Podcast: Why do people believe the Earth is flat?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/07/podcast-why-do-people-believe.html



Please… Stop saying “round”. Planets are spherical or, more precisely… Spheroidal. “Round” doesn’t imply 3d in the slightest. A flat Earth is as round as a pizza, which is pretty damned round.


So the Earth is round or flat, or both? I’m confused… Again…


Previous discussion thread:

Yes, he’s right. The Earth is an oblique spheriod, larger in diameter cross section at the equator than through other cross sections.

It also has 2 axes of rotation- 1 standard, one 23 degrees off of that one that makes the Earth preceed in its rotational path once every approximately 22,700 years or so.

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oblate spheroid”



A lot of our societal arguments haven’t. Compare the marijuana debates now to the ones we had about alcohol during prohibition (yes, scarily, that was almost a full century ago). The arguments and even those making them are almost word-for-word similar. Immigration. The Satanic Panic of the Eighties was largely the same as previous literal witchhunts.

This is why one of my favorite books is Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, because it illustrates how little our thinking has evolved even over millennia. We still fall prey to the exact same patterns, tricks and scams.

The Internet just means it’s easier for a grifter to reach a whole bunch of marks simultaneously without having to travel town to town to get one or two at each stop. They haven’t had to change the pitches hardly at all.


you know what we have to do

we have to prove the earth is FLAT

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For some people, the technicalities of keeping the world running are the jobs of other people, not them. They say things about the flat Earth, or whatever, for their own reasons, in the full knowledge that pilots and engineers will continue to get planes to their destination.

Its not that they believe in the flat Earth, more that ideas like that are plastic things, to be thrown around.

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I gave you a like because you’ve been gone so long.

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round obviously :wink:


But why do people believe the Earth is flat?

The internet change that bought this about is the ability to connect with like minded people. One curvature denier in my village would be a crank, but comment them to a hundred others on the net and you have a movement. Maybe it is this sense of community rather than the actual need to deny some geometry that does not affect their daily lives.

All kinds of creepy parallels with religion too.


turtles all the way down.


Because shit rolls down hill, so thinking the world is flat helps keep some people from losing their minds? :thinking:

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Because people are emotive creatures.
Because a more compelling story wins over a less compelling one.
Because conspiracies create a structure and order, where there may not such.
Because we’ve got an animal brain inside us and we sometimes can fall into superstition over fact.
Because sometimes it is easier to believe the lie, than to change.

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A significant percentage don’t care, but love to watch other people go crazy trying to correct them.

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That wouldn’t be too difficult to do, and proving it would make the discoverer one of the most famous people in history, and yet…

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hope that’s so

That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.

“You appear to be astonished,” he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. “Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.”

“To forget it!”

“You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose…”

“But the Solar System!” I protested.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”