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My Parents Are Flat Earthers (jameshfisher.com)
179 points by zwischenzug 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 207 comments



I feel like the Flat Earth movement is, at it's core, a hack on the human mind.

People want to feel important, and they want to feel in control. When the world is so large and uncaring, so horrible and meaningless, and people are so small and unimportant, a good conspiracy theory lets me be someone important. There are evil people out there who did this all to us, and now I get to know the truth. I get to be in better control of my life. I can keep reading and researching and with each step I feel more in control. I've got hope now because I know what's really going on!

Anyone who challenges this worldview is not attacking my logical argument, they're attacking my emotional investment in this hope, this piece of control of life. When you challenge me, you aren't debating what is and isn't, you're trying to take away this one little bit of control I have. Why would you do that to me? Perhaps you've been brainwashed by the evil people, or maybe you're part of the evil people who did this to us all.


I don't think it's about control as it is about conceit. I don't think human conceit can be underestimated. This really became clear to me from reading The Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. Humans want to believe everything is created for them, the universe was created for them, it's at the basis of a lot of the beliefs people hold. Then they want to cling to this belief of superiority. And because they came there through emotion, it's harder to reason them out of it.

"You can't reason somebody out of a stance they weren't reasoned into in the first place. If you can't address the emotional pains and the emotional tumult and the emotionality that brought people to where they are and some of our worst ugliest moments, rationality isn't going to get them into a different spot than that." - Robert Sapolsky (https://youtu.be/61tChpN3lhY?t=2756)


>I don't think it's about control as it is about conceit. I don't think human conceit can be underestimated. This really became clear to me from reading The Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. Humans want to believe everything is created for them, the universe was created for them, it's at the basis of a lot of the beliefs people hold. Then they want to cling to this belief of superiority.

The thing is, for Carl Sagan and his proponents, proving others wrong is also their way to feeling superior. It's very common to the whole "sceptic", "mythbusting", etc crowd.

It's like the verity of the fact doesn't matter, it's all about feeling better than others.

In my theory, the "control group", a normal person, would say, ok, the earth is round, but wouldn't care to convince other people either way, nor to make it into some kind of campaign to get them to see the light.


Carl Sagan's proponents, perhaps, but not the man himself, who was exceptionally patient in the face of illogic and unscience.


Would it be fair to say the exact same thing about, say, Christianity, or any large scale religion? That, at it's core, it's a hack on the human mind, for people to feel important, to feel in control, when the world is so large and uncaring?

Because to me, this burgeoning conspiracy culture (chemtrails, 5G, flat earth, etc etc) just feels like people utilising the same brain space that was once more used for religion...


I think the same brain space is used by futurists too. Magic batteries, dehumidifiers, a/c units, rockets, tunnels, Mars colonization, integrated neutral/digital systems. People want to feel like they are a part of a new age of knowledge set apart from the intellectually content masses, and feel like they're more honest in breaking free from the doctrine handed down by elites.

And no. It's not fair to say that about religion in general. There are many reasons why people believe their religions.


It's the same. There is no logical difference between believing in flat earth and believing in spermless conception


There is more to Christianity than unbelievable fairy tales like spermless conception.

Read Matthew. You'll be surprised how... American it sounds. Basics we take for granted like "the blind leading the blind" are scriptural and religious, and things that are easy to forget how to name and call out without the religion.

Indeed, the foundation of capitalism, the right approach to differences in natural ability, and how we should view equality are found in Matthew 25. Just read that one if you can't stomach the Bible in general.


I'm not anti Bible, I just think belief in something despite evidence to the contrary is irrational and in this regard, belief in flat earth and the supernatural are equally irrational. We don't all have to be rational. Irrational people are not bad people. It's not immoral to be irrational. I love many irrational people in my circle of friends and family. But to believe in something despite evidence is called faith and faith and science cannot coexist because people of faith offer no condition under which they will acknowledge that their belief is incorrect. So with that rule set of logic, flat earth believers and believers in supernatural are in the same category, with love and respect.

As a side note, that the Bible is wise and moral is independent of its accounts of the supernatural being true. The supernatural can be explained by the time period in which it was written.


There is one difference here though: we have observed parthenogenesis in nature, so we know it can occur. We have not observed anything like a 'flat earth'.


But during those observations no one ever ascribes divinity to it. Instead, a scientific explanation is sought. If one believes that Jesus and the parthenogentic shark were the same phenomenon, then one should do some soul searching to ask why one does does not seek the same category of explanation. It is a defect in the seeker, not a difference in the phenomenon (a fixable defect).


> There are many reasons why people believe their religions.

What are those reasons in your opinion?


Religions distill generations of solutions to psychological problems we all face.

Job: what do you do when tragedy strikes, when it feels like God and Satan have plotted against you? Don't destroy your own foundation; the tragedy wasn't your fault.

Abraham and Isaac: if sacrifice makes a better future, what if we sacrifice the thing we cherish most in hope of the best possible future? God will never expect you to sacrifice your child; there is a limit to the efficacy of sacrifice. Sadly a lesson the brutally immoral Aztecs never learned.

Christ as Redeemer: it is possible that even the worst among us can be saved from the hell they choose to create. There is divinity in each and every person that must be respected. It's tempting to prescribe the worst punishment and exile for those that make bad or antisocial choices. But more often than not, what they need most in order to rehabilitate is love. They can be resurrected from the death of nihilism.

These small examples are lessons that were learned by countless generations before them. Codifying them and passing them on was critical to the thriving of the societies that respected them.

We reject them at our peril.


Couldn't be said better, but nihilism can be solved by means of responsibility. And psychological problems by therapy, assuming you live a good life (1% or the privellage part of the world)


Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. — K.Marx


"The gulags are a great idea" - Lenin.

Marxists don't deserve a seat at the table of moral philosophy, no matter what your professor might have told you


By the same logic, neither does liberalism (based on the writings of philosophers such as John Locke), since it must be responsible for the actions (sometimes horrific) of every liberal state, or even any state that claims to be liberal, no?


He he, had to look up "5G conspiracy", I hadn't gone down that intellectual black hole before. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/evmzv7/alt-right-...

For anyone interested in a sympathetic approach to debunking fraudulent belief systems I recommend Carl Sagan's excellent book: The Demon Haunted World. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demon-Haunted_World


Carl Sagan was a Master at detecting malicious manure. Should be read with maximum attention. Specially the juicy chapter: "the art of detecting baloney" or something like this.


If you look at the range of feasible activities in human existence, it is actually pretty small. In the modern era, a person can buy some quantity of a relatively small number of consumer goods, choose their place of residence, their work and their friends circle. In previous eras, choices were even more limited.

To say 'utilising the same brain space' carries implications that minds basically work except there is a little area open to corruption. I'd suggest on the contrary that minds _not_ working is the natural state of things, and most people either aren't intellectually challenged or aren't bold enough to go outside their areas of competence. Note that it takes a literal decade of schooling to be a functional member of society.

So, I would contend it is possible, with great effort, to create a little area in your mind that sees some level of truth in a given situation. Nothing to do with religion.


If anyone is interested in this, I strongly recommend Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, although I'm sure pretty much all geeks over a certain age have already read it. Religion, memetics, hackers, and the human mind are all tied up in a really good sci-fi book.


And after you have read it try The Diamond Age by the same author. I never know which of both books fascinated me more.


Both novels are set in the same world, with The Diamond Age being some time after Snowcrash. They even share characters, though it's not immediately obvious.


I believe both you and the GP are correct. Moreover it generalizes even further and includes, for example, the identity politics dogma of the modern left. These beliefs about systematic injustice are more than just rational arguments, they are themselves an important component to an emotional identity, a key to understanding a complex, suffering world, and hence a way to see possible solutions to that suffering. (Also we aren't the first to note the interesting rise of various secular replacements for religion! Personally, my favorite is Buddhism because it is the most humane way to embrace the void that religion leaves when it goes. )


I struggle with Buddhism, only because while it is the only major religion that actually makes sense to me, I can't overcome the cultural disconnect as a white westerner, attempting to adopt ways of thinking which are so culturally different & abstract. Science at this juncture is the only method of looking at the world which appears rational to me, however unfortunately science doesn't have answers to the poetry of existence which religion attempts to mitigate.


Religions are a combination of unbelievable fairy tales and rational teachings with thousands of years of deep thought about and iteration on how to make a better world. Secular ethical thought is still in its infancy and highly disjointed; and it's not clear that it's even possible to achieve what many religions have without the unbelievable fairy tales.

Remember, as much as Buddhism might teach you to be... well, Christlike frankly, you still have to accept that the afterlife, karmic cycle, and Nirvana are intrinsic fairy tales unseverable from the religious teachings themselves.

Maybe the fairy tales aren't bad. Even if they aren't true.


Those fairy tales, I would bet that , if let's say for example Jesus, existed in reality as a person(not clear) He maybe didn't speak any of those fairy tales. They are inventions made by distorting and contorting what was originnaly said by the Thinker, most probably with malicious intentions.

Now there I am not clear, but in the case of Buddha, when he walked on earth(most probably true, if not already proven) I am even sure, and I dont like to say I am sure, because confidence is a two-edged blade, but all datapoints point to Buddha being probably very close to what we call an Atheist, and the rest was most probably added later as fairy tale.

A very good, I mean the best and most enlightening work ever written about Lamaism/Buddhism is probably that of the French Author Alexandra David Nell, That I have read decades ago, still remember her name, dont remember any of her books name, and Never found any mention of her existence again on Google or DDG or anywhere! Now everyone's DDG is the same, but as everyone's google is unique, if someone find any vestige of this French Author in his/her Search Engine, and can point us, I would be immensely , sincerely grateful, because I have been looking for it for decades now. Her writing still sounds like she believes in fairy tales, but in a pythonisical way(the best way :) she tells step by step all the non-metaphysical, philosofical serious explanation of each one of these concepts, that became fairy tales with time, unfortunately.

:late: How come the word "pythonisical" doesn't exist in English? Or my google is angry at me? Well...I hereby declare it's existance from now on, and, off couse, explain that this word is related to the smart and drug lover pretty girl(coincidentally!) that used to hang around the temple of Apolo in Delphi, and she was called by her close friends Pythia.



Wow! I don't know how to start to thank you for this, I am as happy as a child : D sincerely, honestly, Thank you.

Whooa, I see she was born in 1868, and thought: How? I really had the perception that she was a contemporary of our lifetime...then I saw she died in 1969! 100 years, and I see that her life was more crazy and amazing that I thought.

I thought she was an academic researcher at some uni. She was an opera singer!, among other things, and published an Anarchist treatise at age 22 or so! and a feminist one at age 20 or so. I knew she was smart.

Cannot believe she was there in Wikipedia all the time. My world is demolished, with any google-fu confidence I had left going crumbs and dust...This is shocking. But is always good a reality shock to bring feet back to the humility shoes. Thank you quake guy.

Everytime I re-read "100 years of solitude", Its a completely different book. I can't "see" things I remember "seeing" before, I see things I didn't saw before... It is always in a different language, and Gabriel G. Marquez himself said that a good translation is another book, but this is probably because I get old, and not because of the translation. It is going to be so fun, can't believe I will re-read her books again after 27 or 28 years! it is going to be so much fun.

Now, the tiring thing of it, is that I will have another pretty girl Idol to research every bit of her Life(sigh) Oh no! Zhao, the Brightness and the Light[1], was enough for a lifetime of research and her long-term thinking understanding and learning. I need more lifetimes.

1- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Zetian


Glad i Could make you happy, you‘re welcome. :)

Edit: And her bio is really stunning, i must admit.


Siddhartha Gautama was a Hindu. His whole schtick was "why are the Gods incapable of eliminating suffering? I'll sit under this tree until I find out." </Oversimplification>

Definitely not an atheist. He merely believed, as most Buddhists traditions believe, that the gods are not relevant to acheiving Nirvana.


That he was said or he said or someone said that because he could be Hindu(!) It has surely nothing to do with not being an Atheist. You speak like you were his good friend. Have you read all ""his"" writings?

: (!) "Definitely not an atheist. He merely..." Again, too confident when saying something about someone who lived 2000 years ago...If it was about someone you knew personally, I would take it. Now I was confident too, and confidence is a two-edged sword(again!) , but your confidence, not adhominen, mind you, I say AdCommentum that, by how your Tone sounds, your confidence is bigger than mine.

:And to conclude: What you call Hindu here? please clarify, because if you say that this is a Religion, I mean, If you are talking about hinduism, mind, ( off course when you said Hindu there you are not talking about he being born in India) So.There is a thing called Buddhism, and this thing is Not called Hinduism for some reason, so if buddha was something, he was Buddhist, So saying that he was Hindu to prove this point is unreasonable reasoning. Now forget about Hindu or Hinduism, If you are saying that the Buddhism Buddha Thinked(not the one people transformed in fairy tales) is not an Atheist, serious, Serious, philosophycal thinking, that thats what you are saying, because there is no Rigorous Scientifically proof of what you say, And to conclude the conclusion: We Cannot Read His Mind, even if he was alive.


If you haven’t read it I’d highly recommend “The Universe in a Single Atom” by the Dalai Lama. He is one smart person, and I found it both delightful and thought provoking.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/100629


This looks good, ordered.


If you struggle, I recommend this: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWY_DgicYlqy6g96OiRKR... - dhamma on air. Some Danish guy who was medical doctor (used to be AI researcher ) answers around 3 questions per video. The answer from the questions are the valuable ones.


I remember a teacher in the 80s asking the class when humans proved the Earth was round. The correct answer for her was when an astronaut took a picture from outer space.

While I'm sure your theory fits for some, there's also some misunderstanding of science that can be at play too.

For me, there's little difference between a flat earther and believing we didn't know there Earth was round until we took a picture. Sure, one knows the Earth is round and one doesn't, but they both are missing the foundation to know _why_ we know the Earth is round. If you can't explain why, you don't really understand it. And if you don't understand it, you're susceptible to misinformation.


You're susceptible to misinformation to the extent that you can't verify a truth claim. And you can't verify most truth claims.

You can gaslight basically anyone about basically anything by playing epistemological games with them. Unless they have direct experience with the thing in question and they have personally observed the phenomena in question you can always get people to realize that they take everything they know on faith. It's a hell of a thing to realize.

I did this to my nephew recently with regards to Flat Earth when she said "but we have satellites up in space, so we know its round!" and I asked her "did you see the satellites go up into space?" and the penny dropped for her that she realized she took it on faith that the satellites were really up there and that if she wanted to find out if they really were or not that it would be one hell of a task.

Now, that's a pretty reasonable thing to take on faith and aside from a few conspiracy theorists there is broad consensus about that and it doesn't seem to be particularly contraversial. But our epistemology about most things boils down to that. We don't actually know anything. We are told things, we don't verify them for ourselves because it's way too expensive or not even possible for us to do so and we build our whole model of the world on that + things we personally observe.

You also can't explain basically how anything works in great detail. Look around any given room in your house and start going through items and explaining them in as deep detail as you can.

So with that as a reference point any time anyone has an explanation for something that provides more detail than your model has and they seem believable, it's actually not easy for you at all to tell when someone is bullshitting you either on purpose or because they are just as clueless as you. This is why we believe all manner of crazy, implausible things.


Very well said!

I heard someone on the Joe Rogan podcast describe science as faith.

There's nothing in the universe that says gravity today must act like gravity tomorrow. We basically take it on faith that we understand gravity and that it's not changing.

If you're looking for 100% confidence, "I think therefore I am" or simply "I am" is as close as we've come.


Eratosthenes not only showed that the earth is round but computed its circumference around 200BC by measuring shadows at two different latitudes.


Aristotle's proof was less mathematical but to me more surprising: "you can see Earth's shadow on the Moon and it's always a circle" which point to a great deal of understanding of planets, lightning and orbital mechanics.


As I've read it, he got a very close estimate, but only because he made two errors that happened to cancel each other out.

As well, he didn't actually measure the shadows himself, but heard stories about there being no shadow at a specific city.


What he did was simple geometry, and in a way he was the right man in the right place. He heard that the sun was in zenith during the summer solstice ina certain town. He had a good runner measure the distance between Alexandria and that town and then measured the angle of the sun during the solistice in Alexandria (for simplicity, say it was 6 degrees). To get the full circle, just multiple by 60.

6th graders maths.


Is a pity that we have lost "his" library by human stupidity. There could have been a lot more to know about the state-of-art of astrography at his time.


I feel that you've nailed this PERFECTLY. These are also my thoughts after watching many hours of flat earth videos and talking in person to people who believe in flat earth. The discussion is always emotional and often ends with namecalling. It's really apparent that this is not only a discussion about facts, but something they are deeply invested in emotionally.


Nobody wants to be a nobody who goes to work every day, makes PowerPoints that nobody cares about every day, goes home every day, watches TV every day, and in the end amounts to nothing special, nothing memorable, because there's nothing interesting or unusual in life - just boring stagnant nothingness, no moral framework to guide you to heroic status, day after day until you croak.

It's certainly the case that identity politics meets the same need, which is why adherents are so aggressive and get so emotional when the ideology is attacked. If you aren't religious then how do you know if you're a good person or not? Christianity is at heart a methodology for convincing yourself you're a good person, and getting back on track when you sin. Following Christ's teachings makes you good, and if/when you fall to temptation and don't, you can pray for forgiveness and restore your goodness. Pretty simple.

The concept of original sin gets added on because otherwise there might be people who claim they aren't sinners, and that would annoy those who are taking it seriously and trying to genuinely be better people. It's quicker to argue "in fact we are all sinners due to the crimes of our forefathers" than to drill into that person's life specifically and try to identify specific instances of sinning, which is high effort and likely to upset people. By claiming everyone is tainted by original sin, nobody can opt out of the purifying rituals of praying for forgiveness - probably a good idea for community cohesion.

But if you're not religious and nobody else is, then there's an absence of any philosophical framework to tell you what makes a good person good, vs just a morally ambiguous nothingburger. Unless, of course, you sign up to the tenets of identity politics and feminism, in which case goodness comes from supporting minorities and - if you are a straight white man - admitting to your original sin and going through various highly visible purifying rituals that stand in for praying for forgiveness, like stating you will definitely try to hire and promote more women in future.

In the end the moral needs it all meets is the same. Take away the underlying ideology by pointing out its contradictions and flaws, and people are at risk of losing the feeling of goodness that is so important. So of course they go on the attack.


So it's all vanity and narcissism, basically! Needing to have a sense of how awesome you are. To me, the nothingburger feels like a lot less pressure. Less to live up to.


Well, I'm the same, I'm OK with seeing myself as a morally ambiguous person. But I might not be that way forever, and I do deeply understand the need for a moral framework. It's not vanity and narcissism.

