SAYit Blog
Moon landings and chemtrails - an update

Last November I wrote a blog for SAYit on conspiracy theories (available here).  I put it out then because it covered the Kennedy assassination, but it was actually from a poll we'd done back in 2010.  A couple of months after I wrote that Conservative Party leader Colin Craig was quoted as expressing doubts about the moon landings, which had also been covered in that earlier poll.  I thought that it might be interesting to update the moon landing poll, and to explore public belief in the other conspiracy theory Colin Craig got into trouble about - chemtrails.

These questions are from February 2014 and are based on a representative sample of n=1000 New Zealanders aged 18 years or older.  New Zealanders were asked to say if they thought accusations were 'very likely', 'somewhat likely' or 'unlikely' (I need to apologise for the clunky scale - I originally modelled the questions on a US survey so I'm stuck with it).

Firstly, the moon landing:

  • 20% of us think that it's likely that the United States of America government staged or faked the Apollo moon landing (5% very likely, 15% somewhat likely).
  • 74% think it's unlikely
  • 6% are unsure or haven't heard of this conspiracy before..

Those figures are identical to those we recorded in November 2010.

31% of under 30s and 25% of 30-44 year olds think that a conspiracy is likely in this case, compared with 14% of 45-59 year olds and 10% of over 60s.  This to me is quite a telling point, because the first moon landing is now almost 45 years ago - basically if you're old enough to remember them happening, you're more likely to think they were real.

Belief in this conspiracy theory does seem to be inversely related to education - 24% of those with a high school qualification or less think that it's likely, compared with 12% of those claiming postgraduate degrees.  This is interesting in itself because younger people are more likely to have degrees (certainly if you're comparing 30-44 year olds with over 60s) - unfortunately the sample sizes don't allow me to check this out properly, but I imagine under 45s with only high school qualifications or less are far more likely to believe in this conspiracy than over 45s with postgraduate degrees.

Now chemtrails:  

  • 7% of us think that aircraft in New Zealand are deliberately releasing chemtrails designed to drug or otherwise harm people on the ground (3% very likely, 4% somewhat likely). 
  • 83% think it's unlikely
  • 10% are unsure or haven't heard of this conspiracy before.

There's no real age difference on this one - 6% of under 30s think it's likely, as do 8% of 30-44s, 8% of 45-59s and 8% of over 60s, which I guess that backs up my theory about the age difference on the moon landings being driven by the fact that it's harder to dispute the reality of the moon landings if you saw the TV coverage at the time.  There's also little difference by education - 8% of those with a high school qualification or less believe this one, compared with 5% of those claiming postgraduate qualifications.

You may be wondering how Conservative Party voters reacted to these questions.  I can't tell you a lot, because the survey only found 27 of them (which of course equates to a vote of 2.7% so it's around what they got at the last election).  

  • 33% of the Conservative Party voters thought that the moon landing conspiracy was likely (i.e. 9 out of the 27).
  • 10% thought that the chemtrails conspiracy was likely (3 out of the 27).

This is all a bit of fun, but soon I'll move on to a more serious accusation or conspiracy theory - do immunisations cause autism?  Stay tuned for when I get a chance to write that up...