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There's a certain level of satisfaction we tend to get from seeing celebrities get taken down a peg. Recently, Gwyneth Paltrow was scolded by the NHS for giving advice they didn't like about treating long Covid. Fair enough - Gwyneth can talk about how she's dealing with long Covid and the NHS can tell everyone her advice is bunk. Freedom of speech, and all that.

But the director of the NHS, Prof Stephen Powis in a statement not-so-sublty called on social media to censor celebrities from reporting on what they're doing for their health issues (specifically for Covid). This is where the problem comes in.

Do celebrities not have the right to tell people what they're doing for their health, be it for Covid, cancer or even general well-being? Are we not responsible adults making our own choices, with the right to whatever information we choose to consume? Do the rules change when the person is famous? What about for paid sponsors of health products?

Join us on this episode of Objective:Health as we delve into the murky realm of celebrity health advice - who's allowed to say what?

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Running Time: 00:29:30

Download: MP3 — 27 MB

Here is the transcript:

Tiffany: Hello, and welcome to Objective Health. I am your faceless host, Tiff. Joining me in our studio today, we have Doug and Elliot. In the background, as usual, on the ones and twos, keeping it all together for us, we have Damian.


Tiffany: Today, we are going to talk about celebrity health advice, which there seems to be no shortage of, not just in relation to Covid. You see all these people posting themselves and talking about how they had Covid and how it was just so terrible, or not so terrible in some cases. Or, that they got the injection or whatever.

This has been going on for quite some time, where celebrities have advocated certain health practices or certain pharmaceuticals and have been paid for it whether we know it or not. We can start off with a recent article which came out in the Guardian, that bastion of truth. They are talking about how Gwyneth Paltrow's health advice caused the NHS to issue her a warning. The NHS have so much time considering the travesty that is happening in the UK hospitals with the Covid and all of that, they have time to police people's websites and their Twitter posts, apparently. Gwyneth Paltrow has been urged to stop spreading misinformation by the medical director of the NHS in the UK.

I guess they took issue with her saying that Covid could be treated with intuitive fasting, herbal cocktails and regular visits to the infrared sauna. Within itself, nothing is wrong with any of that stuff! Nothing is wrong with having a fast every now and then, taking some herbs and going into an infrared sauna. All of those things have been proven to be good for your health.

Fasting can help you detox certain toxins. It's good for boosting your metabolism, it's good for turning on certain molecular processes in your body which are good for your health. Herbal cocktails typically do not have the side-effects that one has to worry about with pharmaceuticals. Infrared saunas are also good for detoxification and for making you feel good. Apparently, you cannot talk about anything that makes you feel good or anything that you do without getting shouted down by particular health authorities these days. Gwyneth Paltrow's in trouble.

Doug: It is funny because when I read that I had the same kind of thought. There is nothing inherently wrong with what she's recommending. I have tried to find the blog post but I could find it, where she was talking about this stuff. I don't get the impression that she was saying that this stuff is a cure for Covid. She is talking about how she had Covid and she has what they call the "long Covid" where people are taking a very long time to recover from it. They are not really sick, but they are fatigued and they don't have any energy and they have this long, drawn out recovery. It happens with the flu too where some people just don't feel right for quite a while after they have had the flu.

She is talking about lifestyle stuff essentially, drinking kombucha, going to the infrared sauna, doing fasting here and there. I don't really see anything wrong with that. They're acting like what she is doing is saying that this stuff will cure Covid or it's a cure for cancer. That's not the impression I get.

I guess it kind of goes into iffy territory when these celebrities are promoting their products. I think that can be a bit more of a sticky situation. I don't know that she necessarily was, although I know that she does have a product line, or several. I can see if you are saying "I had Covid and I did my own brand or herbal cocktails and it completely cured me 100%" then maybe the authorities can get in there and be like "You're making false claims here".

But, from what I can see, or from what the Guardian is complaining about, it doesn't seem like she is really doing that. It just seems like she is talking about stuff she does for a healthy lifestyle which she feels is helping her. If she wasn't famous, and if it was just Joe Blow on the street posting on his own blog about how his home brewed kombucha seems to have really helped him get over the flu is anybody going to complain about that? Probably not.

Elliot: I don't think they would complain about it if it was the flu. What I have noticed about this whole Covid situation is that those rules don't necessarily apply. Covid is a no-speak kind of scenario. You can barely say anything about Covid.

Tiffany: Unless you are towing the line.

Elliot: Exactly! Since March, we have seen the internet censorship. We have been taken off YouTube several times. Many others have been taken off social media platforms for "making claims" when in fact they're not necessarily making claims, they're just discussing Covid. It seems as though no one is even allowed to discuss Covid to any extent and if you do you have to be very careful about what you say, and that's even without making any claims.

