1. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    It's interesting, "the debunking of FE (flat earth)" by "RE" (round earth) people, is generally tolerated by FE supporters.......as if an engagement (or disagreement) of the topic is certainly a needed (or wanted) part, in order to continue feeding the meme.
    This helps keep it alive, by adding wood to keep the the fire.
    If there were no debunking attempts at all.....the FE idea may slowly fade away...and not just because it is so ludicrous, but because the perceived enemy is smaller and less present.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  2. JRBids

    JRBids Senior Member

    I remember not long ago I started seeing Flat Earth posts in Chemtrails Global Skywatch. One or two here or there.... I felt it was people trolling. And since many of the people posting there believe every other conspiracy theory out there.... all of a sudden there are a lot of FE posts. So I think in that group anyway, it started out as people trolling and others fell for it.
  3. MickeyS

    MickeyS Member

    Now while FE'ers are definitely more inclined to believe other theories, like the "Truther" movement, I've seen posts and comments that show most "truthers" despise FE'ers....I thought that was interesting. Unless it's inaccurate
  4. Spectrar Ghost

    Spectrar Ghost Senior Member

    What the heck is with the fourfold increase in FE references in the last twelve months? Is there any context I'm missing here?

    Edit: Sixfold increase since August 2014 (value 17) to today's 100. I still don't understand why.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
  5. Chew

    Chew Senior Member

    The context is the Truthers' crippling lack of scientific knowledge; therefore the Truthers that read the flat earther claims get sucked into it.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. Chew

    Chew Senior Member

    I've seen a few Truthers claim the current FE movement is a CIA PSYOP designed to make Truthers look foolish. Of course none of them provide any evidence that the CIA are behind it. Personally, I believe the rise in the FE movement was inevitable given the general lack of scientific literacy common throughout the world.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  7. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    maybe the young CTers are getting bored with contrails and false flags as theyve been done too many times and stumbled upon FE, which is much more fun. ? or increased coverage of space/mars stuff?
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Dick Holman

    Dick Holman New Member

    My thinking is along the lines of Chews' observation, & that the inhabitants of echo-chambers are drawn to each other for company. Further, having special or hidden knowledge is psychologically attractive. If knowledge is power, hidden knowledge must be more powerful.
  9. skephu

    skephu Senior Member

    It looks like a big rise in interest occured some time around end of 2014 or beginning of 2015. I don't think this rapid increase just accidentally happened. Doing some googling, I find that a guy named Eric Dubay published a new book about flat earth "theory" in November 2014, and in December 2014, he also produced a 1.5-hour documentary published on youtube, along with several other sensationalistic videos like "Nasa insider exposes the flat earth", etc. Several of his videos have hundreds of thousands of views. Looking at his youtube channel, apparently he started producing flat earth videos about a year ago. So maybe this recent surge is at least in part the result of his activity and its cascading effects.
    His youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ericdubay77/videos
    His books: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ericdubay
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Useful Useful x 1
  10. Santa's sidekick

    Santa's sidekick Active Member

    • Like Like x 1
  11. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, there's been a huge flurry of interest in the topic, on top of the doubling of interest in the last thee months. B.o.B has exchanged raps with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and popular media has been covering it with amusement.


    To a degree this makes me rethink my "ignore them" position. It's getting quite popular, and many people do actually believe the Earth is flat. Is it useful to try to explain to them why it's not?

    On the spectrum of unusual beliefs, FE is well past chemtrails. So pretty much all the flat earthers are going to believe in chemtrails by default. If you don't address the flat earth belief, then debunking anything else is pretty pointless.

    Clearly some people do stop believing the Earth is Flat. So it's not as if they are entirely lost to reason.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    if you put it in a Rap.. you'd probably go viral. but youd have to write it while the deGrasse hub bub is still hot.
  13. Justatruthseeker

    Justatruthseeker New Member

    To play Devil's Advocate - you mean like the United Nation flag?


    And then there is the Coriolis effect. Fired bullets must take it into account, but airplanes don't?

