[Editor’s Note: Dr. Steven Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine]
People can feel as if they are well-informed because their heads are full of nothing but propaganda. Just have a conversation with an anti-vaxer, creationist, or flat-earther and you will see. Lack of information is not their primary problem.
Michigan State University has recently published their Food Literacy and Engagement Poll which sheds further light on this issue. … Attitudes toward GMOs are also largely a function of information vs misinformation. After two decades of a dedicated anti-GMO campaign by the organic food lobby and Greenpeace, the public is largely misinformed about GMOs and organic food. This has led to a 51 point gap (the largest of any topic covered) between what scientists believe about GMOs and what the public believes.
[H]ere is the most interesting nugget from the survey – a total of 37% of respondents thought the following statement was true: “Genetically modified foods have genes and non-genetically modified foods do not.” That figure was 43% in those younger than 30 years old (compared to 26% in those 55 years and older). Meanwhile, in the same survey 46% of those younger than 30 said they purchase organic food whenever possible, while only 15% of those 55 and older said they did. There seems to be a pretty good correlation there between being misinformed about genes in GMOs and preferring organic food.
The result is that those people who feel they are the most informed are likely to be the most misinformed, and to have opinions which run contrary to the evidence and the consensus of scientific opinion.
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