GOOP: pseudoscience in a dress, albeit a Prada dress

Prada Store Facade at Nisantasi

It pretends to be transgressive but it promotes a thoroughly capitalist, rabid consumerism.

Because it’s really about money.

It venerates romanticized “traditional” wellness practices that not only were never practiced by our foremothers, but are thoroughly modern.

In defending GOOP, Block and Albert imagine themselves as feminists, but they are fools fronting for a marketing machine.

Because it’s really about money.

It stresses feminist empowerment by perpetuating the misogynist belief that irrational thought is the special province of women.

Because it’s really about money.

It’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP and it’s pseudoscience in a dress, albeit a Prada dress.

That’s why it’s particularly delicious to read Who’s Afraid of Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop? by Elisa Albert and Jennifer Block, two privileged white women who defend the sacred right of another privileged white woman to defraud consumers. They imagine themselves as feminists when they are nothing more than fools, fronting for a marketing machine.

GOOP is a corporation devoted to profit and it profits by promoting conspicuous consumption of luxury products to wealthy women. Why is it being criticized by mainstream physicians and scientists? Because it makes false, unscientific and often fabricated claims about those products.

Because it’s really about money.

Albert and Block are astoundingly credulous. To read their piece you wouldn’t know that GOOP exists to sell products and is being criticized because their products not only don’t work as advertised, but literally can’t work as advertised.

Block and Albert plaintively ask:

So what underlies all the overwhelming, predictable, repetitive critiques? What exactly is so awful about a bunch of consenting adults seeking self-knowledge, vitality and emotional freedom?

They mobilize the tired tropes of radical feminism to defend a bastion of capitalism, a traditionally patriarchal economic system.

Throughout history, women in particular have been mocked, reviled, and murdered for maintaining knowledge and practices that frightened, confused and confounded “the authorities.” (Namely the church, and later, medicine.) Criticism of Goop is founded, at least in part, upon deeply ingrained reserves of fear, loathing, and ignorance about things we cannot see, touch, authenticate, prove, own or quantify.

No, throughout history women have been mocked, reviled and murdered for daring to expect the same rights and privileges as men. It had nothing to do with their “knowledge” and everything to do with the naked abuse of power that is misogyny.

Block and Albert mobilize the tropes of religion to undercut science, promoting the same arguments used by flat-earthers and creationists that belief is equal to science.

Our society likes to conjoin the concepts of science and health, but the two do not always overlap. Peer-reviewed, lab-generated, randomized, controlled, double-blinded evidence will always be the gold standard, but such studies aren’t always fundable, or ethical.

They mobilize New Age nonsense to promote traditional profiteering:

But it’s condescending to suggest that if we are interested in having agency over our bodies, if we are open to experiencing heightened states of awareness and emotion, if we are amazed by and eager to learn more about the possibilities of touch and intention and energy, and if we’d like to do everything within our power to stay out of doctors’ offices, we are somehow privileged morons who deserve an intellectual (read: patriarchal) beat-down…

But buying luxury products from GOOP is not asserting agency over your body; it’s allowing Gwyneth Paltrow agency over your wallet.

Because it’s really about money.

But I suspect that Albert and Block know that; they sell pseudoscience through their writing and for them, as for Paltrow, it all about the money.

33 Responses to “GOOP: pseudoscience in a dress, albeit a Prada dress”

  1. Russell Jones
    February 5, 2020 at 2:55 pm #

    Criticism of Goop is founded, at least in part, upon deeply ingrained
    reserves of fear, loathing, and ignorance about things we cannot see,
    touch, authenticate, prove, own or quantify.


    Delete the first two words of that sentence, and they might be onto something.

  2. rational thinker
    February 5, 2020 at 1:06 pm #

    Goop is on Netflix now. I know if I try to watch it I will get so frustrated and start yelling at the T.V. Lol.

    • StephanieJR
      February 5, 2020 at 2:43 pm #

      I’m not allowed to hate watch things now because I get too loud and angry.

      • Russell Jones
        February 5, 2020 at 2:48 pm #

        Same here! My wife has taken steps to substantially reduce my outrage porn intake.

      • demodocus
        February 7, 2020 at 2:11 pm #

        I’m having trouble with the blinking PBS NewsHour lately. Every time my least favorite, and very important, political figure shows up, I get riled up. Not good for someone who gets depression augmented anger.

