Thursday, May 29, 2014

Belief in Conspiracy Theories

Interesting article by Kurt Eichenwald on conspiracy theories in America:
The number of people who believe in these often very tall tales is enormous. According to a poll last year by Public Policy Polling, a national firm, 28 percent of Americans believe a secret power elite is conspiring to rule the world through a global authoritarian government, 15 percent believe the government adds mind-control technology to television broadcasts, and 14 percent think the Central Intelligence Agency was instrumental in introducing crack cocaine to America’s inner cities during the 1980s.

Similar—and sometimes more extreme—results appear in polls about medical conspiracy theories. Research conducted by professors Oliver and Wood and published in March by The Journal of the American Medical Association shows that 49 percent of respondents believed in at least one medical conspiracy theory, while 18 percent believed in three or more. The theories best known to the respondents involved cancer treatments, vaccines and cell phones; these were also the ones that saw the greatest numbers of people subscribing to them. Thirty-seven percent believed the Food and Drug Administration was conspiring with pharmaceutical companies to suppress natural cures for cancer, while 20 percent thought that corporations were preventing the government from releasing data showing that cell phones cause cancer or that doctors secretly believe vaccines are dangerous but still want to use them on children.

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