Well, I’ll be honest. That’s probably the most no-messing headline I’ve ever written for Goosed.ie. There is a new four-episode Netflix docuseries called The Goop Lap with Gwyneth Paltrow. Ironically, I’d just watched Supersize Me 2 on Amazon Prime Video where fast food joints were under the spotlight for using misleading terms. When I see Gwyneth Paltrow and “lab” in the same sentence, my suspicions were spiked. I’ve watched the four episodes to let you know if it’s a load of science of a load of shite.
What is the Goop Lab?
Most people I hang around with consider me to be a bit of a notion-loving hipster. I totally get where they’re coming from but the likes of the Goop Lap makes me feel like I’ve never been further away from avocado lattes.
I'm two minutes into @goop and I fucking hate humanity.
— Marty Meany (@martinmeany) January 25, 2020
The foundation of all of this is Goop. This is a wellness and lifestyle company founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. To say Goop has had more than its fair share of odd headlines is an understatement. After being criticised for offering nothing but ridiculously expensive products, Goop employees tried a “food stamp” challenge that they were forced to quit after four days because it wasn’t happening. Gwyneth herself has made headlines while representing Goop and recommending vaginal steaming. While Paltrow said the process had real rejuvenation values, gynaecologists who are actually trained in this area (literally) believe “there’s no scientific evidence that shows it works”.
Before watching The Goop Lab, I thought about as much of these guys as I did the late Derek Acorah. Trust me, you know who he is.
With the four episodes under my belt, is there any science here at all?
Episode One: The Healing Trip
I wasn’t long into this episode before I started shaking my head in disbelief.
"be with the spirit of the mushroom" pic.twitter.com/8u1Xrh6vL7
— Marty Meany (@martinmeany) January 25, 2020
In this episode, some of the Goop Lab team decide to trip balls on mushrooms as a method of therapy. I’ll stop with the light language now. The correct term for this is psychedelic-assisted therapy and this has become a very serious area of psychotherapy. Late last year Johns Hopkins University research centre raised $17 million from donors to found the Psychedelic Research Centre.
In this episode, the Goop Lab is supported by experts from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. While I’ll admit I’m not in much of a position to vet these guys, they’ve got a Ted Talk so that makes them somewhat credible.
I do struggle with the guys in Jamaica who run the literal mushroom trip. To my eyes, there was little or no science, per se, on show here. I’d rather a few lab coats but hey, I guess I’m a traditionalist.
Episode Two: Cold Comfort
The Goop Lab were off to a good start with this episode because I’ve heard of “The Iceman” Wim Hof. Wim is actually very well known with no fewer than 18 Guinness World Records under his belt for various physical endurance tests.
In this episode, the Goop Lab team investigate how much the “Wim Hof Breathing Method” can help you get through the day to day or save you in extreme circumstances. This method is effectively the same as hyperventilating and does hold quite a bit of scientific merit.
My biggest qualm with this episode is the testing and evaluation that the Goop Lab team apply and the low level of acceptance they have for concluding that this method works. They jump into some freezing water. Admittedly, that would suck and be really hard, but then they attribute their paddle out of the icy water purely because of the “Wim Hof Method”.
Episode Three: The Pleasure Is Ours
Technically, because I’ve never taken psychedelic drugs, that’s going to be one of the episodes I have the least experience with. I also don’t have a vagina, which means this episode about women’s sexuality doesn’t strictly apply to me. My fellow men and anyone who is sexually attracted to women: if there’s one episode of the Goop Lab you can afford to skip, it’s not this one because you’re going to learn some things about women’s sexual needs.
if there’s one episode of the Goop Lab you can afford to skip, it’s not this one
This whole episode is dedicated to female sexuality, self appreciated and orgasm. Is it science? I’m not really convinced, but the episode is filled with harmless, and most likely beneficial, methods of self-appreciation and generally positive vibes for women to take away about themselves. Actually, if you apply a bit of lateral thinking, men can take a few bits and pieces away from this too.
I would argue this episode is the least risky in terms of science, but the most relatable for people in general. In fact, this episode highlights one of the big positives from the whole series. In a later episode, one of the Goop Lab team describes how she’s feeling during a diet experiment and mentions that she feels run down and that she’s on her period. There’s not enough openness in the world about things like women’s sexuality and periods so The Goop Lab, at the very least, achieves talking about these things in a very matter of fact way.
Episode Four: The Health-Span Plan
Next up, the Goop Lab team take a look at how diet can help battle signs of ageing. Using some experimental science, the team go through tests to determine their biological age instead of their chronological age (you know, your age in years). Once the tests are completed, the test subjects now have their actual age and their biological age stats before taking on different diets to see if they can reduce their biological age.
I tried hard to see past the idea of “eat healthy be healthy”. Like, Gwyneth Paltrow, herself goes on a box of dust diet designed to simulate fasting. This just looks like a smoothie diet to me. Eat dust and lose weight. Shock horror, it works. Anyway, scepticism aside, I watched the rest of the episode and to be fair, the goal here isn’t to lose weight, it’s to reduce the body’s biological age.
Other guineapigs in the test included someone doing a vegan diet and another person taking on a pescatarian diet. They do undertake some methods of reducing the signs of ageing too, including sticking 100 pins into the skin. Not really sure what the benefit of this was in the episode. One of the women stated that she wouldn’t inject anything like filler into her skin, but this whole section felt like filler for the episode.