If this was about the flu, there are strict rules and regulations with regards to what you can and can't make claims about which I think is fair enough. If someone is going to be claiming that they can cure a certain disease then that's against the law, but that applies to anything. What it seems like with Covid is that the restrictions have tightened up.

I don't think that Gwyneth Paltrow has made any claims to be able to cure Covid and is basically just giving her own personal testimonial. It seems as though they have tightened up on this whole Covid situation because they don't like anyone saying anything that does not toe the party line. I think that's what this is about, because she does have influence and she does have a voice and people will listen to her. The only thing that they really want to get out to the public at the moment is that you must take your vaccination and you must social distance. Anything else which is based on boosting your immune system, supporting your health or anything that might help which is non-pharmaceutical based is censored.

Though, I won't even say anything non-pharmaceutical based because there are many people who talk about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin and they get censored as well! It seems to be that if you are not promoting the benefits of the vaccine and social distancing as the only thing that one can do then they will tighten the restrictions on that across the board.

Doug: In the statement from the guy from the NHS he said "Like the virus, misinformation carries across borders and it mutates and it evolves. (Pretty good metaphor there, right) So I think YouTube and other social media platforms have a real responsibility and opportunity here." He is basically calling for censorship. He is basically saying "I'm a fascist and I would like to stifle any sort of freedom of speech that's available because I don't like Gwyneth Paltrow hawking her kombucha."

Elliot: Or "I don't like anyone saying anything which is in any way considered alternative or controversial or which is not promoting mass vaccination."

Doug: He is calling for more censorship. He probably wouldn't like the Objective Health show.

Tiffany: No, I'm sure he wouldn't. I think that the one thing which is important to keep in mind is that when you do come across these types of articles, not just regarding celebrities and their health advice but anybody who touts some particular advice that goes against the mainstream narrative, don't just take what the Guardian says that Gwyneth Paltrow said. Go back and look at what Gwyneth Paltrow said.

I mean, if you are that interested in what Gwyneth Paltow has to say. If you are, go back and see what she said from her own website or tweets or whatever. I think a lot of the time they get it wrong or they exaggerate or put words into people's mouths and say that they meant this when they really said no such thing. I think that is an important thing to do.

Regarding the whole "free speech" issue, I think that people should be able to say whatever it is that they please. People should be able to do whatever they please providing that it doesn't harm anybody else. It doesn't really matter if Gwyneth Paltow is not a doctor or that she shouldn't be saying this-that-or-the-other because "what does she know if she doesn't have MD after her name". I don't think the letters after your name have anything to do with what you should be allowed to say or not say.

I think that articles like this one, criticizing celebrities is just reinforcing the notion that certain information, especially health information in this day and age, should only come from respected medical sources. But, I think even more so than that, if you look beyond that then it is just reinforcing the fact that the people that are the elites, or the powers-that-be or whatever you want to call them, will endorse somebody or tear somebody down based on the agenda that they are following, or that they want to promote.

For instance, Beyonce and Jay-Z are praised for promoting veganism, but if they were to ever change their stance or speak against Covid or the mainstream narrative of Covid then they would instantly be derided. It's not as if the powers-that-be are sucking up to celebrities just because they're celebrities. They know the power of celebrity, that's why they hire celebrities to actually do advertisements for drugs.

They know the power of celebrity, but they also know that they're going to promote their agenda no matter what, and anybody who goes against their agenda, even if that agenda changes from day to day, will be vilified.

Doug: It's easy to do too because people love to hate on celebrities. It's like all of our favourite pastime. You find out that a celebrity does something and you are like "ooooh! So good! Such a burn!" I think that it's really easy to say that what this person is saying is stupid, or that they don't know anything and that they're spreading misinformation because people just eat that kind of stuff up. As soon as a celebrity says something stupid it's like "Oh yeah, that's great! Twitter is on fire".

Tiffany: I think that something that we should be cautious about in general is who is anyone to say what you are to think or to believe, period? Who are you NHS or Joe Blow down the street to tell me what I should think or believe or say? Mind your own business!

For the people who get upset about someone not thinking or believing what they think or believe, if you are that confident in your beliefs then you wouldn't need to try to force it on anyone else or get into arguments because somebody doesn't think the same way that you think. What difference does it make to you? You should be pleased that you have the knowledge that you have! Go on about your day.

People don't like to be preached to, people don't like to be told what to think and believe. Celebrities make themselves an easy target when they do that, but they're just regular people, they're not special. The only difference between them and regular people is that they have experience in the entertainment industry, that's it.

