Sure, you’re sitting there with a deliberately stupid look on your face as you read this. But then you uncross your eyes, wipe off the drool, and realize that it’s important for Science to study general Human stupidity so we can have even the remotest chance at coming up with a “cure” for it.
Anti-vaccine advocates are a particularly insidious form of stupid–one that, without even needing to resort to hyperbole, could be responsible for the deaths of millions should their nonsense take hold in the public consciousness. Matthew Hornsey, PhD, of the University of Queensland is one of the people working on the topic. He studied the relationship between conspiracy beliefs and anti-vaccination views.
What he found out, shouldn’t surprise anyone, but does bring us that much closer to figuring out how to “fix stupid”.
According to Science Daily: Hornsey and his co-authors surveyed 5,323 people from 24 countries on five continents using online questionnaires between March 31 and May 11, 2016, measuring antivaccination attitudes and belief in four conspiracy theories: that Princess Diana was murdered; that the American government knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance and chose to let them happen; that a shadowy group of elites exist to plot a new world order; and that John F. Kennedy was murdered as part of an elaborate plot.
Those with strong beliefs in conspiracies were most likely to hold antivaccination attitudes regardless of where they lived. For example, the more people believed that Princess Diana was murdered, the more negative attitudes they had about vaccinations. In contrast, level of education had a very small impact on antivaccination attitudes.
So the takeaway of this is, if you have a friend who’s anti-vax, you might want to be a bit wary about the other dumb shit they also believe. At least that might help explain why you keep running out of aluminum foil.
Sources and Further Reading
Matthew J. Hornsey, Emily A. Harris, Kelly S. Fielding. The Psychological Roots of Anti-Vaccination Attitudes: A 24-Nation Investigation.. Health Psychology, 2018; DOI: 10.1037/hea0000586