Thursday, June 4, 2009

Newsweek De-Hypes Oprah

As much as I like the new Newsweek, it's not a regular purchase for me. There are just too many magazines already arriving in my mailbox or jumping into my arms at the newsstand (yes, that's a little unsettling). So I passed up the recent cover story on Iran, even though it sounded very intriguing.

But this week's I couldn't pass up: "Crazy Talk: Oprah, Wacky Cures & You," shouts the cover (over an image of Oprah either shouting or trying to prevent her head from exploding). Basically, I have a weakness for magazines that do the work to destroy myths and deflate the truly wacky, and this article beckoned to me, promising to destroy and deflate America's biggest personality. It didn't disappoint.

(And, because this blog is known globally as the home of the highest journalistic ethical standards, I should note that one of the article's authors, Weston Kosova, was a schoolmate of mine at the University of Wisconsin and is a fellow alum of the Badger Herald student daily.)

The article (coauthored by Kosova and Pat Wingert) is a forceful and occasionally funny look at Oprah's gullibility for new-age quackery, and it includes some sobering warnings for Oprah's many minions in the world who might be tempted to follow her advice or the advice of her quacktastic guests. Now that we've finally gotten a president who believes in reality, it's nice to see some publications sticking up for science, even if it means going after one of the most popular people around.

As Bad Astronomy science blogger Phil Plait notes:
Oprah recently stepped from the realm of pseudoscience firmly into the realm of dangerous antiscience when she decided to support antivax advocate Jenny McCarthy. The blogosphere went, well, nuts, condemning her for this. That includes me; I’m pretty ticked Oprah would put so many children in danger by giving McCarthy a platform from which to spew her nonsense. ... I am so happy that Newsweek has not only tackled Oprah’s prolonged New Age nonsense, but they came on strong. They not only printed a 6-page long dissection of Oprah’s ridiculous assertions, they made it their front page story this week!
I'm usually against news magazines putting celebrities on their covers but, boy, is this different.
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