  3. MaineJen
    February 5, 2020 at 9:12 am #

    “and if we’d like to do everything within our power to stay out of doctors’ offices, we are somehow privileged morons who deserve an intellectual (read: patriarchal) beat-down…”

    Yes, you are. You ARE a privileged moron. Because you would be the FIRST privileged moron in line at urgent care when your jade egg causes a raging infection. And you would be the first “Can I speak to your manager” moron to throw a hissy fit when they insist you wait your turn like everyone else.

    Privileged morons with just enough education to make them dangerous scare the hell out of me. We are going through this in my state right now; the Anti Vax morons snuck a question onto the Primary ballot to try to bring back non medical exemptions from vaccines. The election is March 3 and I’m terrified that turnout is going to be so low that it will pass.

    • Kaia Rose
      February 6, 2020 at 10:39 pm #

      I’d like to do everything in my power to avoid doctors, too. I know few people who think otherwise. But I’m not naive. Wellness creates the illusion of control, and not everyone has the privilege of being part of the ‘worried well.’. I sure don’t have that luxury. I joke about ‘winning ‘ the genetic lottery by inheriting nearly all the varied health issues present on both sides of my family.

      There’s so much that is out of our control. Is that scary? Yes. Humbling? Also yes. But I prefer to live in reality and deal with facts, not with mystical gemstone eggs that who knows how many people died of were injured mining it. Or magic adhesives. Or ‘the ancient traditional wisdom of the uterus’.

      Based on one of the author’s reaction to a misspelling of her name on Orac’s blog and her insultingly addressing of him as ‘mister doctor,’ I think you’re right. We found the Karens who demand the manager.

      That’s sneaky what the antivaxxers are doing in your state, too. Humanity often makes me feel despair.

  4. JDM
    February 4, 2020 at 4:05 pm #

    So what underlies all the overwhelming, predictable, repetitive critiques?

    I chuckled when I read this line, because it echoes a lot of criticism from pseudoscience proponents of the particular (OT here) idea I’ve critiqued. The fact that the critiques are extensive is treated as a problem for the critics rather than the idea(s) that are capable of such extensive critiques because they’re so full of holes and wrong info. The fact that the critiques are indeed predictable is treated as a problem for the critics rather than showing that the original idea(s) are easily seen to be seriously flawed, at best. And the fact that the critiques are repeated often, often from different people all offering the same criticisms, is treated as a problem for the critics rather than showing that the flaws and errors in the idea(s) are visible to virtually every sensible and informed person who looks at them.

  5. rational thinker
    February 4, 2020 at 2:59 pm #

    Gwyneth Paltrow is no different than the average cult leader. Fooling the gullible into giving her a lot of money for her modern day snake oil.

    • rational thinker
      February 4, 2020 at 3:02 pm #

      OT: I found this today the ego and nerve of this home birther is truly amazing

      • StephanieJR
        February 4, 2020 at 3:11 pm #

        Jesus, absolutely no sense of perspective.

      • PeggySue
        February 4, 2020 at 4:00 pm #

        Where did this Mom get the idea that “protocol” was to have an OR and team standing by whenever they decided to call? This is pretty weird. Did the homebirth midwife tell her this? And what on earth was she thinking when she said she’d do another home birth if the hospital would handle it right next time? An accreta is not a simple retained placenta, is it?

        • rational thinker
          February 5, 2020 at 12:36 pm #

          I think the midwife told her a bunch of bullshit about hospital protocol. She actually thinks the midwife told them everything that was going on and to have a team ready for miss special snowflake “stat”. Everything she says just shows how entitled and important she thinks she is.

          • PeggySue
            February 5, 2020 at 2:58 pm #

            Yeah, I can’t quite imagine a hospital receiving a call from someone claiming to be a home birth midwife, and, on that basis alone, calling in a team, possibly bumping cases, and having an OR at the ready. I’m sure it was an excruciating and terrifying experience for the mother, but that wasn’t the hospital’s fault. Wish they had sat her down and said, let us explain why we had to do what we had to do.

          • Kaia Rose
            February 6, 2020 at 11:25 pm #

            Even had they sat down with her afterward to explain, I don’t think that would’ve helped. I like to wish it would help, but she seems to trust only her midwife and echo chamber. And if the midwife lies? She likely wouldn’t believe the doctors and staff, and then would go on to write another post online about the lying and gaslighting minions of patriarchy, Big Pharma, and Big Hospital persecuting innocent midwives and mothers.

            I’m sure it sucked very much and was traumatizing. I imagine it was excruciating, but unfortunately, stuff outside of our control happens. I hope she can move past this, and maybe seek some therapy or counseling to help her heal.

