Meerkat Musings

Flat Earthers

Flat Earthers

Over on Big Footy, I am following and participating in a thread that highlights the extent to which people are prepared to believe wild conspiracy theories. Namely that the world is flat. This would be amusing if it were not a tragic indictment of how damaging pseudo-science is.

The thread is indicative of the same problem that motivates anti-vaxxers – people will believe stuff that sounds vaguely scientific, but will ignore stuff that actually is scientific, because it’s hard. Let’s take a more detailed look at the flat-earth nonsense, and let’s consider a force called gravity.

Gravity is the theory that objects exert a pull on each other. Over time, two rocks in space will be attracted to one another, and will collide. This new object has more mass, and therefore its pull grows stronger. The object grows, gains more mass, its gravitational pull gets stronger, and so on. Gravity works to continue to squeeze the object until it becomes spherical in shape. Through this process, stars and planets form (in fact, gravity is crucial to the formation of stars, as it compresses mass at the star’s centre to the point where fusion begins).

Gravity underpins the orbits of planets around stars and moons around planets. Without it, we would fly off the earth and the stars and planets would come apart.

This is a theory, detractors say, it is not a fact. It is a theory that can be tested – throw a ball into the air, and it comes back down to the ground. The best explanation for this? Gravity.

Lets take this to the extreme. There is evidence for the existence of black holes, including supermassive ones, including one at the heart of the Milky Way. Black holes are the end result of the relationship between mass, density and gravity. They are gravity gone wild. Our best explanations for their formation are due to gravity crushing matter to a single point, where nothing can escape its grip, even light itself.

Without gravity, how do planets form? How are stars powered?

Reasons for Denial

Why would it be necessary to conceal a flat earth from the public? To what end would such a conspiracy exist? I have read of the idea that a giant ice wall exists at the edges of the world, guarded by NASA (right, because NASA is a military organisation, oh wait…). I have read of plane pilots swearing to secrecy. I have read of many ways and means of hiding the ‘truth’ from the public. I have not read of a single explanation as to why. These undertakings would be monstrously expensive, and they would be on-going expenses, and all for what? There isn’t a satisfactory explanation for why this conspiracy exists.

The bottom line here? People speak of not accepting what the ‘establishment’ tells us, but sometimes the most straightforward answer is the correct one. Conspiracies for the sake of conspiracies are utter nonsense, and this is what the Flat Earth Theory is.

Religious Mentality

One of the great ironies of this thread is that the scientific method has come under attack as a ‘religious’ approach. Take for example this post by ‘darthbards’:

I think what we are dealing with here is pure ignorance and the round ball brigade unable to accept they’ve been barking up the wrong tree with this round nonsense.
They seem to have no understanding whatsoever regarding FE theory despite having it explained to them numerous times,often even repeating questions already answered.
Falling over the edge,lol,it’s near impossible,using their terrible human sight as proof,ignoring the lack of human perception. Some even explaining general relativity which has nothing to do with FE theory,while having no grasp of special relativity at all. I very much doubt they have ever studied FE theory themselves, and as we all know,it isn’t taught in school,so they need to do their own research. I very much doubt they have,or taken it beyond their own biased opinions. We have even had an alleged ‘teacher’ admit he forces his own views on our poor children, even admitting he tells them other extremely popular views like religion are myths,again forcing personal views on others. No wonder so many have such a closed mind and viewpoint. What a disgrace.

We are yet to be provided with any proof of gravity,big bangs,dark matter or dark energy. We are yet to see any unedited pictures of this fantastic round wonderment,yet have seen numerous edited versions.

Instead of complaining so much about what isn’t all the time,some need to hit the books,learn more beyond what we think we know. It might be scary that we have no idea what’s going on,but it sure beats the anger that develops through ignorance and brainwashing.

We live in an extremely corrupt world,we need to be careful what we are told to believe. Still not sure what theory is 100% correct,but I’d bet my bottom dollar it sure to hell isnt a big ball spinning round and round,hurtling through space.

Classic ‘let’s attack science’ mentality. Much of science is theory, but it’s theory that fits the facts, based on our observations and experiments. Gravity is the best explanation for the formation of stars and planets. It’s the best explanation for black holes. We have observed moons orbiting other planets and have been doing so for hundreds of years.

Gravity is critical to the formation of stars (as mentioned earlier) and it helps to drive processes that create the elements that make up, among other things, the building blocks of life. We know through spectral analysis what the composition of stars is, and we can infer from this the process that forms the elements within them. The gravity/density/pressure process is the best one we have for explaining supernovae and the spreading of advanced elements across the galaxy.

Religion under Attack?

Another user, ‘BrewSmackerVeiny’, made reference to posts buried within the nearly 90 pages of conversation as to why flat earth conspiracies exist – to deny the existence of God and to create an immoral society. Please note, I am not saying BSV supports this argument:

It’s been covered multiple times earlier in the thread, I realize it’s a long thread with a lot of long videos so It’s not unreasonable to not have found the answer on an older page, I’ll try and summarise what I have gleaned –
The general consensus for the reason would seem to be in order to make it appear as if there is no god, and by extension, no greater purpose for life, thus making people more interested in ‘living for the now'(An ideal consumer), and having no ‘post life consequences’ for actions they may consider otherwise immoral. If the Earth was flat and existed the way the FE theory claims then it would be abundantly clear that it had to have been created, thus people would be more inclined to seek out divine answers and higher meaning, and less inclined to focus on materialism and less willing to act immorally.
There may have been other reasons posited but this seems to be the main one.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me. Historically people who challenged established religious doctrine have come under fire. Galileo is but one example of the clash between religion and science, and so the arguments being made by darthbards and another user (who goes by the name ‘cannot’) are merely updated, pseudo-scientific versions of old arguments aimed at weakening science. ‘Think for yourself and don’t be brainwashed’ is their cry – yet their theories and pseudo-science can’t survive any meaningful scrutiny.

They are guilty of the Alternative Syllogism Fallacy – Theory A or Theory B – if not A, then B must win by default. It hardly matters to them if B is actually worse for explaining facts than A – if A is not perfect, we are, for some inexplicable reason, to proceed with B.

This sort of attitude is ultimately harmful to scientific progress. It is the sort of mentality that gives rise to anti-vaxxers and young earth creationists. It’s bad for our understanding of the world around us, and should always be opposed.

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