Why does pride ruin people
Hold the edge, uncle! : Why corona conspiracy believers deserve no consideration
At the beginning a comforting thought: Not everyone who is spreading confused theories these days, radicalization and drifting into fantasy worlds proceed as brutally as with Attila Hildmann.
After the Berlin cookbook author announced a few days ago that he would go underground armed and, if necessary, build an army, he is now speculating about chemtrails, aliens and large-scale monster awakening rituals.
Hildmann claims that he is currently under surveillance by secret services and Knights Templar. And he informs his followers about an imminent career leap: "I will soon be the new head of state here." He was born to prevent the worst at this time.
Attila Hildmann's self-dismantling is bad to look at, the combination of overconfidence and loss of reality is meticulously documented on the Internet thanks to his urge for validity. Not surprisingly, when Hildmann serves up the next nonsense, for example on Saturday the suspicion that Berlin's drinking water was poisoned in order to calm the population.
[You can find the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic here in our news blog. The developments especially in Berlin at this point.]
It is all the more irritating when you suddenly hear conspiracy theories from people who you would never have believed: relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, colleagues. People who were previously thought to be sensible, enlightened democrats. And suddenly they send alleged "evidence" via WhatsApp that a coronavirus does not even exist. That all distance rules are just scaremongering and that there is a diabolical plan by secret powers behind them.
What answer to that? Can these people, at an escalation level between one and Attila Hildmann, still be helped? And if so, whose job is it?
At the beginning of the pandemic, the demand for reliable, verified news by established institutions exploded. The “Tagesschau” reached 17 million viewers, which corresponded to a market share of almost 60 percent.
But the longer the fight against the pandemic lasted, the more arduous it seemed and the more distant it was, the more attractive simple answers and clear guilty parties became. For example: the virus does not even exist, all safety rules are superfluous, secret powers are behind it. That's close to wanting to burn a witch because the harvest was bad, or to chase a Jew out of town because he was always to blame for everything.
Attila Hildmann radicalized herself through “RT”
The simple answers and clear guilty parties are announced on dozens of platforms online. The videos of the right and those who believe in conspiracies are poorly crafted, full of logic errors, moderated by dubious figures who, under normal circumstances, in normal times, would not be trusted.
Attila Hildmann, the cookbook author and future head of state, has also radicalized himself in this way. Eight weeks ago, he says, he was “not at all interested in politics”. But then the Russian-funded “RT” and similar platforms would have “woken up” him.
So far, there are hardly any scientific studies on which people are susceptible to conspiracy theories. One thing is clear: men are more at risk than women. And it hits them especially in phases of life in which they fear isolation, the restriction of personal freedoms and loss of control. So when if not now?
There is a great temptation to call conspiracy theorists “crazy” or “crazy” and to attest to them a mental disorder. It's not fair. Because on the one hand you defame people who are actually mentally ill, who feel a lot of suffering and would never behave as ruthlessly as the aggressive hordes of men on Alexanderplatz on Saturday, even in the greatest need. Even if there were actually individual sick people among the conspiracy believers, remote diagnosis by laypeople would be presumptuous.
Anyone who pathologizes oaths also overlooks the fact that opinion leaders in particular spread their nonsense in a very targeted and conscious manner - and thus pursue interests. Some earn their living this way, for example through advertising income on YouTube or selling books. Others crave attention. Still others simply want to push through their right-wing, anti-Semitic positions. Under the sign of the corona crisis, they are disseminating content that they have been publicizing for years at every opportunity that presents itself.
Conspiracy believers do not deserve pity, but resolute rejection.
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It is said that you have to take their worries seriously and meet them at eye level. But they value any willingness to discuss as a concession and recognition from their counterparts, even as an indication that their nonsense would be an acceptable position.
“Discuss at eye level” here means that both sides present their arguments and, in the end, are proud that they were at least in the conversation. This leads to “false balance” - a misconception that, in the worst case scenario, leads outsiders to believe that the truth is already “somewhere in the middle”. She doesn't do that. When it comes to the question of whether or not it is better not to murder people, the truth is not somewhere in the middle.
There is practically no thought of one side in the debate on how to best deal with conspiracy believers: those who have to listen to all the rubbish. The corona crisis is a burden for everyone, everyone has a package to carry. Where does the expectation come from that sensible people should also show tolerance towards the unreasonable - and react with patience and sensitivity to a stupid comment that is actually a nuisance?
There is no moral obligation to listen to this. It is permissible to scoff at conspiracy believers, even to laugh at them, and to reply to them: “Tell the parking meter, uncle!” Or “Go away, you are embarrassed.” Freedom of expression means that one can say almost anything. It doesn't mean anyone has to listen to the crap.
