 – Red Herring / Appeal to Emotion via Appeal to Motive.

Dr. Oz changes the topic from evidence of Oral Alternative Medicines towards what he considers to be the “bigger” problem Doctors have with Alternative Medicine. The way Dr. Oz frames the statement implies that doctors feel they do not have complete control over their patients healthcare and therefore is this is their motive for being against Alternative Medicine.

10:28 Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Dr. Guarneri concludes via Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc that because her patients used Acupuncture and reported feeling better that acupuncture needles were causal in her patients’ relief.

10:40 – Ad Hominem via Poisoning The Well

Dr. Guarneri completes her statement that Poisons the Well “That’s the Hippocratic Oath”. Again, anyone opposing her viewpoint is implied to not agree with this statement where this is not necessarily the case.

10:42 – Oz Just being an Ass.

I found it unnecessary for Dr. Oz to pass the commentary on to Dr. Novella, only to AGAIN interrupt his response.

11: – Strawman

Dr. Oz (never got to finish due to removal of video)

11:45 – False Attribution

Chinese Medicine (never got to finish due to removal of video)

12:00 – Strawman

“Can’t Possibly Work” (never got to finish due to removal of video, though from memory Steve Novella gives an awesome fallacy-smackdown to Dr. Oz, making the point that he DID NOT SAY that alternative medicines CAN’T POSSIBLY WORK, and continued pointing out that he said he had carefully reviewed the evidence.)

14:10 Ad Hominem

Dismissive (never got to finish due to removal of video)





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