I’m a fan of Dr. Drew. I’ve listened to Loveline regularly in the past (though it seems to have dropped off the map in the Cleveland market – what gives WMMS?), watched a number of his shows (Celebrity Rehab, Sex Rehab, and his HLN show especially), and have read one of his books (Cracked: Life on the Edge in a Rehab Clinic), which I gave a positive review in a prior post on this blog. I admire his work and, even more, his success at his work. He has truly found a way to bring awareness to important issues, such as drug and sex addiction, in popular media while still conveying accurate medical information. At least with the celebrities who have publicly engaged in the recovery process on his shows, he seems to have some notable successes. One example that comes to mind is Jennifer Ketcham, the former pornographic actress known as Penny Flame, who has left the adult industry and has a forthcoming book about her recovery.
But, yesterday, as I was skimming my Facebook News Feed, I was disappointed to see that D.J. Grothe shared a video of a segment of Dr. Drew’s HLN show featuring James Van Praagh. Grothe, president of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), brought my attention to the segment with a rather simple comment: “Oh, Dr. Drew.” Oh, Dr. Drew is right! Admittedly, I didn’t watch the whole show (only two segments featuring Van Praagh online). But I found Dr. Drew’s implied acceptance of VanPraagh’s “abilities” disheartening.
“Okay, you’re going to, right now, see the difference in James’ and my approach here” stated Dr. Drew in response to a caller’s question. That was the only statement made during the above segment that I found tepidly encouraging. Of course, Dr. Drew, your approach is different from Van Praagh’s; you’re a real doctor with real solutions to real problems. Van Praagh is a peddler of superstition and, perhaps, a con artist. Dr. Drew appropriately told the caller that he recommends that the caller’s sister get assessed for depression. Van Praagh, while giving Dr. Drew his due, suggested that death is an illusion and then babbled on about the soul. Which approach do you think will actually yield meaningful results? I’ll place my bets on the first one.
But, one question remains, in my mind: Why even give Van Praagh a platform to spread his garbage? I know Dr. Drew has a lot of guests on his show, but does Van Praagh need to be one of them? If Dr. Drew had Van Praagh there to discuss the validity of their differing approaches, then perhaps I would see the merit. But it was Dr. Drew’s final statement that I found most disheartening of all: “If that helps her let go of this and move through her grief, I’m all about what James has to say.”
Dr. Drew, you know what I’m all about? I’m all about having James participate in the JREF’s one million dollar challenge. The JREF has sent Van Praagh a letter inviting him to participate in the challenge, telling him that if his powers are real, “hiding from our offer makes as much sense as throwing away a winning lottery ticket.” Perhaps Dr. Drew should’ve asked Van Praagh the same question D.J. Grothe asked in a Huffington Post article, “What Is James Van Praagh Hiding From?”
I’d like to know the answer to that question.