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Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? - Timothy Coulfield NOTES

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Health-science expert.


  • he debunks and identifies the messages and promises that flow from the celebrity realm, whether they are about:

  • health

  • diet

  • beauty

  • or what is supposed to make us happy

The Illusion of Celebrity auTHORITY

  • do our bodies need to be de-toxified?

  • and will cleansing do the trick? No No and No.

'Rhetorical games'

Manual for 'clean cleanse': if you don't take the trash out at your house, it will pile up, attract pests and quickly become a problem.


As summarised in a 2005 academic article titled 'Detox Diets Provide Empty Promises': Clemens, R. / Pressman, P.

  • "These approaches are contrary to scientific consensus and medical evidence and are not consistent with the principle that diets should reflect balance, moderation and variety."


  • no evidence suggests that the products & diets sold by the cleansing industry- whether juices, supplements or specific diet regimens- do anything to help to clear toxins, parasites or bad karma in a manner beneficial to our health. Not one single scientific study backs up this industry.. or one does: 1 published in the Journal of Chiropractic medicine that involved 7 individuals and no comparator group.

  • The idea that we have toxins floating around in our bodies is sketchy

"a healthy gut" is an angle many cleanse and detox programs refer to.

  • interesting studies have shown how gut bacteria affect a range of health topics: from psychological wellbeing, to obesity.

Brands rarely describe what 'toxins' are

Toxins- a nebulous pseudoscientific term deliberately avoiding the specificity required for science-based analysis.

  • The modern day equivalent of 'evil spirits' (p28) are toxins.

  • it's vague enough to mean just about anything, while retaining the ring of scientific legitimacy

Every common health complaint:-

  • low energy

  • fatigue

  • amporphous pain

  • insomnia

  • anxiety

^^^ can all be attributed to the existence of toxins ^^^

Do they mean human made chemicals?

do they mean natural poisons from the environment?

Do they mean junk food?

Do they mean all of the above?

If so how are their magical treatments designed to address such vastly different compounds and conditions.

DR JUNGER- city-as-a-dirty-fish-tank-analogy

  • the idea that many of us live in toxin filled, diseases ridden urban bogs is often a core part of the we-must-cleanse narrative

A review article published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that 'premature mortality (dying before the age of 75) is greater among rural residents than among urban residents"

Another published in 2014 found that "life expectancy was inversely related to levels of rurality. While much of this different can be attributed to socio-economic status, this isn't the whole story.

A study in 2013 found that "youth in rural areas had significantly higher mortality rates than their urban counterparts regardless of deprivation levels" (socio-economic status_

P65 - "The beauty industry is a huge cultural force in a tight, symbolic relationship with celebrities and celebrity oriented media'.

Government research entities have little interest in big double blind placebo controlled trials on the efficacy of 'bird poop facial cream', for example. (p66)

Jargon - revitalise, radiate,

  • PUBLISHERS- don't sell magazines to remind people that nothing works .and they're unlikely to make a practice of denigrating the industry that purchases so much of their advertising space.

p45 The 'no gimmick cleanse'.

Step 1- Cleanse your system of all the pseudoscience babble that flows from many celebrities, celebrity physicians and the diet industry.

Step 2- supplement with a daily dose of healthy skepticism.

Step 3 - Detoxify your system with evidence produced by scientific community and disseminated by independent entities. (a favourite source: The Cochrane Collaborate).

Step 4: Watch your calorie intake (diet diaries are a terrific and evidence- based strategy) and eat lots of fruits and vegetables (aim for about 50 percent of what goes in your mouth).

Beauty tips from beautiful tips p65


  • "The beauty industry is, of course, massive. It involves everything from teeth-whitening toothpaste to ridiculously expensive shampoo that will transform your hair (to quote an advertisement for a product that contains white truffles and caviar and costs more that $60 for an 8.5 oz bottle) "from ordinary to extra ordinary". It involves celebrity endorsed cosmetics, perfumes and a host of fashion products. and it involves numerous fitness and slimming gimmicks. I will make no attempt to under-take a comprehensive analysis of every allegedly beautifying product that is touched by a celebrity. Their number is infinite. It's enough to know that the beauty industry is a huge cultural force in a tight, symbiotic relationship with celebrities and the celebrity oriented media. The size and influence of this industry creates challenges for anyone seeking to get to the truth about the products it makes and promotes."


  • "some estimates put the global skin-care market at approximately $80 billion, and it has been suggested that the entire anti-aging industry will be worth almost $300 billion by 2015.

Coffee for cellulite

SKIN - P87

  • sleep

  • don't smoke

  • sunscreen

  • exercise

  • eat healthily


"celebrity culture places aesthetics above health and well-being; values immediate results above the adoption of sustainable, long-term health strategies, and, perhaps worst of all, confuses science and pseudoscience , making it more difficult for us all to sift through the mountains of health, diet and beauty advice that permeates popular culture."


"We should also consider strategies to mitigate the adverse impact that celebrity culture might have on our ambitions, our definition of success and the way we view our current life circumstances. Simply learning to recognise and remind ourselves of the numerous cognitive biases that twist how we think about the world may help us to make more-informed life choices."

KAREN STERNHEIMER in Celebrity Culture and The American Dream

  • " rather than simplesuperficial distractions, celebrity and fame are unique manifestations of our sense of American social mobility, they provide the illusion that material wealth is possible for anyone. Celebrities seem to provide proof that the American dream of going from rags to riches is real & attainable".


" What do all these data about happiness, education and social mobility have to do with celebrity culture? We live in a world where people increasingly turn to celebrity culture as a way of thinking about and striving for social mobility, whether through real life choices or merely through fantasies about a life that could be, and as a means of imporving our well-being, health and appearance. It is a coincidence that countries that fare relatively poorly with respect to social mobility, happiness and education also embrace celebrity culture and a reach-for-the-stars mentality? Perhaps. It seems hard to deny that a convergence of a variety of socioeconomic (e.g. poor social mobility) and technological (e.g social media) trends and human psychological and social predispositions and biases have created the perfect conditions for celebrity culture to thrive."


"But no matter how tenuous the connection or complex the direction of the relationship, it seems difficult to deny that our current fascination with celebrity has the potential to lead to more unhappiness- about our bodies, faces, careers, homes, clothes and even the appearance of our spouses. more importantly, this society obsession does little to elevate or prioritise activities that will promote true social mobility and well-being"

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