Dr. Mehmet Oz isn’t just a TV host. He’s a real doctor (a good one at that) who holds a very credible position as the Vice Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Surgery. That’s incredibly frustrating to leaders in the medical community since Oz has come to be known for his bullshit peddling as much as surgical abilities.
To that end, top doctors across the country wrote a letter to the Columbia University’s dean of medicine Lee Goldman this week, urging the school to distance itself from Oz:
We are surprised and dismayed that Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons would permit Dr. Mehmet Oz to occupy a faculty appointment, let alone a senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery.
As described here and here, as well as in other publications, Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops. Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.
Thus, Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both. Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr. Oz’s presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable.
The response was quick… and dismissive:
As I am sure you understand and appreciate, Columbia is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion.
Chief Communications Officer
Columbia University Medical Center
Academic freedom is one thing, but when Oz is promoting quack products that have no basis in science, it tarnishes the reputation of the whole school, including the students studying there now. There’s a difference between academic disagreement — where you’re actively researching and defending your minority position — and a faculty member pushing Creationism to the science department. At some point, you’ve abandoned the principles that guide the rest of the faculty. That’s not academic freedom. That’s academic dishonesty.