Members in the Media
From: BBC

The enduring appeal of conspiracy theories

In certain pockets of America, measles diagnoses have been spreading at previously unprecented rates.

In 2017 there were 58 confirmed cases of the illness in Minnesota – the largest outbreak the state had seen in 30 years. Similarly, in 2008, a large outbreak occurred in California, which was thought to originate from a seven-year-old boy, who had not been vaccinated.

Those that do not vaccinate often choose not to. They are called “anti-vaxxers” and they largely believe that vaccinations are harmful – and, often, that pharmaceutical companies (and others) cover up damaging effects of vaccinations. It is but one of many conspiracy theories that flies in the face of scientific evidence – a quick internet search throws up hundreds.

Similarly, climate change deniers are convinced that the Earth is not warming, and some say that scientists are tweaking evidence to make it appear so. Those that believe in one conspiracy, are in turn more susceptible to believing others.

While some conspiracy theories are relatively harmless – the argument that Nasa faked the Moon landing, or bizarrely, that Beatle Sir Paul McCartney died long ago with a doppelganger taking his place ever since – others have damaging ripple-effects.

With new insights, researchers are getting closer to understanding more of the factors involved. This will, they hope, help mitigate some of the very real dangers and societal divides that conspiracy theories encourage.

Read the whole story (subscription may be required): BBC

More of our Members in the Media >

APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.