Why isn't C dead yet

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Max Muth

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Max Muth is editor and reporter at BR24 and PULS. He mainly writes on the topics of the Internet, politics, culture and society

Conspiracy theories offer simple truths to a complicated world. How do they come about? And why do some people believe in it and others not?

Truewelle.tv (& copy Turbokultur / bpb)

If all conspiracy theories were true, then the world would be a rather exhausting place: World financial Jewry, the Nazis (from Hollow Earth, whose entrance is in Antarctica), the Illuminati and reptilians from the fourth dimension are fighting in the background for world domination. "Normal" people are only puppets in this game - and they also have to deal with problems caused by aliens, electrosmog and chemtrails. A small glimmer of hope: Elvis and John Lennon are still alive - unfortunately Adolf Hitler too.

Conspiracy theories come in all shapes and colors, from creative spinning to abstruse and confused to anti-Semitic and extremely dangerous. It is therefore difficult if not impossible to make a judgment about them all. Still, they have some things in common.

Doubt plays an important role in most conspiracy theories. A good example of this is the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001: According to the official version, the burning planes that were directed into the two skyscrapers caused the buildings to collapse. Conspiracy theorists object here: But jet fuel burns at a temperature of 800 ° C, but steel girders like those used in the construction of the towers only melt at 1500 ° C. Strange.

Once the doubt has been sown, the conspiracy theorist usually moves on to the second act: the motive. In internet forums, the phrase: "Cui bono?" - in German: "For whom?" What is meant by this is: who would have a motive for such a staging? The self-confident answer of the conspiracy supporter in the case of the World Trade Center: the USA itself, of course, especially its arms industry. The terrorist attack gave them an excuse to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When it comes to the question of the motive, however, conspiracy theorists make it all too easy. Would the answer to the question "Who was it?" always so easy, then murder cases would be very easy to solve and the "crime scene" in the first one would be pretty boring. Often the suspect with the clearest motive is not the perpetrator. And just because I benefit from the fact that my teacher got sick shortly before the exam doesn't mean I poisoned her.

Doubts about the official version of events are often quite appropriate. Journalists can tell a song about it when they argue with governments, authorities and secret services. But the conspiracy theory is cherry-picking doubts. She rarely questions her own assumptions. Conspiracy theorists are therefore difficult to come to terms with with arguments. Anyone who contradicts their version of events is quickly declared to be the stooge of the powerful. Scientists who claim that steel girders are unstable enough to collapse even at 800 ° C are in cahoots with the CIA or are simply ignored.

One of the most important questions in order to test the meaningfulness of a scientific hypothesis is: What would have to happen for the theory to turn out to be wrong for the follower? Scientists can provide an answer to this question, but conspiracy theorists usually cannot. They assume their theory to be true and thus make it invulnerable to possible criticism from the outset.

But why do some doubters turn into investigative journalists or physicists and others into conspiracy theorists? Scientists have been trying to find out for years. An interesting result of their studies: Anyone who believes in one conspiracy theory will most likely also believe in others: Reich citizens therefore often also believe in chemtrails and in the Jewish world conspiracy: there is apparently something like "those at risk from conspiracy theory".

There are also theories about why people believe in conspiracy theories: Conspiracy theorists are usually adamant that they know the truth. They see it as their job to convince the many gullible people who believe the official "lies" of their truth. In their perception, they belong to a small group of missionaries who are on the road on behalf of the good.

Another reason for conspiracy theories: the world is complicated. War and destruction, financial crises, poverty and famine - much of what is happening in the world is difficult to understand. Most people give very little thought to it. Conspiracy believers, on the other hand, look for a reason for everything. And the theories do them a favor and provide simple explanations for a seemingly chaotic world. As strange as it sounds, conspiracy theories can hold people up.

All of this does not mean that all conspiracies assumed are humbug. Anyone who claimed in 2010 that western secret services were tapping into the Internet cables in the Atlantic in order to illegally access data on all earth's inhabitants would have been dismissed as a weirdo. Whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 that this was exactly the case. The NSA scandal shows that mistrust is definitely appropriate.

But conspiracy theories can also quickly become dangerous. Those who assume that they are constantly being lied to will soon no longer believe the warnings from the police, news reports from the media and the recommendations of the World Health Organization. As a result, subcultures emerge that fear contrails in the sky and consider vaccinations dangerous and the Federal Republic of Germany an injustice state that must be fought. The public was able to see in mid-October 2016 what this could lead to. A special task force was supposed to confiscate the weapons collection of a Reich citizen. He shot the police, killing one officer and injuring two.