The New York Times touts Gwyneth Paltrow and “her other ways of knowing”

I’m not sure if the New York Times‘s penchant for woo has always been the case, or whether it’s new—and, additionally, whether it has something to do with the paper’s increasingly woke slant. (As we know, wokeness prizes ideology and narrative over truth.) Both Greg and I, for instance, have written about the paper’s recent and repeated approbation for astrology (see here, here, and here), and now there’s an op-ed that touts not only Gwyneth Paltrow’s new “Goop Lab” show on Netflix, but also engages in some science-dissing and promotion of “other ways of knowing.” (Click on the screenshot below.)

To be sure, this isn’t the paper’s official stand, but it’s a very strange and dire piece of “journalism” by two women. The bios of the authors, as given in the article, are not propitious:

Elisa Albert is a writer working on a new novel and a “wellness” polemic. Jennifer Block is the author of “Everything Below the Waist: Why Health Care Needs a Feminist Revolution.”

Wellness polemic? True women have often been treated thoughtlessly or badly by the medical establishment, and there’s nothing wrong with women helping other women realize their sexuality. But does Gwynnie really have to stand in front of a giant flowered vagina?

But I digress. I’ve read quite a few reviews of the show, and some of them mention that there are good bits, like the emphasis on healthy female sexuality and how to acquire a working knowledge of your nether parts and how to achieve orgasm. But nearly all of them decry the show’s emphasis on untested “cures”. While one person on social media told me to chill about Paltrow, as her kind of stuff isn’t harmful, it certainly is: it can make people waste money on stuff that isn’t useful, and even get sicker if they could have resorted to science-based medicine instead of woo. And what isn’t harmful about taking money under false pretenses. Even if the rich can afford jade vagina eggs, it fosters a climate of credulity as well as cynicism.

For a summary of the criticisms of Goop Lab, just go to the section “Series Reception” on the Goop Lab Wikipedia page. These are media reviews of the entire six-episode series, and they’re not pretty. In fact, not one of them is generally positive. (Gwynnie, of course, won’t care: she’s crying all the way to the bank.) For one example, here’s the New Yorker‘s new review of the series; the words “magical thinking” and “pseudoscience” often appear in these reviews (click on screenshot for free access):

(If you want to know what “sponcon” means, it’s not a French word but slang: go here.)

A brief excerpt:

Like other celebrity vanity projects—Beyoncé’s “Life Is But a Dream” comes to mind—“The Goop Lab” is a documentary in name only. Executive-produced by Paltrow, it is propaganda for the Goop company and for its ideas of magical thinking.

. . .“The Goop Lab,” lowbrow TV with high production values, is the most unsettling kind of sponcon—the soulful kind. Wim Hof, a popular healer who, following the death of his wife, came to believe in the salutary benefits of breathing exercises and immersion in freezing water, teaches a group of Goopers “snowga.” A bodywork expert asks several employees to lie down on massage tables, and then, like a puppeteer, pulls at the air above them as they writhe, moan, and weep. In every episode, the skeptics are converted, and the believers are reaffirmed.

If “intuiting” and “energy fields” are not your bag, you were never going to be swayed by “The Goop Lab”—although I confess that, after watching, I did take one, brief, ice-cold shower. True believers in alternative therapies might be put off by the show’s efficient portrayals of “healing”—breathing exercises on the grass, for instance, that lead to instantaneous catharsis. The show’s queasiest, most Oprah-y moments involve the testimonies of regular people, meaning people who would likely never read or buy anything from Goop. They are filmed, styled and dressed like Goopers, sitting alone, on designer chairs, with the white lab in the background. An Iraq War veteran who for years suffered from P.T.S.D. reports that MDMA therapy eliminated his suicidal ideation. A man diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome claims that the cold-water therapy restored his full range of movement; he can now do a split.

I have to add that I haven’t watched it, but I know a bit about the show from reading many reviews, and I’m familiar with Paltrow’s incessant hawking of woo, which has made her a very rich woman.

It doesn’t help that what’s seen as America’s best newspaper has published what looks like an endorsement of the Goop Lab philosophy and a critique of mainstream medicine, all of which boils down to “don’t trust Western medicine; it’s sometimes been wrong.” The authors repeatedly diss science and scientific medicine, imputing it in in fact to the Patriarchy. Indeed, they see the Goop Lab as empowered women taking back their right to practice “other ways of knowing.” Some excerpts from the NYT travesty:

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?

The authors might consider that the repetitiveness of the critiques, as well as their pervasiveness and “predictability”, might say something about the kind of therapy pushed by Paltrow and her minions. But no, what it says to Albert and Block is that THE PATRIARCHY has repressed women’s “other ways of knowing”—ways handed down by oral tradition and never tested scientifically. But that doesn’t matter, because, after all, there are other ways of knowing!

My emphasis here:

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. It is emblematic of a cultural insistence that we quash intuitive measures and “other” ways of knowing — the sort handed down via oral tradition, which, for most women throughout history, was the only way of knowing. In other words, it’s classic patriarchal devaluation.

When 19th-century medicine men were organizing and legitimizing their brand-new profession, they claimed the mantle of “science” even though there was no such thing as evidence-based medicine at the time. In order to dominate the market, they slandered all other modalities as “quackery,” including midwifery, which we know achieved safer birth outcomes back then, as it still does today. Pejoratives like “woo” or “pseudoscience” are still often applied to anything that falls outside of the mainstream medical establishment. (Think about this the next time you hear something harmless or odd or common-sensical dismissed as an “old wives’ tale.”)

Yes, of course science has been misused as an excuse to sell snake oil, and midwifery, so far as I know, did draw on women’s experience to improve safety during birth. But what happened in the Bad Old Days of the 1800s is irrelevant to what happens when someone seeks modern scientific treatment. And the authors fail to mention that a lot of the criticism of Goop and its woo comes not from men, but from women (check out the list of critics in the Wikipedia article). Dr. Jen Gunther comes to mind, and the New Yorker piece above was written by Doreen St. Felix, a black woman. I guess all these folks are “sister punishers” who bought into the Patriarchy!

What bothers me most about this article is its explicit dissing of science in favor of intuition and experience. Here’s one example from Albert and Block’s piece:

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. We kiss our children’s boo-boos even though there’s no gold standard evidence that it will make them feel better. We just know that it does. Which in turn makes us feel better. That’s “wellness.”

This is prime “whataboutery”. Because there are unethical or unempathic physicians, that somehow vindicates the empathic, unethical, and useless woo peddled by Paltrow.

And as for reiki, check out the link they give for the efficacy of this “energy-based healing”, a method assuming the existence of “energy channels” in the body that don’t seem to exist. (Much of the therapy involves not even touching the patient, but waving hands over the body. The one meta-analysis above suggesting that it has benefits over placebo can be countered by any number of analyses that show that the method is no better than placebos (see discussions here, here, here and here).

A major objection to reiki is that it is a metaphysical treatment, based on assumptions about the body that simply aren’t true. If it makes you feel better, then fine: the only harm done is to your pocketbook, but note that other “integrative” therapies, like acupuncture, have not been demonstrated to be effective on their own–or even better than placebos. (By writing this, I’m guaranteed to get a ton of email from pseudoscience advocates.)

As for Paltrow’s “yoni egg”, much decried by Dr. Jen Gunther, the authors note that well, there aren’t any cases showing that it’s harmful, and real medical devices like transvaginal pelvic mesh have harmed patients. True! But that is just more whataboutery, and can’t justify quackery like yoni eggs. Just because science and scientific medicine can make mistakes, that doesn’t justify pseudoscientific nostrums where we have a prior evidence, like for jade vagina eggs, that they can be harmful, and no evidence that they can be helpful.

In the end, the authors decry Western medicine, implicitly touting the Goop Lab approach, because it gives women “agency over their own bodies”, enabling them to connect with those Other Ways of Knowing:

To be clear, we aren’t looking to Goop for scientific rigor (or political consciousness, for that matter). 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. Openness to intuitive measures that might help us avoid or ameliorate chronic despair and disease does not make us flat-earthers.

First, a scientific beatdown, which is what Paltrow deserves and is getting, is not a patriarchical beat-down, as evidenced by women like Jen Gunther who regularly take apart the kind of nonsense purveyed by Goop Lab. What we see on the part of Albert and Block  is an almost Trumpian assertion that Paltrow is good because the elite are going after her. It’s medical populism, and, like Trumpism, asserts that the claims of empirical medicine are “false facts”. They even call science a virtue signal!

The word “science” has morphed into a virtue signal, but science is simply a tool, and it can be used for both good and ill. “Science” was used during the first half of the 20th century to stop women from breastfeeding, encouraging them to turn to highly profitable, shelf-stable formula and jars of baby food instead.

No, science is not a virtue signal: it is a method of finding out the truth about the world. Yes, it’s a too, but it is the ONLY tool—the sole “way of knowing”—that can demonstrate whether a therapy works beyond its placebo effects. Saying that science has done bad stuff, and therefore shouldn’t be fully trusted, is like saying that chemistry brought us Zyklon B, and therefore can’t be trusted. (Nor can architecture, which, after all, was involved in building gas chambers).  It’s amazing that the New York Times would publish an article that extols pseudoscience. This is not opinion, after all, but a matter that can be adjuciated empirically. But they’ve done the same thing with astrology, which has failed scientific tests of its value.

 

48 Comments

  1. JohnE
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    It’s just depressing to realize that the onslaught of ignorance is so relentless, as evidenced by Goop, the resurgence of the “flat earth” believers, and the unwavering support for Trump. I guess it’s because ignorance is so easy, and knowledge is hard.

    • moleatthecounter
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Yep. I think it is a general desire in some humans to believe the exotic over the rational.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        But, that doesn’t seem to be true to me. Woo / the exotic is almost always mundane and unimaginative compared to the rational / real world as revealed by science. Reality is almost always far more interesting, complex, beautiful and exotic, but so many people don’t even care to look.

        I think the 2 biggest culprits are cultural inertia and intellectual laziness. It’s easier not to have to use the cognitive effort to reach some level of understanding of real things. Make believe is quick and easy to understand.

        • moleatthecounter
          Posted February 4, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

          Well, yes, I think so also. I agree with you there… But that isn’t what a lot of people think. Perhaps the woo is easier for them to half-understand. No maths, no effort!

  2. moleatthecounter
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Two ‘writers’ (of no repute that I can see) at NYT extolling GOOP and Our Holy Lady of Paltrow’s expertise in woo-ness = and both pandering to gullible vacuity in the populace.

    It’s sad that science and rational folks, like Dr. Gunter, still have to work to combat this wish-thinking in the masses.

    • harrync
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      And since of course the claims of GOOP are totally non-controversial, the NYT did not allow comments.

      • moleatthecounter
        Posted February 5, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Yes, correct. I noticed – when I used to read the Guardian – that a lot of their more dubious and controversial articles or opinion pieces (especially regarding immigration and Issssslaaarm – They are quite friendly towards religion, sadly these days also) are not available for comment. Which is a tremendous feat when one considers that their main comment section is called ‘Comment is Free’, or rather, it used to be, I think it be simply ‘Opinion’ now.

        The G will be reluctant to open to comment a lot of articles with which, they now surely know, most BTL commenters will disagree strongly.

        Sad.

  3. Erik
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Your criticisms of this piece are, as usual, aimed right at the major problems with it. I didn’t read the brief descriptions of the authors until I finished reading the essay on the NY Times site. However, it was clear that their major points were drawn from a particular perspective. I was going to comment on the essay on the NYT site, but the piece didn’t have comments enabled. I suspect someone approved this piece to offer a “balanced” response the large number of criticisms of the program.

  4. GBJames
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    sub

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Even if the rich can afford jade vagina eggs, it fosters a climate of credulity as well as cynicism.

    It also fosters a micro-climate of bacterial and fungal infections in the nethers themselves.

    • Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      I was going say exactly that. Some of Goop’s products are directly harmful.

      Even the ones that aren’t are fraudulent. If you buy a car off me and then, when you take delivery, it turns out it has no engine, it hasn’t done you any harm, so it’s surely OK.

