A bit of simple math was used to debunk the chemtrail nonsense conspiracy recently. Over at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry’s website there’s a great piece explaining why there simply aren’t enough pilots, planes or chemicals for the chemtrail silliness to be true:
A typical crop duster might use seven ounces of agent diluted in seven gallons of water to cover one acre of land. Chemtrail “people dusters” would use a similar concentration to cover the entire United States, just to be safe. For 2.38 billion acres of land, the pilots would then need—for just one week of spraying—120 billion gallons of these cryptic chemicals. That’s around the same volume as is transported in all the world’s oil tankers in one year. And such an incredible amount of agent would need an incredible number of planes. Considering that a large air freighter like a Boeing 747 can carry around 250,000 pounds of cargo, at the very least, the government would need to schedule four million 747 flights to spread their chemicals each week—eighteen times more flights per day than in the entire US.
Unless a plane could make multiple runs per day, a true chemtrail conspiracy would need 2,700 times as many 747s as have ever been constructed.
And the article continues deconstructing the numbers and shredding the conspiracy. As have so many clear-headed writers in the recent past, all of whom are ignored by the True Believers in this, the nuttiest of notions.
I wonder if the woman holding the sign in the photo above realizes her tautology. Yes, anyone who is “aware of” (i.e. believes in) chemtrails will be sickened the same way medieval people were infected with disease by believing in demons and fairies as their cause. Belief doesn’t define truth nor does believing in an untruth make it a truth, no matter how many wingnuts believe it.
Despite all the science and the math, despite the explanations, despite careful and considered debunking by people who have experience, education, doctorates and degrees, and basic common sense, chemtrail conspiracists continue their madcap race to prove facts, science and logic don’t matter on the internet. On the internet what matters is being able to have your say, no matter how stupid, pointless or wrong. And to say it more stridently than the level-headed, reasonable folks.
It’s a race to the bottom. Who will get there first: New World Order conspiractists, 9/11 conspiracists, reptoid consipracists, Bigfoot conspiracists, anti-vaccine conspiracists… and with them run the believers in the Illuminati, angels, ghosts, creationism, flat Earth, geocentric universe, homeopathy, reptilians, Atlantis, Lemuria, UFOs? The Net is laden with such claptrap. The tin-foil-hat brigade on the march, defending people from reason.
Why do people need to believe in this stuff? Superstition and gullibility can’t account for all the believers. Nor all those folk who get hoodwinked into tagging along with the bandwagons. In part it’s because the technology of social media allows those bandwagons to roll easily along without the annoying hindrance of science, common sense or critical thinking.
Eric Hoffer wrote in his book, Reflections on the Human Condition,(1973):
One wonders whether a generation that demands instant satisfaction of all its needs and instant solution of the world’s problems will produce anything of lasting value. Such a generation, even when equipped with the most modern technology, will be essentially primitive – it will stand in awe of nature, and submit to the tutelage of medicine men.
Saner and better-educated people than I have debunked this nonsense many times in the past, and will continue to do so, but unfortunately they are outnumbered by the very vocal, very loud wingnuts who help spread this mind-eating crap. So buckle in and read the rest.
In California’s Shasta County this week, county supervisors held a four-hour public meeting on chemtrails and in the end voted unanimously to “learn more about chemtrails.” Unanimously! And FOUR HOURS! It would take me under 30 seconds to say to the audience:
“There is no conspiracy. Your theories are superstitious twaddle. Your evidence is pseudoscience claptrap. There are no chemtrails. Thanks for coming. Go home.”
These are public officials; they’re not supposed to bow to pressure from special interest groups or wingnut lobbies. Here’s my simple message to them, politician to politician, about so-called chemtrails: They’re imaginary! What more do you need to know? Say so and get about your real business.
Of course, it’s California, so you have to figure conspiracy theories are probably taught in their schools and maybe live in their genes. But still… these people are seriously wacky even for California:
Supervisor Pam Giacomoni said it was important to listen to people’s concerns in the community and dig deeper when presented with compelling, fact-based information.
“They say they have a lot of science, they presented us a lot of information and I think it’s important for us to have that public discussion,” she said.
I suppose you guffawed too, at her comment about these wingnuts having “a lot of science.” I sure did. They have an equal amount of Martians on their side. And pink unicorns. Why aren’t Shasta County politicians voting on a public discussion about pink unicorns? They are no less real than chemtrails, and no less deadly.
