When you’re coming up with New Year’s resolutions just in time for the start of 2015, you may want to exclude advice from certain people the news media turn to as experts, but who fail to live up to the hype. Despite being continually cited by the media, these five scientists, celebrities and journalist-wannabes have all been criticized, debunked or refuted in the past year.
1. TV’s Dr. Oz: 4 out of 10 Claims Debunked by Medical Professionals
He may have his own television show and be a good friend of Oprah’s, but much of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s medical advice has been undercut by criticism from medical professionals. In June 2014, the Senate investigated Oz’s promotion of “miracle” foods that actually had no proven scientific merit.
According to the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 19, “[n]early 4 in 10 of the assertions made on the hit show appear to be made on the basis of no evidence at all.”
Christina Korownyk, an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry also chipped away at Oz’s credibility saying that “[t]he research supporting any of these recommendations is frequently absent, contradictory or of poor quality.”
Criticism of Oz has been bipartisan. During the Senate hearing, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said “I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true." McCaskill’s point was particularly hard-hitting because Oz is actually an accomplished cardiac surgeon with real medical degrees.
Specific claims Oz made that were under scrutiny included his promotion of “the magic weight loss cure for every body type” and “the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat.” both claims, predictably, were unproven.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Canadian research team watched 40 randomly selected episodes of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and another 40 of Oz’s other show “The Doctors.” In these episodes, the researchers found that “only 21% of the recommendations on “The Dr. Oz Show” could be supported by what the researchers considered ‘believable’ evidence. Another 11% were supported by ‘somewhat believable’ evidence.” “The Doctors” fared a little better, but not by much, with “32.5% were supported by ‘believable’ evidence and another 20% were backed by ‘somewhat believable’ evidence.”
2. Engineer Bill Nye is Media’s Go-to ‘Science Guy’
Bill Nye “The Science Guy” has been a favorite go-to for the media on topics ranging from global warming to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But, the “Science Guy” isn’t actually the scientific expert he’s touted to be. Nye earned a Bachelor of Science degree before he started working as an engineer for Boeing. He actually got his “Science Guy” moniker while performing stand-up comedy routines early in his career, according to Biography.com.
Nye’s children’s television show explaining basic scientific principles was how he gained his credibility with the media – many people grew up watching him demonstrate why ice melts or how atoms work. But, while Nye was undeniably a good educator, the science on his show was rarely more advanced than a fifth grade science class. Nye’s show ran from 1993 to 1998, almost certainly when some current employees of the news networks were school-age children.
Nye has attacked those who believe in creationism too. During CBS “This Morning” on Nov. 11, Nye said skepticism of evolution was an “extraordinary world view. And as I say, by extraordinary, I mean obviously wrong.”
Another one of Nye’s crusades in TV interviews has been against those who “deny climate change.”
Nye also teamed up with host David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Feb. 16, to denounce Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. When Blackburn argued that “there is not consensus” on climate change, Nye said that skeptics should not “mess around with this denial.”
Nye told Blackburn, “There is no debate in the scientific community. And I can encourage the Congresswoman to really look at the facts. You are a leader. We need you to change things, not deny what's happening.”
3. Neil deGrasse Tyson Criticized for Manufacturing Quotes
Unlike Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson earned a Ph. D in a relevant topic (Astrophysics) from a reputable school (Columbia University). But his real and relevant degree hasn’t stopped Tyson from spouting unsubstantiated “facts.”
In fact, Tyson has quite a track record of fabricating quotes, according to The Federalist. The Federalist investigated several of Tyson’s most repeated citations and found that “a newspaper headline touted for years by Tyson likely doesn’t exist,” “the exact quote he uses to bash members of Congress as being stupid also doesn’t exist” and that “the details within one of Tyson’s favorite anecdotes — a story of how he bravely confronted a judge about his mathematical illiteracy while serving on jury duty — seem to change every time Tyson tells the story.”
They also pointed out that Tyson misquoted a Biblical reference that former President George W. Bush included in a speech he gave after the Columbia shuttle disaster, claiming that Bush had used it immediately after 9/11 to proclaim the superiority of Christians over Muslims.
But even worse than the manufactured quotes was how quickly Tyson defended his previous statements rather than admitting error.
Tyson also caused a stir on Christmas 2014 when he tweeted out: “On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642.″ Although he denied that this was his intent, Tyson was accused of being deliberately anti-Christian. Tyson had been openly anti-Christian in the past, including on his television 2014 program “Cosmos” where he portrayed Christianity as childish, reactionary and brutal.
4. Russell Brand: Millionaire, Occupy Supporter, Hypocrite
Although praised by NBC for his “big thoughts on big issues,” Russell Brand, a liberal British actor and comedian, came across clueless on just about everything during 2014.
He called the media, including far-left MSNBC, “an extremely conservative institution” in an interview with “The Young Turks” on Aug. 19. He also accused Fox News of being a “fanatical terrorist propagandist organization” in a YouTube video June 24.
When it came to economics, he demonstrated ignorance, extreme liberalism as well as hypocrisy. On NBC’s “Today” Oct. 13, he argued that “corruption and economics” should be replaced with “love.”
Brand’s economic hypocrisy was on full display when marched with protesters calling for affordable housing in London. Brand paid $7,802 per month in rent, but refused to answer a British reporter who asked him during the march, “What kind of rent are you paying?”
He even suggested that the Ferguson protests were someone connected to income inequality. Brand said that the best solution to violence in Ferguson was economic “fairness” through the “redistribution of wealth” during an interview with the far-left Democracy Now! program on Nov. 14. He added that situations like Ferguson would continue to happen around the world, “as this growing disparity between rich and poor, this gulf of inequality, continues.”
Despite his sweeping condemnations of the wealthy, Brand himself is worth $15 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
5. ‘Wunderkind’ Ezra Klein’s Liberalism Even More Obvious at Vox Startup
After overseeing The Washington Post’s “WonkBlog,” “brash wunderkind” Ezra Klein struck out on his own in Early 2014 with funding from Comcast and others. Although he remained a frequent contributor and even fill-in host on left-wing MSNBC.
Klein’s new platform, Vox.com, which cost $10 million hyped itself as a project to “create the single best resources for news consumers everywhere.” It aimed to be a go-to source for explanations about everything from Congressional Budgets to cultural topics to international crisis – but fell far short of that.
So far Vox has provided poorly researched and poorly explained quality posts that led to a flurry of mockery from conservatives about just how unhelpful “Voxsplaining” can be.
Vox’s “explanations” ranged from the overtly liberal posts such as “Understanding the racial bias you didn't know you had,” to absurd ones like“Snowflakes come in 35 different shapes. And some of them are really odd.” Now that’s groundbreaking journalism.
After the implementation of Obamacare, Klein joined many other liberal journalists in wildly spinning the poor enrollment numbers. He also mocked conservatives for paying attention to Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber’s controversial remarks, saying that the quotes were only “getting so much attention because some people want other people to believe them.”
Klein’s political views were no secret, even before he left the editorial supervision of The Washington Post. Klein had argued that Obamacare was the “best thing” Democrats had done in “a generation,” even concluding one of his articles with “[s]o happy birthday, Affordable Care Act. Here’s to many more.”
He also got into hot water when he complained about the “confusing nature” of the U.S. Constitution, written “more than 100 years ago.”
Joseph Rossell contributed to this article.