Contrails to Chemtrails: Atmospheric Scientists and Belief Narratives

Anne Pryor (Madison, Wisconsin)

Two University of Wisconsin professors of Atmospheric Science are long-standing monthly guests on a popular call-in radio show. Personal experience narratives often frame the callers’ questions. This paper discusses the calls that raise the topic of chemtrails, the scientifically disproven idea that contrails are actually the purposeful poisoning of the atmosphere by nefarious actors. It will explore the evolution of chemtrail narratives, the anxieties they display, what efforts atmospheric scientists make to educate against them, and how these two “Weather Guys” respond to callers. It will present how another occupation handles conspiracy theories, in contrast to folklore’s typical accepting stance.

Part of 04-04 Weatherlore, Part 1: Weather and Belief, Friday, October 14, 8:30 am–10:00 am