17 Aug 2016

Science slaps down chemtrail myth

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:24 pm on 17 August 2016

A survey shows 17 percent of us think those chemtrails in the sky are a clandestine spraying programme designed to control our behaviour. So a group of US scientists went myth-busting.

Contrails near Schiphol Airport, The Netherlands

Contrails near Schiphol Airport, The Netherlands Photo: Wikipedia

A group of US environmental and atmospheric scientists has joined together to bust a persistent conspiracy theory about chemtrails.

There are multiple websites devoted to the theory that the government, or big business, has been using jet aircrafts to spray chemicals from the sky to somehow control us.

A recent international survey showed nearly 17 percent of people believed in the existence of a secret large-scale atmospheric program (SLAP) to be true or at least partly true.

So a team of scientists from different universities across the US conducted a peer reviewed study on chemtrails to debunk the myth.

One them, Steven J Davis, from the University of California had a first-hand experience of the theory’s ubiquity when he was buying new bed.

“The salesman asked me what I did. He found out I was a researcher on climate studies, and he asked me right off the bat; his first question was about chemtrails.

“Made me realise it wasn’t just folks sitting at home in their underwear on the internet, that there were actually every day folks, reasonable people, that had questions about the topic.”

Davis got on the internet himself and found a dearth of credible information about the subject in peer-reviewed literature, so he decided to put the theorists’ claims to the test by asking experts from around the world.

“I’m a scientist and I didn’t have strong evidence one way or another to argue with these folks about the nature of the contrails, the condensation trails that we all see in the sky all the time.”

He says the conspiracy theorists have a range of explanations as to what the purpose of such a spraying programme might be.

“The purposes of such a program are especially divergent; whether it’s mind control, or population control or to control the climate; all of these are brought up by the conspiracy theorists.”

Out of a total of 77 experts, who were consulted about the theories, 76 debunked the various conspiracies. One could not be categorically sure they were not true.

The experts all had rudimentary explanations for the trails based on chemistry and physics – they found nothing sinister.

So what was the point of all this effort?

“There are plenty of folks out there, like my mattress salesman, who are curious about this.

“Now if the Google it they’ll come up with at least one study that expresses the scientific perspective that there are natural explanations for these condensation trials.”

For the true believers, however, he was less optimistic about the chance of enlightenment through science.

“There are people that think the moon is a hologram,” he says