Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Quackery Television

Stephen Colbert sells out to Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop

Almost alone among celebrities, Stephen Colbert used to ruthlessly (and justifiably) mock Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. So eyebrows were raised (at least mine were) when it was learned that Paltrow would be a guest on The Late Show. During a bout of insomnia last night I saw the episode and had time to write about it. Her appearance was worse than I expected, a veritable puff piece promoting her her quackiest In Goop Health, where a featured speaker is a rabidly antivaccine doctor named Kelly Brogan.

I’ve been a fan of Stephen Colbert for a long time, ever since his days on The Daily Show and continuing through his years doing The Colbert Report. One reason is that his comedy is, in general, the sort that skeptics appreciate. For example, his recurring “The Wørd” segment on The Colbert Report, for instance, brilliantly deconstructed the deceptive ways that politicians and others use language. Then, he coined the term “truthiness,” which describes the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts. Then, of course, there’s his regular segment, which debuted in 2015, on The Tonight Show With Stephen Colbert mocking the expensive quackery and nonsense that Gwyneth Paltrow sells through her Goop lifestyle brand. In it, Colbert touts his own lifestylbrand, Covetton House.

So it was that when I first learned that Gwyneth Paltrow would be a guest on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, I was puzzled. The reason, of course, is because over the last two years, through his Covetton House segments, Colbert had turned Gwyneth Paltrow and her lifestyle brand Goop into a running punchline in which he periodically mocked all the New Age nonsense sold by Goop, as I noted in one of my discussions of all the quackery and pseudoscience marketed primarily to credulous women with, as Mitchell and Webb would put it, more money than sense. Each segment follows the same general pattern. In the first half, Colbert comedically mocks various overpriced nonsensical items sold by Goop, and in the second set he parodies them by introducing Covetton House products patterned on the previously mocked Goop products. Indeed, I find it worth posting a couple of examples, because Colbert’s mockery was so spot on and devastating, For instance, here is where he introduced a fake Covetton House “lifestyle summit”:

And here he is in a sketch mocking the “healing stickers” Goop made the news for advertising last summer:

Here, Colbert makes fun of the new Goop magazine:

And what “lifestyle brand” would be complete without a catalog of holiday offerings?

Pretty darned funny, right? Colbert and his writers demonstrated a true gift for skewering the pseudoscience, quackery, and New Age silliness that is Goop.

Fast forward to 2018, and we have a very different Stephen Colbert. Here he is with Gwyneth Paltrow, who is taking advantage of her appearance to play along with comedy that, unlike previous Covetton House segments, doesn’t really draw blood but instead serves as, more or less, a commercial for this weekend’s In Goop Health summit in New York:

You can see why I was so disappointed. This is a classic example of a promotional appearance, in which Paltrow gamely plays along with the parody, which, unlike previous Covetton House segments, doesn’t really hit home very hard at all, other than a brief dig at an $84 water bottle with an amethyst crystal inside to “infuse your water with positive energy,” in which he joked that you have to be careful drinking from this bottle or you might “infuse your trachea with a big rock.” The rest of the sketch consists of lame jokes in which Colbert’s Covetton House persona worshipfully gushes over Paltrow; offers her a Yoni egg, allowing Paltrow to tell him that you don’t eat them; prompts Paltrow to deliver a joke about her smoothie containing the “tears of butterflies during Oprah’s Golden Globes speech” (which is mildly amusing); pokes gentle fun at the “sound bar” at In Goop Health in which “binaural” sounds are offered to aid in meditation; makes lame jokes about bath salts as drugs; and in general burnishes Paltrow’s Goop brand. It ends up with a gag in which Colbert uses one of Paltrow’s face creams that is portrayed as “too strong for him.”

Immediately following the commercial break, we’re treated to this nauseatingly fawning interview:

In it, Paltrow is basically allowed to promote herself, her Goop brand, and her In Goop Health summit. It starts with a softball question of why she started her Goop lifestyle brand, in which she basically brags how she started the brand out of curiosity and wondering whether she could “get answers” and actually launch a company and now has 150 people working for her. The next softball is a the question, “What do you say to people who roll their eyes at a catalog where you can buy an island in Belize?” My reaction was: WTF? The Goop catalog features an island you can buy? Her response is that it’s a “ridiculous but awesome” guide, after which she goes on about how Goop offers products at “all price ranges” and how Goop “believes in really good products.”

