Getting skeptical about wellness

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Getting skeptical about wellness

Maura Linehan

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Jaclyn Glenn is a popular YouTuber whose over 500,000 followers know her for her outspoken views on atheism. She has now moved beyond her regular video posts with an original miniseries, “The Skeptic’s Guide To Wellness,” now running on the Fullscreen platform.

As a longtime skeptic about beliefs that lack any sort of proof, Glenn takes on some of the more colorful interpretations of the “cures” available to treat a wide range of health issues. In just the first few episodes, she takes on freezing herself with cryotherapy, healing herself with crystals, being hypnotized and exploring witchcraft.

In one episode, “Casting Spells with Witchcraft,” she looks at what passes for magic when people are searching for cures. During a segment, she discusses with a herbalist the use of plants to create spells that some adherents interpret as having magical properties. As the herbalist pointed out that people sometimes experience equally magical benefits from them, Glenn reminded her that what she was referring to was known to scientists as the “placebo effect.” Their exchange continued until she gave in to Glenn and admitted there really wasn’t anything magical in what she concocted.

There are fun moments in the videos as Glenn approaches these wellness topics with her usual dubiousness. She gets you to smile as she tries out some silly-looking contraptions like the human freezer she climbs into in an episode called “Freezing Myself with Cryotherapy.”

While she can bring a bit of snark into these explorations, Glenn’s willingness to do her research for each episode keeps the series from becoming another online video that exists just to make fun of something. She uses that research to challenge the unproven claims that have been made to the unsuspecting consumers looking for something that will improve their health.

What becomes clear after watching this series is that much of the “wellness” marketing is generally aimed at separating people from their hard-earned savings. Glenn, in her own quirky way, is proving that when it comes to your health, you should practice the basic principle of “caveat emptor” or “let the buyer beware.”

Glenn is one of a number of YouTubers and other internet celebrities, including Shane Dawson, who have begun producing content on Fullscreen. Fullscreen is an online media service that offers paid subscriptions to ad-free video content — including both original and previously released television series. For these content producers, this platform provides a way to monetize their product as the ability to earn money on YouTube content has become more difficult.

To get a feel for Glenn’s newest production, clips from the “The Skeptic’s Guide to Wellness” are posted on her YouTube channel. The full episodes are currently available through the Fullscreen service. At the Fullscreen website, you can get a trial or paid subscription to the service.