Discussion: False memories and "No persistent trails in the past"

mrfintoil

Senior Member.
I know there are several threads already showing photographic evidence of contrail persistency prior to 1990s, but this thread is aimed more at discussing the psychological aspects of false memories in relation to the notion that there were no persistent contrails in the past.

From my many years of discussion I've encountered believers in "chemtrail" conspiracy, significantly older than me, claiming that they have no memory seeing any persistent contrails in the past. These people usually hold the fact that I am significantly younger as an argumental disadvantage against me since I cannot have any memory of persistent contrails before I was born (in the 80s).

Given the knowledge that contrails can very well persist under the right atmospheric conditions, where does this notion that jet trails "did not persist" prior to a certain point in time, usually one or two decades in the past?

I recently stumbled upon this TED talk with Elizabeth Loftus about false memories.

I've long suspected that false memories planted by the suggestive nature of "chemtrail" conspiracy is to blame for this rather widespread notion.

Why does this suggestive notion exist in the first place? I do believe it's the end product of a longer chain of arguments and counter arguments, such as the following:

  • Nasty looking jet trails are evil - they are called chemtrails.
But what about contrails?
  • You can tell them apart, short persistency - contrail, long persistency - chemtrail.
But didn't jet trails persist in the past?
  • No, jet trails did not persist in the past because I have no memory of seeing it.

I have mentioned in other threads that information we do not find relevant in our daily life is discarded by the brain to make way for information we find more relevant. Long before "chemtrails" became a widespread belief, most "ordinary" people did not pay attention to these trails. Contrails were also less frequent due to the much less air traffic at the time. If you had no reason to study contrail behaviour in the past, the chances that you saw a persistent contrail and actually paid attention to it is very small. It's like most people don't care about how natural clouds are formed, and most people cannot recollect what kind of cloud formations they saw despite being surrounded by clouds all day. We just don't pay attention to things we find irrelevant.

The notion of "no memory of not seeing in the past" is what I believe to be the end product of this false memory phenomenon together with the suggestive nature of "chemtrail" conspiracy. It is suggestive due to the many paranoid elements common in the conspiracy mindset. Or to put it simple: these beliefs scare believers into submission because believers are convinced the cost of doubting is too high if they are wrong.

But what about those that do remember seeing persistent contrails in the past? Aren't they subject to the same false memory phenomenon? Could it be that faked old photos have us believe we have seen persistent contrails in the past?

  • Then you must assume that every photo showing contrail persistency in the past is fake, even the physical copies.
  • You must assume that all people who spent their entire lives working and studying aviation, clouds, atmospheric phenomenon and plain physics must have a false memory and false understanding concerning contrail persistency and natural physics.

It immediately becomes obvious which side of the argument is producing least amount of unanswered questions, loose ends and speculation. It becomes obvious what side relies upon extraordinary claims. It's the side that pushes the "chemtrail" conspiracy narrative.


■ Addenum: The process of filtering unnecessary/redundant information is called Sensory Gating.The attention-deficit effects generated by sensory gating is commonly known as Inattentional Blindness.


Please note: this is not a thread to discuss whether contrails can or should persist. It is solely to discuss the psychological aspects of "chemtrail" belief, specifically the claim that "no persistent contrails existed in the past".
 
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Bill

Senior Member.
I grew up on Air Force bases. There were lots of contrails and when conditions were favorable they could last quite a long time. I will admit that after a while looking at contrails can get rather boring so it may have just "seemed" like they lasted forever. Prior to the whole chemtrail panic I'm not sure how many sat around timing the duration of contrails.
 

Belfrey

Senior Member.
Good post. The same thing applies to claims that natural cloud formations didn't occur in the past - most commonly the undulatus clouds being called "HAARP clouds", but I've seen pictures of a wide variety of common, normal cloud formations being called "chemclouds" or "chemdumps" on chemtrails-related Facebook pages.

People naturally assume that their own perceptions and memories are perfectly accurate and reliable. But scientists who study the topic know that they are actually quite selective and malleable.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This is a favorite topic of mine, quite often this is all that a belief in chemtrails really boils down to, and it's VERY hard to convince someone their memory might not be accurate.