In response to this vote, an Arizona blogger wrote in The Wonkette:
We suppose that wanting to reassure people that they’re not being bombarded by super secret weather control (or mind-control) chemicals from 35,000 feet may be an admirable impulse, but it also strikes us that Ward is missing out on an important part of the problem: She’s going to have a government sciencey person talking to people who believe that they are in fact being bombarded by super secret weather-control (or mind-control) chemicals from 35,000 feet. It’s a given that anyone from state government is in on the cover-up. We feel sorry for the poor folks from the ADEQ who have to give that presentation — but we sure wish we could be there, too.
The writer adds, “That’s really some weapons-grade stupid there.” To which I must add a hearty, “Here, here!”
In an interview, airline pilot Patrick Smith scoffs at the notion of a worldwide conspiracy to spray chemicals from commercial aircraft:
“Are you telling me with 12,000 daily commercial flights and 50 to 60 thousand active pilots that no one has come forward to this point?” he asks. “Not one jet fueler, mechanic, airline employee? What an amazingly successful theory that no one has come forward.”
And as Discovery News noted:
There’s no evidence that so-called chemtrails are any different from ordinary airplane contrails. Indeed, given how visible and common the chemtrails supposedly are — and the fact that there are many thousands of private pilots flying everything from small, fixed-wing aircraft to hot air balloons to ultralights that could presumably collect samples of these mysterious chemtrails — the fact that no evidence of them has surfaced is remarkable.
Furthermore, there’s no indication that all of these supposed chemtrails are actually doing anything: If the mysterious chemicals are some sort of mind controlling drug or mass experiment, it seems that whatever is being used is ineffective because people act the same with or without chemtrails overhead. It seems the only people chemtrails have an effect on is conspiracy theorists.
In another, related story on Discovery News, writer Benjamin Radford cheerfully discounts claims conspiracists made about a recent video purporting to show evidence of chemtrails:
First of all, it seems very unlikely that passenger airlines at commercial airports like the one seen in the video would be used in top-secret military experiments. Any passenger seated in a dozen or more window seats behind the airplane wings would have a clear view of any supposed “spraying” going on — which kind of defeats the purpose of having a super-secret conspiracy spraying plan no one can know about.
Secondly — despite claims to the contrary — the video does not show anything being sprayed from the wings; instead the “mysterious” trail is merely created by the air disruption as the plane’s wings fly through the fog.
Several letters published in the Cape May County Herald have decried the threat of chemtrails (why do editors allow such codswallop to get in print? Oh wait…. I remember… controversy=readership). One writer linked chemtrails with GMOs, making a complete jump over the hurdle of logic without touching it. However, this opened a new line of examination for me, and I found several other wingnut sites that linked them (I have already written about the conspiracy association between imaginary chemtrails and the self-diagnosed but equally imaginary, self-diagnosed “disease” Morgellons.)
I suppose when you’re already crazy paranoid, adding another irrational fear into the mix doesn’t make the water any deeper. But when I read this, I began to worry more about who these people are (and whether they are armed…):
Slow death that bleeds the lifeblood out of its own fellow citizens is the status quo system that is here to stay in the US. Obamacare or not, a firmly entrenched system that is so heavily stacked against the people always remains the same. It is part of the oligarchy’s eugenics plan to kill off 90-95% of the total global population. So clearly it is in both the food and healthcare industries’ best sinister interest to intentionally keep people sick with chronic illness and disease, paying anywhere from two or three times up to ten times the amount of money for the same healthcare services than the next most expensive nation on earth. This is how sick, twisted and corrupt our system in America has become. Between this murderous, morally bankrupt food and healthcare systems, combined with the widespread use of toxic vaccines and decades of concentrated aerial spraying chemtrails of toxic metals from the skies, and the globalist agenda at will imposing destabilization, countless wars on the horizon and impoverishment throughout the world, millions and perhaps billions of humans will soon be dying by diabolical design, compliments of the oligarchs that comprise less than one quarter of one percent of the world’s population.
