A new study indicates that approximately half of Americans believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory. The study involved surveying over 1,300 Americans to gauge their agreement with six widely known medical conspiracy theories. These theories included debunked claims such as the connection between vaccines and autism and the idea that water fluoridation is a cover-up to allow companies to dispose of hazardous chemicals.
The research revealed that nearly 49% of the participants agreed with at least one medical conspiracy theory, with 18% endorsing three or more theories. The most popular theory was the belief that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deliberately withholds natural cures for diseases due to pressure from pharmaceutical companies, with 37% of respondents supporting this statement. Meanwhile, 20% agreed with the claim that health officials are aware of cell phones causing cancer but are not acting due to corporate influence.
Eric Oliver, a researcher at the University of Chicago, explained that this inclination toward conspiracy theories is not surprising, as previous studies have shown that Americans are prone to believing in conspiracy theories, not just related to politics but also to health and medicine. Oliver pointed out that such narratives often offer seemingly convincing explanations for complex situations, and it’s a natural human tendency to attribute malevolent forces to the unknown. However, this widespread belief in medical conspiracy theories could have implications for public health, as those who endorse these theories may be less likely to follow medical advice or treatments.