I guess that these “really good products” must include jade eggs that women can stick up their vaginas, magic stickers that supposedly readjust your energy, and psychic vampire repellent, and the like. Oh, and coffee enemas, one of the ultimate forms of fashionable “detoxification” quackery as I’ve discussed more times than I can remember. Coffee enemas are, of course, a staple of cancer quackery, particularly the Gerson protocol but also the Gonzalez protocol. There is no good scientific evidence that they improve health outcomes for any condition, much less “detoxify.” (Let’s just put it this way. Your liver is quite good at “detoxifying” your body and, unless it’s failing for some reason, does not need help. Promotion of quackery like this has real world consequences.

Paltrow also brags about how much “great content” there is on the Goop website, while Colbert shows off her second issue of Goop, which is all about sex and love. Colbert also gushes over the size of the rock on Paltrow’s engagement ring, her relationship with her ex-husband, when the next Iron Man movie will be coming out, and other lightweight topics for a celebrity interview. Basically, Colbert was fully and unnecessarily complicit in selling the Goop brand on his show.

Now, I’m not so naive as to have believed fully that Colbert was enough of a skeptic not to do this, but I had hoped, based on his long history, that maybe he was. I also realize that it’s all show biz here; so you never know how seriously Colbert (or any other comedian) takes his parodies. Did he do them because he was really alarmed at all the fashionable nonsense Goop is promoting, or did he do them because Goop and its wares are such an easy target for comedy? After this segment, I’m starting to think the latter. Maybe I was naive after all.

Be that as it may, I remind Colbert that Goop is about more than just fluffy, silly nonsense like jade eggs, magic energy stickers, and water bottles with amethysts in them to infuse your water with energy. It’s part of the mainstreaming of pseudoscience and quackery. Goop also strikes back when attacked, such as when Paltrow ordered her quack doctors to slime Dr. Jen Gunter, one of the foremost critics of Goop, with a condescending, misogynistic, mansplaining hit piece. I can’t help but note that one of those doctors, Dr. Aviva Romm, appeared to distance herself from Goop after that incident. Maybe Goop was too much even for her.

Finally, let’s not forget that the latest In Goop Health summit, which Colbert so gamely promoted by having Paltrow on his show, is a veritable quackfest. One of its main speakers is Dr. Kelly Brogan, a “holistic” psychiatrist who denies that HIV causes AIDS, advocates treating depression “naturally,” and is rabidly antivaccine, as evidenced by her publication of an e-book that features basically every antivaccine trope you can think of, a veritable cornucopia of antivaccine misinformation. As I’ve noted in both my posts about her, Brogan considers the late Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez her mentor and clearly idolizes him. Gonzalez, of course, was a cancer quack who advocated a regimen consisting of many supplements plus coffee enemas to treat pancreatic cancer, basically his special variant of the Gerson protocol. Through a cherry picked “best case series” of twelve patients with advanced pancreatic cancer treated with his protocol who did better than expected, his advocates finagled an NIH grant to do a randomized trial of his protocol. When the results were published, it was a disaster—for patients on the Gonzalez protocol, whose median survival was around one-third that of patients receiving standard-of-care. The Gonzalez protocol was, not unexpectedly, worse than useless for pancreatic cancer. Gonzalez, of course, made excuses for the failure of his protocol, but none of them could explain such a huge difference in outcomes between the two groups in the trial. None of this stopped him from, in his later years, claiming that he could have saved Steve Jobs if only Jobs had come to him. Ultimately, last year he died of what appeared to be a heart attack, which led über-quack Joe Mercola’s girlfriend Erin Elizabeth to declare him a victim of pharma hit squads.

So what we have here is Stephen Colbert promoting a conference, In Goop Health, where tickets range from $650 for the “Turmeric” level to $2,000 for the Ginger level and both levels are sold out. The conference touts “cutting-edge panels of health-defining doctors and experts, along with a hall of experiential activations, ranging from binaural beats meditation to acupressure and tarot card readings.” Speakers include not just Brogan, but other quacks like Dr. Sara Gottfried, whose “expertise” includes “expertise includes natural hormone balancing, the brain/body connection, and how to optimize the gene/environment interface”; Dr. Tazia Bhati, who specializes in the quackery of functional medicine; and Karen Newell, founder of Sacred Acoustics, who touts such nonsense as “develop such skills as lucid dreaming, astral travel, telepathy, remote viewing, self-hypnosis, and different forms of energy healing.” The list goes on.