        • rational thinker
          February 5, 2020 at 12:58 pm #

          This is the best part=

          “I recently ran into our midwife and she was on her way to deal with
          another situation with one of her homebirth patients and my heart just
          broke. Nothing changed. If I had died, I would have just been a pawn in
          this game against natural or homebirth. My case did go under review with
          the Perinatal Review Board but it was just a bunch of doctors trying to
          go after the midwife for doing a homebirth rather than taking any
          responsibility for their actions.”

          It seems the midwife had another disaster after she nearly killed her. It sounds like someone may have died this time and of course its not the uneducated birth hobbyist midwifes fault.This woman is such an asshole she cant even see there is a pattern emerging with this particular midwife!

          • Kaia Rose
            February 6, 2020 at 11:17 pm #

            I thought that, too. ‘Deal with another situation ‘. That’s a pretty callous way of describing someone else who is either suffering, dying, or dead from her incompetence.

            She’s right about nothing changing, though. Her midwife BFF is still preying upon, happily taking money from, and harming the people who trust her during a quite vulnerable moment in life, all without accountability. And she’s partially right that she’d have been a pawn. Sadly, she is instead a pawn of the midwife and just lucky to have avoided being sacrificed on the altar of natural childbirth.

            The midwife needs a new hobby.

        • Kaia Rose
          February 6, 2020 at 11:06 pm #

          I just keep wondering why she expects the hospital to handle the homebirth. It’s literally the point to not have a hospital and the ‘cascade of interventions ‘ involved. It seems like there’s a disconnect here.

          Heh. She clearly isn’t trusting her body or trusting birth if she has to run off to the hospital. Her body’s innate wisdom will ensure the placenta leaves the body at the most perfect time. It was still attached because it wasn’t done baking yet! (Sarcasm, of course. And a reference to post-term (?) babies knowing when it’s time to be born, no worries about stillbirth.)

          It’s frustrating because she expects cake, pie, and eating them. She wants the perfect homebirth, the hospital to clean up the mess when SHTF, and takes for granted that she’ll survive both.

      • February 4, 2020 at 8:36 pm #

        Wow, the denial is deep with that lady.
        1) The amount of blood lost in that 45 minute drive (or however long the ambulance transfer plus drive time) was a huge compounding factor – but that’s not her fault or the fault of the midwife, right?

        2) Her midwife didn’t have admitting privileges at the hospital. The call ahead may well have worked to get the correct people on site – but the fact that the hospital didn’t have her records or accurate vitals tells a different story. My OB has admitting privileges at the hospital where we delivered Spawn. When I walked in at 3am, they had everything ready. I had my vitals taken within 5 minutes and was on a monitor within 7 minutes.

        3) Um…..yeah, the doctors need to do manual removals of placentas some times. I can only imagine how much that sucks – but giving birth at home runs that risk since she had been bleeding for over an hour before doctors had a chance to do the removal.

        4) Retained placenta =/= placenta accreta. That would have been a full-on nightmare including some extended time in an OR.

        • Kaia Rose
          February 5, 2020 at 1:20 am #

          Ikr. She thinks she’s totally blameless. It’s all their fault. FFS, grow up and take some responsibility! But no, she can’t acknowledge that her decisions weren’t as pure as freshly fallen snow. She’s the victim in all this. (Maybe a victim of a predatory midwife acting like her BFF…one wonders what the midwife told her. That could explain some discrepancies. ).

          I’ll have to look up what those two terms you mentioned.

          I can’t imagine the agony she went through, but I’m sure it wasn’t done out of spite ‘to teach her a lesson.’ It was to save her life. I imagine when your patient is dying, speaking kindly and saying ‘please may I’ are not high on the priority list. I’m sure it can seem gruff, mean, hostile, and sadistic. And some doctors do indeed have poor bedside manner. But this sounded like an emergency where getting the job done took priority over not hurting feelings.

          And yeah, I bet they were angry. How many near-misses or tragedies had those professionals lived through?

          • February 5, 2020 at 12:35 pm #

            Placenta accreta is a medical emergency during a birth because that means that the placenta has grown much farther into the uterine wall than it normally should. When the placenta detaches, the mother has massive, life-threatening bleeding. Placenta accreta is an automatic trip to the ER for a hysterectomy plus huge amounts of blood transfusions to keep the mom alive during the surgery.

            This lady didn’t have placenta accreta. She’d have had a hysterectomy if she was lucky and more likely a funeral.

