(WEHT)- Who really shot JFK? Are there aliens at Area 51? Is Bigfoot real? Not only do conspiracies come in all shapes and sizes, they’re also quite popular. A study from the University of Chicago shows that half of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory but that doesn’t mean everyone on board.

Evansville Fire Department Division Chief Mike Larson says he’s not a conspiracy theorist and instead lives “day by day.” German Township Fire Department Assistant Chief Tamara Carr says she doesn’t believe there are aliens at Area 51 or Bigfoot is real.

Jesse Fivecoate, who taught a class about conspiracies last Fall at Indiana University, says the theories offer more than just an explanation for strange events. Fivecoate says conspiracies offer people a means to understand an increasingly interconnected world that he says doesn’t always make sense.

Fivecoate warns, however, that intensely following a conspiracy theory could severely impact someone’s mental health and perhaps lead to psychosis. In 2016, a North Carolina man fired a gun inside a Washington D.C. pizza parlor at the center of a conspiracy theory, though no one was injured.

Vanderburgh County Commissioner Jeff Hatfield says every American should be concerned about the growth of conspiracy theories, especially those surrounding the 2020 election. Hatfield adds that more should be done through history and civics education to combat the spread of conspiracy theories.

(This story was originally published on February 26, 2021)