Bishop, B., Kaplan, J. et al
Results from a psychology study confirmed that while Americans will take someone in a white lab coat at their word, their belief is immediately revoked if that person turns out to be an actual doctor.
“We had one doctor in a white coat instruct several Canadians to simply wash their hands after touching the doorknob, and, of course, they washed their hands,” said Dr. Lisa Tedbury, the lead researcher.
“With the American subjects, however, not only did they not wash their hands, but the participants had scribbled ‘science is fake’ on the wall in their own blood,” said Dr. Tedbury.
In another experiment, the researchers sent in a 4-year-old in a lab coat, and the Americans, delighted at the toddler’s charm, listened intently. Then, the child was awarded an MD, and the Americans, upon seeing her again, began accusing the child of hiding the truth.”Yet, as soon as the researchers announced the toddler was not actually a doctor, the American participants once again believed she was a trustworthy source of medical information.
“The syndrome seems to know no bounds,” said Tedbury, adding that the Americans even believed coated non-doctors who claimed having sex with demons causes ovarian cancer.
“The reactions of Americans were often visceral and violent,” she added. “One time, a doctor walked in and just said ‘hello’ and the American participants began quoting the Bible and breaking things.”
Sadly, any future projects have been put on pause by the researchers, who are recovering from the broken limbs they sustained after asking Americans to please stay six feet apart for social distancing. “Thank goodness that 4-year-old still had on her white coat,” says Tedbury, “Who knows what could have happened if she hadn’t stopped them…”