    Don't misunderstand, don't accept the theory - just playing Devil's Advocate.
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  14. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    I'm hardcore skeptic, my science is sound
    every fool knows the earth is round
    The ancient Greeks knew it
    We do to, so I'm gonna lay some science on you
    The horizon is where the sea meets the sky
    If you wanna see farther then you gotta get high
    Why is that I hear you call
    Well I'll tell you man
    The earth is a ball...

    something like that maybe?
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
    • Winner Winner x 4
    • Like Like x 3
  15. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    :) love it. cept you gotta take out "fool". its impolite and it makes you sound like Mr. T.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  16. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    This thread is about discussing whether or not to try to debunk the recent wave of flat earth theories. Not about specific variants or debunks of those theories.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. Dan Wilson

    Dan Wilson Active Member

    I agree that this represents an example of why debunking any topic is worthwhile. It's hard to tell exactly how damaging it might be when a celebrity endorses a conspiracy theory like this, but it's probably safe to assume that many people take up the belief as a result.
  18. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I think even the mocking publicity, like Neil Tyson appearing on The Nightly Show to talk about FE, might also have a blowback effect. The theory basically says that all the scientists are lying, especially astrophysicists, and so their denials are just "proof" that the theory is correct.

    Would attempting to debunk do any good? How can you reach someone that far along the spectrum?
  19. David Ridlen

    David Ridlen Member

    I dont see how flat earth debunking is less relevant than engaging other pop myths and conspiracies. FE interest is greater than most people realize, and the trend is skyrocketing above any other conspiracy I search, including controversies regularly covered in mass media, like global warming, vaccines, or GMOs. FE is an unusual conspiracy trend, and has recently entered mainstream media on NPR and The Guardian.


    I've debated FE on my debunk vids for about a year. As with any other conspiracy speculation, belief conviction varies among individuals. There are trolls and outright schizos, but there is also a significant number of people asking sincere questions, or who are 'on the fence.' Many commentors have thanked me for my videos and comments saving them from confusion. Some admit they learned something new, and even occasionally admit they were wrong to defend FE. And many of the more rabid FE advocates have given up debating me, which I count as a win, since they fail to present convincing evidence or reasonable refutes, and their threads become an example.

    It takes time for egos to change mind. You are not always there to see it, or hear admission of error, but that doesn't mean your effort was necessarily ineffective. When you read the stories of devoted religionists and even priests turning atheist, the stories similarly tell of how long it took for them to realize they could no longer ignore the same reasonable arguments presented repeatedly, that gnawed at the back of their minds for years.

    As long as they can stick to debating specific evidence, I dont see it as invalid discussion. Although the growing numbers of FE searchers will swamp you with the same questions over and over. I usually cut an paste responses. At this point, there needs to be a thorough list, index or reference, like Clavius.org for Apollo hoax, for quick linking to common FE debunks.

    There is a recent site dedicated to debunking FE, I cant find now.

    Here is one YT playlist of FE debunk vids, on V.O.R.T.E.X. - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLX6iy03kvnk7D0dN8Ze7CwUpezk2DhW85

    A compilation of debunks on Dazzathecameraman's FB page- https://www.facebook.com/notes/dazzathecameraman/questions-that-stump-flat-earthers/713585632105520

    Simple minds prefer simple, accessible answers. I think the growing complexity of technology has become mysterious, and beyond control or understanding to the poorly educated. CGI has become ubiquitous in media, and indistinguishable from reality. Many people are legitimately distrustful of government and big business, which becomes confused with independent scientific consensus. Many FE fans actually argue that education is a bad thing, and that it is "brainwashing." It is harder to understand the science than it is to watch a few easily digested amateur conspiracy videos, that bring it all down to a simpler level they can more intuitively grasp.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2016
    • Like Like x 4
    • Winner Winner x 1
  20. Dan Wilson

    Dan Wilson Active Member

    People that far along the spectrum exist when it comes to any conspiracy theory, but I'd like to think they don't make up the majority. Side note, most FE theories do make at least some claims that can be tested at the amateur astronomer level. But at the very least I think it's important to offer an opposition. Conspiracy theories are often presented in a very attractive way and if there is no direct response it might be hard for a curious layman to feel as though they can make a confident decision.
    • Like Like x 1
  21. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    The reason why I felt it was different is that it seemed to me that that the majority of the more ardent proponents of the theory were either trolling, or engaging in a kind of scientific solipsism where they really though the world was round for all practical purposes but were philosophically entertained by posing questions about it. So I thought they were all essentially trolls, and I did not think it wise to feed the trolls.

    I did not think there were that many serious believers promoting the theory.

    However with the explosion of interest it's clear that there are going to be many more people who get sucked in. Many of the videos are quite well done, and superficially convincing if you are unfamiliar with the arguments. Like I said before, it's far along the spectrum on unusual beliefs. If you want to debunk someone's more "mainstream" unusual beliefs (like homeopathy, climate change denialism, 9/11 controlled demolition, NWO Jewish Banker Cabals, or even chemtrails) then it's useless if they continue to believe in NASA guarding a giant wall of ice and faking satellites.

    So, to see how things go I'm going to add a sub-forum "Flat Earth Debunked", and allow more discussion of flat earth theories, providing they follow the posting guidelines.
  22. Justatruthseeker

    Justatruthseeker New Member

    There are not that many serious believers. There are less than 500 members worldwide - but the more the news media attempts to debunk it - the more attention they get and the more people become interested in it and the more the membership grows.
  23. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Part of the thinking behind the Posting Guidelines is to avoid "attention" - and specifically avoid long drawn-out threads endlessly going over the same old ground. Instead of providing publicity for a claim, the aim should be to deftly deflate it (assuming it's incorrect, of course) by providing a single thread that is focussed and accessible on that one particular claim.
  24. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    • Like Like x 1
  25. Fallingdown

    Fallingdown New Member

    I can sum up my position on flat earth in a few words .

    Yes it should be debunked mainly to protect the gullible. I am quite aware that many people just use it to troll. But they are also sucking in the naïve and that is dangerous on the whole .
    • Agree Agree x 2
  26. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    wot he said
    • Like Like x 1
  27. Hevach

    Hevach Senior Member

    It's nice when people give themselves supervillain names just to help the casual reader pick sides.

    I wonder if the growth is part of the same pattern I've noted in several other theories, where over time the adherents slide up the scale to more and more absurd versions of the same conspiracy - 9/11 truth started as, "this was an outside attack by different forces than the Bush Administration claimed" to "this was an internal attack" to "this wasn't an attack, the planes were fake."

    In this case, could it be the next step in the development of the Apollo hoax? What started as, "Faked for national prestige (but the rest of the space program is real)" has already grown as far as, "Faked because it's impossible (and the rest of the space program is also a hoax)," which seems a far cry from FE, but it's a claim with a blank space to be filled - i.e. *why* the space program is impossible - which FE will fill nicely.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  28. tadaaa

    tadaaa Active Member

    this is an interesting and apposite topic/thread in todays culture of anti-knowledge, which sadly, to an outside observer seem quite prevalent in the US at the moment.

    essentially the questions seem to be as fundamental as

    "how do we know what we know"

    I suspect an "educated" misinformer/conspiracy theorist (however you label them) would win an argument against an average Joe on pretty much any topic, evolution, heliocentricity thru to 911 and (anti) climate science.

    most people intrinsic knowledge of this stuff is pretty sketchy and you have to have enough knowledge to see the strawman arguments being constructed

    "if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys"

    the recent telescope thread is a great example of this - without some knowledge of photo optics it is difficult to counter the opening post.


    Often these notions are grounded in simple "common sense" which is appealing to people who lack expertise - "yeah stick it to the experts, what the fvck do they know" (there seems to be a trend to "don't trust the experts")

    indeed some priori knowledge of the subject is required to state, as in the words of physicists Wolfgang Pauli

    "What you said was so confused that one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not."

    the average Joe just has to rely on experts, on consensus

    off course this is why the misinformers go after any consensus whether that is on evolution, 911 or climate science

    consensus is like kryptonite to these guys because it is the framework that supports most of what we do

    I do not have to be an oncologist to accept the cancer / tobacco link

    I don't have to understand astrophysics to accept heleiocentrity and that the earth is round (after all common sense would suggest otherwise)

    so in short - YES they should be addressed
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  29. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    Actually it doesnt. As Landru said, bottom line, "then why cant you see the southern cross from Canada?"

    That being said, I'd just like to point out as someone with no "astro" related education AND no interest in "astro" related science, not only do i not understand most of the debunks of FE claims but i dont even understand the FE claims.

    I cant figure out the telescope claim or like the 'why dont we have to change our clocks' claim to save my life. Although, in those cases, i do sort of understand the debunks eventually.

    I think for the average Joe "then why cant you see the southern cross from Canada" is really all you need. It seems to me to be a bunch of people who want to think they understand science (like Wigington with his freezer ice balls) but don't. And i think a rather small percentage (maybe 20% tops) will ever admit they are wrong on the science. They may 'drop' FE belief but debunkers will never know like david Ridlin said above.

    So, imo, debunkers have to brace for this and stay CALM. "Fights" only escalate any CT. (easier said then done, i know)

    I say only start threads if the claim is really gaining traction that seems long term, if the claim is somewhat popular but has an instant SIMPLE debunk like "then why cant we see the Southern Cross from Canada" or if the FEer starts a thread here.
  30. JRBids

    JRBids Senior Member

    I think for the average Joe, just the fact that we have known the earth is NOT flat for hundreds i not thousands of years is all you need. In an age of jet planes, space shuttles, missions to Mars, etc, anyone who suddenly "wakes up" and think "wow the earth is FLAT!!!" is terminally gullible. Maybe FE is a way to REALLY separate the wheat from the chaff. I hope this is not off topic, move it elsewhere, if it is (like conspiracy theory humor), but this is Max Bliss railing against Flat Earth believers. (SPOILER: FE is an establishment plant). My bold for emphasis of the CTs he DOESN"T rail against:


    And..... his FB friends rise up against him!