Doug: And money. It's similar to what happened with the chef Pete Evans. He is an Australian guy who put out a movie on Netflix that was called The Magic Pill. It was great and is worth watching. We did a show on it at the time I think.

He is a paleo advocate, so he is "just" a chef which is what they love to say whenever they're smearing him "He's just a chef, don't listen to a celebrity chef about how you should eat." Fair enough, but at the same time maybe it's different for me because I agree with what Pete Evans is saying to a greater extent.

They were trying to pressure Netflix to stop airing his documentary because they said it was dangerous, which is ridiculous of course. Netflix wouldn't do it, so it seems like the authorities have a bone to pick with Pete Evans now. They jump on everything the guy says.

He put an Instagram post up saying "I always wake up with the sun and I get sunshine first thing in the morning and I look at the sun and I swim in the ocean. It's all the medicine I need" and they jump on that. The AMA (Australian Medical Association) were saying "That's terrible advice!" Getting up with the sun and being in the sunshine and going for a swim in the ocean is bad advice? Since when? Why is that bad advice? Just because he said "This is all the medicine I need" he's not actually recommending that you get rid of your medications and you go and look at the sun and swim in the ocean. Any idiot can see that.

They jump on every single thing that he says. He put out a social media post on Instagram where he said that,
"The AMA is now suggesting that people not admire sunsets or sunrises. The organisation that had 97% of doctors as part of their industry in the 1970's who now only have 25% of doctors on their board has a fear of nature's beauty. They are very happy to prescribe vitamin D for their patients as there is a vitamin D deficiency in Australia though, but whatever you do, don't enjoy and respect the sun at sunrise and sunset and to glance at it."
He goes on a bit, but it just points out how ridiculous they're being.

Tiffany: And how much they hate him. This just seems really personal because it's so retarded that they would even go against anything he said. I could understand they would go against him if he talks about the dangers of vaccines, and we all know how vaccine-crazy these people are.

Doug: Which he does.

Tiffany: I could understand that even though that is also wrong, but the fact that they criticize him for talking about sunlight and swimming in the ocean just goes to show how ridiculous they are. [laughter]

Doug: They've got a vendetta, that's essentially what it is. He also got into trouble because he was saying that he doesn't use sunscreen and that sunscreens are full of dangerous chemicals. It's not untrue!

Tiffany: It's true!

Doug: That is absolutely true. He clarified it later on and he said that he didn't have a problem with natural sunscreens that don't have all these chemicals in them, but you should try and get as much natural sunlight as you can. That is good advice! But they can't have that.

Tiffany: At the same time, they're talking out of both sides of their faces. By "they" I mean these people who are the authorities, because they actually do use celebrities purposely, because of their celebrity, to tout their products. There was an article that was posted quite some time ago on preventdisease.com about the illusion of truth effect and it's all about celebrity health advice and how they used Dorothy Hamill the ice skater for Vioxx, and Mary Lou Retton the gymnast for Biomet hip replacements. Other people were promoting Xarelto and other drugs that celebrities tout, whether they do it on a paid commercial on TV or they get secretly sponsored to talk about a certain product on their Instagram.

If people like a certain celebrity, they will pay more attention to what they say. If Kim Kardashian said anything she would be the last person I would listen to, but if it was somebody that I liked it would be a different story. Then again, it's still up to each individual person to look into the information and research it on their own before they just go listening to anybody whether they're famous or not. Whether they are a doctor or not! Research certain things that they should do for their health.

Doug: What it really seems to come down to is that the authorities don't think that responsible adults are responsible adults. They don't think that we are intelligent enough to look at a celebrity hawking something and make up our mind on our own about whether that is good advice or not. Basically, we are all so smitten with celebrities that anything that they say we will instantly do and disregard all advice from our doctors or health authorities. It's so patronizing. It gives no credit to any individual human being to be able to make up their own mind about anything.

If I hear Gwyneth Paltrow hawking kombucha, I am not going to instantly go out and buy kombucha and start drinking it! Give me a little bit of credit. It might pique my interest and I might wonder what she is talking about and go and investigate, but probably not. I don't really tend to listen to Gwyneth Paltrow very much, especially when she came out with that vagina candle. She lost me at that point. [laughter]

Anyway, I am an adult and I can figure things out for myself. I might get my interest piqued by something that she says and I might go and research it myself and look into it a little bit more, but I don't need authorities to come around and tell me that what this person is saying is nonsense. I can make my mind up myself, thank you very much authorities.

Tiffany: YOU can, Doug, but truthfully some people cannot and the authorities know this and they take advantage. Not just with celebrities but with anybody who has any air of authority to them. Whatever they can do to forward their agenda they will do it. Whether it is using Dr Fauci or Gwyneth Paltrow.

