Expert opinion (Violet)
The US public health response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been dismal, characterised by anti-mask behavior, anti-vaccine 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. Anti-science 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 anti-science viewpoints and low science literacy underscores new findings regarding the brain mechanisms that form and maintain false beliefs.