That’s the first time I’ve seen Obamacare (the conspiracy theory target of the poorly-educated American uber-right and its Tea Party members who fear any government aid supplied by a Democrat..) linked to chemtrails, the New World Order and GMOs. Another post on that site also wraps them together into a frothing conspiracy rant that makes me want not to meet this writer on a dark street:
The oligarch NWO agenda behind every major news event in the world today, be it domestic or international, is a globalized full frontal assault on all humans everywhere currently inhabiting this planet. Oligarchs after all are equal opportunity murderers committing genocide against the entire human race. Their globalist agenda supersedes race, nationality, religion or culture. Eugenics is eugenics any way you slice it. Wholesale human slaughter – be it fast or slow – amounts to the same sinister motive and agenda, be it through Monsanto and GMO’s, chemtrails, fluoride, vaccines, war, famine, disease, civil and economic collapse, governmental tyranny and oppression simultaneously manifest through political destabilization, polarization, militarization, globalization and privatization. The particular strategic methodology implemented hardly matters when the diabolical objective and outcome are all the same.
Similarly, on one of the main wingnut-chemtrail sites, I found this:
Organic farmers and our food supply have a huge environmental hazard to contend with compliments of the U.S. government – chemtrails. Chemtrails are chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for purposes undisclosed to the general public in programs directed by various government officials. These sprays pollute the soil, water and air while compromising the health of humans, animals and plants. But wait – Monsanto has developed seeds that will weather the effect of the sprays, creating a tidy profit for the corporation while organics suffer.
Monsanto’s GMO seeds are specially designed to grow in the high presence of aluminum. Aluminum is the chemical found in chemtrails. If this poisoning continues, true organic farming may become impossible in the not so distant future. When aluminum pollutes soil and water it kills crops. It collects in people and causes diseases!
We might need a whole new definition of gullibility and paranoia for these people; a neologism that blends the two terms. Para-gulli-noia? Gullibi-noia? Boneheaded and stupid no longer cut it as descriptive adjectives.
But wait, there’s more. There’s always more. This loony site links chemtrails, vaccines, Bill Gates and GMOs:
The video contained in this article has many eye opening points and facts concerning Monsanto, GMO’s, Vaccines, Chemtrails, Bill Gates and their connections. Many of us who are aware know or suspect there is a connection (the big picture) but lack the tie points. This video provides some vital tie points and the possible motive! This video is not extremely detailed but does give references you can research (so be prepared to hit the ‘pause’ button). We have and it scares the hell out of us, but you judge for yourself …
Personally, I don’t need to watch a video filled with pseudo-science, fear, suspicion and silliness to judge for myself that this stuff is nuts. (Poor Bill Gates; he gets dragged into such muck simply because he invented a computer operating system…)
Here’s one site (ironically called “Truth Theory”) that ties chemtrails, vaccines, “Flouridated Water” (sic) and fracking (the solution to which is New Age “cleansing,” itself another pseudoscience folderol..):
From the chemtrails being sprayed over our neighborhoods to the poisons killing our bees and making our food toxic ‘medicine’ we need a way to purge the deadly elixirs of a greedy government, owned and run by corporate interests. For the sake of keeping your attention, I won’t go on ad nauseum about fluoridated water, oil spills, and contaminated air and water due to fracking and mining.
Someone who calls herself a doctor (I have no proof this claim is true ,and she doesn’t specify which kind of doctorate she has… apparently she has a master’s degree in art history, not a doctorate, which does not qualify her to write authoritatively about general science, let alone atmospheric science… she styles herself as an “environmental writer and educator” much like Kim Jong-un styles himself a fashion icon…) wrote on a site called Brain Damage (which I can only assume refers to something its writers suffer from):
This is one of the most dangerous, covert, and global operations to which we have ever been exposed. It is a major contributing factor to our diminished cognitive functions.
Scary, covert, global operations – must be the Illuminati at work. Or aliens. Or worse: Liberals. Clearly art historians know more about this stuff than everyone else.
No one has (yet) developed a safe haven for critical thinkers, so we suffer all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune at the hands of these wingnuts. No me or you, kind reader, of course: we’re not gullible enough to fall for it. but others clearly do. Shasta County politicians did.
Not long ago, another video emerged online purporting to “prove” that dastardly pilots were pumping toxins into the atmosphere, for nefarious (but inexplicable) purposes (rather oddly, the rest of the crew and the entire passenger list was oblivious to loading these thousands of litres of toxins and of the subsequent spraying…). The True Believers of course accept it as gospel, never imagining anyone who posts something they agree with could be wrong, could lie, or would doctor images they want to see. or might be hoaxing them.