It was the subject of one of my earliest posts:
http://contrailscience.com/hazy-memories-of-blue-skies/

And a more recent one focussing on recollections of the color of the sky:
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/debunked-the-sky-was-bluer.494/

I (as "Uncinus") started this thread on ATS along the same lines, which got some spirited responses.
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread704126/pg1

And this thread about when people first noticed them
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread703287/pg1
 
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Jay Reynolds

Senior Member.
When dealing with this, what you can often do is to ask the person when and where they first saw a persistent trail. Especially for recent adopters, they will say, 2005-2010 etc. What you can then do is point towards a past persistent "chemtrail" report from that area. A good place to do that is at the chemtrailcentral.com forum. There you will find many of these reported beginning about 2001 when the forum first opened. You can find people inssting "we were hammered" on such and such a day years before the recent adopter said he/she first saw the "different" trails. At that point, the recent adopter would have to explain why he/she never noticed these trails which had been seen by others. The most likely reason is that they really weren't brought to their attention, because they certainly can be shown to have been there for years. I'm not saying this will convince them, but it might be worth pointing out that people often don't notice things until they are looking for them.

Here is how to zero in on what you are looking for:
Go to Google advanced search:
http://www.google.com/advanced_search

Limit your search to the specific domain, chemtrailcentral.com

and put in whatever keywords you think may apply. For instance, when working with Woody you could use "chemtrails over Minneapolis"
https://www.google.com/search?as_q=chemtrails over minneapolis&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&lr=&cr=&as_qdr=all&as_sitesearch=chemtrailcentral.com&as_occt=any&safe=images&tbs=&as_filetype=&as_rights=

Which leads to this posting:
http://www.chemtrailcentral.com/forum/msg11724.html

and refers to this site with 8 pictures from 2001 over that area:
http://www.rense.com/general23/cmt.htm

Woody says he first saw persistent contrails in the area in 2010:
We started to notice them in the spring of 2010 and they seemed to increasing more as the year went on, it appears to be the same today as it was in 2011

But they certainly were documented in 2001 around his area, even among chemtrail believers, so if he didn't notice them until nine years later it's pretty likely he simply just wasn't paying attention until years later, and by implication wasn't paying attention even before 2001. I guessed correctly that he would be a perfect example of a late adopter.

This is an example of how you can work against false memories of no persistent trails, even by using old chemtrail believer reports. They debunk each other!
 
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JRBids

Senior Member.
On thing I've seen from fellow Long Islanders is the claim that when they were kids there were big puffy clouds, and they'd stare at them and think they looked like rabbits, or whatever. Around 1968, when I was about 14, we took a trip to Colorado. I immediately noticed large thunderheads, towering clouds, that took many different shapes. I'd never seen such clouds back home. We just don't get those kinds of clouds on the island. Yet people here keep claiming they saw them when they were young and don't anymore. The most we get are like big cotton balls. On later trips cross country with my friends when I was college age, again I'd notice how different the clouds in the mid west and west looked from the clouds we have here on the island.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
This relates to some of what the "Planet X" people claim as effects of that supposed body's presence- that Earth has shifted on its axis, causing a new global "tilt" and altered sunrise/sunset locations on the horizon. Those claimants are just SURE that the sun never rose/set "THERE" before because they don't REMEMBER it ever doing so. Or, conversely, they insist they DO remember where the sun "ALWAYS" used to set. They are deeply offended and defensive if you suggest they could be mistaken. Of course, they are wrong and easily proven so.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
This relates to some of what the "Planet X" people claim as effects of that supposed body's presence- that Earth has shifted on its axis, causing a new global "tilt" and altered sunrise/sunset locations on the horizon. Those claimants are just SURE that the sun never rose/set "THERE" before because they don't REMEMBER it ever doing so. Or, conversely, they insist they DO remember where the sun "ALWAYS" used to set. They are deeply offended and defensive if you suggest they could be mistaken. Of course, they are wrong and easily proven so.

Again, the problem is that they never paid any attention to something, then all of a sudden noticed, but did not do any real research into whatever it was. Whether it was the location of the sun setting, a contrail in the sky. . . whatever it was the original lack of observation shows a disinterest in the world around them, which in my opinion explains why they are so easily lead down the wrong path. Lack of curiousity.
 

Cairenn

Senior Member.
I had mentioned somewhere, that I never remembered looking at clouds and seeing puppies and bunnies and such in them. DUH. The light bulb comes on. Dallas had a severe drought in the mid 50s, it broke in 1957. The tornado that sent to books to learn about weather happened in 1957.
 

skephu

Senior Member.
I think a simple reason why many people don't remember seeing persistent contrails is that when we see a persistent contrail, the airplane is usually long gone, or is long outside our field of view. We just see the line-shaped cloud and our brain doesn't make a connection between the cloud and an airplane. We just don't think anything about the long cloud. When we see a short trail, we always see the airplane along with it. So the association of short trails with airplanes is very strong, but we don't associate long trails with airplanes.
 

skephu

Senior Member.
Also, when we see an airplane with a short trail, we can actually see the plane moving, and it's interesting to watch where it is going. But when we see a long trail with no airplane, there is nothing interesting to watch; it's just a cloud that sits there. So we don't pay attention to it.
 

