Do Polls and Google Trends show Chemtrail Belief Declining?

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
https://www.insider.com/here-are-the-unproven-theories-americans-believe-in-the-most-2019-7

Interesting contrast with a 2017 study:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-017-0014-3
Very hard to compare surveys with different methodologies. But could it perhaps be in decline?
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
250,000,000 adults (18 years or older) in the U.S.

Chemtrail Believers (7%) = 17,500,000

FE Believers (2.3%) = 5,750,000



This is a poorly constructed poll.

Should be worded - "If any, which of the following do you think to be true?"

The question as written has a clear skeptical bias. Implicitly if one answers "yes" to any of these the pollster believes the respondent is going against common sense and rationality.

You've now made some people angry. Paradoxically these people might be more likely to answer "yes" than if the question had been written in neutral language.

On the other hand some people may feel intimidated and be less likely to answer "yes."



All responses are yes or no. It's much better to have a scale, e.g.: firmly think, somewhat think, open to the possibility.

I myself would have answered "open to the possibility" to

I don't know how to answer
This has mixed two different issues. It's a fact that not all species have been classified, but those three examples are folklore. So do I answer yes or no?


Not likely this poll was written by a professional. Almost certainly written by a reporter using some generic SurveyMonkey template.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/pollster-ratings/
FiveThirtyEight gives SurveyMonkey a D minus rating in political polling. I think most of this can be chalked up to poor randomization.


This poll should be classified: "For entertainment purposes only."


In 2015 I predicted that the percentage of firm FE Believers will top out at 8%. Add in those who are at least open to the possibility and the total will eventually top out at 18%.
 
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Mechanik

Active Member
What about the use of the word “control” next to the “meditation” 50% number? It’s unexplained, but somehow implies that there was a control group. To use a control group in a survey, you have to compare the general responses with the control, which is not done here.

This excerpt is found at the bottom of the article:
A margin of error of 3.15% means that Flat Earth (2%) could actually be zero, and a sample size of 1006 is far too small to generalize anything about the US as a whole.

That link, highlighted in blue and can be accessed through @Mick link to the original article, takes you to a Business Insider page about polling for the Democratic primary. It has nothing to do with this article about unproven theories.

I’d have to rate the article itself as bunk.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The question as written has a clear skeptical bias. Implicitly if one answers "yes" to any of these the pollster believes the respondent is going against common sense and rationality.

You've now made some people angry. Paradoxically these people might be more likely to answer "yes" than if the question had been written in neutral language.

On the other hand some people may feel intimidated and be less likely to answer "yes."

Agreed, it's a pretty bad survey. I think there's still some interesting information in there though, specifically in the ratios between the different answers. Presumably when they got to the "chemtrails" question a good 50% or so had already answered "yes" to at least one question.

With FE:Chemtrails:Ghosts, the numbers are:
2:7:31 (and if you normalize against ghosts, 6, 23,100)

In this 2017 YouGov survey. using the "Strongly Agree" answer, its:
3:8:24 (12: 33: 100)
And combining Strongly + Somewhat agreement it's:
6:20:50 (13: 40: 100)

Not really scientific, but hinting at a decline.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Perhaps a better indicator of a decline (of some sort) is in the Google Trends results. Chemtrails is in blue here, compared with a relatively flat term "tiling"

last image.jpg

Focusing in on the last 24 months, we see a quite distinct decline starting around May 2018
Metabunk 2019-07-20 07-39-53.jpg

And looking at the big picture, with a 6 month moving average
Metabunk 2019-07-20 07-48-02.jpg

This seems quite significant. Search levels seemed to drop abruptly, and then maintain at a low level for an entire year.

I wonder if this is indicative of some success on the part of social media companies to reduce the spread of conspiracy theories?

Compare with Flat Earth, a bit tricky as there's more noise as it's recently very popular as a topic.

But I think we see a similar decline and flattening starting around May 2018. This flattening is disrupted by the Netflix release of "Behind the Curve" in February 2019. But since then interest seems to have smoothly declined.
Metabunk 2019-07-20 07-56-24.jpg
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
I have noticed a decline in the chemtrail theory. (without google search graphs)
Is it because of the improbability of it all ? ....or because of the ridicule some people receive......or even from geoengineering believers who don't like the term "chemtrails".....where they prefer to call it something else ?
(stratospheric engineering, SAI, etc...)
 
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Critical Thinker

Senior Member.
One change that YouTube had made, and has been mentioned in other threads, is the disclaimer on videos that promote the chemtrail conspiracy theory. I suspect that many of the chemtrail conspiracy theorists have been indoctrinated by means of seeing endless hours of uncontested claims made over and over again, along with the recommendations to view related videos making the same false claims.

Skeptics and more worldly people would dismiss such extraordinary claims ("extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" ~ Carl Sagan) or at least they would check what reputable experts, science and facts have to say on such matters.

disclaimer.jpg



With that disclaimer right there, presenting a reputable source (Encyclopedia Britannica) with a reasonable/ordinary explanation, likely has a substantial impact on whether that person descends into the rabbit hole unquestioningly or not.
 

cloudspotter

Senior Member.
I have noticed a decline in the chemtrail theory. (without google search graphs)
Is it because of the improbability of it all ? ....or because of the ridicule some people receive......or even from geoengineering believers who don't like the term "chemtrails".....where they prefer to call it something else ?
(stratospheric engineering, SAI, etc...)

Comparison to Stratospheric Aerosol Injection and SAI

SAI.JPG
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
although...., there are many such (alternate) descriptions or reasons or beliefs for "lines in the sky".
So-much-so, that simple google graphs cannot accurately depict.

About once a week, I search YouTube for "chemtrails" or "Chem Trails".....and I find that almost everyday, we still find people who believe the chemtrail theory.
Perhaps they are fanatics, or alt/true believers, rebel posters, or perhaps late-comers to the idea.
 
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