Really, seeing how the current culture wars have been playing out has for the first time given me a real appreciation for religion, even though I'm not religious. Christianity and similar religions seem to have a much more positive affect on people's lives than red/blue or black/white style tribal chest-beating. I don't fear religious people. People who have replaced religion with identity politics though, bear more resemblance to crusaders than they might like to admit. The mentality is not merely "if I believe these things, I'm good" .... it's also "and I must convert unbelievers, to cleanse the world of evil beliefs". It actually quite strongly resembles the early stages of the Abrahamic religions.


I think there's a symmetry between conspiracy theorists and conspiracies. It's a kind of jealousy. They want to feel like they're in on a secret club. You can go one better than joining the Illuminati by instead joining the secret club that exposes them.


Haha I hadn't heard that one before, I like it! Interestingly this kind of one-upsmanship quite easily makes conspiracy theories self-fulfilling. Consider the secret club that defends against the Illuminati. Then, another secret club arises to defend against the excesses of the first club. Since they define themselves in opposition to the other, the second group may as well be the Illuminati, which justified the conspiracy theory of the first group all along! Lovely!


Both groups are the Illuminati — that’s how we planned it (obviously).


I think Mark (Sherlock, League of Gentlemen, Doctor Who) Gatiss put it quite well - http://thebarofgold.tumblr.com/post/100646665073/gatissed-i-...

The problem with this stuff is it's all very amusing and cute until you end up with people that irrational making decisions about millions of people's lives.


Control is a faulty illusion resulting in really bad policy. Here is a video of explaining this in a popular cartoon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StrbppmsZJw

Instead of exercising control rational people focus their energy on planning of attainment of a goal.


Another possibility is that among the many beliefs a person has, focusing on belief perfection is "over-fitting" (as we are always accumulating more knowledge), and that some misfit beliefs just happen to be really socially detrimental despite that many kooky beliefs don't cause people to exercise violence or harm against their neighbors.


"At its core" you're not wrong.

And I was going to say "and where people think a quick google search can debunk specialists" which I wish I was wrong, but there are so many "specialists" out there that fail on the basic level it's not even funny.

See all the climate deniers with PhD in their names, see all the "security specialists" that still think SSN and Mother's maiden name is worth anything for identification. The fear mongering of the past about Linux.


I would say that putting climate change and flat Earth into the same category is not totally fair. While the geometry of the Earth has been pretty clear for millennia and the local CO2 level can be accurately measured, many more subtle questions on climate change still don't have clear cut answers.


If you want to make that argument, then be aware that many more subtle questions on the Earth's geometry still don't have clear cut answers.

That is, as "geometry" becomes more and more refined, there are questions of why the the continents are they way they are (Wegener's theory wasn't rejected until the 1900s!), why certain volcanoes exist where they are, why certain rock formations exist where they are, etc. That's why geology is still an active field.


Geometry, geography and geology are different things.

There are no outstanding subtle questions about the Earth's geometry as far as I'm aware. It's not a perfect sphere but we have literally mapped the surface of the Earth with detailed 3D point clouds - we can model the geometry down to near arbitrary levels of detail, and we do. Look at Google Earth!

Questions about how the Earth got into its current state and why it looks the way it does are not geometric questions.


Even if you speak only of shape, WGS 84 != EGM96 != EGM2008. The geometry handles increasingly more and more subtle details.


Yeah, but those aren't subtle questions, they're subtle answers :)


There are no subtle questions about whether or not the earth is flat. Continental drift and geology are very much irrelevant.


I did not think that "geometry" meant only "is the earth flat or not".


Feeling like you're the part of an elite group of people who have "discovered" the truth of a conspiracy theory makes people feel important and inflates their sense of self worth. Whether it's moon landing hoax, flat Earth, anti vaccines, whatever.


This is a great explanation for anti-vaxxers as well.


[flagged]


"spirituality - morality - control..."

I think one could add also social proof as fourth element.

As the mass of believers grows the phenomenon becomes self perpetuating up to a point as people are wired to imitate things they percieve in others - were that a belief or skill.

Control is partly caused by the group's self control, and partly by power hungry political figures at the "top" of the movement - leaders if the movement is organized, or just "thought leaders" if the movement is less organized.


Increasingly with life these days, I feel like I am an actor in a play where the producer sees less and less of a role for me in the production as the curtain keeps raising on increasingly chaotic scenes - so I end up feeling disconnected and distant from something that I was immersed in and enjoying, and am now just an increasing befuddled and alienated observer.

The uptick in flat earth theories among other things is central to that. I made the mistake of clicking on an anti flat earth Youtube channel once (SciManDan for reference [0]) and now get others videos in that channel as 'suggested videos'. I try not to click on them, but... I do. And each time I do, a little more of me dies on the inside when I see what the pro F/E pundits are putting out there, AND see their followers applauding it as 'truth'. The globe earth model is now apparently just a 'belief system' and not science any more. o_O

[0] - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRtsZ5Iak9wSLsQLQ3XOAeA


now get others videos in that channel as 'suggested videos'.

FWIW, you can always remove that video from your history, so you won't get those recommendations anymore. Well, assuming you were logged into a Google account when you viewed it. Visit https://www.youtube.com/feed/history and use the smaller search bar to find any "questionable" videos and then you can delete them from your watch history.

Another option is to click the little 3-dot menu on the suggested video, click "not interested", then click the "tell us why" link, and there should be an option like "I'm not interested in recommendations based on (SOME VIDEO)". You can check that checkbox and submit, and you should stop seeing those recommendations.


I have youtube history disabled but still get "recommended" videos.

I'm thinking reinstalling greasemonkey to find a script that get rid of them.


Yeah, my guess is that if you're not logged in, or have history disabled, they still generate recommendations by IP or something... or they just give you generic recommendations that go to everybody that doesn't have a history to use.

I don't mind, since I like the recommendations in general. But I think they dramatically overweight recent videos when they generate the recommendations, and sometimes I'll watch a video that's outside my normal habits, and I suddenly start getting all these weird recommendations. That's the only reason I ever bothered learning about the "remove this from my history" feature. :-)


Thank you so much.


The flat earth thing is actually a new twist on flakey spirituality that has always resonated with a large portion of sheltered Americans.

Growing up before 2000, it was a lot more Noah’s Ark, The Shroud of Tourin, Bible Codes, whether angels are real, and of course, exorcisms.

I can only laugh at this flat earth shit, but it actually fits right in with how people would buy right into what used to be on TV. Only nobody watches TV like they used to, so whatever’s on the computer shall dominate. And that’s all there is to it.


I think the success of these off-kilter theories is strongly connected to many people's lives becoming off-kilter.

This society has increased both social isolation and material poverty over the last twenty years. Moreover, most people depend on the relative sanity of others to balance their own impulses and so a decline in rationality can have cumulative effect.


> This society has increased both social isolation and material poverty over the last twenty years.

Can you please support this claim with credible data? Sincere question - I'm just reading a book recommended by Bill Gates that claims that the world is way better today than it was 20 years ago.


Gates' claims are entirely concerning a world wide decrease in people living on "pennies a day". This is essentially just that group of people who lived outside the economy entirely now finally entering it. It really has nothing to do with the conditions of the average person already living in a money based economy.

We have seen a decrease in US median income over the last however many years [1]. The way rent tends to be excluded from this underestimates the increase in impoverishment here imo also. There are also the frequent articles concerning how many people are $500/$1000/etc away disaster.

For increased social isolation, Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone is the classic (Note, Gates is neither an economist nor a sociologist. Putnam is a well recognized sociologist).

Note that the Average American's life span decreased for the second year in a row. This is notable since increases in medical technology tend to increase this life expectancy even when nothing else changes[2]. A big factor in the reduced life expectancy is what's termed "deaths from despair".

[1]https://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/01/20/who-is-the-middle...

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2017/12/21/health/us-life-expectancy-stu...


"It really has nothing to do with the conditions of the average already living in a money based economy."

I'm not sure the median American is representative of the global citizen "living in a money based economy". I have not read Gates' book, but I think it likely you are being overly dismissive.

I think the average person in the world has an income of maybe $10K a year, which is not "pennies a day", but it's low by American standards. It seems at least plausible that people on this level have become better off.

Life expectancy has been decreasing in other places besides the US. I was just reading an article that said it's down in the UK. Russia hasn't been doing so well either, I seem to recall. But I figure there is a biological limit and the newest medical tech doesn't have much effect in the aggregate. So it's the countries that still have low life expectancies that are going to show uniform gains.


Life expectancy has been decreasing in other places besides the US. I was just reading an article that said it's down in the UK. Russia hasn't been doing so well either, I seem to recall. But I figure there is a biological limit and the newest medical tech doesn't have much effect in the aggregate.

Or actually quality of life for the working class world-wide could decreasing? Medical research has had an effect for quite a while most places, including the US. It seems like you are the one dismissing facts with unverified speculation.


Life expectancy generally goes down these days either in war-torn places, or other extreme - people overeating on tons of junk food, and generally not compensating their eating habits with adequate physical activity. We are very far from times when medicine and science can properly fix bodies destroyed by such a lifestyle.

Russia & former soviet union countries are a bit special but within same category - their alcoholism contributes heavily to their lower life expectancy.

To me it looks like a perfect storm - people living more stressful lives getting their impulses more from cell phone than real world out there, eating worse and more of it, exercising less. I don't believe most of this is directly related to wealth, although many would like to connect these. More like some mental fortitude and strength to keep up some sane regime of healthy eating & exercising (really, you just need running shoes in most of the world, cheap yearly gym pass can easily cover 100% of your needs).


One small remark: you say "fraction" of people living on pennies a day. To me, at least, "fraction" implies a small group. To an American, it might be a small group, but world wide they were still the majority until 30 years ago. Even now, they're probably 30-40% of them world's population.


