Slow news day alert! USA Today asks "Are celebrities crossing the line on medical advice?" and points to:
• Tom Cruise in 2005 began a spat with Shields and drew criticism from mental health professionals when he railed against antidepressants and Ritalin on the Today show, dismissing psychiatry as a "pseudoscience."
• Actress Jenny McCarthy, who has an autistic son, has written several books linking autism with childhood vaccinations, even though a host of scientific studies show that vaccines are safe and not the cause of increasing autism rates.
• Actress Suzanne Somers— already well-known for her diet books and ThighMaster products — in October released her 18th book, Knockout, which experts describe as a catalogue of unproven or long-debunked alternative cancer "cures."
The examples above are, to my mind, a real mixed bag. As a scientologist, Tom Cruise has some super-wacko beliefs, though questioning the efficacy of psychiatry and large-scale dosing of kids via Ritalin and what have you is not probably one of them. The autism/vaccination connection made by Jenny McCarthy strikes me as extremely not credible, as do most alternative cancer cures (not to mention the ThighMaster itself). But we live in a world where truth is increasingly up for grabs, which is hardly ever a bad thing as long as truth-tellers have to lead by example (such as dying quickly from alternative cancer cures) rather than imposing their vision on the rest of us.
Anyhoo, now that the government, which never steers us wrong, is taking over health care, this may be moot. Or it may be turning the entire country into one giant Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Who knows? But my late parents, uneducated as they were and born in the 1920s and growing up when the stars really were stars, had it right when they came to taking advice from celebrities: Don't, unless they're talking about bad breath.
To wit, Mike Connors, TV's Mannix gets tough on halitosis: