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Are Flat-Earthers Being Serious? (livescience.com)
15 points by mooreds 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments



While I don't believe the earth is flat, i haven't done any real research, and i assume that's true for most of the people laughing at flat earthers.

Of course i believe in global warming, though ive never read a single paper / study on it.

Of course i believe in evolution, i went to a school where they told me to believe it.

Am I any more intelligent than a flat earther, or am i just a product of where i was born?


> While I don't believe the earth is flat, i haven't done any real research, and i assume that's true for most of the people laughing at flat earthers.

The difference is that flat earthers have to go through such massive logical contortions to support their claims. Not to mention the idea that every technology company and government is coordinated on a massive cooperative conspiracy without any substantial leaks is laughable.

I'm not sure what research you are referring to. There's plenty of research I have available to me about astronomy and past endeavors to not only prove that the Earth is round, that people have been off the planet and that we have explored the galaxy enough to prove the earth is not flat. The only research I have not done is personally gone to space.

So are you saying that it's not real research unless I go to space and see for myself?


> are you saying that it's not real research unless I go to space and see for myself?

I saw it for myself on a Concorde flight. The altitude was so high the horizon was bent. Not just a little but a lot.


Sounds like youre ahead of myself and many others if you've read existing research & formed your own organic oppinions from that. Im not saying people have to conduct the research themselves, though kudos to those who do


> logical contortions

That's good, I might use it


The difference is that even though I didn’t study bird species on the galapagos I did have the high level concept of evolution explained to me. Pieces of evidence were presented and it made a pretty cohesive narrative in my mind and it is the scientific consensus of experts in the field. No aspect if flatearth theory hits this for me. Its not scientifically accepted, doesn’t make sense to me at all and there seems to be no evidence; flatearthers just reject all evidence presented


Flat earthing is maybe a little more extreme than I am comfortable with, but it is easy to see how the same psychological mechanisms that produce flat earthers would also produce some truly original research.

The obvious parallel is the old story about hot water freezing faster than cold water [1]. An experimental character who notices this and gets laughed down by the vast and overwhelming majority of people who who only agree with consensus facts could logically end up in a /weird/ mental space.

They'd basically discover that they are surrounded by people who don't assess the facts directly, but do so through a lens of other people's opinions. It wouldn't take much to push them into conspiracy theories - clearly no-one around them is dealing directly with reality. Any who didn't take to conspiracies would probably be grounded enough to drive real change in the world.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mpemba_effect


The temperature lines on the chart cross over, so at some point, if you test this, your samples will be at the same temperature however you define it. If one becomes frozen faster, then there must be a difference which by definition was not temperature. There was neither a hot nor a cold sample at that point, so it cannot be true that "hot freezes faster".

It's not that the data is necessarily wrong, it's that the interpretation isn't coherent.


A good science education is supposed to give you enough background to understand why claims are likely true. You don't need to be an expert to understand the reasons why these are factual.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas, meaning it prevents the Earth from radiating heat captured from the sun. We know this for many reasons, one of which is that Venus has an atmosphere that's high in CO2 and it's the hottest planet in our solar system: over 800 degrees F. We know that burning fossil fuels puts CO2 in the atmosphere and we can use CO2 levels in glaciers to measure historical CO2 levels.

Given this, the statement that Earth's temperature increase can be contributed to pollution makes sense.

We know that plants and animals can change their physiology over time through breeding. If someone continuously inter-breeds the largest dogs from packs, then over several generations, the average size of these dogs will increase. Expanding this idea from 10s of generations to millions of generations, it's clear that these genetic changes could get diverse enough to create a completely different animal.

Given this, the process of evolution makes plenty of sense.

Believing these things doesn't make you more intelligent. However, it does demonstrate that you were better educated and developed better critical thinking skills as a result. The definition of critical thinking is being willing to reject an assertion if the known evidence doesn't support it.


> i haven't done any real research

You've seen pictures of the earth from orbit, right?

You probably mean that you haven't engaged in all of the crazy theories and arguments put forth by flat-earthers. But that's doesn't make your very simple observation-based opinion any less justified. Direct observation can and should eliminate the need for lots of hemming and hawing.

> Of course i believe in global warming, though ive never read a single paper / study on it.

There are many accessible descriptions of global warming and the evidence for it written for different levels (uneducated/child; HS-level; university-level).

> Of course i believe in evolution, i went to a school where they told me to believe it.

That sounds like a bad experience, and maybe that explains some flat earthing. When I was in school we were presented with a lot of concrete evidence for the evolution of the species, and Darwin's original was even required reading.