  6. Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    ‘Elisa Albert is a writer working on a new novel and a “wellness” polemic.’

    Judging by the scare quotes and “polemic”, someone at the NYT shares your (our) opinion on this crap. Perhaps there’s still hope.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Avoid any site or show that offers even a soupçon of sponcon is my motto.

    • Mark R.
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Haha…when I saw sponcon, I also thought of soupçon. A word I learned right here on WEIT.

  8. Historian
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    We live in an age of distrust. Trump’s rise can be explained in part by distrust of politicians and governmental institutions. This holds in the area of medicine and health where the public perceives drugs and therapies recalled or declared useless or actually harmful as “proof” that science is a no better way of knowing than the nonsense perpetuated in the article under discussion. I do not know how common accepted medical wisdom is reversed by new findings or how such incidents can be measured in proportion to all drugs and therapies, but they occur often enough to create public skepticism. This situation helps explain the popularity of the quackery espoused by Goop.

    The heart of the problem is not the scientific method (the only true way to knowledge), but the way it has been abused, either intentionally or accidentally, or ignored by researchers and medical companies seeking glory or profit. Organizations such as medical journals or government agencies such as the FDA have failed to sufficiently vet therapies and drugs to prevent public relations disasters as well as physical harm to patients. Maybe they have tried to impose oversight and regulation to the best of the abilities, but the task is too daunting due to lack of funding. Or, perhaps, in some instances there is something more nefarious at play. But, until confidence in science is restored in the minds of the public, quackery will not go away.

    • Adam M.
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      I think journalists play a big part in this too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen an incredible article about some scientific finding, only to dig deeper and see that the article grossly exaggerated the actual claims of the scientists and researchers. And then often the headline is a further exaggeration of the article…

      Scientists can say “We’ve made a preliminary finding of a correlation between substance/activity X and disease Y, but only under these narrow conditions and the results haven’t been replicated. More research is needed.” Then an article will condense that to “Scientists have found that X could be one of the causes of Y.” Then the headline will be “X causes Y, study finds”.

  9. TJR
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Snake-oil salesmen are so much more sophisticated these days.

    • Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      In this case, jade-stone saleswomen.

      The future can be in everyone lap, or is it inside their laps. I can no longer tell. I let Titania tell me what to do.

  10. darrelle
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Albert’s and Block’s defense goo (goop / woo) is so cliche. They use all the standardized tactics wooists have used for a hundred years or more. For example . . .

    “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.”

    A standard combination of posturing persecution and straw manning. No, you are not privileged morons because you seek those things, you are privileged morons because of what you claim will enable you, and others, to find those things and, just as importantly, what you claim does not help people find those things.

    • Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      The equating of “intellectual” and “patriarchal” is also classic. There is this insistence that science is the way “the man” does things so it is inherently suspect. So much crap.

      • Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        It is a classical form of psychology to isolate the vulnerable from a means to really help them. Then isolate the pocketbook…

      • Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Dates from the 1980s, at least. Sandra Harding and Evelyn Fox Keller and all those women-haters who claimed that reason and science are masculine have a lot to answer for.

      • Deodand
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        It’s older than that, one of the profound ironies is that the linkage actually dates back to the era when men claimed that women were ‘mentally and physically’ incapable of the efforts needed to succeed in the sciences. Feminists of the day challenged these views and showed them to be wrong time and time again.

        Now feminists ‘know better’ and realize that the sciences, being created by the Patriarchy ™ are mentally, physically and spiritually incompatible with People of Gender (All SubTypes).

  11. Roo
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    My main issue with this article is that it seems to miss legitimate points for kvetching about “the patriarchy” and such. I forget the name for this logical fallacy, but the idea that the person making an argument makes it right or wrong should be a nonstarter when it comes to topics like this. Evidence in medicine should stand on its own, it’s not related to anyone’s character. Medicine administered by a doctor with a patriarchal attitude should work just as well as medicine delivered by a feminist.

