Why are so many people drawn to conspiracy theories in times of crisis?
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To be blunt here ... A lot of the conspiracy theories about COVID seem like a collective psychosis.
I think that misinformation about COVID is more "contagious" (hahaha) because it taps into existing lines of erroneous thought and common delusions.
Ideas of people or entities (like Bill Gates) scheming to control us sounds like schizophrenia. Same with radio waves or 5G signals programming us or physically altering us ... or that some group of people (like Jews) are conspiring against us or want to control us .... classic paranoia.
In light of false beliefs, the differences between the very mentally ill, the less mentally ill, and the mentally healthy, lie in a person's capacity to change their thinking based on verifiable facts.
Somebody could believe that wearing a war helmet will keep out the evil COVID electromagnetic fields. However there is no evidence that such a phenomenon exists, and even more so, that metal will block it.
You can explain germ theory to a sane person and they can dismiss their earlier false cause and effect thinking. But some folks fall in the in between category and others are just plain crazy. Relatively high-functioning psychotics. They might not be so disorganized that they walk on the beach at 3 am wearing their underwear outside of their pants, but they still have trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy.
Others are just undereducated or willfully ignorant and it sounds authoritative, so it seems true.
Covid is a pandemic that has cut deeply into our habits and way of life in ways that other events don't. So there is likely to be a lot of paranoia about it. And it has effected people in similar ways so it makes sense that there are common paranoia and delusions about it. So that experiment about people not being as capable of culling fake news from a series of COVID headlines, as they are of spotting false news about other issues, makes sense. There is just far less mass hysteria about whether gas prices are up or down by a few pennies, or about the resignation of a Canadian parliament member or whatever.
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