Again, I’m not so naive as not to appreciate that this is all show biz or to realize that it’s too much to expect a comedian to be a skeptic. Show business is basically artifice, and the Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report was never real. Rather, he was a character patterned largely on Bill O’Reilly to skewer right wing pundits and the misinformation spewed by media outlets like FOX News. Even so, I always liked to think that, in order to successfully create and portray such a character, there had to be at least a grain of understanding of skepticism. Certainly, Colbert’s Covetton House bits appeared to be the work of genuine skeptics; that is, until now. While I’m not so clueless as to expect that Colbert would have Paltrow on his show and attack her, other than gentle ribbing. That’s not what late night talk shows do, by and large. Their purpose is to promote whatever projects the celebrity guests on the show are doing or products they are selling. I just wish that, in this case, Colbert and his producers had just said no to having Paltrow on their show to promote hers. They didn’t have to have her on. They didn’t have to promote her brand so obsequiously. Sadly, they chose to do so.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s conquest of Stephen Colbert and The Late Show lead me to believe that I was too optimistic when I asked earlier this year whether she and Goop are winning against skeptics. The answer to that question is clearly yes.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

79 replies on “Stephen Colbert sells out to Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop”

The contrast between earlier segments and the newest ones makes me wonder, how much creative control Colbert has over the conents of the show and to what extent the network mandate could have influenced the new, softer line towards Goop. I have no real idea how the showbusiness works behind the scenes, but it isn’t too hard to imagine Paltrow pulling some strings with people high up in network to get herself a promotional spot on Colbert’s show, regardless of what he actually thinks about her business.

Hell I can imagine a universe where she does this out of pure vindicativness. I mean, in hypothetical situation where Colbert really considers Goop the nonsesne it is, but the promotional appearance of Platrow is network mandate it’d probably leave some bad taste in his mouth. Maybe.

Or maybe he just doesn’t care. Who knows.

Interesting thought. I could totally see the network applying pressure to the show to soften its mockery. However, my guess is that Colbert was OK with it. If you watch the Covetton House segment, both of them appear to be having a grand old time. Near the end, Colbert even starts to lose it and almost breaks out laughing. During the interview segment, he basically fawns and gushes over Paltrow. That enjoyment in the interaction would be hard to fake.

I think skeptics and critics who aren’t familiar with Colbert’s format are missing the joke here and using taking this interview at its base value. There’s an outcry right now, from scientific communities like this, that claims Colbert is a sell-out and a fraud for having her on the show at all and giving her “a platform” to legitimize her products.

The thing these critics aren’t seeing is that Colbert has, with Covington House, already weakened the legitimacy of that platform, which gives her message no validity. It’s as if he shortened one of the legs of this platform and then said, “Okay Gwyneth, get up there and do your thing!”, laughing at her struggling to keep her balance.

He isn’t there to expose and humiliate an A-list celeb, that’s not his style and regular viewers know this. His approach was more subtle, like how the Colbert Report was tongue and cheek with its interviews. I think this type of humor just sailed above many people’s heads (not frequent Colbert watchers) and is being misconstrued. I would urge people to be careful not to glorify any single platform. This is network late-night TV, not 60 Minutes. One should become familiar with the show’s format before laying down harsh criticism. I agree, no one should be spreading pseudoscience and supporting it, but calling out Colbert for doing just that assumes too much about his intentions here. I think Orac missed the humor in this interview and went straight for “outrage”, which is unfortunate, because it ends up making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Nonsense. You obviously didn’t read my post—or didn’t read it that carefully—as I addressed every counterargument you just made IN MY POST.

It’s particularly sad because she wasn’t there to promote a movie. She was there to specifically promote her Goop summit. So there’s no excuse of the kind, “Well, let’s put Goop aside, because her latest indie is such a force of nature.”

Exactly. The Covetton House segment and the interview were far more about promoting Goop than anything else Paltrow is up to. Sure, at the end of the interview Colbert asked her about the new Iron Man movie and whether she was in the next Avengers movie, but pretty much the rest was either about Goop or her personal life (specifically, her recent engagement).

I remember one interview Colbert did of former Vice President Joe Biden. Both went on and on about ‘God’ this and ‘God’ that and it was quite nauseating to watch. you wonder if these people really believe that stuff or are they just pretending.

Based on another interview with Bill Maher, Colbert is apparently a ‘believer’ in Christianity (or whichever of its sects).

This is something unique about America that so much pseudoscience and religion flourishes there.

Colbert is Catholic. He’s spoken of it many times. If I recall correctly, he even teaches Sunday school. It’s never, as far as I know, affected his comedy, other than a segment he sometimes does called “Stephen Colbert’s Midnight Confessions.”