How do you prove that Santa doesn't exist?
In any case, it would be a waste of time to try to convince a conspiracy theorist of the absurdity of his claims. First of all, it's simply impossible to do that proof to prove that a conspiracy does not exist. You can't prove that Santa Claus doesn't exist either. In theory, it could actually be hiding anywhere in the world. Unless every square meter of the earth's surface is monitored, we can't know one hundred percent - and even then the guy could stay in a cave in the earth's interior or in the clouds or under a cloak of invisibility.
All we can do is gather an overwhelming amount of evidence to show how unlikely the existence of Santa Claus is. That, according to everything we know about human history, the natural sciences, the laws of logic and insider reports about the toy industry, it doesn't exist.
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It is the same with conspiracy theories. One can try to point out to their proclaimers the obvious errors of logic, all weaknesses and improbabilities of the assertions. Journalists who report on this topic sometimes get carried away.
Most recently I had the pleasure with Marion K .. She wrote to me and accused me of lies. I dared to write critically about Attila Hildmann. However, all corona conspiracy theories that this man is spreading are true and proven. If I have a counter-argument, I could bring it up.
I asked her the obvious questions: If there really were these secret, evil forces who had been working in the background for years to establish a world dictatorship, to stage a pandemic in order to kill a great many people through forced vaccination, etc ... What incompetent amateurs have to do these powers please be nice that guys like Attila Hildmann and Xavier Naidoo of all people find out about it?
And if Angela Merkel did not go into quarantine at all in March, as conspiracy believers claim, but was arrested by the Forces of Light because she is a Satanist: Why is she now back to normal in politics and giving press statements? Could the oathers be wrong?
And if there really is a worldwide conspiracy of Satanists who control everything, namely the governments of all countries, the universities, all the major media etc: Why should these Satanists not be able to block the few YouTube channels and the videos delete, in which Xavier Naidoo and company divulged these secrets?
Marion K.'s answers varied from “I didn't bother with that” to “That was what it said on the Internet” to “You have to ask Bill Gates that yourself”. But she had no doubts. After a week of e-mail, she asked me instead why I still hadn't "woken up".
Conspiracy theorists are damn good at ignoring mistakes in logic. With them, Angela Merkel can be a Jew, a robot and an extraterrestrial lizard at the same time. Anything is possible as long as you don't take responsibility for what you said five minutes earlier.
Attila Hildmann says he stands by every word he says - and does the opposite. Suddenly he no longer claims that he is going underground, armed, although his announcement can be checked on the Internet for everyone. It would be so easy to convict him of the blatant lie. His followers don't do it because they desperately want to believe him.
The stars of the scene are divided. Especially on the question of which of them should lead the rebellion against the Federal Republic. So on Saturday three would-be bosses met on the Reichstagswiese: Germany's upcoming head of state Attila Hildmann was in sight of the multiple convicted Reich citizen and ex-NPD cadre Rüdiger Hoffmann, as well as a well-known anti-Semite who loudly announced that he was him "Messiah".
Hoffmann accused Hildmann of attaching "kindergarten ideologies", whereupon the latter approached the citizen of the Reich and reached for his microphone. The police had to intervene, led Hildmann down from the meadow.
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A popular means of discrediting one another is to express suspicion that the other has been smuggled into the movement by the evil forces in order to divide it. Attila Hildmann, for example, speculates on whether the conspiracy theorist Ken Jebsen is actually part of the Freemasons. After all, he often wears a black and white checked scarf that is reminiscent of a checkerboard pattern, which is known to be found in many Masonic boxes.
Your followers do not mind such arguments. They think everyone is right at the same time. Here, too, the core competence of the conspiracy theorist helps them: when in doubt, simply don't look so closely.
Discussing is a waste of time. What helps against this is pressure. In the case of Attila Hildmann, a number of supermarkets reacted and delisted his goods. In a short period of time he has ruined his own company. On his Instagram page you can read how old fans from pre-Corona times are turning away from him en masse. Make it clear that they don't want anything to do with someone like that. That he's enormously uncool. No insight is to be expected from Hildmann himself. But it will save people from drifting into these fantasy worlds themselves.
Update: Attila Hildmann writes that the vast majority of retailers have now discontinued their products and 90 percent of their sales have collapsed. In addition, he is very disappointed by “many out there” who turned against him: “Sometimes I think to myself whether it was all worth it when people abuse me in the media and social media or when people insult me in my inner circle to stab in the back."
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