Strap in for a detailed explainer on flat-earthers' beliefs

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/07/27/strap-in-for-a-detailed-explai.html

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Not worth my time. While Flat Earthers are an aspect of The Dumbening, I’m less concerned about their idiotic beliefs than I am about the stupid tenets of the more dangerous QAnon.

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This. Five years ago I would have watched this, fascinated by the ways in which humans could be stupid in a charmingly obtuse yet harmless way.

Now they’re killing us. Fuck them.

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I am reasonably certain that at least 95% of “flat-earthers” are pulling a stunt. It’s an easy way to mess with people. How seriously would you take a poll that asked if the world was flat or not? Then they get to double down and create all kinds of fun theories about how it would work, etc. It’s a joke.

Now the other 5% - thank God that it’s only 5%.

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I have to believe it’s more like 99%…

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I’m sad that he spent time flying with a level, rather than interrogating the guy with that idea about how he knows that planes would fly that way. Because the ‘science’ invoked by these people reminds me of “If she’s not heavier than a duck, then she’s a witch!”

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There’s a perfectly sensible explanation for that. The military is just guarding the ice wall at the edge of the world to keep out the White Walkers.

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This. I can’t even imagine how someone with even a basic elementary education can think we live on Discworld (Prattchett RIP; love your stories and I can’t wait till my kids are old enough to read them).

Are these people just trolling? They have to be. Or rather, I used to think they have to be. Now; not so sure.

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The hilarious/scary documentary Behind the Curve (available on Netflix) is a great primer on these people.

One thing that becomes clear throughout the documentary is that a lot of these people are just in so deep now that confronting the idea that they may have been wrong all this time is just too daunting to deal with. Many have sacrificed years of their lives to this “research,” ruined careers, reputations, lost families and personal relationships. The flat-earther community is their tribe now, and for some it’s practically all they have left.

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You say that now, but once they get power and start dumping unbelievers off the ice ledge, you’ll change your tune.

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I watched it. I don’t feel any dumber but it’s early…it may hit me later.

What struck me was that this “Parallax” character must have known about Eratosthenes (276 BC — c. 195/194 BC) and his calculation of the circumference of the earth, which presumes a spherical earth. So what made Samuel Rowbotham decide to ignore that and create his new religion of “zetetic astronomy?” I know a lot of people were doing similar things in the late 1800s/early 1900s, “finding” fake fossil or new “scriptures.”

Is this an outgrowth of the democratization of media, being able to get anything into print? Another get rich quick scheme — write and sell a book or pamphlet, sell a subscription to a newsletter, give talks… as the saying goes, a lie is around the world before the truth can lace its boots. I think there is a bit of cynicism in the roots of this, good old-fashioned grift, and the present-day practitioners are just a cargo-cult, hoping for that same fame or feeling of power and individuality. It would be interesting to know if anyone called out Rowbotham, citing Eratosthenes, or even replicating that method. But then how many people know about that? How many people can explain Bernoulli’s principle or anything else that they rely on/take for granted? Imagine calling out one of these flat earthers and asking them to explain how those slender wings can carry hundreds of tons into the air so they can sit with a spirit level on their tray table…

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Yeah how about no.

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I watched it, and I don’t regret it.

The creator of the video does a great job, I think, in tracing the rise of the modern flat-earth movement. He takes the time to dig into what might cause and support flat earthers to hold the beliefs they do.

His video goes to support my hypothesis about belief vs. knowledge.

We hold beliefs about things we are either unable or unwilling to know.

Flat earthers are held up for contempt, but somehow people who believe in God get a pass, even though their “proof” of God’s existence is every bit as laughably flawed as the flat earthers “proof” that that the world is flat.

The main difference between flat earthers and religious zealots is that the former group does not get to dictate public policy based on their flawed beliefs.

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And to guard the water. Premium prices for iceberg water in the late 1970s. I’m not sure that’s still a thing.

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It’s pretty much a religion at this point, a communal activity that makes them feel better about a part of their existence that bothers them. And like all religions, it only holds together if you don’t look too hard at it. I will second the Behind the Curve documentary, if only for the examination of critical thinking and disconfirmation bias that’s included.

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Came here to post this – I really enjoyed this doc. It’s more about the community and its internal dynamics than specific beliefs.

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Two posts and no links? What’s wrong with you people?!!

This happens a lot of times with people who get scammed. The sunk cost fallacy and the shame of acknowledging their incompetence usually makes them slowly back away, but some remain committed even if they change their minds, simply as a matter of not admitting “defeat.”

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Nice try, but everyone knows that flat-earthers don’t exist. Just try to prove otherwise! (Granted, you can find any number of people who claim FE, but I don’t believe them and there is no proof they believe what they say.)

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