In crazy medical news today: People believe in medical conspiracies. And we’re not just talking about the folks who swear UFOs are being tracked at Area 51. Fifty-one percent of people report trusting in at least one cover up, new University of Chicago research shows. [Tweet this stat!]
The study of about 1,000 people asked volunteers their opinions on a slew of statements: that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) intentionally suppresses natural cancer cures because of pressure from drug companies; that companies prevent public health officials from letting the world know that cell phones and cancer are linked; that docs still want to vaccinate kids even though they know vaccines are dangerous; and that the CIA deliberately infected African Americans with HIV.
While some ideas were lesser known and were less likely to be believed (CIA/HIV link, we’re looking at you), others were popular. Thirty-seven percent agreed that the FDA is pressured by drug companies and thus puts natural cancer cures on the back burner.
But the study also revealed deets about these “high conspiracists.” Doubters of mainstream thinking were more likely buy farm-stand or organic foods, use herbal supplements, and avoid sunscreen use, thinking that the lotion was more dangerous than UV rays. These people were also more likely to get medical information from alternative health sites or celebrity doctors.
Even more: “High conspiracists” reported much higher rates of ineffective medical treatments. (They were also less likely to go to the actual doctor.)
Medical conspiracy theories are easier to understand than science, J. Eric Oliver, Ph.D., and the study’s author told Time.com.
But all in all, about 18 percent of people said there was truth behind at least three conspiracy narratives, according to the study—and that number is consistent with other research on the topic. Eighteen percent is a lot!
What do you think? Do you believe in any conspiracy theories? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.