    I do think there is a spectrum of calibration (that has nothing to do with patriarchy) when it comes to how much evidence one needs in medicine, that is sometimes harmfully skewed in either direction. On one end of the spectrum, there is a fair bit of financial incentive for insurance companies to deny payment for treatment, and ‘considered experimental’ or ‘not enough evidence’ is a handy way for them to do that, often, no doubt, in a way that harms patients. Every treatment is new and ‘experimental’ at some point, and waiting years or decades for a big body of research on it is not always practical for people who need treatment immediately. On the other end of the spectrum are the obvious harms of quackery, snake oil, and pseudoscience (proposed therapies for autism are rife with these.)

    Even in the case of Goop, there may well be a few therapies that will be proven down the line (I thought I read that research actually was being done on MDMA for PTSD, for example, with promising results, so that seems like a candidate). What the standards should be for separating the wheat from the chaff for practices that are all “as of yet unproven” I don’t know, but again, invoking oppression and patriarchy doesn’t seem like the way to go.

    • JP415
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      I forget the name for this logical fallacy, but the idea that the person making an argument makes it right or wrong should be a nonstarter when it comes to topics like this.

      You might be thinking of the Genetic Fallacy. The authors of the Times piece imply that medical science is somehow incorrect or immoral because it has historically been practiced by white, cis-gendered men — the bad guys.). Woo (“other ways of knowing”) is superior because it is mainly practiced by women and people of color — the good guys. (The second part of the argument is dubious, because a lot of woo that women find attractive has also been practiced, and maybe even invented by, men. Astrology and Feng Shui spring to mind.) I see the tactic a lot on the Woke left. It’s the Genetic Fallacy, but a specific type that argues that ideas that come from marginalized groups are somehow superior to ideas propagated by Western-educated Caucasian men. Maybe you could call it the “Fallacy of Oppressed Groups,” or something like that. We do need a name for it because it’s cropping up everywhere.

      The authors also practice the technique of poising the well when they say “an intellectual (read: patriarchal) beat-down.” Basically, they try to preempt criticism by implying that their critics are somehow associated with patriarchy.

      So many fallacies, so little time! It’s probably pointless to talk about logical fallacies with the authors; after all, logic was codified by an old white guy named Aristotle.

      • JP415
        Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Whoops: should be “Poisoning the Well.” Must work on teh prooofredin skils.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    An Iraq War veteran who for years suffered from P.T.S.D. reports that MDMA therapy eliminated his suicidal ideation.

    Now, that one I can believe. Someone Who Isn’t Me tried Ecstasy back when it first hit the streets in the Seventies — the original, real-deal stuff manufactured by Merck, not the garbage mixture trafficked under that name (or as “Molly”) now. SWIM says he can see how MDMA could help a GI shake PTSD.

    • Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      This one stood out to me as well. But a possibly useful thing is here being used to provide cover for other things that are sheer nonsense.

  13. merilee
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    😖

  14. Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    They keep using that word “knowing”…I don’t think it means what they think it means.

  15. Posted February 4, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    It’s just “marketing” ultimately…though that’s too dignified a term. Paltrow has become a mere con artist. I guess her abilities as an actor make her well suited for that.

  16. Posted February 4, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    If they think there are other ways of “knowing” and that science is so suspect, why don’t they advertise using those other means instead of making a show on Netflix? Surely they can tell people about their snake oil via intuition or by “oral tradition”.

    • JP415
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, it’s fantastically ironic that people who dismiss Western science are very happy to use it when they find it convenient — tacitly acknowledging that science does work on some level.

      • Posted February 7, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        I am reminded of the Scientologists, who despite their disdain (to say the least) for psychology seem to have yet created one of the most effective collection of psychotechnologies for keeping people “in the group” yet created. Shows how technology (and craft) has an ethical valence, for sure!

  17. Vaal
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    (From the article): “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. It is emblematic of a cultural insistence that we quash intuitive measures and “other” ways of knowing — the sort handed down via oral tradition, which, for most women throughout history, was the only way of knowing. In other words, it’s classic patriarchal devaluation.”

    Wait, wasn’t the hoary old cliche “Men are more objective and logical thinkers; women are more intuitive, emotional thinkers” supposed to be a sign of condescending patriarchy?

    Yet here the authors endorse the cliche and to not acknowledging it is sign of a Patriarchy!

