What to Believe? Taking on the Flat Earthers
Conspiracy theory versus "Conspiracy Theory"
Perhaps the most daunting thing in a post truth world is sorting out what Conspiracy theories are true. Being an open-minded person who regularly visits websites that are blacklisted from Google for "misinformation" I've read dozens, maybe hundreds of alternative explanations of events. I've read that the moon landing was fake (still on the fence on that one), all viruses are fake (also on the fence on that one), the JFK assasination was an inside job (probably: but by whom and for what purpose?), 9/11 was an inside job (ditto), the Halocaust was fake (I might accept a quibble on death numbers, but I'm not buying that Auschwitz and the like were some sort of summer camp) and that Jews rule the world (too broad brush for me). I've read that any number of celebrity deaths were actually foul play because that person was about to unleash some groundbreaking documentary that would blow the lid off the Satanic elite. Most of these I don't independently research. I listen to everything and believe none of it, as my father used to say.
Usually when I do bother digging into something myself, it's because the event personally affects me or I had a personal experience that directly contradicts the mainstream consensus thought about that issues. Most "anti-vaxxers" (I use quotation marks because I don't even know what the term means anymore) are, like me, former pro-vaxxers that had an experience that blew up the safe and effective mantra we've all been fed like some sort of religious chant. The conjabs and the unprecedented disruption of lives caused by the Science (trademarked) are forcing a lot of red pills on people that would have preferred to be left alone. It's like we've all been forced to live in a bad dystopian b movie to fulfill Bill Gates wet dreams.
I decided recently to put some thought into the Flat Earth theory, because it reminded me of my ex (one of them, anyways). My high school sweetheart was a smart guy, like a REALLY smart guy. He IQ tested at 195, so mega high range genius level. The test was probably inflated I came in at a composite score of 170 (167, 169, 171) but I'll take it. My ex was one of three high schoolers in the entire country to get a perfect SAT exam score. He absolutely crushed me at chess every time.
Despite all of this my ex was quite dumb about a lot of things. He failed to check or change the oil in the car his parents gifted him, causing the motor to blow, as one example. He was sure he was right about everything, and that people of inferior intelligence should just admit that they "lost" in a debate. I realize in retrospect that he was still stuck in first tier level consciousness, meaning that he failed to recognize that other people had objective experiences that were different from his own. But I bring him up because he is exactly the type of MIT egghead that I think cooked up Flat Earth Theory.
It's a straw man Honeypot to lure in knee jerk conspiracy theorists, the types who are drawn to believe that EVERYTHING is the opposite of what we've been taught. People have a remarkable tendency to take logical shortcuts in thinking. For some that means believing "the experts." Other people sample the wind and go along with whatever the popular currents are.
For others a bias about an event or person make them able to believe some conspiracy theories but not others. I've noticed that the people who believe the 1960 Presidential election of John F. Kennedy was rigged to get him elected are not the same people who also believe JFK was assasinated by insiders. Yet both of these things could simultaneously be true: JFK could have been selected, but then failed to fulfill some task those same shadowy forces wanted, leading to his death.
Knee jerk conspiracy theorists take the shortcut of "everything we've been told is false" so they flock to top secret, banned, blacklisted, contrary to mainstream as "true." I think a great deal of the Q Anon phenomena can be explained by this also. When is Trump riding in to save the day this week? The dates move back as effectively as they did with Two Weeks to Flatten the Curve. Perhaps the most effective thing is to think for yourself.
My ex would have come up with the canned refutations the flat Earthers use. I asked one why, when I was on long international flights over the Pacific ocean, did the clear flat water view look slightly curved from the window at 35,000 feet? He answered that windows in aircraft and ships were intentionally bent to give the illusion of a curved Earth. Okay. Well then why could I video Skype with someone in Michigan while I was in Thailand, say, and in one place it was clearly nighttime while in the other it was day? A few answered that the flat Earth works as a sun (and planets I guess?) rotating around a big flat circle.
What about flight navigation? I asked. I may not be sophisticated enough to navigate an airplane but my guess is that somebody figured this out enough for it to work or a lot of people would be dead and nobody would fly anywhere. It had to do with obtuse magnetic fields, the Flat Earthers explained. The magnetic fields sounded like some weird Scientology stuff that only the higher echelon members were privileged to know (note: I am not at all disagreeing with the presence of magnetic fields, which inadvertantly control life on Earth. I am perplexed at how they work in a flat Earth model). It sounded fishy.
Then somebody started telling me about the dark side of the moon (great album by the way) and how the moon doesn't rotate. I decided to Google it and hit flat Earth paydirt! At first I found websites that said the moon DOES rotate, but curiously exactly in synch with its full moon/new moon phases, so we only see the same side of it at the full moon. Well that sounded like a lie because we have telescopes that can see stars trillions of miles into space, but we can't see the shadow of our moon except when it's fully illuminated by the sun? That led me to a NASA site that explained that the moon was tidally locked with the Earth, just like every other planetary moon in our solar system except Hyperion, a moon of Saturn which is also the only one that is not round, sounding more asteroid shaped. So nothing dice.
That got me thinking how would a lunar eclipse work with a flat Earth, since those are supposedly caused by the shadow of the Earth blocking the sunlight on the moon? I don't know how much of astronomy or astrology would be reengineered under this system. I guess all other astral bodies rotate but us?
Coming much closer to home proponents of a flat Earth posit that basically we are on a round flat pancake with the center at the North Pole and the edges a wall of ice called Antarctica. That is why this continent is so off limits. And here I thought it was too effing cold for anyone to want to live there. So if it's a circular wall of ice at the outside of this pancake model, I'd guess then that nobody has transversed (crossed it) or circumnavigated it? It was transversed in 1997 for the first time and circumnavigated by Captain James Cook centuries and centuries ago. Obviously if they had to run around in a really big circle at the outer edges of the pancake, Antarctica must be huge, right?
A quick Google search (note: I still use Google for dream analysis, car repairs, weather, astrology, and basic geographical information. I don't trust them beyond this. This list may be updated at any time). I doubt Google has a good reason to lie to me about this (yet). Antarctica's coastline was like 17000 kilometers, well behind Australia and Canada (the biggest of all at a few million) amongst others. Some flat Earther needs to explain to me how in the pancake model Antarctica's coast is somehow smaller than all of these other places. It should be huge.
Long story short, think for yourselves...
Loved this piece. :) I've changed my mind about many things in life. And I do believe some "conspiracy theories." There are precious few free thinkers who are willing to examine what they believe. Then there are, as you mention, the people who call themselves free thinkers who uncritically accept whatever crazy idea comes their way without really analyzing it.
I'm still flat earth agnostic but enjoyed doing the research circa 2015 and learned that ships disappear INTO the horizon and not OVER the horizon. It seems odd and unsatisfying but really your eye cannot resolve objects at those distances as seen in the link.
Ultimately, this controversy is really tied to whether NASA made it to the moon. If we compare this to the Wright brothers flying in 1903 and then 50 years later, millions of people had flown at altitudes much much higher than the Wright brothers. Thus, we have no controversy related to airplane flight because mass commercialization has powered people to those altitudes.
However, 50 years after Apollo 11, we haven't had humans back to the moon and can only do human 'space' flights of 240 miles altitude which is one tenth of one percent of the distance to the moon! Ouch, that sounds like we are regressing. That's not a technology curve we would expect.
It's time for NASA and SpaceX to put up millions of people into REAL space or shut up. It's the confirmation from mass commercialization that we need.