M Bornong

Senior Member.
Thanks for bumping this post. It reminded me of the survey I created four years ago. I've just promoted it again on Facebook, I'd like to get it over 1000 samples.

I'd appreciate it it people could share this post on Facebook groups, to try to get as large a sample as possible.
https://www.facebook.com/Metabunk/posts/1114510361906796
I took this when you first put it up. You aren't throwing out the old data and starting fresh are you?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I took this when you first put it up. You aren't throwing out the old data and starting fresh are you?

No, it's been trickling over the years. Less than 500 entries though. I just though I promote it again for a few days to try and get a bunch more, then knuckle down and publish something.
 
I've always known about contrails ... my little brother wanted to be a pilot for as long as I can remember. But speaking of selective memory, my grandpa's pickup had a sliding rear window, and I assumed that all pickups did. Then I bought one that didn't, and it was only then that I noticed lots of pickups had solid rear glass.
 

M Bornong

Senior Member.
No, it's been trickling over the years. Less than 500 entries though. I just though I promote it again for a few days to try and get a bunch more, then knuckle down and publish something.

I won't take it again, I've passed it around to a couple groups. Tomorrow, I'll try putting it into a couple of pro-chemtrail groups with an alt account. I'll probably be called a shill and get booted, but we'll see.
 

Dan Page

Senior Member.
I won't take it again, I've passed it around to a couple groups. Tomorrow, I'll try putting it into a couple of pro-chemtrail groups with an alt account. I'll probably be called a shill and get booted, but we'll see.
Is that really where we want to get results from? I don't know, maybe it is, but in my mind we should be trying to get results from the general population as a whole and not from any one group. It would be helpful if we could establish a % of the population that believes that chemtrails exist, and maybe set a baseline for future polls. Just my 2 bucks worth, (we don't have pennies in Canada anymore :) )
 

cloudspotter

Senior Member.
Is that really where we want to get results from? I don't know, maybe it is, but in my mind we should be trying to get results from the general population as a whole and not from any one group. It would be helpful if we could establish a % of the population that believes that chemtrails exist, and maybe set a baseline for future polls. Just my 2 bucks worth, (we don't have pennies in Canada anymore :) )

Around 5%

https://www.metabunk.org/conspiracy...arty-age-race-splits-on-chemtrails-etc.t1345/
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Is that really where we want to get results from? I don't know, maybe it is, but in my mind we should be trying to get results from the general population as a whole and not from any one group. It would be helpful if we could establish a % of the population that believes that chemtrails exist, and maybe set a baseline for future polls. Just my 2 bucks worth, (we don't have pennies in Canada anymore :) )

The point of the poll is to determine when people interested in the chemtrail theory first noticed persistent trails, not how many people believe in chemtrails. The poll is a too self-selecting to represent the general public. But I think it's a good sampling of people interested in chemtrails. It's about 50/50 with believers and non-believers (and very few "not sure")
 

Dan Page

Senior Member.
The point of the poll is to determine when people interested in the chemtrail theory first noticed persistent trails, not how many people believe in chemtrails. The poll is a too self-selecting to represent the general public. But I think it's a good sampling of people interested in chemtrails. It's about 50/50 with believers and non-believers (and very few "not sure")
Ok, fair enough, will be interesting to see what kind of results we get from the chemtrail believers.
 

Dan Page

Senior Member.
Older (up to 2013) unanalyzed results here:

The comments are interesting
I did read through most of the comments, interesting indeed. Funny the extremes, from thanking you for putting up such an informative site, to calling you a government shill or worse. And that was 3-4 years ago! What's it going to be like now that more of them know who you are, and the chemtrail movement has gotten bigger and more "educated" by DW, MJM, RT, MSM, et al. And of course all the "evidence" and the whistle blowers :rolleyes:, and the "lawsuit" against geoengineering. If the survey is aimed at the chemtrail activists, then I would expect close to 100% believe it's happening, and many of the comments will be pretty nasty. Just my $2.
 

skephu

Senior Member.
I have no idea when I first noticed persistent contrails. So I can't even start the survey.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
If the survey is aimed at the chemtrail activists, then I would expect close to 100% believe it's happening, and many of the comments will be pretty nasty. Just my $2.

It was initially "aimed" at people who came to Contrail Science, the recent flurry of entries has been from Metabunk, and from Facebook, some of whom seeem to think I'm trying to prove chemtrails exist with this survey. Some recent comments:

And on the other side:
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
the recent flurry of entries has been from Metabunk, and from Facebook, some of whom seeem to think I'm trying to prove chemtrails exist with this survey
your blurb does kinda read that way. i thought the same thing. Which is cool at least more chemmies will fill it out.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
your blurb does kinda read that way. i thought the same thing. Which is cool at least more chemmies will fill it out.
I was going for neutral, and short. People tend to infer intentionality based on their personal experience.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I was going for neutral, and short. People tend to infer intentionality based on their personal experience.
i meant this
The way "viewed by some" sits in the sentence..
and "science the sh** out of" sounds like something a chemmie would say :)

but yea they both could be read going either way. Doesnt matter, its all good.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
I have no idea when I first noticed persistent contrails. So I can't even start the survey.

