Todd Sampson is renowned for his brutally honest and thorough research into hot topics, but the newest instalment of his Mirror Mirror series is an eye-opening look at the wellness industry and the damage that can be done when we don’t have the correct information.
Mirror Mirror: Are You Well — which premieres on Wednesday, November 22 at 7.30 pm on 10 and 10Play — looks at the $5,000,000,000,000 business, asking the question: “But is it actually making us well or merely thinning our wallets?”
Speaking on Mediaweek and Chattr’s The Entertainment Hotline Podcast ahead of the launch, Sampson admitted that while he’s “not saying that everyone is putting out misinformation, it’s important that there’s either regulation or healthy scepticism and that we don’t take everything for what it is because it can kill you.”
“It’s not just getting crystals on your forehead,” he said. “It’s getting bees stung into your body. It’s taking psychedelics in an unsupervised way.”
While scary and mind-boggling if the thought of doing these things had never crossed your mind, his research also shows that some people feel that the conventional healthcare system is failing them and this is why they turn to alternative medicine — but this is where some of the problem lies.
“It’s anti-Western medicine, conspiratorial thinking, and misinformation, and it hasn’t died off,” he said. “With COVID coming to an end, it has flourished. And a lot of that has to do with online.”
Internet doctors and their unhealthy influence on the general public
The 53-year-old was also very vocal about his concern for “internet doctors” like Joe Rogan and Gwyneth Paltrow — the latter, who, in the new documentary, refused to see him.
While some critics have accused Sampson of merely disliking Paltrow, he said: “I don’t know her. Either, Gwyneth Paltrow is a somewhat loving, kind, naive person who is just doing everything to help other people and that’s her sole focus in life, or she is a clever, somewhat ruthless capitalist who washed her hands of the outcomes. Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle, but I want to believe she’s on that side.”
According to Sampson, the bigger issue is that people like Paltrow, Rogan and even Kim Kardashian have more influence than the World Health Organisation (WHO). While WHO has 10 million followers on social media, Kardashian has over 300 million — and that’s AFTER a global pandemic.
“When you look at it, one should not be steaming the vagina. Radical detoxing, we should not be doing,” he said. “The doctors around the world who have smaller voices are saying: ‘No, no, no, please. No.’ And yet, millions and millions of people follow.”
Speaking of detoxing, Sampson calls it “dangerous”.
“It’s a marketing construct. It’s in many cases — not in all because some people have to detox after a serious drug addiction with a medical detox — but the marketing version of detox that is sold to the majority of us is very, very, very, very risky and in many cases, it’s just diet culture slightly rebranded.”
Todd Sampson on why it’s important to actively take part in research
Sampson, whose popular series Body Hack (among his many other fascinating docos), has seen him be shot at, face a debilitating fear of heights by way of a helium balloon flight and immerse himself in Gaza for three weeks pre-current conflict (“It’s sad to think that what we filmed and what we captured, was the precursor to what’s happening today,” he said), does not shy away from actively taking part in his research.
However, with all the facts and figures he delivers, he does have one caveat for the new season of Mirror Mirror.
“I am not against alternative treatments. I would be an unbelievable hypocrite because I’ve tried them all… I’m totally down with alternative treatments, but I’m more down with science and the only way for scientists to move on is by trying things.”
He continued later: “I believe on some level — and I know it’s not true for everything — but the best way to understand something is from the inside. I believe that I’m best to comment on it by showing it and doing it… I just feel like when it happens to me, I now have the right to say something. Walking in their shoes, if only for five minutes or 10 minutes or half an hour, I think is worth doing.”
Todd Sampson on how to weed through misinformation
When asked how in a technological age and with so much information we can possibly determine what’s right and wrong, he said: “The truth has become a loose concept. And that’s scary. So, I think one thing is finding sources, reliable sources that you trust and then multiple angles of sources.
“Even the best scientists in the world often get it wrong. So, I think finding multiple voices on a topic that is qualified in the area that you’re discussing and taking multiple opinions of people who actually know the subject.
“The danger we have now is we’ve got a whole bunch of people that know it on a superficial level, that are better articulators than they are knowledge holders, and those people get listened to. So multiple sources of specialists is a good idea.”
Listen to the full chat with Todd Sampson on The Entertainment Hotline Podcast here.
Mirror Mirror: Are You Well? premieres Wednesday, November 22 7.30 pm On 10 And 10 Play.