One might wonder whether Colbert’s Catholicism might even make him more hostile to New Age nonsense like the kind sold by Goop, given the Church’s antipathy towards New Age.

I guess you can see that Colbert is more interested in advertising dollars and keeping his show on the air, then promoting reality. Paltrow is a big attraction, and attacking her on his show would have effectively cut his own throat. Who would be willing to come on the show if they had to fear being skewered.

He was wrong to pander to her idiocy, but I really doubt there was any other choice if he wants to continue with his show.

This is why television is toxic. This is why I repudiated it decades ago.

Television is there to sell a product — you. The corporations are the buyers, the media moguls are the sellers, and your ears and eyes are the goods, preferably with all their deficits intact.

You can get something from the Covetton House catalog that removes those “toxidative isotropes”, you know.

Is is possible that Paltrow threatened some sort of legal action and the network got nervous? Or maybe Colbert just finds the whole thing great fun and beyond the more outrageous things like jade egg and stickers, he finds woo inoffensive. He is a believer (catholicism) after all.

I certainly hope Paltrow doesn’t show up on John Oliver’s show!

I suspect that is what happened: “promote the service on the Late Show and we won’t sue CBS.”

This isn’t the first time that has happened on CBS. A few months ago, Gwyneth Paltrow appeared during the monologue of the Late Late Show With James Corden to promote her wares in a comedic sort of way. (The video is on YouTube for those who are curious.) I suspected at the time that it was to prevent legal action from Goop because of Stephen Colbert’s mockery, and I suspect that this new instance is again the reason for the promotion on CBS.

I saw that video while searching for Colbert clips and almost mentioned it in the context of pointing out that this is not the first time Paltrow promoted her wares in a self-deprecating comedic manner.

Q. Which Entertainer doesn’t follow the money.

A. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goopiness
B. Stephen Colbert’s Goofiness
C. Orac’s Respectful Insolence

I’ve decided I will try and follow the money.

Here’s a marketing paragraph for my next book that, not surprisingly, has Gwyneth Paltrow’s presence:

In the shadow of science-based medicine, alternative medicine continues to be a mind-body experience for many of the rich and famous. The powerful psychological-effect of such a fringe medicine has allowed it to become a multi-billion-dollar industry that continues to stretch the imagination. This important and entertaining book provides a record of influential people that have sought alternative medicine for self-healing and as a business EnterPrize. Within many of the individual profiles there are testimonials and news articles that are insightful and thought-provoking. Prominent individuals include Princess Diana, Tom Cruise, Richard Gere, Farrah Fawcett, Sara Ferguson, Michael Flatley, Steve Jobs, Olivia Newton-John, Jenny McCarthy, Paul McCartney, Steve McQueen, Nick Nolte, Dr. Oz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Suzanne Somers, Christy Turlington, Uma Thurman, and Oprah Winfrey. Throughout the book, diverse quotes present the emotional impact of alternative medicine. In the final chapters, alternative medicine and conventional medicine collide and debate in the language of respectful insolence. In reverence to Hippocrates, the father of medicine, this book explores the nature of alternative medicine from the perspective of very well-known and successful individuals. 🙂

Yes, there’ll be a sprinkling of Orac therein.


–Do you just toss in idioms randomly or is there an arcane system underlying your usage that no one fathoms?
–Critics- not you- should evaluate your book as “important and entertaining” or, most probably, not
–Neologisms aren’t always clever or appropriate
–What difference does it make if celebrities accept pseudoscience?
–What’s “thought-provoking” to you may not be so for most people
–Name dropping doesn’t count.
–How can you debate in the style of RI if you haven’t a clue about what’s going on here most of the time?
–What has Hippocrates to do with your material?
–How can you sprinkle Oracian wisdom on your sodden, misbegotten dreck and expect miracles or even meaningfulness? It’s like sprinkling some apple pie on a mound of cow pie: overall, it’s still a lot of cow pie
— Do you really you that anyone will buy your book? Did anyone ever buy any of them?

I hope that Orac will continue to keep you in moderation indefinitely or even drop the hammer if he so wills.

Let me scatter a few crumbs under the bridge.

I wish you better luck than with your earlier web design effort. Don’t forget to check any images used for proper licensing.

Denice Walter writes,

How can you sprinkle Oracian wisdom on your sodden, misbegotten dreck and expect miracles or even meaningfulness?

MJD says,

That’s amazing respectful insolence, Denice.

Orac and his minions do a great job denouncing fringe medicine.

