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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid