Conspiracy theories in corona times: experts give tips on how to deal with them
The corona virus was grown in a laboratory - to harm this or that population group, depending on the view. Elites and secret societies want to create a "new world order". Bill Gates wants forced vaccinations for all of humanity. There are numerous conspiracy theories in circulation during the corona times. But who actually believes this? And how do you best deal with it?
Especially on the Internet and in the so-called "hygiene" demos: conspiracy theories are booming in the corona crisis. But why is that actually the case? And how can you deal with people in your circle of friends who represent such theses? The psychologist Prof. Andreas Kastenmüller and the literary scholar Dr. Niels Penke from the University of Siegen provides answers in a current report.
With ignorance, bizarre explanations are easy
If it had been up to Attila Hildmann, May 15 should have been the day when everything changed. The cook and author of vegan cookbooks had announced the end of democracy and the beginning of a "new world order".
A hostile image: Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who wants to establish a health dictatorship with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
But May 15 has passed and nothing has happened. Nevertheless, Hildmann's theses reach hundreds of thousands of people via social media. And he is by no means the only one who shares such messages.
“Crisis situations provoke conspiracy theories. Wherever we are dealing with ignorance, such explanations are easy, ”explains Dr. Niels Penke from the University of Siegen.
The literary scholar is the coordinator of the "Popular Cultures" research center and deals with the origins and the spread of so-called conspiracy theories. However, Penke speaks of conspiracy myths, "because the theories do not stand up to a fact check".
Predominantly intuitive people are more susceptible
As explained in the communication, the corona crisis provides a breeding ground for conspiracy theories in several ways. “People have a need to explain and predict things. At least that gives them the illusion of control, ”says Prof. Dr. Andreas Kastenmüller, Chair of Social and Business Psychology at the University of Siegen.
According to the expert, the conspiracy theories could help to regain this supposed control and give a positive feeling.
Conspiracy theorists do not accept that a virus spreads to humans through a chain of coincidences and has such a drastic effect that scientists change their minds and politicians change course.
“They recognize patterns and cobble theories together. The less information I have - and in the case of the corona virus it is very little - the easier it is to develop your own coherent story, ”explains Prof. Kastenmüller.
Conspiracy theories are particularly susceptible to people who mostly think intuitively - and less analytically. "Conspiracy theories are popular because they are easy to work with," said the psychologist.
Social media exacerbate the problem
Unlike, for example, the murder of John F. Kennedy or the September 11 attacks, events that also have numerous myths, people around the world are affected this time - whether as health risk patients, professionally because of short-time work and job loss or due to everyday restrictions such as a ban on contacts and curfews.
“So the relationship to the problem is different. And while many are trying to be rational, others are looking for detours. These detours are closer now than they used to be, ”says Dr. Penke. "The content of conspiracy theorists like the virus itself spreads almost exponentially via social media."
Celebrities such as singer Xavier Naidoo, chef Attila Hildmann or former RBB journalist Ken Jebsen reach a large number of people. At some point the topic will be taken up by the classic media.
“Then you get the impression: Oh God, conspiracy theories are everywhere. But that's a mismatch between media representation and the actual size of the conspiracy movement. ”
Learn from history
Nevertheless, Dr. warns Avoid taking the issue lightly. "Everyone can look at the historical consequences of successfully implemented conspiracy theories: for example, ritual murder legends as the historical justification for anti-Semitism that has not yet disappeared from the world."
According to the literary scholar, there is always a “we against them”. Enemies can be governments, the media or capitalism, or groups like the sick.
“The latent danger is: conspiracy theories always provide solutions to the problems. The craft must be put to the crucial people. How exactly that should look like remains open, “says Penke. "According to the motto: We deliver you the bad guy. You decide what you want to do with him. "
The World Health Organization (WHO) and numerous governments have announced in the past few weeks that they want to be more active in the future against conspiracies and absurd coronavirus rumors.
Make your own attitude clear
But what can you do yourself when, for example, the neighbor calls for a protest in WhatsApp chat or the uncle in Bill Gates sees the root of all evil? Not an easy situation, says Prof. Andreas Kastenmüller.
“Followers of conspiracy theories are difficult to convince other opinions. They selectively look for information that fits their opinion. ”However, simply ignoring it is not the best option.
“If I don't say anything, it is considered tacit consent. In any case, you should say that you have a different opinion, ”explains Prof. Kastenmüller.
However, this requires civil courage and ideally good arguments. But even if the latter is currently missing, at least your own attitude should be made clear.
"Even if I can't convince my uncle: Maybe someone is reading in the chat or listening to someone at the table who is rethinking their views." Or the keyword "15. May ”, the day on which no“ new world order ”started. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Universität Siegen: Who believes that? Conspiracy theories in corona times, (accessed: May 20, 2020), University of Siegen