Your nature is to trust the consensus, whereas flat-eathers' nature is to distrust it.

Overall I'd expect this to lead to you having more accurate beliefs than them, since even though the consensus is sometimes wrong it's usually right.


For the record, I believe the earth is a sphere and that evolution explains the origin of all life on this planet. That being said, in my opinion, being distrustful of the scientific consensus in a given field is a reasonable stance, in and of itself (though possibly not, once you start weighing evidence).

The fields of nutrition and exercise science are both fields where distrusting the scientific consensus is, in my opinion, the best epistemological stance. The reason being that researchers in these fields are making diet and exercise recommendations that cannot possibly be supported by the research they are doing. If you dig into these fields, you’ll find that the reason this happens is that scientists are just as susceptible to groupthink and politicization as any other group of people.


While there are issues with blindingly trust the consensus, I think that for most things you're better at least not being far from it

(Not to say the 'science' people are always right, but vaccines were a revolution, GW/CC relies fundamentally on a few, very verifiable premises and FE makes as much sense as saying the sky is red)


I think the smug "I am probably more intelligent than them" comes from seeing that the mental model, even though it is mostly product of my up-bringing, requires less mental energy than theirs.

I.e. I had many friends in evangelical circles when I was younger, and "Is evolution a thing" was a topic of debate. But when somebody started to go through his/her convoluted head-canon to have history line-up with creation 6000 years ago, global flood as it happened in Noah's story and God somehow forbidding the process of speciation I can't help myself think that my model is just better.


Maybe you shouldn't believe in that stuff if you genuinely never noticed any of the evidence.

I've seen eclipses of the moon. I've traveled through time zones. I've been far enough south to see different stars. I've seen photos of Antarctica and the entire earth from space. I've seen data on temperatures and CO2. I've read the Voyage of the Beagle.


You’ve never seen the horizon on the ocean, experienced time zones or flew cross continents on an airplane?

And if you really want to do “research” you can disprove the flat earth theory with a buddy a few 100 miles away, 2 sticks a phone call and some sunshine.


> While I don't believe the earth is flat, i haven't done any real research, and i assume that's true for most of the people laughing at flat earthers.

I've gone up in a high building and used binoculars, which... honestly, is sufficient.


> Of course i believe in evolution, i went to a school where they told me to believe it.

Can I ask in what country you went to school? Sounds like a strange approach to teaching biology.


No, it's a joke making fun of the "IFLScience" people who mindlessly parrot back what they read on social media as gospel truth. There's been a resurgence in science-as-politics for the political class, so people who have no idea what they're talking about have decided they're scientists, by virtue of their politics.

The Earth is obviously round, but the reaction is really, _really_ funny. I don't get why that isn't obvious.


> I don't get why that isn't obvious.

Because the world is full of people who sincerely believe in things just as ridiculous as the flat earth (such as, well, the hollow earth) and so no one is willing to grant this one group of people the benefit of the doubt.


That's literally the orthodoxy that makes the joke funny though. How does someone being a hollow earther hurt you? How does your sister believing in crystals impact you? People should be kinder to each other and should jump down peoples throat a bit less, that stuff is what makes the world fun.

My wife believes in that astrology nonsense, I don't really care and it makes her happy. What IS annoying are the "ackshually" people on social media any time any of that comes up - which is exactly who Flat Earth is making fun of.


Is your position that believing in untrue things has no physical (non-societal) negative consequences?

If your sister thinks the crystals are going to cure her cancer, that's going to impact HER quite a bit. I would assume losing her to disease would impact you, right?

When parents refuse to take their children to the doctor for medical expertise, and instead give them coffee enemas, is that "what makes the world fun" in your eyes?


If I recall, Steve Jobs attempted holistic methods for treating his cancer instead of undergoing what his doctor recommended and ended up dying as a result.


>How does someone being a hollow earther hurt you? How does your sister believing in crystals impact you?

It doesn't hurt me, but those beliefs hurt society.

People have died of otherwise curable or treatable disease because they trusted homeopathy or religion over science. Flat earthers might have laudable goals in encouraging people to question their assumptions about the validity of science, but they do so by discrediting science altogether, and encouraging others to do the same.

If you can accept that "the establishment" has hidden the fact that the earth is flat since the dawn of time, then it's easier to believe things like "vaccines are really population control" or "Jews did 9/11".

>People should be kinder to each other and should jump down peoples throat a bit less, that stuff is what makes the world fun.

Putting up with self-delusion because it makes the world more fun isn't kindness.


> The Earth is obviously round, but the reaction is really, _really_ funny. I don't get why that isn't obvious.