Therefore, Oracian wisdom/teachings will be strategically placed and used as a subliminal message in the next book currently titled, “Fringe Medicine of the Rich and Famous”. 🙂

Therefore, Oracian wisdom/teachings will be strategically placed and used as a subliminal message in the next book …


Do you really make money on these vanity projects?

“Prominent individuals include Princess Diana, Tom Cruise, Richard Gere, Farrah Fawcett, Sara Ferguson, Michael Flatley, Steve Jobs, Olivia Newton-John, Jenny McCarthy, Paul McCartney, Steve McQueen, Nick Nolte, Dr. Oz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Suzanne Somers, Christy Turlington, Uma Thurman, and Oprah Winfrey.”

Why don’t you have anyone who is knowledgeable about these issues in your “book”? Is it simply because you yourself are willing to lie about what the real data and results say?

dean asks,

Why don’t you have anyone who is knowledgeable about these issues in your “book”?

MJD says,

There’ll be a plethora of science-based references and some choice selections from the blog Respectful Insolence.

Would you be able/willing to write a foreword for the book dean?

Put up or shut up my RI friend.

“There’ll be a plethora of science-based references ”

As par for you, all taken out of context, lied about, and given no supporting evidence, no doubt.

Look, it’s television – what would you expect?
Of course, I would have liked it better if he wasn’t so kind to her but …

At any rate, the sketches w/o GP** are funny.
I especially like the CH logo- a centaur with a polo club which neatly skewers RL as do Colbert’s “commercials”. but of course, he does dress like that- I’m sure he doesn’t wear discount clothing ( RL and CK and other brands have levels so one can spend thousands on items- or much, much less dependent on budget)

As noted by Orac, Goopiness is marketed to women and UNFORTUNATELY they buy it as they do woo.

Hey, I like certain luxury items although I don’t spend insane amounts on skincare or yoga pants but I do have several ridiculously priced scarves that cost small fortunes.

Much of this nonsense caters to a sense of not-being-good-enough or acceptable-enough inculcated in young women especially since the 1980s.
.If you supposedly champion women, Gwynnie, you shouldn’t contribute to this trend.

** Oh I see, GOOP is derived from GP

As I said above, I didn’t expect Colbert to make fun of her on his show when she’s a guest. That’s a definite no-no for a network late night talk show with a celebrity as big as Gwyneth Paltrow. What I had hoped is that the producers wouldn’t have invited her on the show in the first place, particularly given that she was clearly there to promote Goop and the “Love and Sex” issue of her Goop magazine. She also promoted the In Goop Health summit, although I’m not sure why. It’s been sold out for at least a month and a half.

Just say no, Steve. That’s what you should have done. Just said no.

I do have several ridiculously priced scarves that cost small fortunes.
Thank heavens we stalwart males are not so profligate. Those $500 dollar army style boots are just in case of another ice storm. I only wear them in the summer time to break them in.

I guess I don’t quite grasp the US approach to humour. To me, it is devastatingly funny and mocks Paltrow beautifully but I am Canadian.

I see most if not the entire show as a farce for lack of an better word. It is wildly funny and both Colbert and Paltrow are enjoying a chance to show that she is conning the world.

It’s a bit like a Rick Mercer interview, but a bit more pacific. Sort of like being nibbled by ducks versus being attacked by a maddened wolverine.

Have you ever worked with ray tracing through a gradient index lens? The ray equation is often expressed as a double differential equation (see Born), somewhat like a wave equation. Physicists often have trouble with this, and use an iterative method to approximate the light path using a few hundred iso‐indicial shells and Snell’s law.

I would like to see a ray trace through the human lens—of the eye—but at an angle not commonly done. It is usual to represent the ray as coming in parallel with the optic axis because paraxial ray tracing allows for a certain amount of convenient simplifications. But this is not physiological, as the rays should come in at a steeper angle from the cornea—being of course a convergent lens. You’d think this would have been done by now, yet it hasn’t! The few people who have modeled the refractive index gradient of the human lens seem to have an unusual fixation on spherical aberration and give little attention to the more difficult ray tracing at realistic angles. Thus: very few people on this planet, if any, know exactly how the rays exit the back of the lens.

