A Public School Scheduled Batshit Crazy Classes on Chemtrails
Many community education programs are doing great work, helping residents to understand Excel spreadsheets, the finer points of knitting, or how to operate a bed and breakfast. Minneapolis Community Education (MCE) issued their fall guide last week and made good on the cover's promise that you can "discover something different" inside. They offered three classes on "chemtrails," the conspiracy theory that makes other conspiracy theorists say, Those people aren't stable.
For the uninitiated, the gist of chemtrails conspiracies is that jets flying overhead leave behind contrails, which you've no doubt seen in the skies above your home. Theorists posit that those contrails are actually a nefarious cocktail of chemicals, the purpose of which can vary depending on who you're talking to. Theories range from weather control to theories about combatting climate change with reflective particles in the upper atmosphere. However, outside the tinfoil hat set, these theories are largely dismissed.
It didn't take long for Minnesotans like blogger Scott Shaffer or state representative Pat Garofalo to tweet variations on "WTF!?" There isn't much scientific ground on which to teach these courses and, aside from the descriptions of the three courses basically being jumbled up versions of the same class, it's not clear what the credentials of the teacher would be.
So, it's not surprising that about 24 hours after the classes were announced, the classes were pulled. Whether or not printed brochures with the chemtrails courses listed were distributed is unknown. MCE has not responded to a request for comment.
All "Chemtrails" classes listed in our fall enrichment brochure have been canceled.— Minneapolis CE (@MplsCommunityEd) August 29, 2016
MCE issued a statement Tuesday saying that the "classes... shouldn't have been scheduled in the first place." It continues, "We didn't follow our standard review process for class offerings and [the classes] ended up being scheduled. The classes didn't meet our criteria; we've since corrected our error and strengthened our process."
Minnesota Public Radio reports that, like any good conspiracy, the trail on how this happened may have gone cold. The hiring coordinator in charge of finding teaching staff resigned over the summer.
It's not clear what about the classes didn't meet their criteria, but it might be that, despite the class description claiming that "you can decide for yourself" whether chemtrails are real, there is not hard evidence that they are real.
Earlier this year, a paper published in Environmental Research Letters asked 77 scientists and geochemists to explore the possibility that chemtrails conspiracy theories have merit. 76 of those scientists said there's no evidence that they have ever encountered anything indicating there is merit to the theory. The 77th scientist was a geochemist who found "high levels of atm[ospheric] barium in a remote area with standard 'low' soil barium," according to Steven Davis, one of the study's authors.
As the authors point out, any denial of chemical spraying programs tends to feed the beast and be used by conspiracy theorists as proof that spraying programs definitely do exist. That's just how deep the conspiracy is. To say the least, it's not the kind of research that will sway the true believers. But it is the kind of research that suggests it probably has no place being taught in a program like this.
MCE offers a lot of great classes and performs an important community service, but this offering was a strange decision. No doubt, theorists will see this as yet another turn in the conversation that proves the conspiracy runs deep. Who got to them and what are they trying to hide?
Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record, but has never met the fingernail lady. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, The Rumpus, and other digital wonderlands. Follow him @dlukenelson.