The news that Netflix inked a deal for a series with Gwyneth Paltrow and her wellness brand, Goop, has left scientists and doctors aghast that the world’s largest streaming service might give her pseudoscience a powerful platform.
No details about the programming have been released, but the pro-science community is worried that Goop will use it to promote unproven regimens and products like jade vagina eggs, “biofrequency” stickers, charcoal toothbrushes, vaginal steaming, colonics, and more.
“It is very frustrating whenever these pseudoscientific voices get a bigger platform,” said Timothy Caulfield, a professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta, author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? and the host of a Netflix show, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death.
He said he is reserving final judgment until he sees whether the movie star turned lifestyle guru pushes her cockamamie ideas and high-priced products on the Netflix show.
But he said he will be surprised if they don’t make an appearance. “I’m not optimistic this is going to be a science-informed program,” he said.
Netflix declined to comment on the show’s content or how it will be vetted. A spokesperson for Goop told the Daily Beast that Goop’s “science and research team is very involved in the show.”
On social media, actual doctors and certified health professionals were dumbfounded. Dr. Robert O’Connor, director of research for the Irish Cancer Society, asked how Netflix could “give a platform to an organization & person so globally recognized for promoting misleading, exploitative and harmful wellness woo.”
Xeno Rasmusson, an associate professor of gerontology at California State University, East Bay, said he thinks Goop offers “a lot of positive direction for people wanting to eat healthy and build in healthy behavior during these hectic times.”
“But, he added, “they sell many supplements and other products with limited evidence of effectiveness, or some products just seem overindulgent and not realistic for most women.”
“To me, Goop is adding to the dumbing down of our society, and Netflix should think carefully about how much of a voice they want to give them,” he added.
Caulfield said Paltrow is at the forefront of a worrying trend: celebrities hawking health cures.
“There is evidence that celebrities can have a measurable impact on public opinion and public health beliefs,” he said.
Caulfield pointed to a U.K. law in the works that would limit what types of health products can be endorsed by celebrities.
“This isn’t just a trivial complaint about another celebrity with crazy ideas,” he said. “This is the spread of misinformation and how it’s a global threat to health.
“What you’re seeing is the development of a battle against misinformation.”
He noted that Netflix has a global reach and could influence people in parts of the world who may not have access to bona fide medical information.
“There is actual evidence that allowing the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theory and magical thinking can have an impact [on consumers],” Caulfield said.