That, by the way, is the sassiest line I’ve ever dropped on this site.
The results were positive, but the problem is measurement. We’re looking at a really small sample-size here and again I felt that the show is just playing it safe. Don’t smoke, exercise and eat healthy being offered as a way of living longer sounds like bollocks to me. Bollocks in the sense of “no shit Sherlock”.
This was the episode that left me begging to have 30 minutes of my life back.
Episode 5: The Energy Experience
Four episodes under my belt and I’m not going to lie. This show hasn’t been a complete load of shite or science. Going by the reputation Goop has in general, I’d say the show is far surpassing what I thought it would be like. Thankfully this episode came along and rectified this.
There’s a lad who claims he can move energy around your body without touching you using the double-slit experiment. This is actual science and I’m 99% sure this was in my secondary school physics book.
Disclaimer: I failed higher-level Leaving Certificate physics.
Now, when I read further into this and find out this all relates to quantum physics, it’s possible this didn’t come up in the Leaving Cert and I might be thinking of a similar light experiment, but I digress.
Three people are brought in to test this for the Goop Lab and I have to call bullshit on this. When I was younger, I watched a lot of behind the scenes shows. You know, like The Masked Magician in Breaking the Magicians Code and Penn and Teller’s Bullshit. I can’t remember the exact show, but one of them exposed the secrets behind psychic surgery. Man oh man does this shit feel like psychic surgery. We have arrived everyone. They’ve kept these bits to the end in the hope you’d have stopped watching already.
Just because something isn’t proven doesn’t mean it doesn’t work
Just because something isn’t proven doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. The battle cry of a snake-oil salesman. These are the exact words from one of the lads who came into the Goop Lab to explain the benefits of this energy moving nonsense. If you watch closely you can even see one of these scam artists moving his hands just after one of the women’s bodies moved in an effort to make it look like he was controlling her body.
At the start of the episode, one of the “experts” explains why he’s never let himself be filmed before. I can’t remember what he said, but here’s the truth of it. He’s a fraud and he didn’t want to be caught. This dude knows if you’ve reached episode five of The Goop Lab, you’ll probably pay for this shit anyway.
The language this dude uses is like that of a dodgy medium. After finding out something about someone he worked on vomited, he says “it’s not surprising she purged” and surrounded this with lots of words sprinkled with science. If you’ve seen The Report on Amazon Prime Video, his techniques are eerily similar to those of the two guys who won CIA Enhanced Interrogation Technique contracts in the post-nine-eleven United States.
Fair play to the sceptic guineapig dude who pretty much said this didn’t work too. He didn’t get much air time. When describing his experience, he more or less looked like he was giving this whole thing the minimal amount of credit without being in a position of being fired.
Episode Six: Are You Intuit?
I’m exhausted and I haven’t even tripped on shrooms, eaten dust for a week or had my energy pulled through a slit. But I made it. I’m onto the last episode. I did this. For you, so please finish reading the article. Follow us on Twitter, join us on Instagram.
The final episode of Gwyneth Paltrow’s The Goop Lab is all about psychic mediums.
Oh come on now. Seriously? You’re going to blatantly keep all the most off the chain shit to the end and just assume we won’t notice you were conditioning us?
At the start of every episode of this Goop stuff, there’s a disclaimer. It states:
The following series is designed to entertain and inform – not to provide medical advice. You should always consult your doctor when it comes to your personal health, or before you start any treatment”.
The only argument I can make for this episode existing is that it’s kind of entertaining, maybe? This whole episode just brings the classic bullshit that you see from “psychic mediums” to Netflix. I never know how to feel watching this stuff. Is it entertaining? Yes, kind of until you realise these dickheads prey on the desperate for their own financial gain. Even the wonderful Derek Acorah just faked it about long-dead strangers most of the time.
Then I see her making someone cry
When I find myself muttering “oh fuck off” to the TV you know it’s all striking a nerve. Then I see her making someone cry based on the act the medium is delivering and I’m done. Seriously, these people are the worst.
Once you’re in any way familiar with cold and hot reading methods, it’s impossible to take people like these shitheads seriously. Mediums only work because people want them to work.
The highlight of this episode is the girl who just doesn’t believe this shit. She shoots the medium down so badly it’s hilarious. Thoroughly enjoyed that bit and, you know what, it’s worth a watch for that bit. They try to spin it as that she was actually reading the producer by mistake. It’s good TV but in truth, it’s peak medium theatricals. She’s a grade-A bullshit artist.
The GoopLab: Load of science or load of shite
Given the ropey past and reputation of Goop, the first four episodes have very little science in them. At best they have some nice ideas and stuff that’s harmless, but there’s very little that we can prove as fact. The energy episode is where everything goes wild. The defining moment for me was when one of the energy dudes says “just because something isn’t proven doesn’t mean it doesn’t work”.
Goop, like the overall brand itself, spreads itself wide in the hope it resonates with someone on some level to the point where you’ll spend some money. That’s pretty much what I’ve seen with most of these episodes. The series is heavily front-loaded with the most credible attempt at science with the psychedelic therapy and even the breathing techniques of episode two. After that, the series starts to unravel. It’s a clear and deliberate attempt to hook you early and make you more open to the wilder ideas that come later.
It’s great when you spot it but no doubt many people will be sucked in by this method.
If you want my opinion, you’ll gain little from watching this. If you do gain a little look on the plus side. You’ll have gained more than I did.