Is there a link between vaccines and autism, cellphones and cancer, the HIV virus and the CIA? Nearly half of Americans believe the answer is yes for at least one of these discredited conspiracy theories.
Two University of Chicago social scientists gauged beliefs in about six widely discussed medical conspiracy theories. Fully 37 percent of those surveyed endorsed the belief that the Food and Drug Administration, under pressure from drug companies, is suppressing natural cures for cancer and other diseases. One in five said they agreed that doctors and the government "still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders." And 36 percent were on the fence, saying they neither agreed nor disagreed with the discredited contention that vaccines cause autism.