About half of the grownup population in the U.S. believes at least one medical conspiracy theory, a new survey from the University of Chicago shows.
In the study, 1,351 adults were asked about whether they had heard of, and agreed or disagreed with, six popular medical conspiracy theories, such as those that hold that U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures, that the U.S. government knows cell phones cause cancer but does nothing about it, and that the CIA infected a large number of African Americans with HIV.
About 49% of the people agreed with at least one of the theories, which all had distrust of the government or large corporations as the common characteristic.
According to the study’s lead author, J. Eric Oliver, the reason so many people believe in medical conspiracy theories is that they are easier to understand than science. He added that people who believe in one or more of these theories are more likely to use alternative instead of conventional medicine.