    *(Archie Bunker Mode)* It’s like arguing with my wife. She can’t lose!

  18. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    A small detail, it was science, Semmelweiss -later vindicated by Pasteur- that explained why midwives did better than drs in maternity.
    In several institutions drs went straight from the anatomy dissection rooms to the maternity wards, without washing their hands.
    Had it not been for science we would still not know what causes perpueral fever….

    • Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      and without washing their instruments! Yikes!

    • has
      Posted February 5, 2020 at 4:38 am | Permalink

      Nowadays it’s even simpler: low-risk births can be handled by midwives; high-risk births (or “low-risk” births that unexpectedly go sideways) are sent to doctors to deal with.

      Doesn’t take a genius to guess the result when comparing cheese to chalk like that. Way to pick your cherry, ladies; now you’re endangering lives as well!

  19. Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I dunno: Do you want the engineer that knows how to use evidence and how to design that bridge (or heart valve)? Or do you want the engineer that uses feng shui and is nice to have a beer with? (Of course some good engineers are also good to have a beer with.)

  20. JP415
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I myself believe that diseases are caused when the body is possessed by evil spirits. Patients can be cured by whacking them with a broom handle until the evil spirit departs the body. This belief is held today by many non-Western cultures and was even held by our own ancestors. Unfortunately, it fell into disrepute with the advent of patriarchal Western medical science.

    Please write me a check if you would like an individual or group exorcism.

  21. Posted February 4, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Nullius in verba! they, The Royal Society posited this in 1660.

    2020 watch out for, dives et celebre fabulosa!
    as unfortunately, the brain does not have a “woo check’ built in.

    • Posted February 4, 2020 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      …does not have a “woo check’ built in.
      ah but it has you fool, system 2, as in Daniel Kahneman’s, Thinking Fast and Slow (Pinker’s Rationality talks mentions this) but it is lazy, unlike a spell check which is an over active little creature.

  22. JP415
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    It is emblematic of a cultural insistence that we quash intuitive measures and “other” ways of knowing . . .”

    Okay, so have these other ways of knowing discovered a vaccine for smallpox, polio, or HPV? Are other ways of knowing able to mend a broken arm or remove a tumor? What have other ways of knowing done for us lately?

  23. eric
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    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.

    Openness implies you are willing to change your mind, consider the possibility that you are wrong, and admit when that possibility looks increasingly likely.
    I very much doubt there is any openness in Goop’s defenders. They’re simply close-minded supporters of things they accuse mainstream scientists of being close-minded critics of.

    • Lee
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      “close-minded supporters of things they accuse mainstream scientists of being close-minded critics of”

      “Gullible rubes” was the phrase that popped into my mind, but I’m willing to go with yours.

    • has
      Posted February 5, 2020 at 4:40 am | Permalink

      As Bacon stated: Knowledge Itself is Power.

      He did not say it had to be right.

    • Roo
      Posted February 5, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      I think some people probably love the exclusivity of such a high priced brand, but others just don’t see a lot of other places to turn. I have read and enjoyed some of Goop’s stuff on “postnatal depletion”, for example, not because I want to buy their $90 vitamin ‘cure’, but because you just don’t see a lot about it, and it’s nice to have someone speak to what I’m feeling. Mainstream sources will all offer the same advice on postpartum fatigue and fogginess… try to get more sleep, stay hydrated, eat your vegetables. This is frustratingly useless advice, for the most part. I get why some women would get excited about a company that not only recognizes what they are going through but seems to offer a more proactive solution (fwiw, I ended up researching supplements that are useful for those with chronic fatigue syndrome, thinking that if they increase energy for one group of people they might do it for others. They seem to be fairly helpful, but this was a solution I had to sort of make up myself.)

      This is not to justify Goop’s marketing practices, just to say that I don’t blame people who buy snake oil – often they just don’t have anything else to try.

    • Posted February 7, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      They are *so* open minded their brains fell out. Or, as Bunge used to say, an genuinely open mind has garbage filters: otherwise at best one will be pushed this way then that with no structure. At worst of course one will succumb to an ideology (politcal, religious, or otherwise) which will expand to fill the available space and get stuck!


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