The common depictions are cartoonish and insulting, often drawn as if the lens’ weren’t even there. Ray’s don’t fan out large on the back of the eye, nor do we see ‘upside down.’ I am getting the impression that light rays exit parallel with the optic axis and impinge directly on the retina, the first G protein‐coupled receptor discovered. Photons are then transduced either into an electronic or a fluorescent signal as they travel down the center of microtubules—which are bundled like fascia inside the core of the optic nerve—which can best be modeled by tryptophan‐to‐tryptophan Förster resonance energy transfer. Amino acid side chains of fluorescent tryptophan, tyrosine, histidine, and phenylalanine line the lumen of microtubules in a regular array; these must be what carry visual information since the peptide bond is nonconductive. The Rube Goldbergian chemical mechanisms of completely fail to account for the experimentally determined 100‧m/s nerve impulse velocity.

Photons are then transduced either into an electronic or a fluorescent signal as they travel down the center of microtubules—which are bundled like fascia inside the core of the optic nerve—which can best be modeled by tryptophan‐to‐tryptophan Förster resonance energy transfer. Amino acid side chains of fluorescent tryptophan, tyrosine, histidine, and phenylalanine line the lumen of microtubules in a regular array; these must be what carry visual information since the peptide bond is nonconductive.

This is complete gibberish, though it could be turned into entertaining gibberish if you work on it some more.

“This is complete gibberish”

All those unemployed immigrants from Gibber would welcome the opportunity to help with the translation from their native tongue.

I sent a link to that text to a friend in Gibber for a translation. They have email now over there now that they’re connected to the internet. As you can imagine it took them awhile. In fact you may have noticed the increased prevalence of gibberish on the internet in recent years.

In any case he agreed to look over the text and he quickly got back to me. I am sad to relate that he told me it isn’t even gibberish.

This is complete gibberish, though it could be turned into entertaining gibberish if you work on it some more.

“The ray equation is often expressed as a double differential equation (see Born)”

I don’t think Travis Jakester is too well versed in mathematics, as this is a reference to the Euler–Lagrange equation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole mess devolved from this.

^ And I see that OSA’s typesetting wasn’t particularly good when the editors were in-house, either.

Colbert could have taken a lesson from Johnny Carson when he had Uri Geller as a featured guest. Carson consulted with James Randi before the taping and set Geller up to fail miserably on national TV. Maybe a few probing questions about Dr Brogan’s more singular opinions?

I wonder when the last time of the quacks that Paltrow promotes saw a patient in the hospital or ER. I suspect it is many many years for all of them. Yet, they’ll no doubt parade on stage, performing, showing off how enlightened they are compared to the doctors who actually do treat sick people.

Sure that Poe’s Law does not apply here. The company he said he formed does not exist. Paltrow is so out of touch that she did not realize she was part of a satire about here company. Apparently others were also taken in.

Thank you. That was my take on the show although I thought that Paltrow was playing along. It had not occurred to me that she might not have realized she was being mocked. I am still undecided.

I don’t buy that for a minute. Paltrow is way too media savvy, and even if she isn’t her people are. No way she (or they) would’ve gone along with that sketch if they didn’t consider it good for the brand, and even if that weren’t true, did you watch the interview after the sketch? It was basically a sales pitch for Goop magazine.

Sorry I did and it still does no change my view. Colbert made her look like a fool. As I said, I don’t always comprehend US humour.

I was greatly disappointed by Colbert. It was very much like my disappointment when Jon Stewart interviewed David (I Lie For Jesus) Barton. And my response will probably be the same for Colbert as it was for Stewart: I’ll watch the opening bits and monologue, and then turn it off assuming there will be nothing else worthwhile on the show, and eventually, stop watching it altogether.

Hi, Travis.

Have you ever worked with ray tracing through a gradient index lens?

Did I accidentally unearth a second Travis, or is this a non sequitur?

I was very disappointed in this, too. I don’t know if this was Colbert’s choice or if network executives meddled in his show and basically ordered him to take her on the show to promote Goop, but I think Colbert should have put his foot down and refused to put her on for anything related to Goop unless she was going on there to announce she was shutting down the brand and confessing to being a fraud and a quack. Pseudoscience is dangerous. It’s why I got angry when so many people were gushing over Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes and saying she should run for the Presidency… her beliefs and actions would be dangerous in a position where they can decide who makes decisions about education and public health!

Though I knew Colbert isn’t really a skeptic (If he applied skepticism he would be an atheist, not a Catholic.) I had thought with him mocking Goop he at the very least was NOT going to allow for the promotion of grap like the Goop brand.

A talk show host as talented as Colbert doesn’t have to walk around with a sledge hammer to flatten his targets. The author and many of his respondents seem to have lost patience with how a jester performs his magic. Colbert simply led Gwyneth on and on, making a fool of herself, gaily giggling all the way. Go take a chill pill, folks. Colbert is genius!

