Here are four things I did not expect to happen to me on Wednesday August 13:
1) Waking up next to Scarlett Johansson
2) Bowling 300 with an Ikea bag over my head
3) Finding a bassoon in my eye
4) Getting invited to be on the Dr. Oz Show to talk about a weed killer.
The first three are admittedly unlikely, but the fourth really struck me as especially odd.
Why on earth would Dr. Oz want to talk to me? It's not like we travel in the same socioeconomic circles. He has a 400 room mansion with an unobstructed view of lower Manhattan, while I live in a refrigerator crate under the FDR Drive. I doubt we've ever been invited to the same party.
Something else that puzzled me is why he would want to put his audience of roughly four million people into an irreversible coma by having them listen to a former chemist discuss the properties of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (aka 2,4-D) when they would be expecting something more like "How you can have a 40 minute orgasm!" Or "Take my magic pill and YOU TOO will look like Scarlett Johansson!"
Maybe he just likes me, but I don't think that's it.
For this to be true he would have had to miss pretty much all of the following:
Me naming him "The Lizard of Oz" right after he got turned into confetti by Sen. Claire McCaskill while testifying about the safety of dietary supplements. How she got him to do this is beyond hilarious.
And calling his weight loss products a bunch of useless crap.
Or this: “I don’t hate his show, because I’ve never watched it. I would cheerfully drink my own blood before I did so. But, hate isn’t really the right word. Disgust is. Because this is what all of us at ACSH feel when we see him hawking one bottle of junk after another, and taking large amounts of money from people who believe him because he was on Oprah and is good looking. It’s really kind of pathetic.”
Or this image:
And this this one:
So, on balance, I think it's pretty safe to say that he doesn't like me. I've certainly given him plenty of reasons.
This leaves exactly one explanation that makes any sense: He may have been in the mood for a little payback. In which case, I would be walking into a trap—one that would make me (and my organization, The American Council on Science and Health, which has taken a few shots at him over the years) look like some chimeric version of Bernie Madoff, Josef Goebbels, and Peewee Herman.
It's not hard. If they get 30 minutes of me on tape—even if I answer every single question politely, honestly, and clearly— it is a piece of cake to make anyone look bad. Sort of like 60 Minutes on steroids. An edit here or there, or a statement taken out of context. Hatchet job.
So, with all due respect: "Dear Dr. Oz. I'm rather certain that you have now established that, despite my shortcomings, I am not an idiot." Love, Josh
And with a little less respect: "But this may not be the case for some of the people who run your show. If you need any evidence of this, just keep reading." Love, Josh
Fortunately, our media director is very far from idiotic. He didn't like the smell of the whole thing from the beginning, when a producer called wanting to know if someone from our organization wanted to discuss the herbicide in question. Since I'm the chemist with expertise in toxicology, it's a pretty good bet who they were looking for.
To confirm his suspicions he planned an increasingly damning series of questions, and then played the show's producers like a Stradivarius.
To say that it worked would be an understatement.
Had they ever heard of me? No. Not until they just happened to read about me on the CBS website answering a few questions about the stuff. Happened to see me? My own mother didn't see me. I've had conch shells with more listeners. No- they did not happen to see me.
Had they researched me? No. Why? Because they said that they don't like to prejudge people. Really? A nationally syndicated, hugely popular program is gonna take some schmo off the street and put him on the show to talk about weeds.
Were they aware that I was a rather vocal critic of Dr. Oz and his supplements? Silence.
Were they aware that a simple Google search containing both of our names had "The Lizard of Oz Takes His Medicine" right up near the top? More silence.
Finally, realizing that they were busted, they got rid of the phone like it was weapons-grade plutonium. But not before they let us know that they were going to go "in a different direction." What direction? Who knows? But I just can't get the following image out of my head:
Finally, does anyone really believe that Oz himself doesn't know the content of his own show? Because if the answer is no, then this must have come from him.
I'll let you decide what this says about his character and integrity. All four million of you.
Meanwhile, I'm nothing if not polite, so I'll extend an invitation to the doctor to come to our small studio and let our staff interview him about the supplements he hawks, and what evidence he has that they actually work. I don't think he will have time for this. But if he does, I'll even give him the questions in advance. The real ones.
Does Dr. Oz Think I'm An Idiot?