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  • The truth is out there    March 20 
Half of you believe at least one medical conspiracy theory
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If you believe that "doctors and the government still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders," you're wrong — but you're not alone. A new study by a pair of University of Chicago political scientists indicates that a discouraging 20 percent of American adults believe that conspiracy theory about vaccinations, and another 36 percent are unwilling to take sides. In all, the researchers found that about half of respondents believed in at least one of the six conspiracy theories the study asked about.

The most popular bit of "medical conspiricism" — with 37 percent agreeing and another 31 percent on the fence — is that the FDA "is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies." The only other conspiracy to hit the 20 percent agreement mark is that "health officials know that cell phones cause cancer but are doing nothing to stop it because large corporations won't let them."

The researchers warn against dismissing the people who believe these notions as "a delusional fringe of paranoid cranks," noting that most of them (us?) are normal people trying to cope with a crazy world that includes lots of real stacked decks and official monkey business. These conspiracy theories can actually harm our health, says Chris Hendel at Consumer Reports, but "over the years industry, our government, and some medical researchers have given us more than a few reasons to doubt that they always have our best interest in mind."

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