Gwyneth Paltrow just wants you to be well. She wants wellness for everyone. Sure, sometimes this “wellness” involves getting some steam burns on your vagina, or sticking a jade egg into your vagina, or taking absurdly expensive vitamins that probably don’t actually do anything, but she means well. And she is just sick and tired of all these skeptics and doctors and “experts” and people-with-scientific-knowledge coming and raining on her woo parade!
Barely a week after going full Alex Jones and publishing an article titled “Does the Illuminati still exist?,” Goop has issued a missive decrying those who are less than impressed with the “medical” advice the site has been doling out. In particular, they are taking issue with Dr. Jen Gunter, the gynecologist who so often debunks all the bunk they’re hustling.
The Goop team claims that they are simply presenting “alternatives” to women who are seeking them. That they are just “having a conversation.” As one does while pointing to seemingly magical products on a website. (Interestingly enough, this is the exact same excuse Alex Jones uses for why he keeps promoting conspiracy theories.)
We always welcome conversation. That’s at the core of what we’re trying to do. What we don’t welcome is the idea that questions are not okay. Being dismissive — of discourse, of questions from patients, of practices that women might find empowering or healing, of daring to poke at a long-held belief — seems like the most dangerous practice of all.
See?! They’re just being good skeptics.
It’s a flimsy excuse, honestly. If I were to write an article about how eating a particular kind of very expensive broccoli could make you develop telekinetic powers, and then also tried to sell you that broccoli, I would be scamming you, not challenging conventional wisdom of what broccoli can and cannot do. Goop is a scam.
Asking questions is fine, but you have to ask the right questions. And then you have to question the answers you get. Which is exactly what Dr. Gunter is doing with her Goop debunkings.
The article goes on to explain that dismissing magic vagina eggs is just as bad as believing in female hysteria and that smoking isn’t bad for you.
Where would we be if we all still believed in female hysteria instead of orgasm equality? That smoking didn’t cause lung cancer? If every nutritionist today saw the original food pyramid as gospel?
Which, again, is bullshit. Those ideas were not promoted by snake oil merchants, but by science and reason. It wasn’t as if Hamlin’s Wizard Oil Company was on the forefront of any medical breakthroughs. You know what the Goop-y people of those days were peddling? Arsenic. As a magical cure for everything! (Coincidentally, perhaps, arsenic is a primary ingredient in Gwyneth’s favorite smoothies. YUM!)
The column — which they claim will now be a regular thing — also features two doctors who had been consulted for previous Goop articles firing back at Dr. Gunter for daring to question the advice they are doling out. For saying “Hey, that may not actually do the thing it says it does!”
Dr. Steven Gundry, one of the doctors consulted for the Goop articles, was deeply upset over the fact that he felt that Dr. Gunter did not know how fabulously important he was — and also that she used the word “fuck” in one of her blog posts.
First, Dr. Gunter, I have been in academic medicine for forty years and up until your posting, have never seen a medical discussion start or end with the “F-bomb,” yet yours did. A very wise Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan once instructed me to never write anything that my mother or child wouldn’t be proud to read. I hope, for the sake of your mother and child, that a re-reading of your article fails his test, and following his sage advice, that you will remove it.
But, since you did not do even a simple Google search of me before opening your mouth, let me give you a brief history: I have published over 300 papers, chapters, and abstracts on my research in peer-reviewed journals and have presented over 500 papers at peer-reviewed academic meetings.
Dr. Oz has similar credentials and the New Yorker tore him apart over his embrace of pseudoscience.
While we’re at it, just because Answers in Genesis has scientists with PhDs on staff doesn’t mean we should accept Creationism.
Gundry then proceeded to defend his theory that tomatoes are dangerous because “lectins,” adding that this was some kind of ancient knowledge that everyone knew but disregarded because, uh, reasons or something.
Now, back to your tomatoes; the Italians always peel and deseed their tomatoes before making sauces because the peels and seeds are where lectins are concentrated. They do the same with their peppers; go buy a jar of Italian bell peppers: see any peels and seeds? Nope, they’re gone. Still not convinced? Fly down to New Mexico this fall to the Hatch Chile Roast Festival. That’s right, they roast the skins, remove them and the seeds before eating them! Been doing it for thousands of years. But spare the expense; buy a can of chopped green chilies at your store, and open it up. See any peels and seeds? Right, they’re gone as well. Wow, there are a lot of really stupid cultures out there who go to such trouble over some harmless little proteins called lectins, huh?
Um. Speaking as an actual Italian person, that is not actually why we remove the skins and seeds when making sauce. It’s really just more about consistency and texture. We also eat tomatoes with the peels on and seeds inside pretty regularly, in different dishes. It’s also not that much trouble, the skins come off when you boil the tomatoes to get them ready for cooking. That is how you know they are ready. Ta da! Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes people just cook things a certain way because that is how they are most delicious, not because they have Secret Italian Peasant Knowledge they’ve been keeping from everyone else.
(Although if you are interested, I can tell you how to get rid of the evil eye.)
But I guess Dr. Gundry knows way more about my “culture” than I do, because sometimes he hangs out with — wait for it — Dr. Oz.
Now, it’s fine to get into a reasonable discussion about the pros and cons of lectins without throwing F-bombs. Dr. Oz and I just had a friendly discussion on this topic—you might learn something if you tune in.
If you are wondering what Dr. Gunter said to earn his ire, here it is:
From tampons to tomatoes to toxic lube your website is a scare factory. Literally. It’s either made up (often poorly, but with liberal use of the word toxin) or someone’s hypothesis with little to no supporting data. Tampons are not vaginal death sticks, vegetables with lectins are not killing us, vaginas don’t need steaming, Epstein Barr virus (EBV) does not cause every thyroid disease, and for fuck’s sake no one needs to know their latex farmer what they need to know is that the only thing between them and HIV or gonorrhea is a few millimeters of latex so glove that shit up. Here’s an A game pro tip for you, if you are writing a “sex post” use an expert who actually knows that the WHO has guidelines on lubricants. Your post on lubes is so bad it’s a joke.
Yes, I searched and searched her site, and that is the sole mention of this guy’s lectin theory. And he basically wrote her a novel in response. Touchy much? There was actually a far more thorough debunking of his lectin theory in The Atlantic, but he singled out Gunter in particular to lecture to. Weird! I’m sure it has nothing to do with how The Atlantic‘s story was written by someone named James.
The thing with Goop isn’t just that Paltrow’s team is pushing dumb health advice. It’s that they’re also pushing very expensive dumb health advice, which they in turn profit from. Those magic eggs cost $66! They’re basically taking advantage of people who want a quick fix to their health and sex problems, and sadly, they’re never going to find it through vaginal steaming, avoiding gluten, and saying no to lectins.
There’s a belief among woo enthusiasts that it’s unfair and unkind to question the products they peddle. After all, maybe they do make some people feel better, or maybe those people just enjoy them. How dare we take that away from them? But if you’re going to laud “just asking questions” about these practices, then you have to be open to people “just asking questions” about whether they work and whether or not they are even safe.