Paltrow will happily take your money

David Gorski, an actual medical doctor, takes a look at Goop and the medical doctors who defend it.

One thing the publicity did reveal is just how much about the money Paltrow is:

This is Paltrow’s peculiar gift — or grift — and it was on full display at “In Goop Health,” her day-long event meant to bring her website’s “most requested and shared wellness content to life.” By last week, all 500 tickets, ranging from $500 to $1,500, had sold out; another event is planned for New York City in January.

Attendees were told via email to arrive at 9 a.m. The summit wouldn’t actually begin for another hour, which allowed enough time to shop inside a cavernous industrial space for Goop-branded products such as water bottles ($35), hoodies ($100) and a “G.”-branded flight pack consisting of four thin nesting canvas bags containing some magnesium packets, a sleep mask, earbuds and moisturizer ($198).

It was the physical manifestation of the day to come: For those willing to spend so much on so little, Paltrow will happily take your money.

This is, of course, what Goop is about far more than anything else, which Colbert’s skewering mocked so well. And there is a lot of quackery, pseudoscience and nonsense. It ranges from “leech facials” (whatever that is—wait, I don’t want to know) to aura photography (basically Kirlian photography, showing that no pseudoscience or mysticism ever completely disappears) to IV drips to earthing to crystal therapy (of course!) to the lectin avoidance diet. (More on this last one later; it suffices for now to say that lectin is the new gluten.) Indeed, the Goop brand was best described as “pure, unadulterated, blood-diamond free, organic-certified, biodynamic, moon-dusted bullshit.”

But it’s not just goofy beauty-product marketing.

Beauty products have always featured a healthy helping of woo, after all. But that’s not all Goop promotes. It also promotes The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy, plus other quackery like detox cleanses, naturopathy, colon cleansesfunctional medicine, and a whole lot of dubious fad diets. This dubious medical advice is then coupled with fear mongering about “mold toxicity,” the Epstein-Barr Virus as the root of all chronic illness, and the long-debunked claim that bras predispose to breast cancer. So, yes, it might be amusing that Paltrow has claimed that there are all sorts of “toxins” in shampoo (which is, of course, why she says you should buy her shampoos) or that goat’s milk is the cure for what ails you, but she’s fused the usually relatively minor woo associated with beauty and “wellness” with some serious quackery. She’s basically taken beauty woo and weaponized it into something that is no longer just a relatively harmless bit of nonsense for customers with, as comedians Mitchell and Webb once put it, a “vague sense of unease, a touch of the nerves, or even just more money than sense.” It’s gotten serious.

And then the doctors got into the act.

It finally happened about a week and a half ago, when an article by two of Goop’s doctors was published on the Goop website. The title? “Uncensored: A Word from our Doctors.” The two doctors in question were Dr. Steven Gundry, who is doing his best to turn lectins into the new gluten, and Dr. Aviva Romm, who claims that EBV is the cause of thyroiditis, which is the cause of…well, basically almost all chronic diseases. It was basically a hit piece on Dr. Gunter, who is one of the most persistent and widely quoted bloggers criticizing Goop.

And another actual medical doctor, as opposed to a movie star or an offspring of Queen Brenda.

never have I seen such a passive-aggressive, self-righteous combination of tone trolling and mansplaining in a single article. His is merely a somewhat more subtle form of ad hominem attack. One also has to wonder why Goop decided to attack Dr. Gunter specifically and not, say, Prof. Tim Caulfield, who actually wrote a book entitled Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: How the Famous Sell Us Elixirs of Health, Beauty & Happiness. Could it be because the editors of Goop thought it would be easier to paint a woman as unreasonable and—dare I say it?—hysterical? Perish the thought! Or why didn’t Goop attack Stephen Colbert? It couldn’t be because he’s the host of a popular late night [show] that might one day be needed to help promote one of Paltrow’s movies someday, not to mention that Colbert could very easily punch back with devastating effect, could it? Perish the thought!

Oh dear, how cynical. I’m shocked.

Dr. Romm invoked a veritable crank bingo of tropes, such as the “science was wrong before” trope (also invoked by Dr. Gundry), before going all “just starting a conversation” on us:

In a time when women are desperately hungry for safe alternatives to mainstream practices that too often fall short of helpful for chronic symptoms, and in the setting of a medical system that is continually falling short of providing lasting solutions to the chronic disease problems we’re facing: I prefer, rather than ridiculing vehicles that are actually highly effective at reaching large numbers of women who want to be well, to seek to understand what women are looking for, what the maintstream isn’t providing; and how we can work together to support those vehicles in elevating their content so that women are receiving the meaningful, and evidence-based answers, they want and deserve, whenever possible.

TRANSLATION: Don’t mock us, even though we peddle absolute nonsense sold with bafflegab. We’re highly effective at reaching large numbers of women who want to be well. Then we well them expensive nonsense.

Or sell them, probably, but “well them” is a good way of putting it. Lie back, relax, and let us well you [for a steep fee].

Read the whole thing.

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