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Key words
conspiracy theory, urban legend, superstition, chemtrails
About the Author
E-mail: Tel.: +7 (495) 938-08-51
32a, Leninskiy av., Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation
Grand PhD (History), leading researcher, N. N. Miklukho-Maklay Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences

Статья написана при поддержке РФФИ, проект № 17-01-00357 «Межэтническая и социальная напряженности в социальных сетях Интернета: анализ и диагностика».


Urban legends associated with chemtrails (a white track trailing behind a fl ying plane) are widespread in the world, including in Russia. The content of the narrative is as follows: an organization (political antagonists, conspirators, the Universe Government, etc.) sprays from airplanes poisonous substances with a certain harmful purpose (poisoning of the population, spreading infections, reducing fertility, etc.). The article deals with the history of existence and mechanisms for the dissemination of such rumors.

1. Conspiracy theories arise in accordance with certain stereotyped forms (referring to the secrecy of information or to the basic human security concept), images of “conspirators” are stereotyped as well. It is distributed through communication networks as the Internet and mass media; is supported by “authoritative opinions”.

2. Adherents of the conspiracy theory seek its confi rmation independently (including collectively). In the course of this, they perform personal observation of the sky which forms an important emotional and existential experience. Phenomena seen in the sky are compared with changes in weather, health, actual political and social processes.

Thus personal experience confi rms the initial information. Such a mechanism of formation of psychological attitudes supports not only conspiracy theories, but also superstitions common in contemporary society —  belief in the evil eye, spoilage, astrology, fortune telling. 


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