Mehmet Oz, the GOP nominee for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat, offered up some questionable science in 2014 on sex, smell, and the genetic consequences of incest, according to audio unearthed by Jezebel.
During an interview with The Breakfast Club morning radio show, Oz answered a caller’s question about an incestuous relationship they were involved in, a dilemma the host termed: “I can’t stop smashing my cousin.”
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“‘We hooked up at a young age and now in our 20s, she still wants it. No matter how much I want to stop, I always give it to her. Help me.’ What advice would you give that person?” host Angela Yee read to Oz on air.
Oz explained that “It’s not a big problem” if the cousin is a second cousin or more distant. “Every family has genetic strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “And so the reason we naturally crave people who are not so like us is because you just mix the gene pool up a little bit so that if I had one gene for, let’s say, hemophilia, which is a classic example where you bleed a lot if you cut yourself, I don’t want to marry a cousin who has the same hemophilia gene, because the chance of our child having both those genes is much higher.”
Genetics are complicated, as are genetic risk factors in procreation. (Not that that stopped Oz from weighing in with his characteristic self-proclaimed scientific authority, a habit that his peers say has spread bad medical advice.) But the complicated nature of the question means it’s difficult for a lay-person to interpret how sound or unsound any of this advice is. And it’s worth noting that Oz wasn’t endorsing sex between cousins, instead weighing in on the relative genetic risks.
But then he kept talking, and before long he was onto a creepy tangent about scent, sexual aversion and attraction, and families. “You know, that’s why children, girls don’t like their fathers’ smell. Their pheromones will actually repel their daughters because they’re not supposed to be together,” Oz said, and well, he kept going and added: “My daughters hate my smell.” While there has been at least one study that apparently shows that cues keep people from being attracted to those they are related to, it is not “fail-safe,” and it’s not about pheromones.
What is clear is that Oz made the proclamations with his characteristic confidence, whether based in scientific evidence or not.
Host Yee tried to joke about the weird non-science-based Oz claim. “Maybe you just smell,” Yee said. Oz replied, “My wife says she likes the smell.”
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