Americans love a good conspiracy theory almost as much as we hate when actual, real-world evidence makes clear in no uncertain terms that said conspiracy theory is a complete and utter load of bullshit.
Such has now been officially proved to be the case by two intrepid University of Chicago researchers, J. Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood, who set out to test just how many citizens of the good ol' U.S. of A. believed in several widely discredited and patently baseless theories related to medicine. Warning: reading any further in this article or clicking that link will (if you have a fully-functional brain) make you despair for humanity. Anyway, the first question, unsurprisingly, was about the link between vaccines and autism.
I shouldn't have to explain why this theory is complete and utter bullshit, or point out the numerous people who have taken the time out to debunk this mind-bendingly stupid and actually harmful to society theory. People are actually dying easily-preventable deaths because of this stupid bullshit. Apparently, though, 20% still believe that physicians and the government "still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders." Another 36% say they neither agree nor disagree with the above statement. I'd have a joke here, but if I think about the fact that over half of America isn't CERTAIN that vaccines don't cause autism, I'm going to pop a blood vessel in my fucking brain. The anti-vaccination movement is the single strongest argument in favor of the idea of forcing people to acquire a license to be allowed to raise children. This is probably the second-strongest argument, for the record.
Meanwhile, fully 37% of Americans believe that the FDA is suppressing "natural" cures for cancer and other ailments under pressure from pharmaceutical companies, while another 36% neither agreed nor disagreed with the above statement. This isn't nearly as bad as the vaccines question, in that at least the people who believe this aren't actively harming society and contributing to the senseless deaths of children, but it's still not great, considering that 73% of Americans aren't sure that there's not some massive government cover-up going on that could provide the cure for children with ass cancer. Awesome.
The third question is related to the thoroughly debunked idea that cell phones cause cancer, and 20% of Americans apparently believe that conclusive evidence has been found that, yes, such is the case. Another 40% say they aren't sure, which means 40% of Americans aren't stark raving morons. The other 60% are apparently propping up our nation's fine and varied manufacturers of tinfoil hats.
The fourth theory involves GMO's, which you just knew were going to pop up here somewhere. Thankfully, only 12% of Americans believe in the idea of Agenda 21, an initiative apparently launched by the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, using Monsanto, Inc. as a vehicle, to shrink the world's population using GMO foods through...science, I guess, the theory is unclear, as is anything resembling a rationale behind it. Meanwhile, 46% of Americans stayed on the fence, because if there's one thing this study is proving, it's that Americans are either really stupid or really indecisive. But hey, when you can believe a patently absurd theory that involves not one, but two shadowy groups bent on world domination in the vein of the villain from Inspector Gadget, you gotta go with that.
Another theory, while still really stupid and wrong, is at least slightly more understandable given that the Tuskegee experiments were a real thing: 12% of Americans believe that the CIA deliberately infected African-Americans with HIV under the guise of a hepatitis inoculation program (37% neither agreed nor disagreed). Funny thing about this theory: it was actually part of a deliberate misinformation propaganda campaign spread by the Russians during the Cold War. I'm sure somewhere Vladimir Putin is clapping his shirtless chest muscles together in excitement over the continuing idiocy of somewhere between 12 and 49 percent of the American public.
All told, nearly half of Americans surveyed ascribe to at least one of these theories, which leads me some questions as to whether there's been a significant and unreported rise in traumatic head injuries over the last decade. It also leads me to the conclusion that I need to go drink more, because I'm far, far too sober to cope with any of the information contained within this study.
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