|Born||1963 (age 59–60)|
|Education||Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws|
|Alma mater||University of Alberta, Dalhousie University|
|Institutions||University of Alberta|
|Thesis||The Last Straw: The Impact of Cost Containment in Health Care on Medical Malpractice Law (1993)|
Timothy Allen Caulfield(born 1963) is a Canadian professor of law at the University of Alberta, the research director of its Health Law Institute, and current Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy. He specializes in legal, policy and ethical issues in medical research and its commercialization. In addition to professional publications, he is the author of several books aimed at the general reader and host of a television documentary series debunking pseudoscientific myths. He is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.
Caulfield went to high school in Edmonton, Alberta.He attended the University of Alberta, earning a B. Sc. in 1987 and a law degree in 1990. He completed a Masters in Law at Dalhousie University in 1993. During this period he also performed in two punk rock and new age bands, The Citizens and Absolute 9.
In 1996, Caulfield became an assistant professor at the University of Alberta. After working several years as an associate professor, he became a full professor in 2004 and is currently teaching biotechnology. In 1993, he became Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta, a position he currently occupies. In 2013, he was named a fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.He is a Health Senior Scholar at the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research and has worked on a variety of advisory committees involved in medical and scientific ethics, including one with the International Society for Stem Cell Research.
Caulfield has published numerous articles in academic journals and popular media on topics related to ethics and the effect of media hype on medical research.He is the editor for the Health Law Journal and Health Law Review. He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He is a member of the Task Force on Ethics Reform at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Represented by his publisher Penguin Random House, Caulfield works with a speakers bureau called Speakers' Spotlight on a variety of topics including COVID-19, misinformation and anxiety. Some of his recent clients for speaking engagements include the Canadian Health Libraries Association, Canadian Nuclear Association, Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists, Dietitians of Canada, Hamilton Health Sciences, Own the Podium and the Seven Oaks General Hospital Foundation.
Caulfield has referred to the amount of misinformation surrounding the Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic as an "infodemic". He has received funding from the federal government's Rapid Research Funding Opportunity to investigate how misinformation about COVID-19 spreads and to look for ways to stop it.He noted that this is the first time a global pandemic has spread in the time of social media, which allows for information to be shared quickly and often inaccurately. Some of the supposed cures of COVID-19 that Caulfield has debunked are drinking bleach, drinking silver, snorting cocaine, homeopathy, drinking cow urine, garlic soup and hydroxychloroquine.
On April 8, 2020, Caulfield was appointed to the Royal Society of Canada Task Force to help support Canada's response to and recovery from COVID-19. The task force mandate is to give informed responses to the many challenges that may come to Canada as a result of the virus and will work with academies from around the world to identify societal challenges.
Caulfield is a spokesperson for ScienceUpFirst, a science communication initiative aiming at reducing the impact of COVID misinformation online.
In 2020 Tim Caulfield collaborated with his brother Sean Caulfield, also a University of Alberta professor, to use artistic images to share pro-science information in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caulfield developed an interest the health advice given by celebrities and the significant impact it has on the public's health, especially when the celebrity advice is based on pseudoscience. He uses social media platforms, interviews, his books and his television series to counter some health claims made by stars such as actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra.
His 2015 book Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? focuses on the negative impact celebrity endorsement have on public health. Caulfield argues that the public should be wary of accepting health advice from entertainers and artists.The book won the 2015 Science in Society General Book Award from the Canadian Science Writer's Association.
Caulfield has advocated for medical professionals to not exaggerate potential benefits of new unproven treatments in fields that have only long-term potential. Stem cell treatments in particular is sometimes fraudulently hyped as a very expensive miracle cure for anything from autism, Lou Gehrig’s disease and spinal cord injury, to cerebral palsy, a practice Caulfield calls "scienceploitation".
In addition to plain dishonesty, Caulfield argues that the media looking for human-interest stories often portray unsound treatments as effective and give hope to patients. Researchers face pressure to present their research as being more advanced than it actually is and to respond to commercialization imperatives.
Caulfield points out that these practices have been used all the way back to the discovery of magnetism, and tend to appear whenever new scientific discoveries attract the interest of the public: "Now you see stem cell, genetic, and increasingly, microbiome research being exploited to sell a host of ridiculous products. My favorite example, however, has to be the use of “quantum physics.” Many alternative medicine practitioners seem to think that if they slap the word “quantum” on a product it sounds more science-y and more legitimate."
