It was only a matter of time before Gwyneth Paltrow’s New Age lifestyle website, Goop, launched its first ever “Conspiracy Issue.” Goop has long promoted pseudoscience, mysticism, and medical conspiracy theories (resurrecting the debunked link between breast cancer and bras, to name one example).
The site also hawks “wellness” products that contain the same ingredients as supplements peddled by alt-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
But where Goop’s creeping paranoia has generally been contained to mind-body health, the site has now ventured fully into the world of the paranormal and politically charged unknown with this week’s “Conspiracy Issue.”
Headlining the issue is an interview titled, “Does the Illuminati Still Exist?” (short answer not explicitly stated in Goop: Yes), in which Goop poses straight questions about a not-so-straight topic to Robert Howells, author of The Illuminati: The Counter Culture Revolution–From Secret Societies to Wikileaks and Anonymous (2016).
Asked to define the term, Howells places the Illuminati into two categories: the “original” Illuminati, which was “formed more than two centuries ago as a secret society aimed at undermining corrupt governments and the religious intolerance that dominated society at the time” and “quickly dissolved into myth,” and how that myth is today linked to the New World Order, “an alleged underground totalitarian global government that conspiracy theorists believe is controlling the world.”
Indeed, paranoiacs associate the phrase today with sinister bankers, United Nations officials, and corrupt government leaders secretly collaborating to make us all Orwellian mind-slaves.
Not mentioned in Goop’s interview is that Howells is a Julian Assange superfan: He dedicated his book to Assange, whom he called “a refugee for truth,” evidently not concerned that Assange is a propagandist for Russia (he has a show on their state television network), a pal of Sean Hannity’s, and an avid conspiracy theorist who recently suggested that Seth Rich was the source behind the 20,000 hacked DNC emails that were released shortly after he was murdered.
Asked how the “worlds of religion, spirituality, government, and health interact in the Illuminati belief system”—a deliciously Goop-y question to which Howells gives a deliciously Goop-y answer: that the the original Illuminati called for a meritocratic government where issues like health care would be overseen by “an expert from within the health industry.” Like Goop’s readers, the original Illuminati believed in an East-meets-West approach to medicine, Howells explains.
Goop’s interview with Howells whets reader appetites for articles like “Conspiracy Hotspots Worth the Trip,” “What Newly Discovered Ancient Civilizations Can Teach Us” (whether they are in fact “newly discovered” is up for debate), “An Investigative Journalist on the Issue of UFOs,” and “What to Watch if You’re Cult-Curious.”
Goop’s “Conspiracy Hotspots” advertises destinations like Stonehenge and Roswell, New Mexico, among others, which “offer the prospects of alien interventions, unknown ancient civilizations, and cover-ups, making them mystical, summer trip gold.”
Its list of must-watch films and TV shows about cults includes some critically acclaimed gems (The Leftovers, Going Clear, and a documentary about Jonestown among them) as well as some lesser-known films like The Source Family about a hippy commune in Hawaii.
“The recent explosion of the true-crime/conspiracy/mystery genre is evidence that the general public’s fear of the unknown has morphed into a bona fide fascination,” Goop explains. Indeed—particularly for Goop’s less-than-skeptical readers who, for better or worse, may identify with the Kool-Aid-drinking residents of Jonestown.
The “Conspiracy Issue” is hardly the most controversial issues of Goop. It probes the world of conspiracy theories from a layman’s perspective, frequently asking its experts—with a sense of incredulity—why people are so rabidly skeptical of things like UFOs?
But its promotion of the Illuminati belief system is much softer than its promotion of vaginal steaming, Jade “yoni” eggs, and prettily packaged products that purport to boost vitality and rid the body of toxins. Whether Goop will cross further over to the dark side of conspiracy theory, and start making dark claims about pizza restaurants’ non-existent basements, remains to be seen.