Dr. Phil isn’t a real doctor, but that doesn’t stop millions of Americans from watching his daily talk show. It should, however, inspire viewers to take the personality’s advice with a few grains of salt — especially when it comes to cannabis.
In a recent episode, the mother of an 11-year-old boy named JJ sought advice on how to handle her son’s increasingly disruptive and even violent behavior. But instead of sending JJ to meet with a board certified therapist or looking at larger socio-economic and social forces that may be causing the child’s outbursts, Dr. Phil spent a huge chunk of the episode focused on JJ’s pot use.
Rather than citing cannabis legalization laws that set age limits at 21, or asking why an 11-year-old might seek out mind-altering substances, Dr. Phil decided to spew a bunch of nonsense, even lying to viewers to assure them that his claims are backed by “hard, solid, scientific research.”
“Your brain grows until you’re 25 at least, and it’s constantly changing,” Dr. Phil told his audience. “When you get to be 18, 19, 20, it’s actually pruning itself back. When you smoke marijuana, it’s like opening your computer up and pouring water inside, a lot of things short out and it connects where it’s not supposed to and really creates problems.”
As anyone who smoked weed before their 25th birthday or accidentally spilled a cup of water on a laptop knows, that analogy is a pretty far stretch. As for the brain “pruning itself back,” we’re no neuroscientists, but that one sounds a little fishy, too.
Gallery — Reefer Madness!
Continuing his anti-pot tirade, Phil moved on to the favorite topic of junk scientists everywhere — weed’s influence on IQ. Without any evidence to support his supposed facts, the TV smooth-talker linked IQ to motivation, noting that they are both killed off by cannabis.
“Even occasional marijuana smokers will look at a multi-point drop in IQ, even with just occasional use like once a week or two or three times a month. You’ll see IQ drop and motivation will drop across time.”
So much for “hard, solid, scientific research,” eh?
Dr. Phil isn’t the first TV personality to harkon back to the days of Reefer Madness live on air, but as ideals and laws around cannabis continue to evolve, it is increasingly important to call out bullshit when we see it. And with Dr. Phil, our BS meters are off the charts.
Follow Zach Harris on Twitter