You can’t watch the original video – it was apparently taken down from YouTube, allegedly for copyright violation (another conspiracy?) – but you can read about it on several sites, including Doubtful News. Basically it’s cloud formation due to fluid dynamics and environmental conditions. Nothing secret, scary or even unusual. Unless you’re critical-thinking-challenged, in which case it’s clearly a conspiracy to spray chemicals around the planet by a million jet planes, their pilots, crew, ground crew and every government on the planet. Sharon Hill writes:
Clearly there are trails from the plane. Contrails or condensation trails often come from the aircraft exhaust as the moisture heated by the plane condenses in the cold air up there. But it doesn’t just have to be from exhaust. It can be from the air disruption by the wings that cause vortecies in the air, change the pressure and cause… clouds. You can see this yourself if you are viewing the wing from inside the plane. There is nothing being sprayed from the plane.
Don’t try to convince me: look to your fellow Americans. Arizona residents seem to have been infected with this chemtrail looniness of late. According to the International Business Times, instead of seeking a sane, scientific answer for something they don’t understand, they demand an official investigation into it (rather ironic that they would ask the government to investigate what the wingnuts allege as a government conspiracy…):
Residents in small communities throughout western Arizona are continuing to press for a state investigation into the conspiracy theory that chemtrails, the condensation that lasts after a jet flies overhead, are dumping chemical or biological agents on their towns.
The widely debunked theory, first posited in the 1990s, was the subject of a meeting convened by Republican state Senator Kelli Ward, of Lake Havasu City, in which she called on members of the Arizona Department of Environmental quality to address the audience.
The article goes on to state that, “The supposed evidence has been debunked countless times by scientists and meteorologists who have explained that contrails are nothing more than vapor trails created by water gasses found in the exhaust of aircraft engines.”
You might want to read the history of the chemtrail conspiracy, a multi-part assessment of how this madness came to dominate the wingnut sites. And lest you forget, the chemtrail loonies are in good company: the rainbow-sprinkler conspiracy people who believe their water is being poisoned so it makes rainbows from sprinklers… (no, this isn’t a parody of the pseudoscience sites, it is really one very stupid person… see for yourself:)
If you think this nuttiness is restricted to America, it was recently in the news in Malta “raised… by a foreign resident who wrote in to a local newspaper, reporting that he had seen a large four-engined jet, flying at 30,000 feet southeast over Marsascala ‘deploying a chemtrail’.”
The newspaper seemed to take great delight in debunking this rubbish:
Subscribers to the chemtrails theory are convinced that the purpose of the claimed chemical release from aircraft may be for any number of reasons. Among those cited are psychological manipulation, human population control, weather modification, chemical/biological warfare and solar radiation management.
The conspiracy believers are worried that the trails could cause health problems and insist they can tell a chemtrail from a contrail from the longer amount of time it hangs in the air. However, as any aviator will tell you, this varies according to how much humidity is present in the atmosphere:
“Contrails are condensation from jet or piston engine exhaust. They are as dangerous as clouds. The only chemical in some jets is a product which keeps jet fuel from freezing. Avgas has no moisture in it and doesn’t freeze. There is no conspiracy, who would want to do this anyway?” asks a jet pilot.
And it has reached New Zealand where it has come into play during their election:
The Conservative Party has sunk tens of thousands of dollars into facing its “loony” label head-on, and chief executive Christine Rankin says the perception is “far from reality”.
The party held its annual conference at the weekend, in which leader Colin Craig announced binding referendums would be a “bottom line” for any coalition negotiations.
Ahead of the conference, Rankin said the party would be working hard to dispel the “crazy tag”.
Most of the perceptions centred around the party’s leader, Colin Craig, who had been caught out in interviews after refusing to deny the existence of chemtrails, or that the Moon landing was a fake.
Someone has to create a social media site – maybe whole new internet – where wingnuts and conspiracy advocates simply aren’t allowed to post their pseudoscientific rubbish. A place for adults who have open minds and don’t post claptrap or cute kitten photos. Where you don’t need artificial friends to measure your self-worth. Ah, wouldn’t that be wonderful….