The Sciences

Flat Earth? Really?

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitAug 11, 2008 5:00 PM


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The world is filled with dumbosity, and it's all we can do to fight it. But sometimes an idea is so ridiculous that you have to wonder if it's a joke. Yeah, I mean the Flat Earthers. Can people in the 21st century really think the Earth is a flat disk, and not a sphere? When I see their claims I have to wonder if it's an elaborate hoax, their attempt to poke a hornet's nest just to see how reality-based people react. The media will sometimes talk to these goofballs, and I'm glad to report it's almost always tongue-in-cheek, which is probably more than they deserve. The BBC News site recently covered this topic, and, well, you just have to read it. I pretty much lost it around this quotation:

"People are definitely prejudiced against flat-earthers," says John Davis, a flat earth theorist based in Tennessee... "Many use the term 'flat-earther' as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism."

Well, duh. Why do you think that is, Mr. Davis? It's because you need blind faith, ignorance, and anti-intellectualism to think the Earth is flat. I was thinking of writing up a definitive post debunking this silliness, but decided I have better things to do, like clipping my toenails. It's like trying to disprove solipsism; why bother? I don't see this as being a particularly infectious bit of antiscience (like, say, the Moon Hoax or the antivax movement), and it's pretty limited in its scope. Maybe someday if I'm particularly bored -- like say locked in a room with just water, bagels, and an internet-connected computer -- I'll write something up. It would be a fun mental exercise, but not terribly useful against the Flat Earthers. If someone showed them my page, they'd probably just deny the existence of the internet.

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