Why do people accept behavioral pseudoscience

Why people believe in conspiracy theories

The earth is flat. Angela Merkel is a reptilian. The world is ruled by the Illuminati. Contrails in the sky are chemtrails that poison us.

For centuries, certain groups have been spreading more or less absurd stories over and over again. Conspiracy theories can't be killed. They boom in times of crisis in particular. Now again. Newspapers, talk shows and internet platforms address all sorts of theses and theories about Covid-19. After "Corona", "conspiracy" is felt to be the most widely heard and written word.

Corona crisis offers good breeding ground for conspiracy theories

Professor Michael Butter from the University of Tübingen has been working scientifically on conspiracy theories for several years. He received his habilitation with an investigation into American conspiracy theories. He is now leading a European research project on the analysis of conspiratorial theories. He is not surprised by the current hype. The Corona crisis offers a good breeding ground, according to Butter. There are hardly any new conspiracy theories, but Corona is simply used as the last chapter, the newest element of conspiracy narratives that have been around for a long time.

"That means, you always blame those you had previously accused. If you always thought beforehand that the CIA was to blame for everything, then this is an American bioweapon. Anyone who previously thought that the Chinese are responsible for all evils, then thinks it's a Chinese bioweapon. If you have any dark elites in your sights who want to reduce the world population or want to enforce a global vaccination requirement, then the WHO and the Gates Foundation suddenly come into play. " Professor Michael Butter

Conspiracy theory: Bill Gates wants global vaccination

He is currently the number one hate figure among conspiracy theorists: Bill Gates is just about to take power in Germany - one believes, among other things, a YouTube video by Ken Jebsen. In "Gates captures Germany", Jebsen explains on his own platform with a serious mine that Bill Gates controls the corona measures in Germany, he wants to introduce mandatory vaccination worldwide, but the vaccines have not been tested enough and a dictatorship is emerging in Germany.

Bill Gates is up to all of this to enrich himself. Many also claim that he wants to decimate the world's population.

Vegan chef Hildmann: Evil forces want a new world order

The vegan chef Attila Hildmann has currently - instead of writing cookbooks - found a new calling: He declares that evil secret powers are currently installing a new world order. In front of the German Bundestag in Berlin, he summons police officers to protect citizens from corrupt politicians and the dangerous pharmaceutical mafia. This can also be seen in a YouTube video.

Bill Gates also comes into play again with Hildmann: He is a Satanist and hangs out with child molesters. The vegan chef is also happy to formulate parallels to National Socialism. The German people will defend themselves, he says, if necessary by force of arms. He was ready to die for Germany. He is one of the new heroes of the conspiracy supporters.

Singer Naidoo supports anti-state citizenship movement

The singer Xavier Naidoo excels by spreading anti-Semitic slogans and supporting the anti-state movement of the Reich citizens. The government wants to kill old people with the corona virus in a targeted manner. Apparently he really thinks so.

All of this hits fertile soil and doesn't sound as harmless as the theory about reptilians or a flat earth. Slogans, pamphlets, protests: clicked and shared a million times. But who seriously believes such claims?

People are bad at dealing with uncertainty

Psychological research on the topic says that people who are difficult to deal with uncertainty and ambivalence are particularly susceptible to conspiracy theories, explains Professor Michael Butter. And no time is more uncertain than the current crisis, in which no one knows what life will be like in a month or a year.

"And in this situation, corona conspiracy theories promise security in two respects. On the one hand, they offer the security that all conspiracy theories offer, namely the supposed knowledge that you know what is happening, who is behind it and where it is going. Obvious It is easier for many people to accept that a group of bad guys in the background are pulling the strings than to accept that they have no idea what is going on or have to say no one is ultimately responsible. " Professor Michael Butter

What is the appeal of conspiracy theories?

Journalists Christian Alt and Christian Schiffer embarked on a journey two years ago for a book and for BR research in order to track down the origin of conspiracy theories. They wanted to find out how to counteract the "madness", so their wording.

You have spoken to many people to find out what makes conspiracy theories so exciting. Why are assumptions that seem impossible with common sense nonetheless so widespread? Many proponents are not only convinced of their theories, but even more of themselves, says author Christian Schiffer: "Conspiracy theorists think they have something like secret knowledge. I'm the smart one, I have the perspective. And are out there yes only the stupid. "

People use conspiracy theories to increase their self-esteem

For many people, this secret knowledge would be an attraction and help them to increase their self-esteem, said Schiffer. That is why such people are so popular with populists: "Conspiracy theories always point the finger at someone responsible, yes science groups, but also individuals like George Soros or Bill Gates. Populists always have a hard time dealing with abstract things, so to speak very easily, if you can say that and the person or the group is to blame, that is why the conspiracy theories are always used in these circles from the left and the right. "

Simple explanations for complex world

About a quarter to a third of the population are susceptible to conspiracy theories, says conspiracy researcher Michael Butter. Violent supporters who are now attacking police officers and civilians at Corona demos, hitting camera teams and journalists, are certainly in the minority - but also a danger to democracy, which they allegedly defend. This also hijacks the protests of those who actually want to take to the streets for more freedom rights or other factual criticism of the current Corona policy.