I have not read Bill Gates' book, but I have heard little dispute that the material conditions of the working class _in the developed world_ have not improved much in the last forty or so years. The "elephant curve" is the best simple depiction I've seen of this: https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2016/09/17/s...

The article goes on to describe why it's not quite so bad as the original graph made it seem, but even the "Alternative" shows the same general pattern.


Material conditions have improved almost universally, but it doesn't mean that social cohesion is any better.

It just means we're not dying of a bunch of things, our homes are heated and we do less dishes etc..


You could easily find lots of ways to find that fortunes have improved while objectively the majority wholly in the US have seen theirs decrease.

- The gains of a larger number of very poor much more than offset losses by a relatively smaller number.

- The total value of wealth can increase substantially even if almost all of it sticks to a minorities hands total/population still gives a higher number.

- The relative price of many goods could have fallen leading to more buying power ergo more stuff you don't objectively need to live while the cost of stuff you vitally need like a home and medicine have gone way up. Therefore you are more "wealthy" and worse off.


$10 bucks says you're talking about Pinker's Englightenment now


Factfulness by Hans Rosling, it's the book that Bill Gates donated to US students.


I recently had a chat with a “flat earther”, well not really but a ... believer in the same conspiratorial vein. It was quite fun to suggest that chem trails flat earth etc might be a anmerican corporate conspiracy to extract woulrd dominance.

Once you put it in a langugage they can understand, a real conversation can be had. I did not convert him or anything but at least managed to make him ask real questions.

And to be honest this is not that far from the truth - all those cult leaders are just praying on people with hightened curiosities and pushing them into a “local maximum” of understanding, one that they can extract money / fame from. A textbook conspiracy:)


> It was quite fun to suggest that chem trails flat earth etc might be a anmerican corporate conspiracy to extract woulrd dominance.

It's more likely a Russian plot to damage US scientific and technical capability. Why else would RT feature so much of that stuff?


Both pro- and anti- flat earth content attracts views, which translate into ad hits and money. Some outlets will push anything for money.


You just have to accept that most people are not rational. They don't experience reality through a scientific (for lack of a better word) perspective. Most believe in some sort of magical deities or spirits or life force or whatever. Most operate with a physical model of reality that's clearly pre-Galilean.

So flat Earth? Why not?


My working hypothesis is that most people lack the intellectual capacity to understand these things, and they haven't the fortitude to accept that they don't understand or don't know something.

So instead of attempting to understand they select some imagined model that does make sense to them and act as though it is truth.

Challenging them is difficult since they are so invested in their fancies being true; the alternative after all is accepting that you don't understand something and where does that leave them? This is why evidence and rational arguments are futile.

If they could grasp the facts and the arguments in the first place they wouldn't have had to construct these fancies in place of them! It's almost tautological that those who can believe flat earth stuff are also incapable of accepting science.


> My working hypothesis is that most people lack the intellectual capacity to understand these things, and they haven't the fortitude to accept that they don't understand or don't know something.

I don't think it is a lack of intellectual capacity, but it is more of nurture. In the sense of their community / groups do not put much focus / value on "intellectual" things.

Imagine it as currency, say you're surrounded by people using US$, you probably wouldn't collect Swiss Francs because it is not valued by your community.

So people in different communities value certain things (intellectual ability, social IQ, even knowledge about what fashion is in atm.) differently. Many communities do not see being adept in scientific reasoning and critical thinking valuable traits.


>>So instead of attempting to understand they select some imagined model that does make sense to them and act as though it is truth.

Furthermore, the reason they are attracted to such models is that it gives them the sense that they are a member of a small, exclusive group of “enlightened” individuals who have it all figured out.

There is a reason con men go after such people.


Yesterday I found a post about electric universe or so. Boy, that thing seems to get traction is right on the level of flat earth... They think math is wrong and not needed and everything is based on electricity...


I'm laughing grimly because I know the feeling. I like your stage analogy. The antidote I use is to carve out my own small space... My own show, as it were. Also I think it helps to get away from the information firehose and be outdoors in a natural or quasi-natural environment for some hours. Gives you a different kind of understanding of what's real.


I read quite a bit of the discussion here, and I’m struck:

People railing against anti-scientific attitudes by spouting the first shit they made up that makes some intuitive sense to them about psychology and/or group dynamics.

I wonder if anyone else sees the irony?


YES! Thank you. I hate this part of HN.

It feels like people here are so militantly anti-religion or frankly anti-everything that's not taught in science classes. This in a very contemptious, oh-so toxic way.

I like this article: http://www.paulgraham.com/ecw.html

And that would apply to everyone, not just F/E:ers. Now that's how you achieve true pluralism, not that I'm necessarily advocating that, but it's better than this hegemony and/or hate mongering.

I call for some dignity on the basis of humanity, I guess. And a bit of respect and humility wouldn't hurt, either ...


> People railing against anti-scientific attitudes by spouting the first shit they made up that makes some intuitive sense to them about psychology and/or group dynamics.

How is making hypothesis anti-scientific? If anything, it's the basis of science.

What's anti-scientific about flat-earther is how they ignore evidence. This is 100% what we discuss when we talk against flat-earther. Can you show me any comment here that ignore evidence?

You are free to argue anything that's being said here and to show evidence of any of this. This is part of the scientific process and it's alright.


Look, I really don't want to be antagonistic here, but this is a pet peeve of mine re: science. Plus psychology and group dynamics in particular are a big part of my field... so I'm going to engage here, and I just want you to know before I start that I'm doing it in good faith.

Framing what is happening in thread as "making hypotheses" is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

A hypothesis is a guess about the causal structure relevant to a narrow question that is formulated to be falsifiable. Normally it's generated from a deep understanding of the domain and is actually a question about an aspect of that domain that isn't yet clear. "Is it like THIS or like THAT? How could we tell the difference between those worlds?"

It's like debugging, actually. You see a bug in your software, and you know something, probably a lot, about the overall program. That lets you imagine what, specifically, might be going wrong, so you form guesses about that, and you check those guesses. You can check by just watching the values of variables as they move around the system until you see something anomalous. You can also check by predicting what might happen given certain inputs, and you send those inputs to verify that you are right, and to give you clues about where to investigate further. Finally you notice the part of the program that is almost certainly the source of the problem, and then you form a model of what is supposed to happen, and you change the code to reflect your new understanding until the inputs match the expected outputs. Sometimes the answer is a small change, and sometimes it's a major structural or conceptual change.

That is a scientific investigation that involves real hypothesis formation and testing.

Suppose instead that your well-meaning, non-technical uncle saw the bug. He might suggest you restart the computer. Whether he's right that that would fix the immediate problem is virtually irrelevant: HE doesn't have any idea if it would fix anything, and if it did fix something it wouldn't actually address whatever the underlying technical problem actually is. It may be an issue that you know--because you understand the domain--couldn't possibly be solved with a restart. Your uncle doesn't know anything, he's just parroting stuff he's heard before about how to "fix computers." In other words, he's just making shit up. Spouting whatever makes intuitive sense to him given his total lack of domain expertise. It's all well-meaning, and done in good faith, but...

Your uncle did not, in any meaningful sense, generate a "hypothesis" about your software bug.

What I am saying in my original post is that this thread is full of your well-meaning, non-technical uncle.

And it's particularly grating to me because the "program" in question here is science itself, and the uncles are signaling their group membership in Team Science by doing something they seem to believe is science-like, but in fact is not.

And further the not-science-like thing the people in this thread are doing is structurally identical to the people they are signaling against. The difference is that the people in this thread have slightly more sophisticated models of things like gravity and distinguishing plausible information from implausible information.

Flat earthers are a particularly central example of believing some shit they made up, that makes intuitive sense to them given their lack of domain expertise. The people in this thread, making their guesses about psychology and group dynamics, are doing the same activity in the same way, but just in a domain that isn't as obvious.

It bothers me. Rant over.


I'm reading it as well, and where you see "spouting the first shit they made up", I see interesting thoughts and theories. I don't see irony, and I don't understand where your angry, superior point of view is coming from.


I got to the part where his parents were jehovas witnesses, and realised that perhaps people who are gullible enough to believe dumb shit like flat earth, are probably wired to believe dumb shit.

I’ll explain, my grandmother is a jehovas witness.

She believes any dumb shit she reads and hears, no matter how easily one could refute it. She will argue black and blue, and if you try and tell her she’s wrong, it only reinforces that she’s right and onto something “big” since we have to refute it.

Thing is about Jehovas witnesses is they believe that there’s a limited number of places in heaven, and only the truly devout will get a spot. There’s two real good ways to earn yourself a spot.

1. Donate a lot of money to the church over a lifetime. 2. Convert as many people as you can.

It is in essence a pyramid scheme.

No mattter how many times I’ve told her that she won’t earn one of the ~200,000 spaces in heaven (it’s really what they believe) because there’s easily a few million members of the “church” globally, and they would all be as devout as her... so if they all die before her surely they would get one of the 200,000 spots. Then what happens? Does their god say to person number 200,001 “oh shit man sorry we just sold out of spots in heaven. clicks teeth

She will retort with “those other people have probably sinned and won’t get a spot.” Alluding that she’s better than people she doesn’t know. Which I’ll turn around on her and tell her that kind of thinking is probably a sin.

She will get up and walk away and we will begin this again next year.

Flat Earthers to me are similar to this kind of mindset. To hear that his flat earther parents were also Jehovas Witnesses... just wow.