It's not just Gwyneth Paltow and Pete Evans, but who else? Beyonce and Jay-Z didn't get in trouble because they want people to be vegans. That's something that people will not get any backlash for. People who are generally considered to be celebrities who do go vegan are super caring and compassionate and they care about the animals and the earth so much that they're willing to go all out and put themselves on the line for the mainstream narrative.

Doug: There are lots of examples of different people; athletes promoting protein supplements and things like that. Until I read that article you were talking about, Tiff, I didn't realize how prevalent celebrities hawking pharmaceuticals was. I think that's a pretty uniquely American phenomenon. I have never really seen that kind of stuff.

Tiffany: That's because we are allowed to have pharmaceutical ads on TV and most other countries are not.

Doug: I didn't realize that was a thing. Kin Kardashian was promoting some sort of morning sickness pill when she was pregnant and then it turned out that there were side-effects even though she said that there were no side-effects. Everybody got mad at Kim Kardashian for that. There are lots of examples. Athletes get most of their paycheck from endorsements and things like that.

Maybe I'm biased because I feel like I grew up in a media-saturated environment and kids today have all grown up in an even more media-saturated environment than I did, dDon't you get that media-literacy at some point where you know that everything that is coming through your screen is trying to get you on something? They're trying to make you think a certain way and that you need to keep a critical distance from that? I guess not everybody thinks that way.

Tiffany: I think that people do think that way, but sometimes it still sneaks up on them anyway. You think that your idea to look into a certain thing was your own but really you just saw somebody do a commercial about it and you forgot.

Doug: That's true, I guess the psychology studies show how effective this kind of stuff really is.

Tiffany: People are quite impressionable. I have caught myself having an idea about something that I wanted to try and thought "Hey, wait a minute! I just read that the other day. They almost got me!" [laughter] I think it is always important to keep that in mind, that the authorities know how impressionable people are and they've been studying humanity for a very long time and they know a lot of tricks to use. You just have to be careful what you consume, both literally and figuratively.

Doug: It's interesting, I was just thinking about Bill Gates. He is kind of a celebrity, he was the Microsoft guy. Even though he was kind of a nerd, it's interesting that he is the guy who is on the front lines. He is not a doctor or anything like that, but he's still out there telling everybody when lockdown is going to end, how many times we are going to have to get vaccinated, when you are going to be able to stop wearing masks. Why are we listening to this guy? Well, he's the celebrity face of it. He is the one who is the recognizable, grandfatherly figure with his sweater vests and soft-spokenness.

Tiffany: Like Mr. Rogers from the science realm.

Doug: He has definitely got that weird... I was going to say psychopathic, but I don't want to call him a psychopath. He's got that weird, dark edge to him. It really seems like a front. We're getting off-topic here.

Tiffany: If he is a front man, if you are a front man for an agenda, you have to have a front. I'm sure nobody knows the psyche of anybody really, or of these celebrities, of who they really are as people. I think in some cases to know that would be frightening. I don't know if it's something that really needs to be said, but don't just listen to celebrities. Even more, don't just listen to anybody.

Doug: That's good advice. I think that's the take-home right there. Don't just dismiss it because it comes from a celebrity either, that's the other thing that I want to say.

Tiffany: It is fun to make fun of people sometimes, that's why I do it. You can't say that people don't like gossiping because everybody likes to talk about people they know and everybody thinks that they know celebrities. In a certain way you know their public persona. Just don't think that they are an airhead just because they are a singer or an actor, even though it is easy to fall into stereotyping people like that. With anybody and with anything, do your own research, form your own opinions, make your own choices and don't let people dictate to you what you should do.

Doug: Amen

Tiffany: Did we say enough? [Laughter]

Doug: I think we have. We have milked this topic.

Tiffany: Just know that there are forces out there who study human psychology because you notice that a lot of the advice on lockdowns and social distancing and masking is not coming from medical doctors, it's coming from psychologists. I forget the name of the team in the UK who is coming out with a lot of the advice on this and they are not medical doctors, they are psychologists. They have been studying people, they know.

One of those NERF or NERD? I don't know, I forgot what its' called. They know people's frailties and people's mental weaknesses and how to target people through their emotions and all that. They know what's happening. The average person can't really say for sure but they study this. There are all these psychological studies for a reason. It's not just to see how healthy they can make us, obviously. Do we have anything else on that topic?

Doug: I think we are good. We've milked the celebrities for all we could.

Tiffany: Okay. I guess that's our show for today. We will be back next week with another show, the topic of which we do not know yet. [Laughter] Have a good day everyone and we will see you next time.