Silly beliefs

Study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine shows that an important fraction of the general public in the US believes in one or more absurd health-related conspiracy theories: Medical Conspiracy Theories and Health Behaviors in the United States.

The authors conclude, among other things, that “Although it is common to disparage adherents of conspiracy theories as a delusional fringe of paranoid cranks, our data suggest that medical conspiracy theories are widely known, broadly endorsed, and highly predictive of many common health behaviors.

The study was quickly picked up by the NPR:

Half Of Americans Believe In Medical Conspiracy Theories

And by bloggers who used much less charitable terms:

U. of Chicago Study Confirms Americans Believe in Really Dumb Shit

New Study: Nearly Half Of All Americans Are Dangerous Stupid Idiots

Disheartening as this is, it is yet another problem that has to be confronted by health professionals, especially those of us in public health, as another obstacle undermining sensible public policy.

What remains to be seen is how manyof those conspiracies are fuelled by shady “think tanks” funded by the usual suspects, or because of the very public opinions of some famous know-nothing imbecile who nevertheless feels authorized to pontificate on very complex scientific issues…

For more on conspiracy theories: Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories?

And Krugman weighs in on the issue of conspiracies and denial: Denial in Depth.

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