I seriously doubt most people can. I never noticed what kind of clouds were up there. They were fluffy, or pretty, but I only NOTICED my first mamatus clouds after reading these forums. Never gave it a thought before.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I seriously doubt most people can. I never noticed what kind of clouds were up there. They were fluffy, or pretty, but I only NOTICED my first mamatus clouds after reading these forums. Never gave it a thought before.

Yeah, I have no specific memory of contrails of any description from before I started Contrail Science in 2007. Although I have photos of myself with loads of contrails in the background from 2003. I just paid them no attention at all. Like most people now.
 

Dan Page

Senior Member.
Well, color me surprised, seems like your wording of the questions is just about perfect for sounding neutral and unbiased. Looks like this could be a very good survey and give us a window into the minds of the chemtrail activists.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
I can't trust myself when it comes to 30year+ memory recall.....especially when many things were of no interest to me at the time..

I don't remember the style of doorknob on my house when I was a teenager.....even though I saw it and touched it every day. I paid little attention to the style, and I would fail to draw it now, on paper, from memory.

I do remember I rode a Schwinn bicycle to school, but I don't remember the color. It was probably a "boys color". But since I was not into bike repair or repainting it.....I can't remember the color. And now, it seems acceptable to forget the color......because I had little interest in it.
I had no reason to "note it", in my brain-catalog, of important things.

I do remember seeing contrails, because I liked to stare at the Los Angeles sky and wonder.
My room as a teenager had a sunrise view, synchronized with the trip to school, for years.
 

c.eileen

Member
I can't remember precisely when I first noticed a contrail either. I do recall my father pointing them out occasionally. This would have to have been during the sixties after I reached the long term recall age, but before my father died in 1970. He had been a pilot in two wars and wanted to become an airline pilot. Unfortunately, a growing family and a mortgage made the dream of commercial flight school impossible, so he took a different and more immediately secure career path. However, he never lost his love for flying and so contrails were something that he noticed, maybe even looked for, and like a good dad who wishes to share his interests with his children, he would point them out to us. So, as far as I can recall, there have been long contrails in the sky for my dad to point to. The 1960s are decades ahead of the chemtrail onset.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
I can roughly remember when I first noticed contrails, it would have been 1970 or 71, I was 6 or 7 years old and had become fixated on aircraft, as a lot of kids are. I was living in North London at the time and used to love my father, grand father or one of my uncles taking me to Heathrow to watch the planes*, and when playing in the back yard would always keep looking up to see the planes overhead. I began to notice some the very high flying ones some times left a trail behind them. I asked my dad about them and then my grand father. My grandfather had been a fire watcher at the time of the Battle of Britain, it was his job to watch the bombers coming in over London, watch where the bombs landed and then direct the civil defense units to any fires, areas where there may have been casualties etc. He told me that when the bombers came the RAF fighters would try to climb above them and the dive into attack them, and the Luftwaffe fighters would try to stop them and dog fights would develop. He said these planes at high altitude would 'disturb the air' (he didn't know the science behind it, or maybe he was trying to keep things simple for a 6 year old kid) and leave trails of cloud behind them, he called them 'vapour trails' and said some times they stayed in the sky for up to an hour after the raid had ended. He then said everytime I see them I should remember the brave airmen who saved us from the nazis. (something I will never forget to do) And I've been seeing and noticing them ever since. Yes there do seam to be more these days, but I am well aware that modern jet engines are more likely to produce contrails than older engines, and there are far more planes in the sky now than there were 45 years ago.

(*Tridents, VC-10's, Comet 4's, BAC-111's, Caravelle's... those were the days :cool:)
 
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Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
In recent weeks I have been making a start on organising and collating my photo collection, comprising digital photos since 2001 and boxloads of film prints dating back to the 1980s. Although I remember hearing about the "chemtrail" theory many years ago, I never really paid any attention to it, and I didn't make a point of looking out for contrails in the sky. But when I look back at my old digital photos, there they are.

upload_2016-2-8_14-18-49.png

It's interesting that there seem to be far more contrails visible in the digital photos than in the film ones. Partly that is because you take a lot more photos on digital, but partly I think digital cameras cope with differing levels of brightness far better. In my film photos, the sky is often totally washed out.
 
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