Overall, health misinformation is widely prevalent in the U.S. with 96% of adults saying they have heard at least one of the ten items of health-related misinformation asked about in the survey. The most widespread misinformation items included in the survey were related to COVID-19 and vaccines, including that the COVID-19 vaccines have caused thousands of deaths in otherwise healthy people (65% say they have heard or read this) and that the MMR vaccines have been proven to cause autism in children (65%).
Regardless of whether they have heard or read specific items of misinformation, the survey also asked people whether they think each claim is definitely true, probably true, probably false, or definitely false. For most of the misinformation items included in the survey, between one-fifth and one-third of the public say they are “definitely” or “probably true.” While the most frequently heard claims are related to COVID-19 and vaccines, the most frequently believed claims were related to guns, including that armed school police guards have been proven to prevent school shootings (60% say this is probably or definitely true), that most gun homicides in the U.S. are gang-related (43%), and that people who have firearms at home are less likely to be killed by a gun than those who do not (42%).
Combining these measures, the share of the public who both have heard each false claim and believe it is probably or definitely true ranges from 14% (for the claim that “more people have died from the COVID-19 vaccine than from the virus”) to 35% (“armed school police guards have been proven to prevent school shootings”).
Health misinformation everywhere, and most uncertain whether true or false @DrewAltman: “The public’s uncertainty leaves them vulnerable to misinformation..."— Timothy Caulfield (@CaulfieldTim) August 22, 2023
Reality: ALL DEFINITELY FALSE!
Ivermectin works? No.
Vaccines cause autism? No.
COVID vaccines cause fertility? No.… pic.twitter.com/TP27fHuWBn