Episode 31: Why Does GOOP Get so Much Criticism?

June 27th 2017

ATTN: Staff

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Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle brand Goop was under the microscope yet again last week. This time it was over Body Vibes stickers, that Goop alleged "rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies"—and were described on the brand's website as being made of the same material as NASA space suits. The since-removed copy claimed that the stickers were "made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut’s vitals." 

Both a former NASA researcher and current NASA spokeswoman have publicly stated that the claim about the stickers' material was false.

(Cameron Diaz's The Body Book also plugged these bogus stickers, but without the NASA claim.)

This is not the first time that Goop has been called out for dubious science: Last year doctors were decrying Goop-peddled jade eggs that were being sold for the purpose of inserting them into one's vagina. Earlier this year, the magazine Women's Health was criticized for their coverage of Paltrow and Goop, given that she was doling out medical advice but is not a medical professional. And Paltrow, herself, doesn't seem to know how some of the things she advocates for work.

Paltrow is not the only celebrity to peddle pseudoscience: Kardashians and Instagram models alike advertise dubious fit teas, waist trainers, and other products. So beyond the general dislike of Paltrow that thrives in some corners of the internet (and has been well-documented), why does Goop get the lion's share of criticism?

The cast of "Got Your Attention" debate that question: Is it because she's a repeat offender? Is it because there's frustration that she acts like an authority on health and nutrition when she is not one? Is it just because of a backlash towards this "healthy" style of living that often eschews science? Is it because the stuff is just so damn expensive?

We do have some insight on why people are loyal to the Goop brand.

Timothy Caulfield, the Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, wrote an entire book dedicated to Paltrow, and celebrity pseudoscience as a whole, called "Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash." He is a professor at University of Alberta School of Public Health and has been the research director at the Health Law Institute there for more than two decades. Last year he spoke to ThinkProgress about Paltrow and pseudoscience:

"It’s a little bit of the Prius effect, this idea that we make decisions, and we all do it, that fit with our identity package of who we think we are. We buy organic food because we think we are the kind of person who does that, and it’s the same with driving a Prius, and we want the world to know that. And I think celebrities, even if they don’t have credibility for a scientific perspective, set the cultural significance of particular health choices. And Gwyneth does that for sure. She has a pretty fabulous lifestyle, she’s very stylish, and she sort of transmits this idea of nature and being healthy, and I think that has an impact. Her brand has an impact on her health choices, even if we don’t think she as an individual is credible.

"And for some people, also, she is someone who is very successful, she won a genetic lottery, and just because of that, what she says is influential. There’s the availability bias, too: Celebrities are just everywhere. And the mere fact that they’re everywhere, that influences in the impact they have. It’s easy to call up a picture of her on People magazine talking about gluten-free as opposed to what the data actually says. And that allows celebrities to have a huge impact on our lives."

The cast also talks about the unconventional White House press briefings, a new study about who is being prescribed opioids, and the settlement awarded to Philando Castile's mother.

Podcast notes:

Read more about the stories we did (and didn't) talk about this week on "Got Your Attention."

  • The Supreme Court just made a controversial ruling that applies to churches and playgrounds. The Los Angeles Times explains.
  • Starting last week, journalists in the White House press corps were told they couldn't record video of the press briefing. Following widespread complaints, audio was allowed.
  • On Monday, it was announced that the Supreme Court would hear the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in its October session. As BuzzFeed’s Dominique Holden wrote “teeing up the country's highest stakes legal showdown about whether laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination can violate religious people's constitutional rights.”
  • Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website, “Goop” is taking heat for a ridiculous product they’re hustling. These “wearable stickers that promote healing” were even touted as using NASA space suit material, until a NASA representative called them out and it was removed from the website.
  • Here are "Four of the Most Misused Terms in Alternative Medicine," according to ATTN:'s Mike Rothschild.
  • A Science of Us article looks into trusting your gut to spot a lie.
  • Half of opioid prescriptions go to people with anxiety and depression.
  • Mexican soccer fans are reluctant to give up an anti-Gay slur, usually yelled by the crowd at an opposing team, the Los Angeles Times reported. Their refusal comes despite soccer stars begging them to stop, being fined, and officials threatening sanctions on the national team. Announcements and aired messages at stadiums even tell fans not to yell it.
  • Studies show losing the Great Barrier Reef is going to come with a price tag, and it’s bigger than you think.
  • In light of the newly-released footage of Diamond Reynolds and her daughter in the moments directly after Philando Castile was shot, NPR looked into the effect of police violence on children.
  • Bill Cosby is going on a speaking tour after his sexual assault case ended in a mistrial. Initial reports suggested the focus would be educating young people about sexual assault allegations. Now his publicists say the focus is about restoring Cosby’s legacy.
  • Even in cases where officers are acquitted, cities across America are paying out families of those slain by the police. Philando Castile's mother was awarded a $3 million settlement.

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