NPR reports on a study of belief in “medical conspiracy theories.” While the study’s author, Eric Oliver, maintains some respect for his subjects (“Corporations and government institutions are complicated organizations with a lot of different motivations. ‘Public mistrust is understandable,’ he says.”), many of the comments are more dismissive.
On Gawker, Gabrielle Bluestone mockingly asks, “What’s your doctor hiding?” I don’t know, maybe they are hiding the fact that you have syphillis and that there is a cure for it. If you’ve lived a certain sort of life, it might be absurd to imagine that your doctor wants anything other than to make you better, that your politician wants anything other than to represent your interests, or that the police want anything other than to keep you safe. Not everyone gets that life.
According to the NPR story, people who believe in medical conspiracies “tended to be less educated, poorer and members of minority groups.” This is where educated liberals are supposed to fret about weak science education and creationism. I don’t want to discount the role of theology and ideology, but what about good old history and daily life? It is not shocking that the people treated so poorly by institutions are skeptical of them.