Medical Conspiracy Theories: How Do They Affect Health Behaviors?

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After he rounded up that data, as highlighted in his report inĀ JAMA Internal Medicine, Oliver dug deeper to discern whether respondents agreed with the conspiracy theories in question, and whether they had previously heard of them or not. Some results were surprising, while some were not. The theory that won the highest degree of support was the narrative already mentioned that the FDA is preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases. The theory that the least amount of respondents agreed with was a tie between three: the idea that health officials know that cell phones cause cancer but aren’t releasing data thanks to corporate pressure; the narrative that physicians still want to vaccinate children even though they know vaccines are dangerous; and the aforementioned theory regarding GMO foods and the Rockefeller and Ford foundations. All three narratives earned a support percentage of 12 percent. Overall, Oliver found that 49 percent of Americans agreed with at least 1 medical conspiracy theory while 18 percent agreed with 3 or more. Those are the same percentages that can be found by surveys that research how U.S. cities feel about political conspiracy theories.

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