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The AIDS ConspiracyScience Fights Back$
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Nicoli Nattrass

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231149136

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231149136.001.0001

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Who Believes AIDS Conspiracy Theories and Why Leadership Matters

Who Believes AIDS Conspiracy Theories and Why Leadership Matters

(p.43) 3 Who Believes AIDS Conspiracy Theories and Why Leadership Matters
The AIDS Conspiracy

Nicoli Nattrass

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how conspiracy theories about AIDS acquire social traction. In South Africa, race and gender differences are key determinants of conspiracy theories, with black African people being far more likely than other population groups to believe them. A U.S. survey of black households showed that the key predictor for men endorsing AIDS conspiracy beliefs was frequent experiences of racial discrimination, whereas for women, it was their strong preference for black culture and a culturally traditional black family. Psychological factors are also considered as one of the determinants. People with “profoundly disturbed minds” are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. Some analysts explain that belief in AIDS conspiracy theories is a rational coping mechanism in the face of uncontrollable external forces generated by people to understand the complex phenomenon of AIDS.

Keywords:   AIDS, race, gender, conspiracy theories, racial discrimination, psychological factor

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