Clouds of conspiracy

Kurt Melville

Look, in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an absolutely ridiculous conspiracy theory!

I’m talking about contrails of course – those thin, long clouds that sometimes appear as aircraft travel across the sky.

According to a survey on conspiracy theories done by Public Policy Polling, nearly 15 million Americans believe these contrails are a conspiracy to spread chemicals over the unknowing public by various world governments.

If you’ve ever viewed comments on any news-related website you would probably think 15 million might be an understatement, while another 24 million Americans are unsure.

The term “chemtrails” has been coined to describe this alleged secret program. The reasons for the existence of the program vary hilariously. Many conspiracy portals point toward an attempt to control global warming, disperse mind control mechanisms or to weaponize our upper atmosphere using nanoparticles of metal and electric currents. My favorite idea is how we are purposefully causing global warming to capitulate to our reptilian overlords.

Not only are most of the ideas funny, they tend to overlap with each other. They also tend to be easily disproved by simple science.

A chemtrail is formed when the hot gases produced by jet engines mix with the cold air of the upper atmosphere. The moisture in the gas quickly freezes in a process that resembles cloud formation and a long, thin cloud forms. If the humidity, pressure and wind speed are ideal, the contrail can remain for extended periods of time.

No evidence has been put forward that has proven chemtrails in a scientific manner and nearly all of the evidence that supports the theory is anecdotal. I know more than a handful of people who believe in this particular conspiracy theory and their evidence usually consists of stories of cloud formation after chemtrails streaked through the sky, or strange patterns of intersection as a result of commercial air lanes.

Many would say this is just a silly idea that people are having fun with, but I am often faced with fierce resistance and the insistence I am a sheep, a term for people who have been brainwashed into believing a false reality.

The survey also included other conspiracy theories with large numbers of Americans believing in many equally ridiculous tales. Twelve million Americans believe lizard-like humanoids have taken control of the world’s political system and a jaw-dropping 40 million believe President Obama is literally the Anti-Christ.

According to CNN reporter Barbara Starr, police reports from the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport claim the shooter had among his possessions a rant that included specific references to the “New World Order,” which is another major conspiracy theory in the United States, as well as material disparaging to the Transportation Safety Administration. The shooter allegedly walked around asking people if they were with the TSA, indicating he was specifically targeting them.

Conspiracy theories aren’t harmful by themselves, but some people end up becoming fixated on them and lose sight of the bigger picture, sometimes with tragic results. There are only 24 hours in a day, so please spend your precious time worrying about relevant issues.