Anti-Science

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Scammy Goop Tries to Attack an Actual Doctor

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Sorta transcript:

“Goop” is Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website where she adds her stamp of approval to all manner of stupid pseudo-medical bullshit, from $60 eggs you stick up your vagina to a $200 box containing a feather and a rock. It’s for people with more money than sense, and as goop has grown from a newsletter to an Oprah-esque powerhouse of baloney, more and more people are vocally criticizing it for trying to rip off women.

One of those critics is Dr. Jen Gunter, an ob-gyn who has been pretty thorough in her debunking of pretty much every word that comes out of Paltrow’s mouth. Apparently she hit a sore spot, because goop has posted one of the most over-the-top whiny diatribes I’ve ever seen. Frankly I get a tear in my eye when I read it, that’s how proud I am of Gunter for stimulating this giant baby tantrum.

Goop starts off by doing what it does best: writing self-contradictory nonsense. They put down the idea of “indiscriminate attacks that question the motivation and integrity of the doctors who contribute to the site” and then four sentences later say “What we don’t welcome is the idea that questions are not okay.” So questions are okay, until the questions make them uncomfortable. Got it.

They then (and by the way, I say “they” because this idiocy doesn’t have a byline) reference Dr. Gunter without actually mentioning her name or linking to her website. Ethical!

They there’s this gem, referencing Dr. Gunter’s “strangely confident assertion that putting a crystal in your vagina…would put you in danger of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome.” Yeah, what a strange thing that a trained gynecologist would suggest that sticking a rock in your vagina might be bad. Goop says “there is no study/case/report which links [TSS and sticking rocks in your vagina]” but maybe that’s because until Goop came along doctors didn’t have an epidemic of women shoving rocks in their vaginas to study. They have studied the effects of non-menstrual-related causes of TSS and they do include things like barrier contraceptives that are left in for too long (more than 24 hours). They’ve also found that it can appear after women are wounded and then infected. I wonder how that could happen, when you’re sticking a rock in your vagina?

Next Goop claims that Dr. Gunter stated “with 100 percent certainty that conventional tampons laden with glyphosate (classified by the WHO as probably carcinogenic) are no cause for concern.” Obviously they didn’t bother to link to where Gunter wrote this, as they haven’t even mentioned her name yet because apparently like Voldemort or Beetlejuice if you say her name she will appear and pull the crystals right out of your vagina, but I found the post they’re referring to and here’s what Gunter actually writes:

“There are no toxins in tampons. Really. I can say this with 100% certainty as a toxin is a preformed poisonous substance made by an organism, think botulinum toxin or the bee venom that you have used to reset your humors.”

Glyphosate is a pesticide, not a toxin. She defines it IN THE SENTENCE THAT GOOP IS USING TO MISREPRESENT HER.

They end that paragraph by accusing Dr. Gunter of only attacking Goop because it gets her site traffic. You’ll note that nowhere in that insult is there an argument.

We’re only about halfway through the post. Strap in.

The next paragraph accuses Goop’s critics of considering women lemmings who jump off a cliff when one of their doctors suggests they might have low vitamin D. I’m not sure if Goop noticed, but their most prominent critics, including the only one they singled out (without naming), are women. They say, “We [women, presumably?] simply want information”. Leaving aside the not-so-subtle transition to an “us vs. them” narrative where Goop represents all women and men are the mean critics, information is what critics like Dr. Gunter present! Goop is the one complaining about an alternative viewpoint being offered. They claim that they allow women to “hear directly from doctors; we see no reason to interpret or influence what they’re saying, to tell you what to think.” No, you don’t interpret or influence what they’re saying, because all they ever say is to buy the products you’re selling! It’s like McDonald’s issuing a statement that they don’t interfere with what Mayor McCheese has to say, they just let him talk and then allow the consumer to decide whether or not to supersize their meal. Any nasty critic claiming that an excess of their food is bad for your health are just trying to get attention. So just listen to the Mayor. He’s a mayor, after all.

Next, goop plays up their doctors’ authority. They publish in peer-reviewed journals and train at the best institutions and they “aggressively maintain an open mind,” which doesn’t sound like what an open-minded person should actually do. I mean, that makes it sound like if you show one of them the tons of evidence we have proving that vaccines don’t cause autism, they will punch you in the face.

Then goop tries to define science for you. Here’s their best attempt: “The thing about science and medicine is that it evolves all the time. Studies and beliefs that we held sacred even in the last decade have since been proven to be unequivocally false, and sometimes even harmful.”

NO, goop, NO. BAD GOOP. Nothing is sacred in science. Nothing. That’s the point of science! Everything is open to question and when new data appears we adjust. But while nothing is sacred in science, there are about 146 things that are sacred on the goop website, according to Google, like the “Sacred Creators Oracle Set” which is a $44 deck of tarot cards.

Next they throw in one for the lawyers and the folks over at the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration who may be watching, assuring us that they don’t want anyone to refuse chemotherapy. And that’s true, as far as I can tell! They’ve just asked questions, and given a platform to people selling quack cancer cures as a “complement” to chemo. Because nothing is more fun than fighting cancer while also shelling out loads of money for, say, an at-home infrared sauna that Gwyneth Paltrow has led you to believe is the equivalent of hyperthermia cancer treatments, which are still being studied to find out if they may slightly help patients on chemotherapy and which are not anything at all like a $5,000 at-home infrared sauna.

Goop then accuses critics of calling women hypochondriacs and dismissing them for their health concerns. Again, they don’t link to any criticism that states that because it does not exist. We know women have health problems that for years have been under-studied and left female patients underserved. That’s what makes women a prime target for quacks who want to swoop in and provide what the mainstream medical establishment has not: attention and compassion and a promised cure. People are more likely to fall for nonsense when they’re vulnerable, marginalized, and dismissed, which is why, for instance, phone scams target lonely elderly people. Critics like Dr. Gunter are trying to stop scam artists from taking advantage of other women while also helping educate women on their bodies and the actual medical science we know and understand today.

Goop ends by bashing critics who “pre-judge information before they’ve even taken the time to read or understand it,” which is rich considering that they opened by completely misrepresenting Dr. Gunter’s point about toxins in tampons.

They then claim their critics “believe that they, singularly, own the truth.” That’s a truly astonishing level of projection. If I or Dr. Gunter or any other critic believed we “owned” the truth, I guess we would put it out there by, oh, I don’t know, addressing our critics without ever naming them or citing their work or reproducing their arguments. Then we’d say we’re right because of our college degrees or our number of published papers. Then I suppose we would personally sell products that we endorse, creating a ridiculous conflict of interest. If it’s a product we’re not equipped to sell, like, say, an enormous $5,000 at-home infrared sauna, or something, we’d just make a deal with a company that does sell them so that we make money whenever someone buys one after they click through our article about how effective hyperthermia cancer treatments might be. Yeah, that’d be a pretty fucking slimy thing to do, just to pick something totally at random.

THAT’S what it looks like when you think you own the truth. People who think they own the truth also think they can sell it. Sorry, goop, but not all of us are buying.

Note: shortly after I recorded this, Dr. Gunter wrote her response which you can and should read here! Also, yes, there were also letters from the Goop doctors. This video was already over ten minutes so I just couldn’t.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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2 Comments

  1. July 15, 2017 at 10:06 am —

    I don’t know what hurts more from “$60 eggs you stick up your vagina”, your vagina or your pocketbook.

  2. July 20, 2017 at 4:14 am —

    Gundry’s lectin article was published in JISM. That has to be someone taking the piss, right?

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