Is This Why We Believe In Medical Conspiracy Theories?

The idea of conspiracy theories may sound ridiculous to some, but it turns out they're more popular than you thought.

A study conducted by University of Illinois professor and medical conspiracy researcher Eric Oliver shows that such theories are popular among more than half of Americans.

“We found that about 50 percent of Americans believe in at least one of the six conspiracy theories that we had asked them about,” Oliver told host Nancy Redd. “The most common one was the idea that the Food and Drug Administration was deliberately withholding natural cures for cancer because of secret pressure from pharmaceutical companies.”

Around 12 percent of Americans also support the idea that “HIV was deliberately introduced into the African American community by the CIA,” Oliver said.

Will Storr, author of The Unpersuadables, agreed with Oliver and offered an explanation for this phenomenon. Many people look to life experiences to inform their beliefs, often creating “a lot of mistrust,” for big corporations or big government, Storr said.

“This idea that we are rational, intelligent robots that walk around the earth evaluating data in a very clinical way is just not true,” Storr continued. “As humans, we are irrational creatures, we’re emotional creatures. We don’t believe what we’re told is true [by science or academics], we believe what we feel to be true. And that’s why a lot of these conspiracy theories, they feel very true to a lot of people.”

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation below:

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