Science Denial and COVID Conspiracy Theories: Potential Neurological Mechanisms and Possible Responses
The US public health response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been dismal, characterized by antimask behavior, antivaccine beliefs, conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19, and vocal support by elected officials for unproven therapies. Less than half of the people in the US heed health recommendations to wear a mask when out in public. Antiscience rhetoric has consequences. While only 4% of the world’s population resides in the US, the US has accounted for 20% of the world’s deaths related to COVID-19 and has performed less well than several other wealthy nations. Low science literacy contributes to denial of science. The relationship between antiscience viewpoints and low science literacy underscores new findings regarding the brain mechanisms that form and maintain false beliefs.