Humans love their conspiracy theories. From the moon being made of cheese, to illumanti controlling the world, to Flat Earthers, how every ex seems to be out to get us, to the more recent QAnon, we are fascinated by them. And whether you believe them or not, we definitely love diving into the rabbit holes and seeing what deep corners of the human psyche it can take us. Even the definition of what makes a conspiracy changes. Now I’m not a tin foil hat kinda guy, but even things like the FBI assassinations of civil rights leaders – something that has been proven – is mocked by a lot of academics as conspiracy.
A lot of these theories are debunked. The Flat Earth one has been debunked several times over as we’ve flown around the rotundity of the planet, but people still seem to think that the Earth is in fact flat. I’m pretty sure the Earth doesn’t care to be denied one of its basic dimensions. There are 3 dimensions and the Flat Earthers are denying one of them. I wonder if the Flat Earthers are in cahoots with the 2 party system in a plot to destroy thirds of anything! No third eyes, no third parties and no third dimensions.
The question is why are people so attached and attracted to forming and falling down the rabbit holes of conspiracies? According to 2 psychology professors, this attachment to conspiracies is because of our need to control situations that seem uncontrollable. Take a look at the current conditions we are in. During this 9-month Pandemic – which honestly feels like 600 years at this point – we’ve seen conspiracies ranging from the denial of the virus itself to theories that range to say that it’s manufactured and all the way to say it’s an attempt change the very structure of our DNA.
The denial of the virus itself shows us that people were unable to handle the reality of something like the existence of the novel coronavirus. Part of this could be from the fact that conditions pre-virus were so shitty for so many people that they couldn’t accept another pile of shit on their already shit sandwich. No one has ever ordered extra shit on a shit sandwich. Before the virus the normal was the average person had 2-3 jobs to make ends meet, no healthcare and was denied of their basic human rights. Poverty was criminalized and most of needed to believe that the government was doing its best to take care of us, despite the evidence showing us otherwise.
Even when President Trump was airlifted to the hospital with COVID-19, it could’ve been rationalized by conspiracy theorists as an act to keep the Deep State at bay.
We’ve seen this denialism in Democrats. Democrats couldn’t stand to see someone like Donald Trump come into power. Trump was a consequence of a government run by Capitalism. And instead of blaming the system and liberal complacency, they blamed Russia. For four years, they denied this President and looked for every excuse in the book to get rid of him including electing a second old racist white windbag. Hey, why change something that works and clearly old, angry, racist windbags works in American Politics. This gave them the illusion of control, but in reality nothing has changed. Hell even the King Democrat, Joe Biden says nothing will fundamentally change. He ran and won on it!
The only real difference between Joe Biden & Donald Trump is a cocktail of drugs, a college degree and a combover. Lucky for them those words start with a ‘C’ not a ‘K’. Everything else is identical. Their ego, their anger towards someone that points out their horrendous past, their sexism and racism is all the same!
This denialism is a result of trauma. In the case of the Democrats they couldn’t stand to the see the nation they lived in to be what it actually was; A nation built on inequality, injustice and the commodification of anything and everything befitting the pages of a George Orwell novel. I’m pretty sure whatever afterlife George Orwell is in, he’s screaming “I wrote a fiction not a manual!” Instead of reflecting inward they chose to deny and become the champions of McCarthyism in an attempt to Make America Great Again, when it wasn’t really all that great.
I would say America is like that kid that peaked in High School by winning the Football Championship, but this is America’s High School years and they are far from peaking…except in COVID cases. Those are peaking and keep peaking. At this point America is so desperate for greatness that it’ll be great in whatever it can take. Great COVID Spreader EVER!
Trauma plays a role in the denialism of COVID as well. In the US a $1200 stimulus was supposed to last us the year. I joked about this back in March when Steve Minnuchin said that. Clearly he believes that we’re living in 1920 and not 2020 when $1200 is cost of rent for one month. Past that there has been no help for the citizens of this country or small businesses. At the moment this is being recorded, there’s an argument over if we should 1/2 of a pittance or a pittance and half!
We are told we live in a Representative Democracy where we the people use our power at the ballot box to elect officials who will uphold our beliefs and values. So why would these people not uphold the values of the protecting Americans and their livelihoods? If American pride & nationalism has been beaten into you then when you realize that your elected officials are tools of corporate control, it’s easy to fall into the COVID denial conspiracy.
“There’s no way this is real. If it were the government would do more to help its people in the face of the deadliest disease on the planet! This must be a test!” If it is a test, we’re doomed because a majority of Americans are terrible test takers. They get anxious and gassy and usually average at a C-.
Then in order to protect this need for control, we ensure that anyone with opposing information to debunk what we have to say is false or a liar or a treasonous traitor worthy of torture in GBay! Over the last 4 years, progressives that have questioned the McCarthyism pushed by the Democratic Party have been shunned, shamed and ridiculed. It got so bad that pointing out that there are corrupt Democrats and proving it via history and facts will get blocked and called a Trump Supporter. And because there’s no new information coming in it furthers these folks into their denial conspiracy bubble.
It’s hard for us grapple with these truths…at first. The truth being that a government that runs on unfettered Capitalism will in fact sell its people out and ensure that a few stay rich while the rest of us suffer. The same system that gave us Donald Trump gave us the consequences of this pandemic. The system is piling on the trauma. And if we can’t learn to accept these truths more and more people will fall into the rabbit hole of conspiracies.
So what the hell are we supposed to do? In order to combat these conspiracies we need figure out what each of us needs. This involves self reflection. Self reflection within the Democratic Party is virtually impossible. The Party Bosses and the elites haven’t looked in a mirror since their induction into the upper echelons of the party. And Republicans believe mirrors are a myth! In fact there’s going to be a bill that will make looking in a mirror illegal in the next 4 years…unless of course that mirror points how Russia is responsible for everything that’s wrong in your life including why your dad never hugged you. “DAMN YOU PUTIN!” But that doesn’t need to be the fate for the average voter.
The easiest thing to do is evaluate if this party or the government or nation that you’ve believed in all this time upholds your values and beliefs. No? Great, there’s probably a party, group or ideology that does and you should go find it and join it and amplify it! Rather than shun progressives engage in a respectful dialogue with them. Learn from them. And you might be able to teach them too.
As for the COVID conspiracies, I’d say there’s probably a more productive way to ensuring that we get our basic needs covered. Instead of ignoring the reality of over 300,000 dead Americans, maybe you join a movement that asks the American to actually take this as seriously as its populace. This would include not giving into the performative politics and putting forth real legislature that provides financial relief, not just during the pandemic but after as well. If those needs are met, we wouldn’t need to attach ourselves to unsubstantiated conspiracies, but rather focus on creating a better world.
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!