Is Gwyneth Paltrow’s pseudoscience winning?

DALLAS, TX – NOVEMBER 20: Gwyneth Paltrow attends the goop pop Dallas Launch Party in Highland Park Village on November 20, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images for goop)

On an alarmingly regular basis, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle company Goop publishes new morsels of health bullshit.

And as the Goop website has emerged as a reliably laughable source of pseudoscience, a small army of journalists (myself included), doctors, researchers, and bloggers has evolved to pounce on Goop’s claptrap as soon as it’s out. We explain why jade eggs for vaginas, $30 sex “dust,” and body stickers that “promote healing” are misleading drivel. In the best cases, we use Goop’s bunk to teach people about how actual science works. It’s practically a parasitic relationship.

Recently, though, I’ve been asking myself what impact all this debunking is having.

The first time I wrote about Paltrow’s health bullshit, and her “cleanse specialist” Alejandro Junger, was four years ago, in 2013. Two years later, the Alberta professor Tim Caulfield publishedhis book Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?, about the dangerous influence celebrities have on our decision-making. CNN, the Guardian, and Stephen Colbert have all weighed in. Over the years, OB-GYN and blogger Jen Gunter has spilled so much digital ink on Paltrow’s health shenanigans that she got Goop to issue its first-ever direct response to critics on July 13.

In the time we’ve been debunking Paltrow, the stories and books pointing out the absurdity and potential harms of Goop’s claims have been widely read. It’s clear they resonate with certain readers.

But the Goop empire has also grown and expanded in influence. So I set about to understand why — and what impact, if any, critics have had on the brand.

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