Ever since Gwyneth Paltrow launched ground zero for eye rolling, Goop.com, in 2008, it feels like the description of every new product they promote was written using a book called Pseudo-Science Mad Libs. Just throw in some random quackery and unfalsifiable claims. Like claiming that shoving a $66 egg-shaped piece of crystal up your vagina can “balance your hormones,” or that magical $60 stickers can “boost cell turnover.”
It was almost as though Goop was just publishing whatever snake oil nonsense they wanted without double-checking that it wasn’t a pile of expensive lies! Well, those days are done. Gwyneth recently revealed in a profile by The New York Times that Goop has decided to hire a lawyer and a fact-checker to start verifying their outrageous claims.
Gwyneth starts by explaining why Goop’s print magazine didn’t exactly flourish like a rich woman’s gut bacteria after a week-long organic kefir cleanse. It was launched last year by Condé Nast, and just sort of fizzled out on newsstands (by my count, there were a whopping two issues). Gwyneth says the death of the Goop magazine happened because Condé Nast did things “old school,” aka they weren’t about publishing unverified claims and bogus facts.
Goop wanted Goop magazine to be like the Goop website in another way: to allow the Goop family of doctors and healers to go unchallenged in their recommendations via the kinds of Q and A’s published, and that just didn’t pass Condé Nast standards. Those standards require traditional backup for scientific claims, like double-blind, peer-reviewed studies. G.P. didn’t understand the problem.
“We’re never making statements,” she said. Meaning, they’re never asserting anything like a fact. They’re just asking unconventional sources some interesting questions. But what is “making a statement”? Some would argue – her former partners at Condé Nast, for sure – that it is giving an unfiltered platform to quackery or witchery.
The biggest statement Gwyneth has made is that even she has no idea what the hell Goop is saying half the time. So she’s technically right. Gwyneth must have learned something from Condé Nast’s resistance to publish boldfaced lies, and constantly fighting the haters, like NASA and legitimate doctors. Because Goop now has a lawyer, and will soon have a full-time fact-checker to decrease the in-house bullshit.
After a few too many cultural firestorms, and with investors to think about, G.P. made some changes. Goop has hired a lawyer to vet all claims on the site. It hired an editor away from Condé Nast to run the magazine. It hired a man with a Ph.D. in nutritional science, and a director of science and research who is a former Stanford professor. And in September, Goop, sigh, is hiring a full-time fact-checker. G.P. chose to see it as “necessary growing pain.”
That doesn’t mean we won’t still be able to laugh at the hilariously out-of-touch vitamins and thousand-dollar dildos being pushed on the website. Gwyneth still wants Goop to be for rich ladies:
“It’s crucial to me that we remain aspirational. Not in price point, because content is always free. Our stuff is beautiful. The ingredients are beautiful. You can’t get that at a lower price point. You can’t make these things mass-market.”
That might actually work for Goop, now that they won’t be able to publish fairy tale healing solutions anymore. Just market everything as being very expensive, and you’ll capture the hearts of your target market. “This 0.3-oz jar of earlobe cream is $2800, its ingredients are mostly water and oil, and it’s special because a rare snail looked at it, but did we mention the price? Stock up for the holidays!”
Pic: The New York Times