6 Medical Conspiracies People Really Believe

Nearly 50% of people surveyed believe at least one theory
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2014 5:57 PM CDT
Medical-Conspiracy Theories Hot With Americans

Think a US spy agency has infected black Americans with HIV? Or cell phones cause cancer and the government secretly knows? You're not alone: Roughly half of Americans believe in one or more medical conspiracies, according to a new survey. Two researchers asked 1,351 adults whether they knew or believed in the two theories above, and four others:

  • Powerful forces are using genetically modified organisms to lower the Earth's population
  • Regular vaccines cause autism
  • US regulators prevent Americans from obtaining natural cures
  • Companies dump unhealthy chemicals into the environment via water fluoridation

About 49% of participants said they believe at least one of those theories, Reuters reports. Lead author J. Eric Oliver says that's because conspiracy theories are easier to grasp than medical information. But he didn't dismiss the theorists, and noted their interest in alternative medicines—a fact doctors should acknowledge because the conspiracy-theorists may be less likely to follow a prescription. "One of the things that struck us is that people who embrace these beliefs are not less health conscious," Oliver told NPR. "They're just less likely to embrace traditional medicine." (Read more conspiracy theories stories.)

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