> Thing is about Jehovas witnesses is they believe that there’s a limited number of places in heaven, and only the truly devout will get a spot

> No mattter how many times I’ve told her that she won’t earn one of the ~200,000 spaces in heaven (it’s really what they believe)

It's not. They do believe that a limited group of people - 144,000 to be exact - will live in heaven to be kings and rulers, but the rest of faithful JWs will live on a paradise earth, without any disease and death - forever. So they don't "compete" for the spots in heaven, if fact they believe those are people already chosen by God and feel that they have heavenly calling somehow. It is true that they feel they have to sort of "earn" their spot on the paradise earth by having deep faith and doing good deeds, among of which are contributing to the church financially, preaching the "good news" and converting people.

Source: I was a JW for 14 years and quit few years ago.


My dad has been a lifelong atheist and a generally rational person but recently, thanks to YouTube, he's discovered conspiracies and gone all in on just about all of them. 9/11, moon landings, crop circles are all definitely conspiracies. I'm not sure what he thinks about flat earth yet but he'll probably get there.

So it's not just pre-trained religious people who are susceptible. They're probably much more susceptible, though.


I make a daily effort to point out to elderly people in my family to be extremely aware of the electronic "fishing" for LandMoonDeniers, using "fishing hook/bait" headlines mixed in the middle of "serious/real" headlines, or adds placed by the website or the social media tool, and even spammed chat tool messages bought by the thousands from you know who.

When someone clicks one of this, they know you are easy to braiwash or scam. This is already very old technique , already used before Internet was so widespread, when a pretty girl will make cold calls all day long from some IP telephone call-center installed in Panama or Costa Rica or , in a small operation, in the Cayman Islands, and as she was trained, she could detect a LandMoonDenier in a minute by the phone, and she would set up the Larceny lace around his neck to scam her/his money.

Examples of this baits can be found, for instance, on The Sputinik News, what is very Scary and is a shame, and does't help at all the denial of Russian Interference by russian gov, but actually they don't really want to deny it(because it is not them who is doing this, If it was, they would never let the minimal vestige of evidence that it was them who do it), they know who is working in the shadows to elect , for example, a brainless in brazil, and they know this weird things are not coming from anyone from the U.S. or from the US intel, so they are just having fun playing and letting play, as long as the game is good for them.

:off course, the world's oldest profession is probably not that of the sex trade, or the sex trade was born at the same time that the criminal religious larceny firstly made by the first human who got a curious colored stone and told his tribe that this stone was God and that the village should give him/her good sex and good food,to keep the Priest of the Stone, bearer of the Words and Laws of God, happy, and to keep God happy by extension.


It's important to understand that FE has nothing to do with finding the "truth" and everything to do with belonging to a club that gives you access to privileged secret knowledge. It's no different from any other religion or cult.


'Being in a club with secret knowledge' doesn't fit the description of 'religion' very well, though there some aspects of cults for which the description may allude.

But that said - this is a hard one, much different than 'aliens' or 'arcane knowledge' because the simple truth is actually evident for everyone to see.

It's the craziest of all conspiracy theories because it's so utterly deniable.

I mean ... I don't think aliens have made contact with the White House ... but heck, it's in the realm of statistical plausibility! (Maybe I want it to be true ...). (Edit: we do spend many millions of 'legit' research dollars trying to find aliens, so it makes more sense that there's conspiracy there)

But 'flat earth' has to be the dumbest of all.

For this reason it's a very interest phenomenon.


> 'Being in a club with secret knowledge' doesn't fit the description of 'religion' very well,

Why not? (I debated whether or not to include "religion" in my comment because the word is so laden with baggage, but ultimately decided that it was apt, so I am prepared to defend it if you really want to go down that rabbit hole.)

> But 'flat earth' has to be the dumbest of all.

Not even close. (Go read some Scientology literature, or the Book of Mormon.) But the fact that FE is so vehemently rebutted by the scientific establishment is a feature to the flat-earthers, proof that they really are fighting the good fight even though the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against them. That's the whole point.


> Not even close. (Go read some Scientology literature, or the Book of Mormon.)

Color me intrigued. Which statements in the book of Mormon do you believe are significantly more readily deniable than "the earth is flat" in some sense different that doesn't also apply to the statements in, say, the bible.

Same question for Scientology.


Well, I could also point to the Bible, but I feel like I'm already pushing the boundaries of what is appropriate on HN.

In the case of the BoM it's not so much what's in the Book as the process by which it came to be written. Joseph Smith literally pulled it out of his hat! Also the ancillary beliefs that have grown up around it: Kolob, sacred underwear, institutionalized racism, polygamy...

In the case of Scientology, oh my goodness, where to even begin. The whole thing is just chock-full of weird. Thetans, Xenu, Clams... Just browse xenu.net.


Sounds like you are just talking about things you find really weird rather than things that are easily falsifiable.

I'm not convinced that any of the things you are discussing can be disproved more easily than flat earth.


I think you're underestimating how hard it is to disprove a flat earth (to a flat-earher).


I think you are confusing how hard it is to convince flat-earthers that the earth is not flat with how ridiculously easy it is to prove the the earth is not flat.

I (and the original comment you responded to) are discussing the second of these two.


Those two things are not distinct. It is manifestly untrue that it is easy to prove that the earth is round because there are people who have seen this alleged proof and remain unconvinced. The fact that you (and I) think those people are idiots is not probative.


"It is manifestly untrue that it is easy to prove that the earth is round because there are people who have seen this alleged proof and remain unconvinced. "

No, it's not 'alleged proof' it's 'proof' and the people who do not believe it obviously have some kind of problem.



I mean, sure, if you want to go down the route that nothing is falsifiable because the government is putting hallucinogens in the water so you can't trust anything you perceive, or whatever.

But if that is the case, it is impossible to prove or disprove anything, so it doesn't make much sense that you claimed flat earth is "not even close" to two religions in terms of difficulty of disproving (there can be no rank of everything is impossible). I'm not sure what you were going for there. Probably still you think Scientology and the Book of Mormon are "dumber" than flat earth theory simply because they sound weirder to you, which is fine, but not really a response to 'sonnyblarney's original comment.


> if you want to go down the route that nothing is falsifiable

It's not me going down that route, it's the flat-earthers.

> Probably still you think Scientology and the Book of Mormon are "dumber" than flat earth theory simply because they sound weirder to you

No. You are raising a straw man here. It has nothing to do with dumbness (though I do admit I find some aspects of Mormonism and many aspects of Scientlology to be pretty dumb.) Nearly all religions are "easily" proven false simply by the overwhelming evidence that there is no afterlife, that mind is a function of brain, and when the brain dies, the mind dies with it. That's for a "generic" religion with no specific claims about the nature of the afterlife, whether or not there are deities, etc. etc. Scientology and Mormonism (to cite but two of many noteworthy examples) go on to make many more specific false claims, each one of which makes the theory easier to debunk.

But of course this is not going to convince anyone who adheres to a religion, which is my whole point. There really is no difference. Religion and flat-eartherism both have equal scientific tenability (i.e. zero). People adhere to these beliefs for other reasons. And in both cases, those reasons are not entirely illegitimate.


> overwhelming evidence that there is no afterlife

How can you have evidence that something doesn't exist when that thing leaves no evidence?

> mind is a function of brain, and when the brain dies, the mind dies with it

This is not provable. Suppose there is an infinitely powerful computer system outside of our universe that doesn't influence our universe but knows everything about it. Then it could copy the contents of the brain upon death and run the brain in a simulation.

You can certainly not believe in there being an infinitely powerful computer system like this, but it's a claim entirely unrelated to your claim about the brain.


> How can you have evidence that something doesn't exist when that thing leaves no evidence?

In the exact same way that I have evidence that the round earth is not a government conspiracy: I have a theory that provides a good explanation for all the available evidence, namely, that the earth is in fact round, and that mind is in fact a function of brain. It really is the exact same situation with respect to provability in both cases.

> Suppose there is an infinitely powerful computer system outside of our universe

Now you're back in "the government is putting hallucinogens in the water" territory.

And, BTW, brain-cloning technology would in no way refute my position. To the contrary, the development of this technology would just be further evidence that mind is a function of some kind of computational substrate that can be understood in purely materialistic terms.


I agree that you have evidence for a theory that there is no soul; I disagree on whether that is evidence against a generic afterlife.

Two things could be simultaneously true: First, that the "mind is a function of some kind of computational substrate that can be understood in purely materialistic terms." Second, that there is this kind of an afterlife.

An afterlife doesn't require the existence of a soul. It could "just" be another computational substrate that runs the function of the mind.

> Now you're back in "the government is putting hallucinogens in the water" territory.

This infinitely powerful computer system is just a metaphor for a deity that is omniscient. I could have equivalently said "Suppose there is a deity that knows everything about the universe. Then it could copy the contents of the brain upon death and run the brain in a simulation." If you're going to say that the existence of an omniscient deity is equivalent to hallucinogens in the water supply, then we're not going to convince each other of anything, since I came into this discussion assuming that we were taking a generic omniscient deity as a reasonable given.


I never said anything about a soul. And I never said that mind is a function of "some kind of computational substrate." I said mind is a function of brain, which is a very particular kind of computational substrate with very specific properties, one of which is that it is impossible (given current technological constraints) to make a copy of it.

> Suppose there is a deity that knows everything about the universe

What difference does it make if you call it a "deity" or an "intelligent alien" or a "government conspiracy" or a leprechaun? Yes, brain-cloning technology is possible in principle (as far as we know) but there is no evidence that it actually exists anywhere. Likewise, a vast conspiracy to produce fake evidence for a round earth is also possible in principle, but there is no evidence for it. These two things have the exact same ontological status.

> I came into this discussion assuming that we were taking a generic omniscient deity as a reasonable given.

