Coronavirus conspiracy theories: Why do people fall for them? | COVID-19 Special

published on July 17, 2020

hello and welcome to yokobit 19 special on dw news i'm monica jones in berlin and today we want to focus on the astonishing rise in conspiracy theories what's that all about well the kobit 19 pandemic is

Scary and people are hungry for answers social media is right with speculation ranging from the plausible to the ridiculous bioengineered weapon bill gates 5g just a few of the covet 19 conspiracy

Theories that abound so how should we deal with all these theories about the origins of the coronavirus dw's yulia vergin talked to social psychologist

Roland imhoff the coronavirus pandemic is the perfect breeding ground for conspiracy theories but why is that from a psychological perspective we would expect conspiracy narratives to

Be particularly popular in times of crisis um and that has to do with the function such narratives have for people because humans are in general are aversive to randomness we do not

Like to give up control and just track our shoulders and say well things happen so uh we are usually looking for explanation of events because explanations uh always also entitle us with a with a possibility

To predict what will happen next and to control the course of events holland imhof defines the conspiracy theory as the assumption that a big event like a pandemic for example

Is casually linked to the secret plan of a few people who seek to benefit at the expense of the public memory conspiracy theories operate

By a kind of onion principle that if you take the official version and you lay conspiracy theory around it thereby often conspiracy narratives come with the illusion of greater explanatory

Power than official version so what characteristics does a conspiracy theory usually have so more links and less coincidences in conspiracy theory every event is connected no matter how

Implausible it seems in this way how one event was caused by the other is far from clear but that doesn't matter for conspiracy theorists what about logical contradictions they

Also aren't concerned by those but who would believe these theories then well what uh the research on it tells us is that this one fact that is closely associated with the punch and conspiracy

Theorists have in terms of granting people an illusion of control and these are people who experience themselves too who have less control over their daily life force or who feel powerless and and uncertain

About their life are more vulnerable to accept conspiracy theories so that's one side of the story and the other side is that conspiracy theories also fulfill a second function we might call a social function they

Grant us with the feeling of having exclusive knowledge of of standing above the naive and and sleeping masses so um that is also a motive many humans have but some humans have that

More than others to want to feel special and different from the rest supporters of conspiracy theories like to claim that they ask critical questions and conduct

Investigative research in fact most of them don't critical investigative research would require all sources to be checked then not only the media would be scrutinized but also professor x on youtube's background

Roland imhoff says that we could learn from science here always question yourself first and always check your sources ah but fact checking can be really time consuming

It's so much easier to agree with whatever truth suits you best you believe the virus was transmitted from animals to humans how naive can you be

The coronavirus is a biological weapon and comes from a laboratory probably from china the us might also be behind it you think billionaire bill gates is a

Philanthropist who wants to support medical research think again bill gates brought the coronavirus into the world to have all humans forcibly vaccinated with his own vaccine while he's at it he injects a chip as

Well to gain total control he probably wants to wipe out the human race almost entirely you think secret societies are a thing of the past

Wrong dark powers and elites are exploiting the crisis to establish a new world order the financial system will collapse your money is gone

Civil rights are abolished are you seriously looking forward to super fast internet with next generation 5g then you probably don't know that it's

5g rays that activate the virus in your body and that the disease is spread by cell phones you think the virus is dangerous now that's a conspiracy theory

the virus is completely harmless like a cold don't worry about it go out party and above all never ever wear a mask now this playing down of the virus

Sounds very familiar i hear that quite often when i meet people pierre lamberty joins us now she's a psychologist at the johannes gutenberg university of minds please tell me why is that why do some

People feel the need to trivialize this pandemic so when you trivialize the pandemic it doesn't seem like a threat to you so it's less dangerous and that's one coping strategy

That you can choose and from germany we know that 17 of the germans believe that the whole thing is a hoax that people just made it up and and and what about those those

Others those who have quite fanciful conspiracy theories uh if i meet one of those how should i deal with with someone spreading such uh stories should i get into a discussion or

Just listen and or leave them behind so it of course always depends on the situation if you see something on social networks on facebook or twitter you won't convince the person usually but you can post something against it

That others that are not quite conspiracy believers yet that they see that this information is wrong and this is especially important when people spread anti-semitic or racist conspiracy theories

In your private situation so when your partner your brother your best friend believes in conspiracy then discussions might help but i would warn that people here start discussing every small detail because

That doesn't help it's often more yes makes more sense if you start thinking what's maybe the function of the conspiracy belief for the person because we know that people who lack control who are

Maybe in a crisis their partner left them they are sick or a global crisis like we have now that they are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories and that this is also kind of a coping strategy for them

Right you just mentioned something very important and we hear that again and again namely that conspiracy theories give people the illusion of being in control and i always ask

Myself why is wearing a face mask keeping social distance good hygiene why is that not seen as at least some level of control that i have personally to stay healthy and get

Through all this it is i mean people choose different coping strategies when you have a breakup you can either start drinking going out a lot or you're doing sports or whatever so there's not

One option but different and for some it's enough to wear health masks or start sewing projects or whatever but others use conspiracy theories as a coping strategy and i mean it has

Also a different angle when you believe in a evil yeah conspiracy then you can perceive yourself as the hero who's fighting that conspiracy and this is for many people i think more appealing

Than just staying at home all right pierre lamberty there from the johannes gutenberg university of mainz thank you so much you're welcome time for your questions now over to derek williams

how should we reopen public schools this is another of those questions where we'll only really know the answer in hindsight but because it's such a politically charged

Topic being addressed in in many different ways by by different countries i wanted to mention a few of the issues and what and what science knows so far first even the famously conservative wh

Now says the virus can hang in the air as an aerosol in enclosed spaces which makes classrooms potentially risky places to be second although many studies support the

Idea that kids are less affected by the disease than adults are there's still a lot of debate about about what part they could play in transmission um so third

Are questions like what about their families or teachers and and other school staff reopening schools of course exposes them to risks as well um finally because kids show fewer symptoms

Than adults do it's clear that in places where the virus is still having a big impact uh schools can only reopen safely when preventive testing can be carried

Out on a wide scale and and there are very few countries that have those capacities in place how long do covered 19 antibodies last this is a key question as the persistence of certain antibodies in the

Blood is is one indicator that an immune response will be swift if you were subsequently reinfected with the virus so it's also an indicator of how long

You might have potential shield immunity um a number of studies on this topic have come out both both published and and still awaiting peer review and they're pretty sobering um the evidence

Is mounting that in many people particularly among those who didn't have severe cases of covid19 levels of detectable long lasting antibodies against the virus fall dramatically

Within a few months of infection so so what does that mean for long-term immunity well we don't really know yet antibodies are only one aspect of the immune response though an

Important one but we do know that the research throws serious doubt on another concept the concept of of immunity passports because because being able to detect antibodies

Is key to that and and they are in many cases um now falling to undetectable levels in people who who tested positive for the disease just a few months ago you

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