Ah yes, the ol' "endlessly repeat a position you know to be false as if you believed it". Clearly, the highest form of humor, the very pinnacle of the art form. How foolish were we to see that as childish behavior instead of marveling at the very essence of comedy.

Am I doing it right? Is this not hilarious?


Of the people who aren't just straight up trolling, I think a large percent just like to be "controversial" and hold contrarian views that might blow somebody's mind. The Flat Earth nonsense is a pretty low stakes one for most people. It's really stupid but it's not inherently offensive apart from the stupidity. It's not racist or xenophobic or anything. I think that's why it's gained so much traction.

Frankly the best way to have it fade away is stop giving them attention, 'coz both the trolls and the contrarians want attention.


> why it's gained so much traction

"Join the flat earth society, we have members from all around the globe"


iseewhatyoudidthere.gif


I personally know one. Conversations about the topic are impossible. His arguments for the earth being flat are made of half truths and broken logic. Any debate brands you as a NASA shill. He doesn't believe the earth orbits the sun.

I have had doubts as to whether he actually believes and just uses this to make money off of his semi-successful youtube channel.


If you want to know why people defy logic, look for economic reasons before psychological ones. :-) This applies to TV pundits too.


If you're smart enough to make money as a con artist, then you're smart enough not to fall for the con.


Sometimes they don’t fall for it. They’re just making too much money to fess up to it.


That's basically what I'm saying. Anybody profiting from this is too smart to fall for the lie. There might be a lucky idiot out there who's accidentally making money off flat earth stuff, but they are in a minority.


My own experience with flat earthers is sad - my pal, an extremely intelligent and highly educated engineer and CTO in fintech had fragile mental health, possibly caused by said career, but resulted in his marriage and life breaking down to the extent that he fled his family and the authorities for Thailand.

There, he appeared to not have access to the medical care he needed and started making videos and blog posts about all the fake and forged events in the world from moon landings to Gaza blockades, settling on a flat earth. I received many messages and links from him about how he’d ‘busted it open’ and ‘figured it out’.

This continued for many months, becoming crazy abusive to his friends and associates before it all ended with him taking his own life.

Not suggesting all flat earthers are mentally ill, of course.


I do think that there is some sort of mental aspect to it for a lot of people though. Not like mental illness exactly... but I know a flat-earther and his life is sort of a stressful mess. I think that this explains for a lot of people why the world is fucked up and their life is not going the way they wanted. If everything else is messed up, it surely isn't them doing anything wrong. It feels like sort of a coping mechanism. I'm sure it's not like this for all flat-earthers, but I only know one.


I actually appreciate the skepticism of flat-earthers. Everything should be challenged. What I have noticed about the flat earth theory, however, is that the arguments are very weak.


It's a mistake to say all flat-earthers believe any particular explanation. The bit about "dark energy" is something I've never seen in the year or two I've been reading flat earth social media. One of the more common arguments I see from them is that humans should be able to feel the earth spinning and that the oceans should be flung off the globe, so claiming that earth is accelerating upwards would be problematic.

Not that their ideas are always internally consistent.


I'be noticed an increased number of flat earth graffiti and the likes in my city recently. I don't know whether they're serious or not in their beliefs, I don't care either way. It is funny to see some people get so bent out of shape on the matter though.


That theory was created by the government trying to "show" the people that most of all conspiracy theories are ridiculous and fake.


The perpetrators are more likely to be marketing companies and/or people with a financial incentive to undermine science conducting research on virality.

The people in the "government" already have power. There's no real incentive to pull off a scheme like this instead of acting on the political motives that had you run for office to begin with. It's like spending all day cooking a nice dinner, then when it's done, looking up recipe ideas online instead of eating.

There are lots of companies in the world who benefit from undermining science. The most obvious being energy, healthcare, and food providers. Government regulation is a huge burden in these sectors and regulations are almost always the result of pesky scientific research.


wööw. the comment section under that article though...that deserves some sort of internet equivalent of the Nobel's Literature prize!


Some probably are, that's the state of the education system in the U.S., others are blatantly trolling.

Obviously the Earth is in fact a holographic trapezoid resting on a bed of spaghetti.


Chemtrails are how we repair cracks in the "impenetrable" dome. Outside the dome is sea water - we're on the sea floor of an even larger planet.


No no no, chemtrails are slug trails. duh.


Sea slugs, on the outside of the dome? How do we get outside to scrape them off?


Earth has 4 corner simultaneous 4 day TIME CUBE in only 24 hour rotation.


Can someone add the [2017] tag to this?




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