People take health advice from celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow — but science shows they really shouldn’t
The author of the new book, “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?” said celebrity health advice is often so wrong that it prevents fans from becoming healthy or happy.
Timothy Caulfield researched and tested celebrity health and beauty tips and found that even when their advice is valid – they still manage to get things wrong, reported Vox.
“It’s incredible how much (Paltrow) is wrong about,” said the University of Alberta law professor. “Even when she is right about stuff — like telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables — there is always a bit of a tinge of wrongness. She’ll say, ‘It has to be organic,’ for example. She is still distracting us with these untrue details as opposed to just pushing the honest truth.”
Caulfield said he never got to interview Paltrow, who dispenses advice through her lifestyle business Goop, but he suspects she actually believes most of the “absurd” claims her company pushes.
“You wonder, ‘How can this thinking person really believe this?’” he said. “She does seem like she’s very bright, and I think she does believe this stuff. I think she’s quite genuine.”
He said celebrities like Paltrow are largely responsible for promoting bogus detoxification and cleansing programs, which are not supported by scientific evidence.
“Our cognitive biases play a big role,” Caulfield said. “Take someone like Paltrow. She’s a beautiful woman. When she’s endorsing something, it looks like it works, and her advice is available to us — it’s just more prominent than other people’s advice. It also confirms that desire for us to have some simple answer to difficult health questions.”
He said celebrities have filled a knowledge gap that’s created as trust in science erodes and social media become more influential.
“I don’t think people consciously say, ‘Let celebrities step in,’” Caulfield said. “But they have. Their voice is louder and seems more credible, and other counterweights in society, for whatever reason, seem to have less credibility.”
However, he sees reasons to be hopeful that science may still prevail.
“We’ve seen the reaction to Dr. Oz (who has been criticized for promoting bogus claims on his TV show),” Caulfield said. “Even the reaction to the anti-vaccine story over the past year is very different than I’ve seen play out in other years. We’re starting to see a bit of a pushback. But what’s also needed: The scientific community has to get engaged, use celebrity culture as a Trojan horse to talk about what science says in these areas, and step in.”