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Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: How the Famous Sell Us Elixirs of Health, Beauty & Happiness Paperback – May 10, 2016
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“An intelligent mix of research and pop culture, Caulfield's analysis of celebrity trends gets to the heart of America's obsession with the fame monster.”
“You'd think that with the steady march of science, we'd see the twilight of the quacks. On the contrary. We are awash in snake oil. Now Tim Caulfield provides an important and entertaining antidote to all this bunkum. Put down the deer antler spray and pick up this book.”
—A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
“Caulfield's thoughtful, amusing and engaging study of our celebrity-obsessed culture provides insight into why celebrity authority often trumps medical fact when it comes to our health. If you want to improve your health or that of others you would do well to read this book!”
—Arthur Caplan, author of Smart Mice, Not So Smart People
“Health and science expert [Timothy Caulfield] debunks the most powerful and persuasive messages being spread by celebrities when it comes to our health and well-being: what works, what doesn't, what is worth our time and money, and what isn't. A fun and informative read.”
“An exhaustively researched, hilarious take on how celebrity culture influences everyday life, from ill-fated attempts to make it big on reality TV to celebrity-endorsed diets and beauty regimens.”
—Emma Teitel, Maclean’s
About the Author
Timothy Caulfield is a Chair in Health Law and Policy and a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. He has won numerous academic awards, has appeared in publications such as Time, Newsweek, Wired, National Geographic, and Scientific American, and been involved with a number of national and international policy and research ethics committees. He is the author of The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness.
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Then came the second half...Caulfield was still entertaining in his self-deprecatory writing, but the second half of the book is basically a screed about how trying to become famous isn't worth the trouble because it's not likely to happen. Here is where I think the author lost the theme that the excellent title of his book promises. Sure, a lot of people want to become famous. But I don't think those are the people who bought this book. Being a great believer in science, I was interested in how celebrities clash with science when they peddle crap, so I was disappointed that I only got half a book that stayed on message. Caulfield is still a fun read, but some readers may find the gear switching aggravating.
Perhaps, like me, you think that since you generally ignore celebrity advice, this doesn't concern you. Caulfield has news for you. We are all affected. For instance, the gluten-free craze is affecting what's in the supermarket, the restaurants, and even if you remain obstinately oblivious to celebrity trends, you are surely aware that there IS a gluten-free fad and you might be thinking that something this big must have something to it. It doesn't. There's no medical or scientific reason to remove gluten from your diet unless you have celiac disease. Caulfield backs up his swat-downs of celebrity advice with scientific studies, statistics, and advice from actual medical and science professionals. Juice cleanses to remove your bodily toxins? Bogus. Colonic irrigation? Crap. Snail slime or bird poop facial treatments? (real things, apparently) Complete waste. Health claims, beauty elixirs, diet advice, all debunked.
In the second half, Caulfield addresses the fascination with fame in general and is alarmed to find that young people today, more than ever before, aspire to become famous. Since the chances of becoming famous are so slim as to be virtually nil, many people are being disappointed. In addition, this trend of treating one's career goals like a lottery, betting it all on the big win with no back up plan, is a sure recipe for unhappiness.
It's hard to imagine Caulfield getting many invitations to Today-type shows to plug his book. Wouldn't that be embarrassing to have him on the show just before Gwyneth appears to plug her latest movie or cookbook? It's a book that's fun and disturbing in equal doses.
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