Podcast Episode 092: Celebrities, Pop Culture & Pseudoscience – Timothy Caulfield

Jun 6, 2018

“The spreading of pseudoscience erodes critical thinking. Research tells us that the mere exposure to pseudoscience or ‘fake news’ makes it more believable. If the alternate science view is not part of the equation it makes that phenomenon so much more powerful. Critical thinking invites you to ignore the nonsense and follow the scientific story.” – Timothy Caulfield

This week on the show, we’re discussing one of my favorite topics: communicating evidence-based information in a meaningful way. We’re probing into how pop culture stands in the way of people becoming informed when it comes to their diet and overall health. My guest is health and law expert Timothy Caulfield.

There are studies that show that the more complicated a diet is, the more confused people are, the less likely they are to follow the diet. And in addition to that, they’re less likely to listen to experts because they think, ‘The messaging out there is so confusing, why should I listen to you?’ This celebrity noise does confuse the public discussion. ~ Timothy Caulfield

Timothy is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. His interdisciplinary research on topics like stem cells, genetics, research ethics, the public representations of science and health policy issues has allowed him to publish over 350 academic articles.

Timothy has won numerous academic and writing awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Trudeau Foundation and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He contributes frequently for the popular press and is the author of two national bestsellers: The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash, as well as the newly, released The Vaccination Picture. Caulfield is also the host and co-producer of the documentary TV show, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death.

Watch the Trailer: A User’s Guide to Cheating Death

Listen in on our discussion about how pop culture plays a role in influencing perception, health behavior and even health policy. We’re dissecting celebrity fads like the alkaline diet, the dynamics of the Prius effect, pseudoscience, fake news and the effect of conflicting information. Tune in to hear Tim’s insights built on years of experience and research.

Timothy’s books on Goodreads.com.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why people’s purchasing behavior is influenced by celebrities.
  • How pop culture changes perceptions of research.
  • The difference between an anecdote and evidence.
  • Why dieting is more flexible than celebrities would have you believe.
  • How science can be better communicated.
  • The positive influence industry could play in boosting public trust of scientific research.
  • Where the real harm lies regarding pseudoscience.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:


Sound Bites is collaborating with Today’s Dietitian! Stay tuned for updates on the podcast, blog and newsletter!

Save the Date! Today’s Dietitian Spring Symposium 2019 is in Scottsdale, Arizona May 19-22!

Music by Dave Birk

Enjoy The Show?





  1. Neily on August 8, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Another terrific podcast Melissa – Tim Caulfield…great great great! I look forward to reading his books. -Neily

    • Melissa Dobbins on August 8, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks Neily! And his TV show will air on Netflix some time before Fall – be sure to check it out!

  2. Brittany on December 11, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Love this episode! I also checked out his show on Netflix; loved that as well.

    • Melissa Dobbins on December 12, 2018 at 9:00 am

      Thanks Brittany! Yes, I’m so glad it’s finally available in the U.S.!!

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