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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid