“The Flat Earth Society has members around the globe.”
While my reaction to most idiots ranges from irritation to rage, there is a particular brand of idiot I find, on the whole, amusing. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never actually met one in person, or at least one that has publicised their subscription to the outlandishly ridiculous theory of the Flat Earth. But they are out there, all around the globe it would seem.
These odd creatures pop up from time to time in the news, to inadvertently give us all a good chuckle. Most recently, their theory on the non-existence of Australia has been widely shared. So, according to them, all of you from Australia are actually just actors and fake online personas, and all airline pilots are in on this grand conspiracy, as they surreptitiously shuttle visitors to ‘Australia’ to elaborately staged hoax islands instead.
Now, people believe all sorts of daft stuff, like astrology, alien abductions, and creationism. If you want a laugh, have a look at the site of the Creation Museum. This is a real place; it may look like a spoof website, but I assure you it is not. Ok, these people are miseducated, backward, and deluded. However, subscribers to the flat-earth theory take it a level further. They believe that the spherical earth is a theory concocted by some shadowy figures with the aim of duping us all. But to what end? What puzzles me is the question of what flat-earthers believe is the motivation behind this conspiracy? What do they think these imaginary shadowy figures hope to achieve through pulling the wool over all our eyes?
There are other, more serious, conspiracies out there. Many refuse to believe that climate change is happening, and the myth that humankind has not caused this environmental catastrophe is perpetuated by those who benefit financially from it. Principally the fossil fuel industry and its mouthpieces in elected office. Money is more important than a sustainable planet to these sick, evil bastards. Their reasoning is flawed, twisted, but sadly we can see the motivation behind it. Making more and more money. Similarly, the idiots who don’t vaccinate believe that vaccines cause autism, that more shadowy figures are trying to poison us, and that pharmaceutical companies are forcing vaccines on us for profit. Wrong, wrong, and well, ok. They make money, but it’s for the good of public health (unlike oil extraction). Anti-vaxxers are utterly wrong and dangerously ignorant, but they have, totally misguided, reasons behind what they do.
Flat-earthers though? I still don’t get it. Imagine indulging them for a moment, and humour their suggestion that the earth is flat. Whatever about the complete contradiction with everything from the geological, physical, and astronomical sciences, it would mean that the conspiracy dates all the way back to Ancient Greece (Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth c250BC), and even Ancient Egypt, as the dimensions used in the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza correspond with the dimensions of the Earth, the North-South alignment, and even the precession of the Earth.
Besides, any other explanation apart from the heliocentric one for the rotation of the Earth and the relative motion of astronomical bodies is ridiculously complex and does not stand up to any scrutiny.
I suppose there are serious implications. The existence of this movement indicates a growing ignorance about the world in general. Knowledge and technology have both advanced at unprecedented rates in the last century. However, ignorance and misinformation have also done so, especially since the age of the internet. There is a growing distrust of science. Many people want to live without any acknowledgement of science (despite using technology every day). The Flat Earth Society is a glaring example of just how stupid humans can be.
I hope they eventually fall off the edge…