            She had the far more common situation of a retained placenta. A retained placenta is a normal placenta that just won’t let go of the inner wall of the uterus – but it’s not dangerously in-grown to the placental wall. It sucks. Getting it manually removed really sucks – but the doctors would have had a lot more options for pain control if this had happened IN the hospital instead of receiving a dangerously ill woman who had been bleeding for 1 hour + after giving birth.

          • rational thinker
            February 5, 2020 at 12:41 pm #

            This lady didn’t have placenta accreta. She’d have had a hysterectomy if she was lucky and more likely a funeral.” -This
            Thats what I was thinking cause she said she had one more baby after this in a hospital. If it was placenta accreta she would likely have had a hysterectomy.

          • Kaia Rose
            February 6, 2020 at 10:57 pm #

            Thank you so much for explaining! Thank you for taking the time to write it out for us. That’s pretty much what I read, too. I concluded that placenta accreta could be considered a type of retained placenta, but it’s way more dangerous than the more common retained placenta since the damage is more extensive.

            Yeah, more likely a funeral had it been placenta accreta since it took her so long to get treatment. And hysterectomy was listed as the only treatment so she might need a fire extinguisher for her pants.

            I imagine it really sucks having it manually removed, but like you said, if she had already been at the hospital, it could’ve been managed so much better. But it’s totes the hospital’s fault, those sadistic allopathic monsters!

      • Kaia Rose
        February 5, 2020 at 1:05 am #

        If she was crashing, would it have even be safe to put her under general anesthesia? If so, it sounds like they didn’t have a moment to lose. And I wonder why they were upset? /s

        It must’ve been hard to watch her dying and screaming and bleeding, knowing it could have been prevented, all the while knowing they almost lost a mother of several kids. How scary it must have been for everyone involved!

        And she’d have had another homebirth, too, if the hospital would handle it ‘right.’ If the hospital would handle her homebirth and its aftermath. The people at the hospital could have handled things better had she chosen to deliver there instead of counting on them to fix things if something went wrong…when the hospital was like an hour away.

        But at least she had her homebirthing experience of her dreams. That’s what really matters, right? /s

        • rational thinker
          February 5, 2020 at 4:54 am #

          Im not a doctor but I am pretty sure that they would never put someone that close to death in that situation under general anesthesia because that would have finished her.
          That woman is so self centered she does not deserve to have ANY children.

          • Kaia Rose
            February 6, 2020 at 10:44 pm #

            That’s what I thought, too.

            I told my mom about this case, and she was horrified. She too said she didn’t deserve to have children. I agree.

      • MaineJen
        February 6, 2020 at 4:32 pm #

        “The obstetricians records indicated I refused to go to the hospital when the case was that by the time the midwife came I was pushing already!”

        Gee, that couldn’t be because THE MIDWIFE WASN’T HONEST with the OB, could it?

        Nah. Must be the hospital’s fault.

        • swbarnes2
          February 6, 2020 at 5:01 pm #

          The mom is pretending that the hospital is complaining about the interval between the midwife arriving and them all going to the hospital, which might have been a short interval. But what they are really complaining about is the hour at least that she was in labor and sat at home 45 minutes away from medical help.

          • rational thinker
            February 6, 2020 at 6:09 pm #

            The wait time she had at the hospital was a total of 20 min before they started to get the placenta out.

        • rational thinker
          February 6, 2020 at 6:05 pm #

          Yup, first give vaginal birth at all costs, second you must protect the midwife at all costs.

          We have all heard this shit many times before, hospital questions midwife, midwife then blames mom, then midwife lies to mom about what she told the OB.

          When I first read it it sounded like satire but unfortunately it isn’t. The comments are pretty interesting for their utter stupidity. All of them supportive there was only a few against her. There is around 30 comments and she responds to a lot of them too.

      • Cristina B
        February 6, 2020 at 8:47 pm #

        Her midwife started an IV on her while they were still home (which makes me wonder what kind of midwife carries that stuff on her, let alone knows how to use it – unless I was mistaken and the paramedics started one?). Then she got an IV on the L&D ward. And then when she started crashing, they were trying to start one. How many IVs did she have?!

        • rational thinker
          February 8, 2020 at 1:45 pm #

          If the midwife did give her an IV I doubt it was done correctly.

  6. Leading Zero
    February 4, 2020 at 2:54 pm #

    Kind of ironic that this piece was published on National Women Physicians Day. The first women physicians did far more to smash the patriarchy than Gwyneth Paltrow’s posing ever could.

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