Caulfield edited several reference works on research ethics. In the last decade, he also wrote books taking aim at pseudoscience. In his 2012 The Cure for Everything,he tried to clarify the science behind sensationalized media reports about the effects of diet and fitness on health. Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? in 2015 tackles celebrity endorsement of dubious treatments and their effect on public health, while The Vaccination Picture in 2017 examines myths propagated against vaccines. His 2020 book Relax Dammit!: A User's Guide to the Age of Anxiety looks at how misinformation and science affect daily decisions.
He is also editor or coeditor of the following publications:
Caulfield is the host and main protagonist of the documentary series, A User's Guide to Cheating Death, presented in 60 countries,including Canadian specialty channel Vision TV. The first six-episode season presents Caulfield subjecting himself to various treatments of doubtful efficacy. The episodes include conversations with people believing the treatments work for them and discussions with panels of experts. The series was renewed for a second season, and became available on Netflix in North America during the Fall of 2018. His show was reviewed by Jonathan Jarry, saying, "Tim Caulfield is an excellent host for a show that shines a disinfecting light on medical pseudoscience. Unlike many skeptics in the public eye, he does not come across as antagonistic or condescending."
|Episode||Original airing date|
|"Detox Debunked: The Truth Behind the Phenomenon"||September 18, 2017|
|"The Fountain of Youth: Science of Cosmetics"||September 25, 2017|
|"Full Potential: Genetic Testing and the Rise of Personalized Medicine"||October 2, 2017|
|"Losing It: Extreme Dieting"||October 9, 2017|
|"Au Natural: Turning Our Back to Modern Medicine"||October 16, 2017|
|"Scienceploitation"||October 23, 2017|
|"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead"||October 15, 2018|
|"Vitamins and Supplements"||October 22, 2018|
|"Sex and Relationships"||October 29, 2018|
|"Germs"||November 5, 2018|
|"Body Hacking"||November 12, 2018|
|"Spiritual Science"||November 19, 2018|
Caulfield enjoys track cycling and running.He is married and has four children.
He suffers from motion sickness, which is one of the reasons he abandoned a fledgling career as a rock musician.He is "a bit of a germophobe. I hate sharing food. I'm not good with handshakes or hugs."
Snake oil is a term used to describe deceptive marketing, health care fraud, or a scam. Similarly, "snake oil salesman" is a common expression used to describe someone who sells, promotes, or is a general proponent of some valueless or fraudulent cure, remedy, or solution. The term comes from the "snake oil" that used to be sold as a cure-all elixir for many kinds of physiological problems. Many 19th-century United States and 18th-century European entrepreneurs advertised and sold mineral oil as "snake oil liniment", making claims about its efficacy as a panacea. Patent medicines that claimed to be a panacea were extremely common from the 18th century until the 20th, particularly among vendors masking addictive drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, alcohol, and opium-based concoctions or elixirs, to be sold at medicine shows as medication or products promoting health.
Gwyneth Kate Paltrow is an American actress and businesswoman. She is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Primetime Emmy Award.
The University of Alberta, also known as U of A or UAlberta, is a public research university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was founded in 1908 by Alexander Cameron Rutherford, the first premier of Alberta, and Henry Marshall Tory, the university's first president. It was enabled through the Post-secondary Learning Act. The university is considered a "comprehensive academic and research university" (CARU), which means that it offers a range of academic and professional programs that generally lead to undergraduate and graduate level credentials. It is ranked among the top public universities in Canada by major college and university rankings.
A debunker is a person or organization that exposes or discredits claims believed to be false, exaggerated, or pretentious. The term is often associated with skeptical investigation of controversial topics such as UFOs, claimed paranormal phenomena, cryptids, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine, religion, or exploratory or fringe areas of scientific or pseudoscientific research.
Misinformation is incorrect or misleading information. It differs from disinformation, which is deliberately deceptive. Rumors are information not attributed to any particular source, and so are unreliable and often unverified, but can turn out to be either true or false. Even if later retracted, misinformation can continue to influence actions and memory. People may be more prone to believe misinformation because they are emotionally connected to what they are listening to or are reading. The role of social media has made information readily available to society at anytime, and it connects vast groups of people along with their information at one time. Advances in technology has impacted the way people communicate information and the way misinformation is spread. Misinformation has impacts on societies' ability to receive information which then influences our communities, politics, and medical field.
The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a socially conservative advocacy group of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals in the United States. The group was founded in 2002. In 2005, it reportedly had between 150 and 200 members and one employee; in 2016, it reportedly had 500 physician members. The group's primary focus is advocating against abortion and the adoption of children by gay or lesbian people. It also advocates conversion therapy.
Rachael Thomas is a Canadian politician who was elected to represent the riding of Lethbridge in the House of Commons of Canada in the 2015 federal election. A member of the Conservative Party, she was reelected in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. Thomas is the current Shadow Minister for Canadian Heritage and she has served as the Official Opposition critic for Youth, Persons with Disabilities, Status of Women, and Digital Government.
