About half of Americans think that the federal government is purposely keeping the world in the dark about the link between cancer and cell phones — and that the Central Intelligence Agency purposely infected blacks with the HIV virus, a new survey showed.
The study, conducted by the University of Chicago and published in the subscriber-only JAMA Network, found about half of American citizens believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory. Time reported that the study involved 1,351 adults who were asked: Have you heard of — and do you agree or disagree with — these six theories?
One theory was that government regulators kept Americans from obtaining information about natural cures for diseases, as part of a lobby-driven effort from the medical community to keep profits flowing. Another theory: The federal government knows full well that cellular phones contribute to the onset of cancer, but won't admit it.
And one more, Time reported: The CIA infected blacks with HIV, to see what would happen.
Nearly 49 percent of those who participated in the study said they agreed with at least one of the posed theories.
The lead author on the study, J. Eric Oliver, attributed the 49 percent belief factor to the fact that conspiracy theories are easier to understand than actual science or medical findings. He also said that those who believe in medical conspiracy over fact are more likely to use alternative medicines and treatments than those who dismiss such theories as ridiculous.
At the same time, the federal government — including the CIA — has been involved in questionable tests on citizens in past years. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, the Public Health Service worked with the Tuskegee Institute in 1932 on a research project called the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male."
Six hundred black men — 399 of whom had syphilis and 299 who did not — were chosen to take part in the study.
"The study was conducted without the benefit of patients' informed consent," the CDC reported, on its "Tuskegee Timeline" webpage. "The men were never given adequate treatment for their disease," even when penicillin came on the scene in 1947. An advisory panel that later looked into the study called it "ethically unjustified," because the participants were told they were being treated for "bad blood," but not given proper medical care.
The CIA, meanwhile, was found to have conducted secret LSD experiments throughout the 1950s and 1960s, some of which involved unsuspecting Americans, as Time noted. The program, highlighted in the release of unclassified government documents in recent years, was called MK-ULTRA.
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