Huh??? Why would you assume that?


So is your proof that the afterlife can’t exist summed up by “brain-cloning technology is not within current human reach, and there’s no non-human thing out there that could do the brain-cloning”? Because sure, I agree with that statement. In your original comment you were referring to a generic afterlife. Common afterlives discussed involve non-human being(s) to run the whole thing, so I assumed that we could assume the existance of one. Yes, I do realize that that is a very western perspective, but also we’re on a website that is primarily western.


> your proof that the afterlife can’t exist

I didn't say that it can't exist, I said that it doesn't exist. Very important distinction. Fusion reactors can exist, but don't.

> Common afterlives discussed involve non-human being(s) to run the whole thing, so I assumed that we could assume the existance of one.

Again: why on earth would you assume that? People talk about warp drive too, but that doesn't license you to assume that it exists.


> Yes, I do realize that that is a very western perspective

I'd say it's more of a deist[1] perspective, which certainly is firmly rooted in Western culture and philosophical tradition. While it's not that surprising to have it invoked even on HN, assuming it as a given is a bit much. Especially in the context of hard-core empiricism[2] and materialism[3] - which are the other, but also significant philosophical traditions in the West - applied by lisper.

Personally, I agree with lisper - it is possible that the afterlife exists, but we have no theory which would explain how it could exist while also matching the observed reality, which leads to the conclusion that, to the best of our current knowledge, it's extremely unlikely that it exists. The same can be said for any other belief not grounded in scientific facts, including flat-earth theory, chemtrails, moon-landing hoax, anti-vaccine guys and so on, which is the point lisper is making. Once you leave the realm of sound theories with valid evidence, you're in a dream-land where you can meet James Bond, God, Donald Duck, Thetans and Xanu, chakra and Aang and Naruto, aliens running the White House and round-earth conspiracy - while different in many respects, they all lie outside of strictly defined empiric reality.

But, at this point - as noted in the first paragraph - we're rehashing the centuries-old discussion, and we're bound to this in a much less convincing and refined way than the famous philosophers, so maybe let's give it a rest?

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

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialism


For clarity on my thought process: I had interpreted lisper’s original comment as “Religions aren’t true because no afterlife exists.” After what lisper’s said in responses, I see that their actual argument is “Religions aren’t true because no afterlife exists because no deity exists.” The claim about no deity existing had been assumed implicitly in their original post. I hadn’t thought that it would be taken as a given, since we were discussing the truth value of religion. I’m now satisfied with the chain of logic now being strong; it just requires assuming the given that no deity exists.


> After what lisper’s said in responses, I see that their actual argument is “Religions aren’t true because no afterlife exists because no deity exists.”

No, that is not my argument. My argument is that it is just as easy to disprove religion as it is to disprove a flat earth, which is to say, very easy if your target audience is already on board and nearly impossible otherwise.


I agree with that argument 100%.


One final comment from me, then I'll shut up.

> overwhelming evidence that there is no afterlife

I agree that there is no evidence that there is an afterlife. I do not agree that there is evidence that there is no afterlife. So in response to "is there an afterlife," I would say it looks improbable, but can't say for sure that there isn't.

In my mind, this stands in contrast to flat earth: for that, there is no evidence that the earth is flat, but there is also evidence that the earth is not flat. So I can say the earth is definitely not flat, because I can see it is round.

I think our point of disagreement is whether there is evidence that the earth is not flat, because one can come up with all kinds of scenarios to explain the observations while allowing the earth to be flat (hallucinogenic water, etc).

I don't expect to convince you of anything, just wanted to summarize how I think about this, for completeness. As 'klibertp mentioned elsewhere, at this point we are rehashing ancient philosophical discussions (and I'm doing it quite poorly), so let's call it quits (feel free to respond if you want, I'll read it, but won't respond).

It's been fun.



You are both using implicit (so far) and incompatible definitions of "proof" & "proving".

(Just thought that I point it out in case you guys missed it (sorry if you didn't, just trying to be helpful here) but wanted to continue the discussion)



+ ~90% of the world's population are religious (depending on how you look at it) and they mostly grow up in communities wherein everyone is basically the same religion, ergo, they are not generally 'missionary' , 'proselytizing', nor do they feel they have access to 'special information'.

In fact, it's the total opposite: for most of the world's religious, 'religion' is just part of every day, normative culture in most places. It's kind of mundane, actually.

Jehova's Witnesses, referenced in the article, are a totally different ballgame. They are 'default proselytizers' and have a substantially different world view than most folks directly around them.

+ As for why 'Flat Earth' is considerably dumber than Scientology:

'Dianetics' - the Scientology predicate is very close to psychotherapy. Scientology itself is bizarre, but also very interesting 'armchair philosophy'. For example, I think Hubbard's concept of 'tone scale' is brilliant, though it belongs in a blog of ideas, obviously not an institution.

But Scientology is very complex, there's a lot going on, many levels. I can see how it is 'rational' for people to get caught up in it, eve if it's crazy. Scientology leaders are not stupid. There are tons of otherwise very smart people caught up in Scientology ... it's not just full of idiots and crazy people.

But 'Flat Earth' is utterly stupid. It's like saying 'the sky is not blue'. It's the denial of a simple, almost arbitrary fact and it makes no sense at all. I don't think regular people get trapped in 'Flat Earth' conspiracies. Something has to be almost 'wrong' I think to fall for this one.

I think the term 'deprogramming' would be apt for a regular person caught up in a cult.

For 'Flat Earth' - I don't know what one would do with one of those people.


> nor do they feel they have access to 'special information'.

I'm pretty sure that if you actually went and asked them you'd find that most of them consider the Word of God to be pretty special. (More specifically, the fact that they and their group recognize the True Word of God is what makes them feel special.)

> I think Hubbard's concept of 'tone scale' is brilliant

I think you just made my point for me.


[flagged]


There are distinctions between them. Some of the things you mention make claims that fall into the domain of science (I.e. are falsifiable) and some do not (those regarding spirituality, miracles, etc). That is an important and worthwhile distinction.

Incidentally, a lot of the problem of the anti-vaccine movement is not the facts (though there is a lot of that, too) but rather risk analysis. It is extremely probable (pretty much certain) that some vaccines have been associated with harm to some people in the past (and some maybe still do today) but the risk of that is so much ridiculously lower than the risk of not getting the vaccine that it is irrelevant.


The distinctions are fictional. The standards for evidence falsifying are placed arbitrarily high post acquisition of evidence in order to ensure no evidence falsifies. It is a useless way to spend time.


I'm not talking about falsifying it to the people who believe, and probably nothing will change their mind. I'm talking about looking at the claims, determine what evidence would be sufficient to disprove them, and determining whether that evidence can be acquired.

For flat earth, it's easy. I ask myself (not a flat earther) whether the earth is flat, walk outside and make any one of the many observations that indicate the earth is round, and call it a day.

For other things, it is not so easy. Is there a god? How could you disprove that to yourself (different than choosing not to believe because of a lack of positive evidence)? Did Xenu bring billions of aliens to Earth a bajillion years ago and kill them all? Probably not, but how would you even disprove that? It left no trace other than spiritual beings that remain on earth and cannot be detected.

I remain convinced that the specific claims impose their own difficulty to falsify (and yeah, many are designed to be hard to falsify). But yeah, I agree these exercises are a pretty useless way to spend time.


Oh. Right. We have no disagreement. Thanks for taking the time to explain.


But Thetans can be detected: they cause psychological problems, which is why people pay large sums of money to the CoS to exorcise them.


I feel like this whole flat earth craze is more like tide pods than anything else. There are very few people who actually believe the earth is flat just like there are very few people out there who were accidentally eating tide pods. Its a practically nonexistent problem that everybody can't seem to stop talking about. Everybody who seems to talk about it that I ever see mostly do so as a gaff or some other reason. I guess the flip side of that is how many people actually believe there are large groups of the public who do or believe these sorts of things?

For me, where this type of stuff come from is more interesting. Is it pure trolling at its core or is there another reason for spreading the idea that these are problems? Is it some kind of experiment to see where the masses are at psychologically? Is it purely something crazy to talk about to provide revenue from advertising? I doubt we'll ever know who puts forth all the effort or why. But I do bet it will become a thing of the past as the catalysts move on and the cattle get over it.


It's shocking to me how many people don't realize that a great deal of flat eartherism is pure trolling.


I've come to the opinion that there isn't a hard like between trolling and actually believing in something, or actually expressing a genuine negative emotion. I think, in practice, "trolling" is much more than just a synonym for "kidding".


Just so we're clear, I'm saying that it's very obvious that a large number of people who say the earth is flat know the earth is round, and are pretending to believe otherwise because it gets people like you upset, and they enjoy that.

Ironically they aren't the ones with a tenuous grasp on reality; their targets, who mistake their statements as genuine, are the ones who are mistaken.


> For me, where this type of stuff come from is more interesting. Is it pure trolling at its core or is there another reason for spreading the idea that these are problems? Is it some kind of experiment to see where the masses are at psychologically?

Actually many conspiracists think that its promoted by government agencies to discredit other(more plausible) conspiracies by association with Flat Earth(same people believe in X+ Flat Earth, so X is as implausible as Flat Earth).


Earth can't possibly be flat. If it was, the cats would have knocked everything off it by now.


Finally, an air tight argument. I am definitely going to use this.


The author, having been home schooled by Jehovah’s Witnesses, waxes somewhat unsurprised at this reflection, and takes it in stride.