Vaginal steaming, sometimes shortened to V-steaming, and also known as wormwood steaming, is an alternative health treatment whereby a woman squats or sits over steaming water containing herbs such as mugwort, rosemary, wormwood, and basil. It has been practiced in Africa, Asia, and Central America.
Goop is a wellness and lifestyle brand and company founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Launched in September 2008, Goop started out as a weekly e-mail newsletter providing new age advice, such as "police your thoughts" and "eliminate white foods", and the slogan "Nourish the Inner Aspect". A website was later added, and then Goop expanded into e-commerce, collaborating with fashion brands, launching pop-up shops, holding a "wellness summit", launching a print magazine, a podcast, and a docuseries for Netflix.
Jennifer Gunter is a Canadian-American gynecologist, a New York Times columnist covering women's health, an author, and a specialist in chronic pain medicine and vulvovaginal disorders.
Science Moms is a 2017 American documentary film about mothers who advocate for science-based decision-making concerning the health and nutrition of children. The film covers vaccines, autism, celebrity-endorsed health fads, cancer, allergies, organic food, GMOs, homeopathy, and the appeal to nature fallacy.
Julia Belluz is a Canadian journalist who specializes in health and science reporting. She is the senior health correspondent for American news website Vox, as of August 2020. Belluz is known for her reporting on various public health issues, including the anti-vaccine movement, the COVID-19 pandemic, and medical pseudoscience. Her Maclean's blog, "Science-ish" and her "Show Me the Evidence" series on Vox both do deep dives into the science behind common health claims. Belluz has also reported on celebrities who give unsubstantiated health advice, such as Dr. Oz, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Alex Jones.
Vaccine Choice Canada (VCC) is Canada's main anti-vaccination group. It was founded in the 1980s under the name Vaccination Risk Awareness Network (VRAN) and adopted its current name in 2014. The group has been contributing to vaccine hesitancy in Canada, encouraging citizens to forgo immunization and legislators to support anti-vaccine regulations and legislation.
The Goop Lab is an American documentary series about the lifestyle and wellness company Goop, founded by American actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who acts as host and executive producer of the series. The series premiered on January 24, 2020 on Netflix.
False information, including intentional disinformation and conspiracy theories, about the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic and the origin, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease has been spread through social media, text messaging, and mass media. False information has been propagated by celebrities, politicians, and other prominent public figures. Many countries have passed laws against "fake news", and thousands of people have been arrested for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. The spread of COVID-19 misinformation by governments has also been significant.
An infodemic is a rapid and far-reaching spread of both accurate and inaccurate information about something, such as a disease. The word is a portmanteau of "information" and "epidemic." As facts, rumors, and fears mix and disperse, it becomes difficult to learn essential information about an issue. In 2020, alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, an infodemic of disinformation raises concerns for information quality in online environment. This effect was demonstrated in a study of news stories shared on Twitter; in the study, news stories rated as incorrect by fact-checking organizations spread to far more people than factual articles did.
Kelly Brogan is an American author of books on alternative medicine who has promoted conspiracy theories and misinformation about discredited medical hypotheses.
Plandemic: The Hidden Agenda Behind Covid-19 and Plandemic: Indoctornation are a 2020 conspiracy theory video and film, respectively. Both were produced by Mikki Willis and promote misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. They feature Judy Mikovits, a discredited American researcher who has been described as an anti-vaccine activist. The first video, in addition to promoting various conspiracy theories, also features Willis and Mikovits discussing viruses in general and Mikovits herself. Willis produced the first video with a low budget under the name of his production company Elevate Films. Three months after its Internet release, Indoctornation, which includes more interviewees, was released by conspiracy distributor London Real.
ScienceUpFirst is a Canadian initiative launched to counter misinformation online, especially about COVID-19. Launched January 25, 2021, it brings together independent scientists, health care providers and science communicators.
This timeline includes entries on the spread of COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. This includes investigations into the origin of COVID-19, and the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 which is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. Social media apps and platforms, including Facebook, TikTok, Telegram, and YouTube, have contributed to the spread of misinformation. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) reported that conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 began on "day one". CAHN reported on March 16, 2020, that far-right groups in Canada were taking advantage of the climate of anxiety and fear surrounding COVID, to recycle variations of conspiracies from the 1990s, that people had shared over shortwave radio. COVID-19 disinformation is intentional and seeks to create uncertainty and confusion. But most of the misinformation is shared online unintentionally by enthusiastic participants who are politically active.misinformation has been provided by the dictator that is wrecking Canada.