News / Health

Many Americans Believe in Medical Conspiracy Theories

Clinical specialist Catey Funaiock, left, observes from behind a one-way mirror as Marlaina Dreher, left, plays with her 5-year-old son Brandon after he fed himself during a session in the pediatric feeding disorder program at the Marcus Autism Center, Sept. 18, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia. Clinical specialist Catey Funaiock, left, observes from behind a one-way mirror as Marlaina Dreher, left, plays with her 5-year-old son Brandon after he fed himself during a session in the pediatric feeding disorder program at the Marcus Autism Center, Sept. 18, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia.
x
Clinical specialist Catey Funaiock, left, observes from behind a one-way mirror as Marlaina Dreher, left, plays with her 5-year-old son Brandon after he fed himself during a session in the pediatric feeding disorder program at the Marcus Autism Center, Sept. 18, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Clinical specialist Catey Funaiock, left, observes from behind a one-way mirror as Marlaina Dreher, left, plays with her 5-year-old son Brandon after he fed himself during a session in the pediatric feeding disorder program at the Marcus Autism Center, Sept. 18, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia.
VOA News
Conspiracy theories abound in many places around the world, including the United States. And while many deal with space aliens or assassination plots, health issues are also the focus of concern.

After surveying more than 1,300 adult Americans, scientists at the University of Chicago report that 49 percent of them believe in at least one of the six best known medical conspiracy theories.

Those include that childhood vaccines cause autism, that authorities intentionally hide the benefits of natural cures and that the government secretly infected a large number of African Americans with the virus that causes AIDS.

Writing in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers said 69 percent of those polled had heard about a link between vaccination and autism. 20 percent believed it and only 44 percent actively disagreed.

Are U.S. authorities intentionally hiding the benefits of natural remedies? Thirty-seven percent of the respondents said yes, while less than a third said they do not believe that at all.

The data also showed that those who believe in medical conspiracies are more likely to avoid conventional medicines in favor of alternative approaches to health care.

Overall, the biggest suspects in the conspiracy theories are the government and drug companies.

Lead scientist J. Eric Oliver, of the University of Chicago, said the belief in conspiracies may stem from the fact that they were much easier to understand than complex medical information. Oliver said doctors and public health officials should find better ways to inform the public about health and science.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid