INTERNET HEALTH LIES YOU MUST STOP SHARING
LOW-FAT DIETS ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEART, AND OTHER DANGEROUS LIES THAT CAN HURT YOU.
I NEVER THOUGHT SOMEONE WITH LUKE’S BACKGROUND AND INTELLECT COULD DEFEND BELIEFS THAT SCIENCE HAD THOROUGHLY DEBUNKED.”
I met Luke at a professional conference. I’m a public health and behavioural science expert; Luke’s a statistician for a hospital system in New York City. I thought he was brilliant--two Ivy League degrees, decades of experience working with top medical professionals, married to a cardiologist. We stayed in touch. A few months later, after I began speaking out about irrational health beliefs, including the myth that vaccines cause autism,
I ran into Luke again.
“I read your piece,” he said. I smiled awkwardly. His son had autism, but we’d never discussed it. What came next shocked me. “How can you say vaccines don’t cause autism?”
At first I thought he was joking. But no: Luke is an anti-vaxxer, convinced that childhood vaccines are a pharmaceutical conspiracy. He blames vaccines for his son’s autism. He mistrusts doctors in general, and he and his wife (a
cardiologist, remember) follow a natural lifestyle that minimises interaction with them. He also believes eggs and milk cause cancer.
I didn’t know what to say. I never thought someone with Luke’s background and intellect could defend beliefs that science had thoroughly debunked.
Luke isn’t alone. Thousands of well-educated people share such erroneous beliefs. With the help of my father, Jack Gorman, M.D., I began to explore why people develop these mindsets and wrote the book Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us. You’re about to learn the neurological basis for how such thinking “narrows” the brain and how to reverse the process in yourself and others. But first, let’s take a look at six prevailing health myths that some people still believe.