To be honest, having weird family members isn’t really all that weird. Beyond a certain age, when they can no longer embarass you, and you no longer depend on them as guardians, parents transform themselves into quasi-grandparents, even if you don’t have children. Growing up, half my grandparents were cooky, debilitated by age, and not exactly inspiring or heroic.

Old age is kind of terrible, and people mostly don’t improve after 50. So, things could be worse. Abuse and turmoil at younger ages is way more traumatic.


I love this article: https://deansforimpact.org/why-mythbusting-fails-a-guide-to-... (“Why mythbusting fails: A guide to influencing education with science”) Narrowly, it's about “learning styles”, the idea that certain students are e.g. “visual learners” and would benefit from education geared towards visual learners. But more broadly, it's about science in general, about persuasion. In its second half (starting at “Is there any hope for change?”), it outlines an excellent approach for dealing with such cases — or really, any disagreements between people. Failure to follow a similar approach may feel good in the short term, but usually has tragic consequences.

And if it can happen with educated teachers, it can of course happen with flat-earth believers.


This will be controversial, but IMO also related is Jan Assmann's work on “monotheism” (a poor term, as what's intended here includes atheism, as polytheists generally understand): the prevailing meme in (especially) Western culture that “the truth to be proclaimed comes with an enemy to be fought” — i.e. too much concern about what is “true” and wariness about people happening to believe in untruth, regardless of their actions. (The fact that this is on the front page of Hacker News is itself evidence.) This leads to certain… problems.


I thought this “visual learner” vs other kind thing failed to replicate. Example of article listing some sources: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/04/the-myth...


Yes, that's what the article I linked is about. (Specifically, a letter which led to headlines like “Teachers must ditch 'neuromyth' of learning styles, say scientists”.) I see that similar articles (thanks for your link) continue to be published in 2018, which I guess proves that no one took notice or heeded the advice.


Oh, I misunderstood what your summary was. I thought you said that the reason myths don’t take hold is that the learning style doesn’t match the myth busting style. Never mind then!


Interestingly, it's the same problem than to determine if live in a flat or curved space(-time). You can determine curvature by intrinsic means. I you go from north pole to Ecuador painting your direction, turn 90º, advance a quarter of the equator, turn 90º still, and go home the Pole, your arrival direction is at still 90 degreess relative to your starting direction. the angles sum 270º! Instead of the 180 that should sum in flat Euclidean space. IIRC Gauss went to the mountains with ropes and instruments to verify things by himself, in a striking display of intelectual independence, defying any common sense of the time, and in fact he was shown right by the physics of last century. His shitty ropes just hadn't enough measuring accuracy.


As a former Jehovah's Witness myself I can confirm that people from cults like JWs are very susceptible to believeing in conspiracy theories like flat earth, moon landing is hoax, etc. I personally know at least four ex-JWs and one current JW who all believe the Earth is flat. By contrast I don't personally know anyone who was catholic their whole life and turned to flat earth. Which is not to say that this doesn't happen, my point is that people who are extremely devouted to their religion are probably more likely to question everything, even the shape of the Earth, especially after they discover that their religious beliefs were not true.


yeah, years ago I went for a long bike ride (800km in two weeks) with about 2.5k other people. we all stopped at a town for a two day break called Manjimup and we all had to wash our clothes so you can imagine the line up to the public laundry... it went for blocks.

anyway, a nice old bloke walked up and offered his washing machines at his house for use. We didnt much like the idea of hanging around all day just to get into the laundry so we said yes.

He was a lovely old fella, and had a library room in his run down old place that was floor to ceiling, wall to wall filled with books, while our clothes washed he talked to us about god (our first warning sign) then about how the CIA was involved in all sorts of nasties (second warning sign) then I started to notice the titles on the books...

LOTS of JW stuff, Lots of conspiracy theory stuff, lots of antisemitic themed books.

the guy was completely bonkers, utterly up to his eyeballs in conspiracy stuff and somehow always linked it back to how the JW was there to protect themselves from them.

he was a very pleasant enough guy and old and alone but the JW sect seems to have fed him all sorts of bullshit.


I'm sure I believe some things that are wrong (everyone does)...but I hope my kids have the decency not to trash me in a blog post when they're older.


There's a difference in clinging to something you learned in school (e.g. tastes being localized to certain areas of the tongue. Countries neatly dividing into western and third world countries. Pluto being a planet) by not keeping up to date, and believing something we've known to be false for literally thousands of years...


Such a post would be a huge opportunity to improve myself. I hope if I believe such things that anyone that cares about me will not only make such a post that they will share it with me as well.


How do flat earthers explain that the other planets are round and we see different sides of them all the time? Is earth flat and the rest of the planets are spheres??? Even in their bizarre world of logic this seems unassailable.


"What do you mean, 'we'? When I look through a telescope, all I see is a fuzzy dot. Scientists keep conveniently coming up with these photos that supposedly show the Earth and other planets to be round, but the rest of us have no way of verifying that they're anything other than pure fiction."

Or something along those lines.


You can doubt anything given sufficient belief in conspiracies, but the most compelling evidence that the typical flat-earth theories are wrong for me, is a picture of Antarctica from directly overhead.

e.g. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/36839/antarctica


> Scientists keep conveniently coming up with these photos that supposedly show the Earth and other planets to be round, but the rest of us have no way of verifying that they're anything other than pure fiction.

Unfortunately this still applies. It’s very hard to “prove” this to people, space travel being expensive and all, but until they can experience it themselves it’s easy to keep coming up with reasons why scientists are misleading you.


They basically think there's a dome over the earth, and the stars are just a flat projected/printed surface on that dome (and other variations of that idea, like that the sun/moon are inside the dome going in circles overhead).


The vast majority of the world consists of things that the majority of people are incapable of creating from scratch if you gave them a thousand year lifespan and free food.

A minority actually adds to the world. What we call civilization is a giant corpus of knowledge, patterns of stimulus/response, methods of passing on minimum info required to navigate, but not understand the things others have made for them.

Rather like your dog can learn to bark at the door to get out but not build a different kind of house.


I don't think reason works with flat earthers, with creationists or conspiracy theorists in general.

They'll cling on to any piece of information that confirms their world view and ignore the rest.


Part of the issue is that most of the arguments about flat earth are easy to me in layman's terms and hard to debunk without going deep mathematically.

And there are lots of them, see this famous example https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ax_YpQsy88

Now let's assume that a flat eaether believer is lacking the sort of knowledge required to instance why these "proofs" are wrong, how you going to debate them with the knowledge gap? You have to either fill that first or convert all your arguments into layman terms, making it extremely costly and time consuming.

And so their view goes unchallenged.


Well, yeah, flat Earth is explicitly about Earth being a special privileged spot in the Universe.


The earth isn't a planet.


You gotta admit, if you don't think too hard about it, it is pretty weird how many flights there are over the arctic when there aren't any (at all!) over the antarctic.

Have you tried explaining/performing Eristothanes experiment with them? https://astronavigationdemystified.com/eratosthenes-proved-t...

edit: didn't mean to sound like a flat-earther! please stop downvoting!


Quite simply - there is much more land mass in the Northern Hemisphere, and flights, say from Moscow to Anchorage or Reykjavik to Toronto have great circle routes that traverse the Arctic circle.

The Southern Hemisphere on the other hand, has no large land masses near it, and even the southern most points of Australia/New Zealand and South America are too far away for any great circle routes to cut through there without being a greater distance than any other routing.


Something like PER–SCL or AKL–CPT would fly over Antarctica in strict great circle terms, but would require ETOPS-370 rules to fly. Also, I have no idea how prevailing winds would affect the optimal routing. And it's not like these are highly trafficked city pairs.

I seem to remember that Qantas has had flights crossing Antarctica in the past; their point was probably to cross/sightsee Antarctica rather than be the optimal routing for a flight though.


Just as an aside, no-one planning actual ETOPS routes would ever use IATA airport codes.

IATA codes are to ICAO as NetBIOS names are to DNS.

I wish we could stamp-out the casual use of IATA codes, they do have some internal admin uses within airlines but they only cover a subset of airports and they don't have any logical decoding sequence.


Yes, but we passengers use them regularly.


It also has to do with a lack of options, if technical difficulties are encountered. The threshold for error and malfunction is much, much more extreme.

While planes fly over mountain ranges, Antarctica is similarly dangerous, but without good reasons to attempt overflight.


Don't feed the troll :-/


wow, what? now you're a troll if you don't know why runways are not normally distributed on planet earth?


I mean, the simple explanation is a) that there are flights that cross part of Antarctica, and b) that there isn't much there. The Southern Hemisphere is pretty empty.

There's Sydney-Santiago, but apparently that doesn't always cross Antarctica depending on winds.


It would only make sense to fly over the antarctic if you were traveling from one Southern hemisphere city to another. But most of the developed world is in the Northern hemisphere.


ETOPS and jet streams

Flying Joburg to Sydney once we went pretty far south and skimmed Antartica, could see ice outside the windows

you can see it in this video:

https://youtu.be/i_a4WGxu62c?t=669

It depends on jet streams and if you're in a twin-engine or four-engine jet


I don't see this sentiment elsewhere so I'll share it... I enjoyed reading this article but I think it's really fked up he wrote this about his parents.


I wonder if the author realizes the Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to be drafted. In World War II Germany, they paid dearly for this refusal. Belief in a flat earth seems like a minor failing compared to the moral strength the Witnesses have shown in resisting one of the demands of "civilization" on its members.


Why?


To me it seems disrespectful and offensive to publicly shame your parents, or almost anyone really, over privately shared conversations and opinions. Reminds me of this time I had lunch with a co-worker, who repeatedly referred to his parents as being "uneducated" because they didn't finish college.


