Flat Earthers, are they still a thing?
What’s more, they are trying to prove their beliefs in a series of ‘experiments’ geared towards proving their beliefs.
In an historical act of pseudoscience, a crowd-funded balloon launch was conducted on September 27, 2015 to prove, definitively, that the earth is flat. The goal was, as stated, “Goal of 4 cameras simultaneous feed” to show the earth in all directions to determine if the planetary curvature can be observable at a height of about 160,000 feet (30 miles, 50 KM, by their estimation). The balloons were launched simultaneously in Arizona, USA and in Australia (no further information given as to specific location). The rationale being that “It should be IMPOSSIBLE to see the moon from Arizona USA on a globe surface.” They further chose to do this during Australia’s lunar eclipse “with goal of “shadow”source information gathering.
Here’s a promo video made soon after the balloon launch.
So, the idea that the Earth is flat is obviously not new, but the resurgence of this type of thinking and the attempts to prove a flat earth with the help of balloons and cameras is the culmination of years of misunderstood physics, conspiracist ideation, and misplaced intellectual hubris. The ideas that combine to create this view are, in part, an attempt to return to a prescience worldview (albeit subconsciously), but it is also an attempt to discredit science through a lay understanding of science mixed with deliberate denialism.
Step 1: Assert the Science is Wrong!
File this under pseudoscience. This video is a great example of bad science used to disprove good. An unidentified ‘nerd’ uses a vacuum cleaner (or, colloquially, a ‘vacuum’ in America; a ‘hoover’ to my UK friends) to simulate the vacuum of space. The demonstration, beginning at 6:27 of the video using a toy car and a balloon with a straw to simulate an internal combustion engine. The video fails to prove the physics of jet propulsion invalid, but it does prove that believers will believe whatever allows them to continue reaffirming their belief, no matter how flawed.
To give a concise explanation of what happens on the instances that the experiment showed the toy car not moving, if not immediately apparent, it appears that the suction of the vacuum cleaner created a temporary pressure equilibrium at the point of propulsion and acted as an air brake. The same effect can be observed while the toy car moved with the nozzle of the vacuum following, creating the stop and go motion that was observable during the demonstration with the vacuum cleaner.
If this were the only video, or web page, or small group of people trying to promote the idea that Science (the scientific community, or all science itself as controlled by the ‘powers that be’) is lying or covering something up, perhaps it would be comical. The fact is, that part of most conspiracy theories is some form of science denialism, such as climate denialism, or pseudoscience, as in the case with most racial conspiracy theories and the suspicion of the RH- factor blood type.
Step 2: Nazis
Because, yes, Wernher von Braun was the head of Nazi Germany’s ‘rocket team’ and was the driving force in designing Germany’s V-2 rocket and, yes, after WWII, von Braun went on to help develop NASA’s space program, but that doesn’t really mean that the government is secretly controlled by Nazis, or the Illuminati, or Masons, et cetera. This goes in conflict with the views expressed in the video above, but so does pretty much everything else science, history and reason would tend to support.
World leaders and the official pontificates of science would have us believe that life itself is an accident, a cosmic game of chance usually results in lifeless, barren planets. Once in a while, the chaotic Universe will birth a planet that falls in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ of its host star, meet certain compositional requirements and, eventually, these circumstances can produce a so-called primordial ooze which allows for a chemical reaction that somehow morphs into amino acids, then single-celled organisms, then bacteria and on and on until, one day, under the perfect circumstances through a process called natural selection, eventually, intelligental [sic] life can emerge. They would have you believe that life on Earth isn’t anything particularly special …
The quote, verbatim from the video above, shows the rationale that is required to distrust Science and believe that, in fact, science is part of a vast lie. The world seemed to lose all of its magic when scientists, those great spoilsports, proved the Earth was round, the Moon could be reached by human ingenuity, animals developed through Evolution and their is, potentially, a way to understand with some certainty the events immediately after the Big Bang. This is, sadly and incorrectly, seen as an attempt at refuting God. Any scientist who believes in God, or is religious in any way, would likely say that the many discoveries of Humanity are merely explanations of the masterwork that is the Universe. The conspiracist, however, sees all this as nothing more than nefarious forcible atheism and an attempt to destroy the faith of the devout. The New World Order, obviously, is the major project of such a nefarious force and conspiracist ideation relies on conflation of coincidences, such as the defection of a former Nazi scientist to become the major creative force in NASA, to prove (if only to themselves) that the conspiracy is real.
Step 3: Go Tell It On The Mountain!
The question comes up, what drives the Flat Earth idea and why are its adherents so vehement? There is, in part, an anti-science sentiment as mentioned earlier, but also, there seems to be a desire to replace that science with religious fundamentalism. Many of the videos decry the ‘liars’ at NASA, their ‘fisheye lenses’ and their secret agendas. Many more mention homemade experiments to prove the earth is flat.
Consistently, the believers in the flat Earth point to the reason for the presumed conspiracy to be a denial of God. While not all Christians feel they need to believe in a flat Earth to believe in God, for many religious people are more than comfortable understanding science and having faith, flat Earthers are invested in their ‘faith’ in a conspiracy theory, as well as their ‘faith’ that the Moon landing never happened. But, they will often say that that is how the Bible describes the earth and there has been increasing rhetoric within Protestant Christianity that claim the Bible as 100% accurate and inerrant in all cases (consider Young Earth Creationism). Therefore, they conflate their ‘faith’ in a flat Earth into a necessity to belief in God.
Here are some more videos from Flat Earth ‘Theorists’
Here’s hoping you don’t fall off the map!*
*Technically, Flat Earth Theorists contend that there is a dome and a firmament encapsulating the flat Earth. So I guess you shouldn’t worry about falling off, just hitting the wall.