Survey finds nearly half of Americans believe in medical conspiracy theories

By Kyle Johnson,

According to the results of a survey, almost half the U.S. puts stock in some medical conspiracy theory.

The results of the survey were published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, reports USA Today.

The online survey had 1,351 participants were questioned on several popular medical conspiracy theories. It was put together by two social scientists from the University of Chicago. Co-author and professor of political science Eric Oliver said they found that people had "a very low level of trust" for government and business.

They found that 37 percent of those who took the survey believed that the Food and Drug Administration was suppressing natural cancer and other disease cures because of the pharmaceutical companies' insistence. An additional 31 percent noted they "neither agree nor disagree" on the theory.

The Los Angeles Times notes that 1 in 5 think that the government "still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders," and another 31 percent went with the "neither agree nor disagree" option.

Other conspiracy theories mentioned in the survey include that cellphones cause cancer, but the government caved to pressure from businesses, with 1 in 5 believing and 40 percent either disagreeing or withholding judgment for the time being.

The theory that a secret plan involving genetically modified foods called Agenda 21 that aims at reducing the world's population only had 12 percent believing, while 46 percent were not sure. More also disagreed that CIA purposely infected African Americans with the HIV virus, with only 12 percent agreeing.

Oliver said, "There are a lot of people out there that harbor these beliefs" despite proof proving otherwise.

He also said that people who believed in medical conspiracy theories often preferred to tend to their health maladies with natural remedies. "What we take away from that is that people who embrace these conspiracies are very suspicious of traditional evidence-based medicine."

image: By Subconsci Productions (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbconsci/361586876/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons



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