November 28, 2017
Today, airlines are nearly as detested as banks and lawyers—and poor or exploitative customer services are just two of the reasons why.
Indeed, perhaps the most popular conspiracy theory online now vilifies chemtrails—the streaks in the sky deposited by aircraft, which sometimes are speculated to be chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed for unknown (but dangerous) purposes.
Now, a new study based on polling data and online postings–conducted by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Harvard Kennedy School—finds that a humongous number of people believe that the vapor trails emitted by airplanes are part of some weather control or mind control plot, according to a November 27 story on Patheos.com
The Harvard University paper presents the results of a nationally representative, 1,000-subject poll under the auspices of the 36,000-subject 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES); as well as an analysis of the universe of social media mentions of geoengineering.
The data show that about 10% of Americans think the chemtrails conspiracy is “completely true’” and that a further 20% to 30% of respondents think that the conspiracy is “somewhat true”—with no apparent difference by party affiliation or strength of partisanship.
In addition, the researchers said, conspiratorial views have accounted for about 60% of geoengineering discourse on social media over the past decade. The anonymity of social media appears to encourage the spread of this information; as does the general acceptance online of unverified or “fake news.”
“As with so many conspiracy theories,” Patheos said, “people who believe them [think that] there is a vast conspiracy of virtually every institution to cover all these things up. Believing they have secret knowledge of this organization … makes them believe that they are part of some resistance movement to an evil that is all-powerful and scarcely imaginable in its scope, which conditions the more unhinged among them to commit violence .
“And scientists involved in debunking the chemtrail nonsense have received many death threats, as well,” the posting informs us, noting, “This is not just harmless fantasizing. It has a real cost.”
Research contact: (Harvard) firstname.lastname@example.org