A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

reader comments: chemtrails

12 June 2009.
I'm sending you a quick note with some feedback on your CHEMTRAIL page.

I enjoy your website and agree with most of your interpretations. Unfortunately, there is much you are leaving out about the chemtrail issue and I think you are doing a disservice to the many SANE people who have been researching and documenting this phenomenon for years.

The extreme view that these trails are being sprayed in order to kill people is NOT shared by most people who are aware of this issue. So to focus on that is to turn people away from looking seriously at what it is most likely a weather modification program.

You need to take a certain amount of responsibility for thoroughly researching issues before you include them in the Skeptics Dictionary. Otherwise people who know better than you about an issue will not bother to read the rest of your website as soon as they realize you're writing off something important without having really understood it.

I am not, as you condescendingly put it, a paranoid conspiracy theorist. I'm one of thousands of citizens who want to know the truth about weather modification programs that exist today. And I'm observant enough to notice the difference between contrails and the incredible aerial assaults on the sky that I witness in my neighborhood on a regular basis.

Please do us all a favor -- including yourself -- and do your homework before you dismiss important issues in the public sphere of ideas and communication that is the Internet.



reply: If you read my article closely and correctly, you should find that I do not refer to the paranoid conspiracy theorists (PCTs) as insane. In fact, these folks are probably as sane as any other group of Americans.

If you read the second paragraph, you will find that I include among the PCTs those who think our government is engaged in a secret weather modification program. Further homework has uncovered that many of the people who think like you do believe that the government is in cahoots with commercial airlines. According to these folks, the government is poisoning our atmosphere with things like aluminum and sulfur dioxide to combat global warming (among other things).

One attempt to test the concerns of these citizens will be laughed out of court, I'm sure. The claim tested is "commercial airlines are loading their fuel with chemicals that will affect weather." Some scientists bought some commercial airline fuel at an airport, burned it in a simulated jet engine, and analyzed the exhaust. They compared the exhaust of airline fuel with that of kerosene, a clean fuel. They found nothing unusual.

However, this will never satisfy conspiracy theorists. The scientists would have to test every fuel of every plane. Nobody claims that every jet is part of the plan. Click here to view a video of the test, if you're interested. But even if the fuel of every commercial jetliner were tested and nothing unusual were found, I would bet that the PCTs would still maintain that the government is poisoning our skies. I doubt that there is any evidence that would convince them otherwise. Why do I say that? Because I have seen true believers confronted with compelling evidence of their errors and seen that it has no effect. Two prime examples are water diviners and applied kinesiologists. Both water divining and applied kinesiology (AK) can be tested using randomized, double-blind controls, which should resolve the issue of their efficacy. Both have been rigorously tested and yet, when confronted with the incontrovertible evidence, groups of practitioners refused to accept the results. Some of the dowsers came up with the ad hoc hypothesis that dowsing doesn't work when the negative energy from skeptics interferes with the process. Some of the chiropractors, when confronted with irrefutable evidence that they were deluding themselves about their abilities to determine the properties of substances by AK, asserted that double-blind tests don't work and that's why they don't use them. There are many more examples I could cite. Evidence is of no importance to the true believer. For the true believer, seeing is not believing. These people are, for the most part, not insane, but function in society in a way that most people would probably find "normal." I find that fact very interesting and it is one reason I have done a lot of homework on why people believe in the palpably untrue, as H. L. Mencken put it.

VL replies:

I have to disagree with a few of your points.

First off, you have lumped everyone who is interested in the chemtrail issue under "paranoid conspiracy theorist" and this label has very derogatory connotations within our society, which I think you must know.

To call someone paranoid is to infer [sic] that in some way they are imbalanced and prone to delusions, which is why it used as an insult, and not as a description of "sane and normal" people.

As it happens, I'm not prone to delusions, nor am I a "true believer," so I don't feel that I fall into any of your categories. I'm a citizen who has noticed significant changes in the sky, abnormal contrail development, and witnessed first hand many anomalies that have yet to be explained.

In fact, not only am I not paranoid, I'm also not a conspiracy theorist. I don't sit around trying to imagine conspiracies. But that doesn't mean I can't notice what is over my own head, and want answers.

So where does that leave me, with regard to your website?

reply: It is true that 'paranoid' is often used in conjunction with a term indicating mental illness, e.g., 'paranoid schizophrenic' and 'bipolar with paranoid tendencies.' However, the term 'paranoid' is also used to mean 'characterized by suspiciousness.' The expression 'extremely suspicious conspiracy theorist' doesn't have a sonorous ring about it. You and the other normal folks who see "anomalies" in the sky and think first of our government secretly trying to alter the weather are overly suspicious.

If you suffer from something that might find its way into the DSM-V, it would probably be described as an excessive fear of not being described or labeled as sane and normal with special sensitivity to words with connotations that suggest delusional tendencies. This disorder is not treatable, however. As far as my website is concerned, you are as normal as the next person.



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