I think that judgment requires absence of conflict of interest, but with enough money I might say the opposite.

Johnny efficiently asks,


MJD says,

Here’s a snippet from the book that speaks volumes:

Furthermore, in a blog post from Respectful Insolence (2011) titled, “Steve Jobs, neuroendocrine tumors, and alternative medicine” author Dr. David Gorski (a.k.a. Orac) writes, “If there’s one thing we’re learning increasingly about cancer, it’s that biology is king and queen, and that our ability to fight biology is depressingly limited. In retrospect, we can now tell that Jobs clearly had a tumor that was unusually aggressive for an insulinoma. Such tumors are usually pretty indolent and progress only slowly. Indeed, I’ve seen patients and known a friend of a friend who survived many years with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors with reasonable quality of life. Jobs was unfortunate in that he appears to have had an unusually aggressive form of the disease that probably would have killed him no matter what. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t take into account his delay in treatment and wonder if it contributed to his ultimate demise. It very well might have, the key word being “might.” We don’t know that it did, which is one reason why we have to be very, very careful not to overstate the case and attribute his death as being definitely due to the delay in therapy due to his wanting to “go alternative.” It’s also important to remember that, as much of a brilliant visionary Jobs was, even brilliant visionaries can make bad decisions when it comes to health.”

@ Johnny,

Why do you enjoy reading Orac’s material on the internet but despise the thought of reading it in a book?

Possibly a library book!

Note: Our gracious host has allowed MJD to use such RI snippets of information in the book. Thanks Orac!

You are a dumb sumbitch.

My question wasn’t about why you are including our host’s words in your book. I know why. We all know why. It’s because the only thing in your books that’s worth reading is the parts you copy/paste from other sources.

I’d have no objection to reading Orac’s words in a book (if the topic interested me), but not with your words wrapped around them. I’ve read one of your books, and frankly, I’d rather pound my balls flat than read another, even if it is 80% copy/paste from the USPTO.

My question is ‘why are you writing another book at all?’. There have been no positive reviews of any of them I can find. There is no evidence they sell.

see –
(I can’t find your name anywhere)

Then there is this –

The only thing I can guess is that you like to use the line ‘hey, baby, I’ve written XX books’ when trying to convince some naive woman to share your bed.

Then there is this –

This doesn’t even make any sense:

“It is my wish that everyone should have an opportunity to acquire the book through Amazon for the sales price of one U.S. dollar ($1).

“All gofundme donations will be used to subsidize a predetermined number of books, based on the average sales price of a book having ~36,000 words, from Cambridge Scholars Publishing (England).

“The funds are needed immediately to enhance the books distribution through Amazon Books.”

Why not DIY and print on demand? WTF is $40 a month for an Amazon listing (minus their cut and shipping) needed for in order to stroke oneself at a dollar a pop?

Hell, why not just make it an E-book with a $1 download from your own site? That conversion is trivial.

( Minions, I know I really shouldn’t but I’m at home all day today and who knows, maybe I’ll accomplish something..)

@ MJD:

Michael, Michael, Michael…

You remind me of one of my gentlemen’s relatives: he studied business/ computers, has a boring job delivering auto parts and is always writing books. He chooses subjects in which most adults have general knowledge Just like him. He has no expertise whatsoever. Fortunately for him, his mother has a bit of money and he has no financial distress despite earning little. I’ve told him- through the aforesaid intermediary- that he should get a hobby. He lives in a gated community so there is a free gym and pool. He could study at an adult school- learn a foreign language, painting or gardening. There are also colleges nearby for more serious educational opportunities, including ones that might have vocational applications- he could expand upon his previous studies with computers. He should cultivate friendships in the REAL WORLD not just online and do REAL activities not write about them He likes politics so he could be a volunteer for the party of his choice.
It’s a big world out there..

Now If I wrote a book about a poet stating that so-and-so is a great poet and then quoted him or her for half a page and continued on in this manner for 100 pages- am I really writing a book or hanging on a poet’s coattails? Is there any analysis or style or the historical context or milieu?

It’s very nice that you quote Orac and even have his permission to do so BUT have you learned from his teaching?
Do you understand why he and many of his minions scoff at your ideas about vaccines?
I understand that- like the guy described above- it’s much easier to dispense knowledge rather than to await reception of it and actively absorb it but that’s reality. None of us know very much in the scheme of things in the universe BUT we can learn more if we are honest about our own level of expertise in designated areas.

