Science, Celebrity and Pop Wisdom in the Age of Anxiety

Barbara R. on Timothy Caulfield

On October 25, 2022 member Barbara R. discussed the work of author Timothy Caulfield. Dr. Caulfield is polymath working in law and public health. He is currently the Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta.

“I hope my work to debunk…still has a thread of empathy”

Members may be familiar with Dr. Caulfield through his books (The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness (Penguin 2012), Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash (Penguin 2015) and Relax, Dammit!: A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety (Penguin Random House, 2020); his television appearances as a subject matter expert; or through the Netflix series A User’s Guide to Cheating Death. He can also be found on several social platforms – learn more here.

Barbara has both a professional respect for Dr. Caulfield and a curiosity about his research into how well-worn societal “truths” about health may be wrong. This includes the role of exercise vs. diet in weight management, the value of pre-excercise stretching, and the use of interventions such as acupuncture and dietary supplements. Dr. Caulfield has written and spoken about the rise of the vaccine hesitant and anti-vaccination attitudes in our society long before the appearance of Covid-19.

If you have read his work or you have seen him on tv, you know that Timothy is willing to try the various therapies he evaluates. He follows up his anecdotal evidence with book science. His research is meticulous, and in the cases where Barbara looked into his sources, she found she couldn’t say he was wrong.

Barbara had a chance to speak to Dr. Caulfield – he said that he moved from academic bench studies to his current work because he has always been interested in celebrity and pop culture. He is curious and empathetic to people who want to find a way to make their lives longer and. better. He was influenced by the work Bill Bryson. He feels his work is successful when science and health risk are portrayed accurately.

As always, a lively discussion followed Barbara’s talk.

Next week, member Sandra E. will talk about Irish author Sally Rooney. Sandra has been with the club since 2016.  She has been Social Chair, Program Chair, and is currently the archivist.  Her previous presentations were on Jane Urquhart, Robertson Davies, and Janet Frame.  She is currently reading The Break by Katerena Vermette.  

Interested in Learning More About Us?

Leave a Reply