> But the Moon’s dimensions show the designers used the metric system

How does looking at dimensions affirm that metric system was used?

> They live in respectable houses, and host meals with respectable friends. They eat well. They travel for holidays, by plane, all over the Earth.

The OP tells as if this is a good thing. However this is the scariest parts of all. Because who knows these people can as well be the next presidents.

> As a Flat-Earther, having your theory rejected only re-confirms the Illuminati’s brainwashing campaign.

A good point, which even most of the political strategists DO NOT implement. "Pushing extreme ideas does not swing votes."

Conclusion: OP seems like he has given up on trying to come up with good ideas to deal with fallacies of his parents. This might seem cute at first, but there isn't a sense of realization that this might be very harmful to the society as a whole.


Obviously when humans designed the universe, we didn't use the metric system. We used English units, which is why the speed of light is 1 foot per nanosecond!

(Actually that's a _really_ close approximation and very helpful in reasoning about special relativity).


I feel like more people need to read Foucault. He is in a sense the prototypical the writer responsible for a lot of the contemporary left perspective on the entrenchment of practices of power in innocuous places (speeches, the design of prisons, schools, clinics, etc). In a sense, even challenges to climate change can find some anchor in his work. His work is avowedly nonpartisan ("I am just making tools", to paraphrase), though Foucault himself was a gay French historian who did much activism on prison reform and has an interesting take on the Iranian Revolution. But at the end of the day, I know no better resource with which to navigate modern information hysteria (and no matter how well-dressed in "rationality" it may appear).


Jehovah's Witnesses own official website is anti-flat earth: https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/flat-earth/


This is the first time I'm hearing about Flat Earthers so a couple of questions according to these people, if anyone knows - genuinely curious (I don't want to search since then Google will start showing me some ads related to FE):

1) if the Earth is flat, then what is on the other side of the flat Earth - do people live there?

2) I'm assuming it's like a thick cylinder, if so how thick is the Earth?

3) depending on how thick it is, what is on the sides - do people live there?

OR, do these morons don't care about these things?? Again, genuinely curious if anyone knows.


By the "standard model", thickness beyond whatever's necessary to make the pizza structurally sound (and allow mining and such) is immaterial. No-one lives on the sides, and there's nothing on the bottom. Or, alternately, the bottom extends infinitely to compensate for the complete lack of turtles. Take your pick - both work. Don't worry about the mass of the earth, since gravity isn't a thing; the appearance of gravity is due to density (somehow) or to the ever-accelerating vertical ascent of the Earth and the nice space-like ceiling and its lights and other decorations (moons and such). If there was any of that so-called "gravity" that NASA ordered Newton and Einstein to make up plausible math for, the Earth would either have to extend to an infinite plane (which does bad things for fitting the dome sky) or anything not in the centre of the Earth would have a distinct lean to it. (Although perspective and atmospheric refraction would probably make things look vertical, just as it works to make the sun appear to rise and set as it travels in its circle over the disc and causes ships to appear to disappear from the bottom up over the horizon. Which ships clearly don't, because Nikon P900.) And don't bother mentioning that density differences need gravity to work as an up/down mechanism, since your so-called "gravity" is just density. (Yes, that will be the answer you get.)

The key terms to remember are density, perspective and refraction. These explain any sphere-like or broadly heliocentric behaviours you may observe. And no, you can't just go to Antarctica to prove that it's just another continent, because there are armed forces keeping you away from the ice wall.


I feel like the real challenge is not what people want to discuss over dinner but that we allow people that are incapable of finding the holes in the flat earth theory to have the vote.


Sorry again, of course the majority of FE are a bit cargo-cult; but the root of it is "fallacy of authority" no? There aren't many ways to tangibly justify the shape of the Earth to the average person. If all the images are photo-shopped and all the data is fraudulent, suddenly the world is a whole lot darker. And as much as it seems, the joke that the true edge of the flat earth is a mental illness diagnosis, says more about us than them.


Before reading your article, which I enjoyed, the title translated in my mind to "My Parents Are Conspiracy Theorists". It was interesting to see that you then stated that connection in the article.

Rather than such views being an amusing curiousity, I find your parents a threat. As a member of a minority, your parents are predisposed to believe anything about us, all from a position of ignorance.


> MKULTRA (uncontroversial)

That's somewhat refreshing to read. I think 99% of Americans would call you crazy if you tried to explain MKULTRA.


Flat Earth theory seems like a symptom of a condition. Those who are showing symptoms deserve love and compassion, not ostracism.


It doesn't look like he's worried but IMHO he should be: while a lot of these flat-earther/conspirationist are just "having fun" like he said, crooks can target easily these people! They're telling the word: I'm a gullible person with faulty logic, imagine how an attractive target they represent to crooks!


This works in the opposite direction. Read Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy's The Jesus Mysteries and you'll see the sort of unsubstantiated and ridiculous theories that permeate the Flat Earther worldview.


I'm sure they have a good explanation for it that I don't bother to google, but how do satellites orbit a flat Earth to give us common experiences like satellite TV and GPS? And what about the moon.


According to the video, satellites simply don't exist. Satellite dishes read signals that have bounced off of a dome around earth. And the moon, well, the author quotes a book he received: “One day humanity will have to go back in time 4.6 billion years to build Earth’s Moon!”

Yikes.


And when they'll be at it, maybe they'll flatten Earth and rewire the minds of most of us to think it's a sphere. Why didn't I think about it? ;-)


Flat earthers are just rebels that don't want to listen to modern science for various other reasons, business backing, lack of trust etc


If people want to believe in flat earth, let them. And flat earthers should allow others to believe in what they want to as well. In 1000 years people will look back at all of us and think of how primitive we were for believing many of the things that we believe too. And another 1000 years after that then people will do the same. I think that looking down on people for believing something different is the same as racial hatred (it all comes down to prejudice)


Is true that flat earthers really exist? Or are they conspiring against us to believe they believe in a flat Earth??


Where do they think the edge is?


Its all about education. He even pointed it out in the article, he was home schooled.


While the author of this post focuses on the idea of a flat earth conspiracy leading to their conclusion that people believing in conspiracy theories don't have much influence over our everyday lives and that they're "fun", I can't help but disagree with an example that he even mentions shortly in the post: Anti-vaccination. The WHO has named anti-vaccination as a top 10 global health threat. Right now in Clark County Oregon there's an evolving problem with the spread of measles. I can understand the author's attempts to reconcile his parents' weird beliefs, but I can't agree with his conclusion that they're mostly fun and harmless. People who deny climate change enact that belief in the way they vote and in their every day consumption. That's not just a fun point to argue with. It's affecting everyone's lives.



Poor kid.


Must say, I wouldn't find it fun - I had a similar experience with my own folks when I found out they were avid Trump supporters. I was stunned at first, then I thought "nbd, I'll change their minds next family get together". Nope, every time we discuss it, we both double down, stop listening to each other, let our emotions run high, and get nowhere. Very stressful, we now try to avoid the subject altogether.


I have some clarification on this whole flat earth thing and it is insidious.

I have a father who is prone to believing conspiracy theories. When I grew up he bought me a thousand "unexplained mysteries" magazines. the topics ranged from spontaneous combustion to ghosts to Loch ness monster to the magazines primary focus.. aliens. I had an incredibly scary childhood. As I grew older i learned that the strange noises at night were not ghosts but the house settling or something like that. It took me years to find peace from his indoctrination.

Today, He doesn't care about any of those topics. They just seemed to slowly vanish from his radar. Today it is the invasion of "lesser" species trying to erode "Our" "Moral certainties"

- He believes Trump is the answer the world needs - He believes Global warming is a myth created by Al Gore so he could take billions from the government - He believes brown skin makes you less intelligent because your DNA prohibits you from excelling, "Nature has chosen white DNA" - He believes the Rockerfeller's control the world through manipulation and bribery. - He lives in South Africa, yet is obsessed with Palestinian Politics. - He has a programmer son, and a Scientist Daughter, but routinely sends conspiracy theories to both of us to the point where I no longer interact with him

I spent many hours researching why this could happen. Why would a person abandon all reason and persue his own beliefs so fervently? It turns out that people are prone to conspiracy theories via their personality. They don't understand the world, dont trust the government, and therefore latch on to an explanation that explains the whole world to them. Anybody trying to explain the difficulty of the situation to them is therefore an "attacker".

The reason Flat earth is so insidious is that it has brought 3 active communities together. 1) The conspiracy crowd who does't trust the government ("The man") 2) Religious Christians who interpret the bible literally. ("The four corners of the earth") 3) Muslim culture being exterminated by christian "integrity". Christians view the muslim community by default as heathens. 4) the obvious crazies.

so you have 3 powerful, emotional motivators steering this conspiracy. to the point where good science is being applied well, to poor premises.

I was listening to a pod cast about this where the scientist in question was impressed by the level of scientific control over the completely insane premise.

I have not solved this problem or re-connected with my father. It is ongoing and the misinformation is just horrific. Right now I feel that humanity is as divided as ever, with corporations taking their biggest cut.

I honestly expected a completely different outcome to the freedome of information we have today. I expected enlightenment, but instead got people doubling down on their own beliefs and researching points to support them because emotions at the end of the day are more important than truth.


I remember stumbling upon the Flat Earth Society back around 2003. I was convinced it was one of those elaborate ironic jokes/hoaxes that we used to have back then (bonsai kitten, World Jump Day, etc.)


We're heading to the apocalypse quickly.


Is it true that flat earthers really exist? Or are they conspiring against us to make us believe that they believe in a flat Earth?




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