Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?

This is part of our quick reads series; helping you stay informed without hogging your precious time.  This post considers the book “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?”Spoiler alert: yes it would seem poor old Gwyneth is wrong about everything; from juice cleanses, to coffee enemas and steaming her fanny (I added that one but I did read she does do this and I’m pretty confident of the lack of science in the idea). 

She was a terrific actor – there is something to be said for sticking to your core competencies huh?

When she stuck to acting, I felt some kind of affinity to her, after all my middle name is Gwendoline (pronounced Gwendolyn) so should we not be two happy Gwens in a pod.  

Caulfield’s delightful tongue in cheek title and light, fruity and readable tone, belies a hefty and serious message within: we mere humans are hard-wired to look up to celebrities.

Yes, that is as true of management gurus as it is of movie stars!  

It’s an ape-like thing where we look to the fittest and the strongest – the most attractive (OK this might not follow fully for management gurus).

This tendency to look to both celebs and management gurus has worsened with the social media explosion.  Now we can look up to Gwen and also feel some sort of delicious personal connection to her as she tweets us directly to our living room mid fanny steam or bottom cleanse.

Did you know the show Mad Men increased cigarette sales? Or that most people feel not only less attractive but think their partner is less attractive after viewing a few models/celeb images.

Out with hard science in with the lovely people.

It seems to be out with science and in with celeb/guru advice.  Celeb advice being followed better than evidence-based scientific advice.  Given we ALL have a beautiful people bias (we pay them more and trust them more).  No wonder we feel celebs are the pinnacle, the beautifulest of the beautiful.  Bad news – celebs are on balance, less happy, die younger, commit suicide more (maybe, stats are hard to find here), are often lonely and especially in the case of those that got there via sports, surprisingly often broke in the end.

All in all celebs/Gurus are ruining the world.

It is not a cheerful story.

But it is an entertaining, fact-filled, eye-opener that if you are a parent, or even just a person living on this planet …. is very relevant to you.
In the Author’s own words:
“Celebrity culture has emerged as one of the most significant and influential sources of pseudoscientific blather.” 
Celeb trends are changing our behaviours.

If you prefer hard science, here is Caulfield’s ‘science-informed six’:

  • Moderate your booze
  • Don’t smoke
  • Move
  • Eat fruit, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains (yes true carbs are not actually the devil despite the celebrity blather) and good fats
  • Don’t be too skinny or too fat
  • Wear sunscreen. Btw this is one of only four things that are actually effective in reducing the signs of aging.
  • Sleep (7-9 hours a night).

Seems like a no brainer when you put it like that eh? Sad truth is it looks like the celebs are being followed more than the scientists.  I guess it is easier to lie down in a luxury environment and have someone rub your face with gold leaf than go to the gym, put the wine back in the fridge etc.

I would like to see Caulfield turn his wit and intellect to the topic of management gurus (it’s me adding them here, because it is same same for much of this).  I would adore to see his “science informed six’ for leaders.  Until he does – this book is still important to read as it will help you with some of the skills you need to consider the evidence base in management guru ideas yourself.

Let me know how you go

Yours as Ever

Dr R x

Links, Info, Credits and all that Jazz

The Author: Timothy Caulfield – is Chair in Heath Law and Policy and Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health the University of Alberta.   AKA he knows a thing or two and is a bear of big brain.

Long Title: Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? How the Famous Sell Us Elixirs of Health, Beauty and Happiness.  Timothy Caulfield. Published by Beacon Press 2015.

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