Why do people believe charlatans

Full parks and charlatans : The coronavirus cosmos of the unreasonable

In the late afternoon next to the Golgatha beer garden, on the western edge of the Kreuzberg Viktoriapark. About 30 children still run across the playground, sharing swings, seesaw and slide. Some adults are waiting on the edge.

The man, whose son is waiting at the cable car, says he doesn't want to be driven crazy by the general panic that he will definitely come here in the coming days. Because: "I don't want the overcautiousness of others to be carried out on my child's back."

He doesn't mind that everyone here inevitably touches the same swing chains and the same slide rails.

A young woman is standing on the other side of the square, taking care of her siblings. It's not ideal here, she says. “But we can't stay at home all day.” And it's also dangerous in your own apartment, for example you could slip and bang your head against a wall. There is always a residual risk in life.

By the way, what she can't stand for is people who are now prematurely evaluating people on playgrounds, labeling them as reckless people. The woman says: "They shouldn't pretend that they always do everything right."

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It seems as if two camps have formed in Berlin these days that are irreconcilable: the one, clearly in the majority, who welcome all closings and bans. Those who are also willing to restrict their everyday life even further if it only serves to flatten the curve.

And the others who oppose it because they consider the concerns of the majority to be exaggerated. They attract the anger of the cautious. Because their behavior endangers lives. And because their recklessness could ultimately lead to a curfew for everyone.

A doctor spreads strange theories

Some believe that a virus is rampant. Others believe the only thing that's rampant is panic.

The smaller group feels encouraged by supposed expert opinions such as those of the internist and pulmonologist Wolfgang Wodarg, who was a long-time medical officer in Schleswig-Holstein and was a member of the Bundestag for the SPD until 2009. For days, Wodarg has been spreading the message that the federal government is engaging in “unnecessary, negligent scaremongering”. The quarantine measures and bans are based on "no extraordinary medical risk", the situation in the hospitals is after all completely normal - and there is "nothing at all to suggest that anything could come".

Wodarg criticizes the cancellation of trade fairs, the restriction of travel, the cancellation of football matches, and he supposedly also knows why most scientists and political decision-makers approve of them: It's about financial interests!

The overwhelming majority of those who have been dealing with the coronavirus for weeks are appalled by Wolfgang Wodarg's claims. Party friend Karl Lauterbach, himself an epidemiologist, calls it “absurd and scientifically unsustainable, a real robber pistol”. Christian Drosten, Charité's chief virologist, also rejects them.

Appearances on dubious platforms

To classify how seriously Wodarg's theories are to be taken, it may help to take a look at the environment in which he is spreading his opinions. Wolfgang Wodarg has no reservations about appearing on the platforms of notorious conspiracy theorists. In the past, he was a guest at the right-wing agitator Alex Jones, who believes that Barack Obama is secretly a radical Islamist and that school rampages are only staged by actors.

This week, Wodarg spread his corona theses in an interview with Ken Jebsen. He is also known for crude conspiracy theories, claiming publicly that Israel has been committing genocide for 40 years and that the goal of the Jewish state is nothing less than the "final solution". Wodarg assured Jebsen that there was simply no particular wave of illness: “It's like every year.” 250,000 people have already seen the video.

Thursday afternoon in the park at Gleisdreieck. Here, too, the sensible are in the majority. Strollers make arcs around each other, the minimum distance on the benches is an estimated five meters. Only in the corner by the sports facilities does nobody stick to anything. The skate rink, both basketball courts and the soccer field are full. The six teenagers who are playing under one of the baskets weigh it down. “We are all healthy,” says one. How does he know? "Well, you can see!"

The fact that Germans are divided is also reflected in the way in which they obtain information. On the one hand, the demand for reliable news verified by established institutions appears to have increased. Public broadcasting, for example, was able to benefit from this. The Tagesschau now reaches 17 million viewers, seven million more than usual, which corresponds to a market share of almost 60 percent.

On the other hand, the views of esotericists and conspiracy believers are also spreading. Hundreds of emails and videos are now circulating in Germany in which users spread absurd theories. Sometimes it is claimed that instead of the corona virus, radiation from the 5G cellular network is actually responsible for all symptoms. Sometimes it is said that the discounters' toilet paper is systematically contaminated with the virus.

The shaman advises breathing exercises

The news of a Spanish shaman who recommends yogic breathing exercises as the best remedy against corona also spreads via Whatsapp. He also advises "that you activate your light envelope daily and make yourself strong with sentences like, I Am Presence‘ in order to maintain the perfection of our body and the defense against negative or predatory forces. "

Some proponents of alternative truths do not trust their own beliefs these days. A major demonstration planned for this Saturday in downtown Munich by vaccination opponents - some of whom deny the existence of any viruses - has been canceled as a precaution.

Even esoteric-oriented naturopaths are currently keeping a low profile. They must, however, according to the Infection Protection Act, they are prohibited from diagnosing or even treating the disease caused by the coronavirus - both are reserved for doctors. Anyone who does it is committing a crime.

In the USA, Christian fundamentals are propagating absurd means against Corona. Preachers like Evangelical Rodney Howard-Browne host mass services in churches, urging believers to defy medical advice and join hands. According to Howard-Browne, the church is the safest place on earth, and nothing bad can happen under God's care. In any case, the warnings about Corona are merely an attempt to persuade people to take fatal vaccinations in order to systematically reduce the world population.

A US TV preacher broadcast a mental vaccine to all believers. These, he explained, are now equally protected from Corona and Satan.

Hundreds of Hindus met in Delhi, India, to have a drink that consisted essentially of cow urine. This is the only way to prevent an infection now.

Iranian and Turkish media spread that the virus was invented by Jews. On the popular Turkish television station “A Haber”, which can also be received via satellite in Germany, it is claimed, for example, that Corona is a biological weapon that is used specifically against critics of Israel. So the world should be rearranged, the earth's population decimated.

German right-wing extremists are also sure that Jews are behind the corona virus. The news that Israeli scientists are working intensively on a vaccine is seen as evidence of this. Of course, anyone who invented the virus can conjure up a vaccine at any time.

In the AfD, some do not want to panic either. The Berlin MP Andreas Wild was happy about a well-filled party event in Lichterfelde on Tuesday evening. It was convenient for the counter-demonstrators to cancel their protest due to the corona. Andreas Wild tweeted: "Antifa pinched cowardly."

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