For example, I suppose that I might be expert in certain areas in psychology and the arts BECAUSE I studied them formally and have been tested many, many times, pursuing degrees. In addition, I keep up with new information in some of these disciplines. Less formally, I know a lot about fashion and material related to travel in selected places because I’ve engaged in those interests since I was a pre teen. I have no reason to write a book.

I would venture that for you, writing is a way to increase your own feeling of self-worth and believe me, there are easier and more economically feasible ways to accomplish that goal.

Some of Orac’s minions are experts in their fields and they didn’t get that way by writing books. They are respected by what they say which reflects their backgrounds and hard work. Many of the people who are skewered here as pseudoscientists, poseurs, woo-meisters and phonies who have taken the short eschewing real study and research and substituting their own hubris. They dismiss experts whilst they appropriate their credentials spuriously.
That’s not admirable. You don’t want to be included amongst them.


You have often pronounced that you would never read one of my books, therefore, I can only speculate that your hypocritical comments are based on self-reflection.

Therefore, I have to assume your evaluation of my books have been based on the cover art and title.

Let it be known that Denice Walter critiques a book, and its author(s), by the title and cover art.

I’ve politely asked dean if he could write a foreword for the book titled, “Fringe Medicine of the Rich and Famous”.

If dean fades away into academic oblivion, which I think he will, can you write a foreword for the book, Denice?

I say again, with respectful insolence, put up or shut up my alternate RI friend.

You have often pronounced that you would never read one of my books, therefore, I can only speculate that your hypocritical comments are based on self-reflection.

This is a novel use of the word ‘hypocritical’, not to mention being an EMP-level airburst of irony.


I am basing my criticism purely on your performance at RI which includes book excerpts- it has nothing to do with title and cover art.
People can judge your abilities – and therefore, what you are capable of producing-because of what you write here.

Actually, I think I’ve put up ( and put up with) quite enough already.

I’m giving you sincere advice.

I think that most of Orac’s minions would agree that I’ve been extremely kind as well.

AND SRSLY: do you even have to ask if I would write a forward for you?

Denice Walters writes,

AND SRSLY: do you even have to ask if I would write a forward for you?

MJD says,

Not forward but foreword.

Jeez, I guess I asked the wrong person?

Inappropriate and irrelevant. We’re talking about the content of the show, not her appearance.

sorry, JustaTech. I was born that way. You were taught to be prude.


Were you taught to be a clueless troll?

Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’
Though the threads are swollen
Keep them comments trollin’,

Cherry pick!
(Head em’ up!)
Move goalposts!
(Move ’em on!)
More insults!
(Head em’ up!)
Make stuff up!
(Paste ’em in!)
Change topics!
(Cut em’ out!)
Whine some more!
Paste ’em in,
Keep trollin’, trollin’, trollin’
Though they’re disaprovin’
Keep them comments trollin”,
Don’t try to understand ’em
Just rope, laugh, and ignore ’em
Soon we’ll be discussin’ right without ’em

Yeah, my bad. Grifter seems pretty flat though — not that I mind as I like ‘buds’.

Dude, what about “talking about her boobs is inappropriate” did you not get? None of the criticism here is of either of these people’s appearances, it’s about the content of the interview.

There are extensive protections against malware on the blog; although it is not impossible that this blog could be affected, it is highly unlikely. Certainly, I have found no evidence of it.

@ Orac:

I’ve been getting that “long running script” button frequently recently: is that relevant?

AArgh… bad threading. Original reply:

I do not get those for this site. Though I do get them for newspaper sites (notorious for adware) on my 5+ year old tablet (which is now pretty much useless due to bloating from updates, so I have a new one).

What I do get are “Bad Gateway” messages. Which usually go away after a while.

Like friend Chris, I too was getting ‘bad gateway’ (bad, bad Gateway – go sit in the corner) messages earlier, along with general unresponsiveness.

Another issue – why go I have over 50meg of cookie? What are you having us store?

I do not get those for this site. Though I do get them for newspaper sites (notorious for adware) on my 5+ year old tablet (which is now pretty much useless due to bloating from updates, so I have a new one).

I couldn’t help but wonder if Paltrow’s lawyers sent Colbert a letter about defamation… he has a right to parody…. but maybe relented and agreed to promote to make any potential complaint go away.

At least, not when it’s a $135 do-it-yourself coffee enema kit, which the American actress’s lifestyle company, Goop, began touting in early January as a way to “supercharge your detox.”

Perhaps she could try the American Indian approach. (I seem to recall from Leon Gussow and The Poison Review that caffeine was used one time to antidote a nicotine enema, but I have to run.)

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