Recently, I stumbled upon a community called The Flat Earth Society
It seems like a bunch of people, at some point in their lives, started suspecting that the idea of a round earth could be a huge conspiracy theory, and our planet is actually flat.
I was intrigued. I had to read what they had to say, how they could explain a lot of what we see around the globe, using their obviously wrong model.
First of all, their premise seem to be that the most credible source of all is our own eyes, and since we don’t explicitly see the earth being round, and it seems more like it is flat under our feet, then it must be.
They seem to be using an extreme version of Occam’s Razor. Ironically, they then go on to explain things like gravity with theories like our earth is actually accelerating at 9.8m/s² towards space, and the rest of our system (sun, moon, other planets) also accelerate so we can’t see the movement since we can’t compare it to anything. That feels like the exact opposite of Occam’s razor.
I lurked around the forums a little bit, and the explanations for each and every bit of our lives are more and more complicated and weird. According to them, they “feel” weird because I’ve been brainwashed my whole life by the big powers in the world.
As you would expect, a lot of the people posting in the forum are criticizing them. They’re either doing some Drive-by science, or Drive-by insults. Then, there’s a couple regular members, that are answering the skeptics’ questions every now and then, but are mostly fed up with those Drive-bys. And lastly, there are trolls. A lot of trolls. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a forum with so many trolls. The trolls usually take the side of the Flat Earthers, but are not trying to make sense. They seem to be Round earthers mocking flat earthers. That much was expected.
What really troubled me is that the real Flat earthers don’t seem to be idiots. They certainly are deep in their denial, and showing signs of pretty much every single type of cognitive biases. Cognitive dissonance is everywhere. But those people are able to do some pretty advanced mathematics, and usually do a lot of research to prove their point, even if they also ignore 99% of sources because they are “part of the conspiracy”. This is the epitome of confirmation bias.
Flat earthers don’t even all agree on a single model. Some people think the North pole is the center of the world and the south pole is a big wall of ice around Earth, some think the opposite, some think it’s more of an ellipse with both poles on the inside. Some Flat earthers believe the sun is similar to a huge spotlight in the sky, while others really believe it is a sphere. None of them agree on the depth of the Flat Earth, The number of people that are in on the conspiracy seems to change all the time ranging from a small 50 elites to almost half of the human population.
Basically, the Flat Earth Society is a group of people who really, really believe that the Earth must be flat, no matter how.
I really feel like Occam’s razor should be on our side on this one.
To be honest, they have a point. If the rest of the world had been trying to make me believe the Earth is round ever since I was born, they would succeed. If the conspiracy taught me bad physics, bad science, and obviously bad geography, I honestly have no way to check. I’m pretty sure 8 billion people could outsmart me if they wanted to. To be fair, in that hypothetical situation, the earth could be a small cone a couple miles high in a jello universe, and I really wouldn’t know.
But the thing is, in that case, I really have nothing to gain by finding out. 8 billion people can outsmart anyone, so first of all, I have no way of finding out. And as long as I don’t figure it out, there really is no difference from my perspective between the truth and a perfect lie. Basically, as long as I don’t encounter that truth, my truth is good enough for me. Also, I don’t look like a crazy conspiracy theorist in family reunions, and that’s nice.