Flat Earth believers: Are they for real?

Did you know that some people think the Earth is flat?

Apparently there are, but I still have trouble believing it.

Why?

Because I just cannot believe someone is A) that stupid or B) that willing to deny reality and more than 2,000 years of evidence.

Even when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, it was generally accepted by pretty much anyone that received an education that the Earth was round.

A thousand years before Columbus (give or take a couple of hundred) Aristotle, Euclid and other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern astronomers had reached the same conclusion: The Earth is round.

You’d think that the single-surviving ship and its crew of 18 that completed Ferdinand Magellan’s first trip around the world 30 years after Columbus crossed the Atlantic (hundreds of years after the Vikings, I might add) would be proof enough.

In addition, people have flown around the world, we have photos from space and we have a pretty much universally accepted model as to why the Earth is round.

It’s all out there in front of our eyes –– people, photos and mathematical certainty.

So, you would figure that this has all been settled, if not for 500 years with Magellan, then at least the last 50 with space exploration.

But no. There is a group of people who believe this is all some massive conspiracy theory –– people who proudly call themselves “flat earthers.” For some reason, these people have seen a resurgence.

The most famous of them might be Kyle Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who said during a podcast with teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye: “This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. … It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.”

Huh? What?

I would usually say this is laughable, but apparently it distressed real scientists Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson enough to actually weigh in, saying that Irving has no idea what he’s talking about, which is true. It’s not because someone believes the Earth is flat that is causing them to speak up; it’s because of who is saying it and the influence they have on a larger audience. Millions of kids look up to guys like Irving and if he tells you not to believe centuries worth of evidence, then you often listen.

It’s kind of crazy to me because I still have lots of trouble believing that the flat Earth people actually believe what they’re saying. It’s like asking me to believe that water isn’t wet and fire doesn’t burn.

Seriously, look at the explanations on the Flat Earth Society FAQ page; they offer nothing measurable. No evidence. Nothing. But they do ask you to disbelieve the evidence presented:

“In general, we at the Flat Earth Society do not lend much credibility to photographic evidence. It is too easily manipulated and altered. Many of the videos posted here to ‘prove a round earth’ by showing curvature will show no curvature or even concave curvature at parts. The sources are so inaccurate it’s difficult to build an argument on them in either case. Furthermore, barrel distortion and other quirks of modern cameras will cause a picture to distort in ways which may not be immediately obvious or apparent, especially without references within the picture. Photographs are also prone to distortion when taken through the bent glass of a pressurized cabin as well as atmospheric conditions on the outside. With this litany of problems, it’s easy to see why photographic evidence is not to be trusted.”

What? I’m not even sure what I read there. It’s pretty much a similar story throughout their FAQ.

They offer no alternative evidence, no shots from space showing the earth-disc that they’re proposing. You’d think they would be able to go buy a balloon that rises high enough to see the curvature of the earth to see for themselves.

But no. Nothing.

They also offer no science; instead they ask you to deny gravity even exists.

This is some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever heard. It’s why I have trouble believing this is what so-called flat Earthers actually think. For most of my life, I thought the whole Flat Earth Society thing was just a big meta joke.

The thing is, I still believe that. But apparently, not everyone is in on the joke — which may or may not be intended to be a joke.

Originally printed in the Batesville Daily Guard
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