Anyone who’s had an Internet connection for the last decade has most likely heard of the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory: the notion that the white vapor you see trailing planes at high altitudes is not simply condensation, but a sinister mix of chemicals that the government uses to crop dust the population for mind control purposes, weather manipulation, etc.
The evidence for this is absolutely zero, but the number of people who subscribe to and disseminate this unique brand of paranoia (maybe even more incoherent than 9/11 trutherism) is shockingly high — and growing.
The growth of this particular form of mass misinformation, and conspiracy theories in general, has expanded along with the growth of the Internet. That’s what makes a certain ‘social experiment’ by a fellow from the U.K. so interesting.
As reported in 2014 by VICE, Chris Bovey—a 41-year-old from Devon, England, duped chemtrail conspiracists when his plane had to make an emergency landing and had to dump some fuel while in the air. Taking advantage of the fact that he had a window seat, Bovey was able to film the fuel being sprayed from the plane wing.
Touching down, he uploaded the video with a caption that suggested it could be evidence of chemtrails, hoping to mess with a couple of friends who he knew might fall for it. The video now has 1.1 million views, nearly 20,000 shares, and dozens of comments telling viewers to “wake the F up,” or accusing naysayers of being “stupid paid shills.”
Adding fuel to the fire, Bovey then made up a story about how he’d been detained at Heathrow Airport and was interrogated by authorities who confiscated his cellphone. Soon after, the conspiracy site NeonNettle.com ran his story as video proof for chemtrails.
Speaking to VICE, editor of the anti-conspiracy site Metabunk Mick West says that the proliferation of unverified “evidence” online is what allows conspiracy theories like chemtrails to spread like termites.
“People share things that look interesting without really looking into them, and they take the word of whoever’s posting it that it’s a real thing,” West said. “I knew from the start that [Bovey’s video] was some kind of hoax, but people want to have their worldview confirmed, so when they see something that seems to fit their worldview they jump on it.”
Bovey was then invited onto a radio show hosted by Richie Allen, a friend of David Icke — a man who claims we’re being ruled by a group of lizard creatures disguised as world leaders. On the air, Chris revealed that his video was actually a hoax, after which an argument with the host about the validity of the chemtrails ensued. After the Interview, Bovey has hit with a stream of “vulgar abuse” from conspiracy theorists attacking his Facebook page.
You can read VICE’s interview with Bovey about the aftermath here.
Watch Bovey’s video below:
[This article was been updated on 4/27/17 for content] Featured image via Wikipedia