The cover of June 8, 2009 issue of Newsweek shows the face of TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey with the headlines "Crazy Talk - Oprah, Wacky Cures, and You". A web version of the article can be found here. The article basically described all the weird and crazy cures, in addition to other mystic self-help advice that have occurred on Winfrey's talk show. Of course, the infamous "The Secret" gained its popularity on this show when she devoted a lot of time to it. I've already commented on the bogus physics that this thing claimed to be based on, so I won't go into it.
Still, the Newsweek article really skewered the talk show host for promoting such medically dubious cures, especially her promotion of the opinion of another "medical authority" Suzanne Somers.
I'm not going to bother to go into what has transpired. You can read it for yourself. However, I think it is safe to say that Winfrey (and many others) continue to reflect a very common characteristic of a large portion of the population. They do not understand the difference between anecdotal evidence, versus valid scientific evidence. They also are not aware of the existence of such differences, i.e. they do not know that something called "anecdotal evidence" exists, and why it isn't a solid or valid evidence. More often than not, they do not realize that correlation does not imply causation.
But such ignorance is to be expected when a talk show emphasize more on "feelings" and emotional content, rather than based on science and scientific evidence. Winfrey's book club is littered with novels exploring human emotions and well-being. You don't see books that have solid science in here book club selection. I'd die if I see her recommending Bob Park's "Voodoo Science" book, for example. Why? Because it requires a LOT of analytical thinking and requires her and her viewers to actually STUDY something carefully, rather than simply letting one's emotion and feelings take over as the major factor in reading a book. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with books exploring such emotional feelings. But shouldn't there be a balance of opinion and exploration of human capability? At what point is the scientific and analytical ability of human beings get tested and challenged in her show? It's as if that part of a human being doesn't even exist.
So is Oprah Winfrey a crackpot? Well, some of her guests may be, but she's not a crackpot. She is just ignorant of basic science facts and scientific methodology, just like a large portion of the general public. Her mix of mystical, spiritual information with valid medical opinions is what most of the public often do. They support science, but also read their horoscopes. They understand the importance of science, but still believe in ghosts and other supernatural occurrences. And there's no sign that either Winfrey or the general public is going to change that any time soon.