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In first-of-its-kind paper, scientists debunk chemtrails conspiracy theory

The results are in, and 76 out of 77 experts agree: There is no truth to the chemtrails conspiracy theory.

Those who subscribe to the theory believe that condensation trails formed high in the sky by jets are actually chemtrails, harmful chemicals being sprayed on an unsuspecting populace in order to control people and manipulate weather patterns. Researchers from the University of California at Irvine, the Carnegie Institute for Science, and the Near Zero organizations asked 77 experts if they have ever seen any evidence proving that chemicals and elements like aluminum and barium are being spewed by aircraft as part of a coordinated effort, and 76 said they have not. The survey results were published last week in Environmental Research Letters, in the first peer-reviewed journal paper addressing the theory.

"The chemtrails conspiracy theory maps pretty closely to the origin and growth of the internet, where you can still find a number of websites that promote this particular brand of pseudoscience," study co-author Steven Davis, associate professor of Earth system science at UCI, said in a statement. "Our survey found little agreement in the scientific community with claims that the government, the military, airlines, and others are colluding in a widespread, nefarious program to poison the planet from the skies." Some subscribers to the theory argue that toxins found in soil and water samples prove that chemtrails are real, but several experts say that those samples were obtained using faulty methods, like placing them in Mason jars with metal lids. Under such circumstances, the data becomes worthless.

"We don't imagine that we're going to sway the beliefs of hardcore adherents to the chemtrails conspiracy theory with this study," Davis said. "But we thought it was important to go on the record with fundamental scientific facts to refute claims that the government is deliberately spreading harmful chemicals from aircraft."