conspiracy theories

Here at ACSH, we're used to conspiracy theories. There are very few that we have neither heard nor debunked.

For instance, there is no conspiracy between the FDA and Big Pharma to suppress a cure for cancer. Likewise, there is no conspiracy to promote an influenza vaccine in place of a "pneumonia vaccine" (which doesn't exist). Glyphosate isn't poisoning people and microcephaly isn't caused by Monsanto, despite the...

It's impossible to keep up with every "alternative fact" or crazy conspiracy theory on the Internet. By the time a lie has circled the globe, the Truth has just put its shoes on1. For some reason, people find falsehoods much more entertaining and believable than the truth.

I thought that I had heard every possible vaccine conspiracy theory out there: Vaccines cause autism. Vaccines aren't necessary and are pushed on us by greedy pharmaceutical companies. Vaccines are used for mind control. Bill Gates is using vaccines to control the human population.

So, even I was slightly surprised to discover yet another vaccine conspiracy theory. A couple days ago on Facebook, I came across the following comment:

"The key to surviving the flu is to get a...

Today, it seems that honest disagreement just isn't possible. Social media, which has become a sewage pipe of political hyper-partisanship and unscientific propaganda, magnifies this disturbing trend. If two otherwise intelligent people disagree on something, accusations of being a liar, fraud, or paid shill are quick to follow.

Compounding this problem is the fact that half of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Instead of ushering in a Second Enlightenment, it appears the Information Age has turned us into paranoid cynics who perceive dark forces controlling world events. Such is the state of our...

We get email.

Liar. Jerk. Sock puppet. Propagandist. Criminal. Corporate slut. Satan's minion1. These are just a few of the names Dr. Josh Bloom and I have been called -- and that was just last week.  

What did we do to earn such reprobation? Were we cavorting with Gordon Gekko? Lobotomizing patients with Nurse Ratched? Sacrificing goats? Nope. In an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun, we explained why Wi-Fi is safe. And that's when the pitchforks came out.

The smartest reader2 commented:

Microwave ovens use 2.45 GHz to cook food. Most wi-fi also uses 2.45 GHz microwaves. So what is the difference between the...

No matter the evidence, some people always will refuse to accept it. Some of those people are university professors.

Joel Moskowitz is one of those professors. With a background in mathematics and social psychology, he now serves as Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health. And he is on a crusade to prove that California (yes, the state that passed Proposition 65, which labels almost anything a carcinogen) is secretly hiding data that shows cell phones are giving people cancer.

Like 9/11 and vaccine truthers, Dr....

The international protest "March Against Monsanto" (MAM) was never based on truth. The movement perpetuated myths about GMOs to demonize a company that has a really bad PR department. But now that Bayer is buying out Monsanto, what is MAM to do? These angry activists must channel their rage somewhere. So, March Against Monsanto has decided to become hard-core anti-vaccine.

With over 1.2 million followers, the influential group's Facebook page is dangerously unhinged from reality, featuring posts promoting everything from anti-vaxxer propaganda to historical conspiracy theories. See this post, for example:

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Heparin. (Credit: LHcheM/Wikipedia) Heparin. (Credit: LHcheM/Wikipedia)

I never cease to be amazed by the crazy things that otherwise intelligent people are willing to believe. Two years ago, Newsweek ran a cover story titled "The Plots to Destroy America," which described the troubling beliefs -- from 9/11 trutherism to Obama birtherism -- held by so many of our fellow compatriots. The author worries that...