"Dr. Oz" Takes Heat for Episode on "Ex-Gay" Therapy...

Dr. Mehmet Oz's November 28th, 2012 episode is bringing him Dr. Mehmet OzDr. Mehmet Ozgrief due to its investigation of so-called "Ex-Gay" therapies, techniques designed to help someone change his or her sexual orientation from gay to straight.

On the episode were Julie Hamilton, a representative of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (or NARTH), as well as the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), who said later that they were not aware that NARTH would be represented, and that they would not have participated had they known.

NARTH's claim that individuals can change their sexual orientation was one of the main topics of my recent talk for the Bay Area Skeptics, and the scientific community (The American Psychology Association, the American Psychiatric Association, The National Association of Social Workers, among many others) strongly condemn these practices as ineffective, unsupported by scientific evidence, and potentially dangerous. Nevertheless, NARTH and its adherents (many of whom self-describe as "ex-gay") insist that such change is possible.

Although I have yet to see the episode, my fear is that it may fall into the category of Normative Social Influence, "the influence of other people that leads us to conform in order to be liked and accepted by them." This phenomenon is created, for instance, when well meaning health advocates cause an increase in teen smoking by talking to teens about the prevalence of the problem; by sending the message that "a lot of people in your group are doing this," they can inadvertently increase conformity to the perceived group norm. This can also happen when groups such as NARTH are spotlighted on television programs, even in an attempt to "bring attention to the problem," or "have a simple discussion of both sides of the issue."

To his credit, Dr. Oz posted a response to complaints by GLSEN and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), stating that he was "overwhelmed by the pain of individuals hurt by the experience," and that "After listening to both sides of the issue and after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus. I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy, and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails..."

The Metaphysics of Being Gay workshop by Kurt Wagner

This piece was originally written by Rhoan Wynar, who at the time was a physics grad student and good natured skeptic. Originally titled, "Fruitcakes and Metaphors" and posted on SkepticNews' website.

For our homosexual readers, we went to a lecture called "The Metaphysics of Being Gay," delivered by a sincere but wacky guy named Kurt Wagner. Metaphysics is the systematic investigation of "first principles" and the philosophical examination of ultimate reality. It is a fascinating subject that is legitimately studied by philosophers all over the world. We did not know, however, that Wagner's talk shed any light on being gay.

Basically, explains Wagner, it boils down to the fact that the sixth chakra, also known as the third eye, opens prematurely in gay boys. This causes them to "leave their body" and live life as a "split personality." Here begins the problems coping with a cold and non-understanding straight world.

Always committed to giving people the benefit of the doubt, we asked Wagner, "Are you using chakras metaphorically to make a point about the psychological factors that affect the gay community, or do you actually believe real chakras exist and their qualities define our personality?

He replied: "I use them as a metaphor." Surprised and pleased by this, we were ready to put Wagner in the "O.K. guy" category, but then he hastily added, "but this table is a metaphor, the room is a metaphor, and even you are a metaphor." Having already let our guard down, Wagner's uppercut of meaningless drivel hit us like a sucker punch, leaving us feeling lost and betrayed, as though Hope, emerging carefully from Pandora's box, was squashed and killed by a reckless driver.

Wagner did state an interesting fact that the Dalai Lama refused to recognize the Gay Buddhist fellowship as a legitimate Buddhist Fellowship, providing more evidence that Eastern religions are just as discriminatory and hate-filled as the Western ones. But no real revelation there.

Talk like these pop up all over, and intelligent people, who normally wouldn't attend, should go every now and then, as long as the events are free. This will make sure that someone is there to challenge the quacks masquerading as thought-leaders, and ask obvious intelligent questions, like, "Why and how am I a metaphor?"

Sorry it's taken me so long

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to your comment about Kurt Wagner, but thanks for posting it. What a bizarre experience that must have been. I'm glad others are willing to attend when such drivel is being spewed in a public forum, but I don't think I have the patience to do so myself. Perhaps it's my advancing age, but I just can't help thinking what else I might be doing with that hour. Even cleaning my toilets would be a better use of my time than listening to someone yammer about chakras and metaphorical objects/people. But, to each his/her own! LOL!