The Brief: The Flat Earth conspiracy theory rejects the well-established fact that the Earth is round.
What Is The Flat Earth Conspiracy Theory?
Everyone knows the world is round, right? Although the Earth most certainly is a sphere orbiting the sun, a growing number of people are perpetuating an alternate “theory” that scientists, astronauts, politicians, teachers, etc. have been misled or lying to the public, hiding the fact that the earth is actually a disc-shape. The Flat Earth theory is largely based on how many characteristics of the Earth seems flat on a day-to-day level to the average human. For example, we can’t feel the earth spinning or see its round curve. Although this bit may be compelling, Flat Earth “facts” are fallacies based on pseudo-science.
Flat Earth theory generally claims that the Earth is a disc of water with magnetic poles, surrounded by Antarctica on all sides. Flat Earth “truthers” believe that space programs such as NASA are actually cover-ups for government embezzlement. Many aspects of Flat Earth theories stem from literal interpretations of the Judeo-Christian bible.
Do People Actually Believe The Earth Is Flat?
The Flat Earther population is made up of both serious believers and trolls. They may participate in online forums on platforms including YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and Discord. Some Flat Earthers even gather in person at events like the Flat Earth International conference.
NBA player Kyrie Irving has made public comments about his beliefs in a flat Earth, but later backtracked on them and apologized. Logan Paul once claimed that he was a Flat Earther, but this appears to have been a trolling tactic of his.
Flat Earth trolls typically pretend to believe in the conspiracy theory so that they can mess with both believers and non-believers. While they can feed believers even more outlandish ideas than those they already possess, Flat Earth trolls can also shock and fool non-believers into thinking that they’ve bought into an absurd ideology. As is often the case with devoted trolls, it can be extremely difficult to tell whether they are being serious or facetious.
At its core, Flat Earthers seek to disrupt widely-accepted norms and the mainstream establishment’s definition of reality. To some, this conspiracy theory may be less about whether or not the earth is flat and more about how governments, scientists, and media sources have been “lying to the public.” As this video from The Guardian suggests, Flat Earth theories can provide comfort for those who are overwhelmed by the toils of modern society and by their insignificance on a tiny planet existing in an infinite universe.
In the age of fake news, it is easy to instill doubt, even around widely-accepted phenomena like the existence of birds or of a spherical planet Earth. With this distrust in the establishment and the spread of information the internet allows, conspiracy theories like Flat Earth can thrive, even if most people see it as an absurd joke.
Flat Earth Memes
The Flat Earth theory has been widely debunked and parodied by scientists and comedians alike. It is a meme in and of itself which has inspired a number of image macro memes as well.
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