Largest survey of its kind uncovers suspicion of vaccines in big part of world population
‘Populists across the world are significantly more likely to believe in conspiracy theories about vaccinations, global warming and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to a landmark global survey shared exclusively with the Guardian.
The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project sheds new light on a section of the world population that appears to have limited faith in scientific experts and representative democracy.
Analysis of the survey found the clearest tendency among people with strongly held populist attitudes was a belief in conspiracy theories that were contradicted by science or factual evidence.
The research may go some way towards understanding the success of rightwing populists such as Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, who have fuelled conspiracy theories, undermined efforts to address global warming and dismissed fact-based journalism as “fake news”.
The survey findings may also prove useful to public health officials who are battling to contain outbreaks of measles around the world amid alarming rates of unvaccinated children.
The World Health Organization and other public health bodies have embarked on major campaigns to remind the public of the importance of vaccination as anti-vaccine propaganda and conspiracy theories have flourished on social media.
Unicef recently revealed that measles cases had risen 300% in the first three months of this year compared with the same time last year. In 2017, approximately 110,000 people died of the illness, most of them children. About 169 million children under 10 worldwide are unvaccinated, the UN agency said.
In the YouGov survey, people with strongly held populist views were on average almost twice as likely to believe that supposed harmful effects of vaccines were being deliberately hidden from the public. They were similarly more likely to believe that the US government knowingly helped the 9/11 terrorist attackers, and that manmade global warming was a hoax.’
Read more: Revealed: populists far more likely to believe in conspiracy theories