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The Wesleyan Argus | Flat Earthers: Why and how they continue to believe



ball head. Globe Tard. Cloth. I had never encountered such concepts before. But there I was, late on a Monday night, by a group called "Flat Earth – No Trolls". Globe head, as I learned from a post, refers to someone who believes that the earth is a globe, obviously an unwelcome perspective in the group. After a long scroll through the page, it quickly became clear that this was not just another meme page my friends had added to me. I've learned that Flat Earth is real, only confirmed by a pinned post that revealed a neatly written "Code of Conduct" along with an amazing list of links to Flat Earth websites and documentation.

For many, a spherical earth is a scientific certainty, a basic understanding of the world that we were taught at an early age. The flat-earth model has long been dismissed as the time of Aristotle . But in 1

956, in the midst of the US-USSR race, Flat Earth was founded by a skeptic from England. And recently it has not become a laughing matter. With the help of several celebrities, the theory of flat earth has regained publicity some 2,500 years after the first release from the ancient Athenians. In particular, singer B.o.B has become an active advocate of the movement and has even launched a GoFundMe page to buy weather balloons for flat-earth experiments. According to the Economist the search for Flat Earth has tripled in the last two years.

A look at the 45,000 members of "Flat Earth – No Trolls" revealed a dedicated community. There were numerous links to sites that discussed Flat Earth Theory and a variety of YouTube channels. Last year, Raleigh, N.C. hosted the first " Flat Earth Convention " with invited speakers, lots of merchandise sold, and hundreds of flat-eaters eagerly waiting to share their ideas. In addition, the first [] Flat Earth Conference of Great Britain will take place this weekend (at the time of writing). In these dedicated groups, Flat-Earthers openly discuss aspects of Flat Earth theory such as the absence of visible curvature of the Earth or a "Flat Earth" map that resembles the United Nations logo, with the Antarctic orbiting the Earth at its edges. Followers also show interest in making Flat Earth friends and integrating Flat Earth into their daily lives. A concerned patron talked about the problems with a fiancé fiancé and asked for tips on how to convince a significant other of the "truth".

So that raises the question of why we have globe heads: why? How could a group of people believe that the earth is flat? What happened?

Conspiracy theories have always existed, but Flat Earth is particularly confusing. It is similar to other popular conspiracies, such as the theory of the moon landing, in the sense that it accuses the government of lying to advance some sort of agenda. Flat Earth groups often call NASA, accusing them of using CGI and faking most, if not all, of their missions. In a sense, this deep-seated suspicion of all state activity links all conspiracy theories.

But the flat earth requires something that goes beyond other theories: a complete rejection of the scientific order. This burden is reflected in the quasi-intellectual approach to the principles of Flat Earth, which many actively discuss. The current theory of Flat Earth calls for the dismissal of many basic scientific principles such as gravity and Coriolis effect. Ironically, what many call an anti-intellectual movement attempts to mimic the work of scientists. The more experienced Flat-Earthers document their experiments online often seeking and selecting scientific principles that could support their theory.

It is clear that there are a variety of reasons why people choose the theory. For some it is a question of religion. A poster shared a picture of 200 verses from the Bible allegedly supporting the model and the theory of the flat earth. For others, the evidence is not there. Many contributions point to the supposed lack of curvature of the human eye, on weather balloons and on the distant horizon above the sea. For them, sensory perception outweighs scientific theory.

But browsing the Flat Earth forums at two o'clock in the morning shows a distinct quality: the enormous pride the Flat-Earthers have because they are "in the know" system to condemn it as a formal indoctrination. A user argues that education is merely a repetitive belief system that does not require intelligence. Another one was a bit crass.

"To be a shallow one is to put off the idiocy that was taught to us, and to go against public opinion," wrote a Flat-Earther on Facebook. "Not compliant with the previously approved paradigm that we are being force-fed."

This desire to be "different" supports a collective narcissism reserved only for the true believer. In-the-know thus promotes a sense of community by lifting the group to a higher level than any other. It also represents the extent of boundless speculation, a quality that largely reflects many conspiracies. If, according to theorists, we assume that everything we're told is right, then we're just mindless cogs repeating what we're being told. Perhaps it also highlights a theme of education in which people do not distinguish between critical thinking and fiction. Looking at photos taken by NASA and believing they are showing what they claim is sure to require a small amount of confidence. But even this quality is an affront to the Flat Earth community.

However, the flat earth community, which boasts of critical thinking, also represents a true quality: it is a simple solution to the difficulty of understanding the world.

"No one likes this uneasy feeling of being this little ball flying through space " after prominent flat-bottomed Earther Mark Sargeant.

There are a number of reasons for the shallow earth community has become a thing we talk about. Maybe it's a problem with boundless speculation, or the way we teach people, or blatant narcissism, or a question of trust or anti-intellectualism. But in the end, the flat earth is an echo of all these qualities, which were capitalized in modern times. And that's why the movement will probably stay here. As we move collectively to scientific heights once considered unimaginable, Flat Earth stands out as an alien image of us all.

Tobias Wertime is an I mber of the class of 2020 and can be reached at twittertime@wesleyan.edu .


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