    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
    • Funny Funny x 1
  31. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    The problem there is that the Flat Earth Society has an explanation, probably several. Of course it makes no actual sense:
    For the believer, they don't understand how the sun, moon, planets, and stars work in reality anyway. So it's irrelevant to them how they work in a Flat Earth model. They have an "explanation" (you can't see the souther cross from Canada because of perspective, the stars are on the other side of the vanishing point) which is utter nonsense, but then who are they going to trust, NASA, or the Flat Earthers?

    Perhaps a simpler question would be "why does the moon go below the horizon, even when you use binoculars?"

    Or simpler - "why does anything go behind the horizon?"

    This all serves to remind me just how incredibly ludicrous the theory is. It exploits the natural human lacking of understanding of scale and perspective. But since it's such a natural understanding, is it even possible to get people out of the rabbit hole by teaching them to understand perspective? Or is the best that can be done just offer them counterexamples?
    • Agree Agree x 1
  32. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    :) seriously, a lamppost? the sun is a bit higher than a lamppost. and the stars a bit higher than that! i still think its 'gaining' popularity only because its kinda a silly fun thing like Nessie et al.

    • Funny Funny x 1
  33. NoParty

    NoParty Senior Member

    Back in Sept. (Post #36) I opined that FE claims should probably be debunked, as the
    absence of refutation might be interpreted as convincing evidence for FE believers.

    But I think I want to change (as usual, B.o.B's comments alter my worldview) :p my position:

    In short, now I think that establishment/scientific voices rejecting FE nonsense are only giving the fire oxygen,
    and driving the believers to create new, complex explanations...that many potential converts are simply
    not willing or able to seriously evaluate. Which, ultimately, means more bunk.

    At the end of the day, the FE fantasy is so absurd that it should sink under its own weight...
    and now I feel that serious-sounding engagement from sober, scientific types, probably only delays FE's death.
  34. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I share these concerns, but I've been drifting in the other direction. I don't think that Metabunk style debunking need give oxygen to the theory. But we need to be careful. It's easy to get sucked in to Gish Gallop whack-a-mole debunking, but the focus should be on creating accessible and understandable debunks that people can use to get themselves (or a friend) one step more out of the rabbit hole (or at least stop them falling deeper in to it).
  35. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    not to mention basic trigonometry and geometry. My maths is crap but even I get the basics of stuff like distance, angles and curvature etc.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  36. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Some of the explanations are so incredibly bad that I think they would actually be quite effective as debunking tools. Ostensibly this is someone attempting to explain why sunsets are just perspective. Nobody can possibly believe this is correct, but would showing this video to a nascent flat earth believer actually help them understand the issue?

    Then there's slightly more complicated, but equally ludicrously wrong videos like this:

    Might Flat Earth videos be good debunking tools? It depends if the viewer can spot the mistakes. Unfortunately there's probably some who will actually agree with what the video is saying, even a few for the first video.
  37. munchie

    munchie Member

    In my experience some of the wackiest theories are better left untouched. In the worst case trying to debate FE theories might give them credibility in the views of some people. I would also look at the mechanism by which people are drawn into conspiracy theories. I would categorize them

    a) belief in some conspiracies, then
    b) belief that the government actively trying to deceit people
    c) belief that everyone is lying, except the people who agree with their ideas

    That's about the way people get sucked in step by step from a to c, they start adopting more and more ridiculous ideas along the way, ideas that verify their earlier beliefs and validate the next step.

    Now.. I can't imagine anyone getting sucked in the "rabbit hole" and reaching step 'c' by a FE theory.. it's ridiculous. Flat earthers are the last step in the conspiracy world. This is the reason I don't generally debate with flat earthers at all, they assume everyone opposed to their idea to be shills or liars and they are very vocal about it. I see people spreading FE theories to be in two categories, either trolls or people beyond any help.

    I know my view might be a bit cynical, but I think the people capable of figuring out what "flat earth" is about have done so, and people still believing in it can't be helped. Debating these people will result in a lot of accusations flying around, and not much constructive dialogue. I think your decision to discourage flat earth discussion is the correct one.

    I would still allow discussion of very specific claims, as this is one of Metabunks strong points.
  38. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    One thing to consider is that there are also young people who get sucked into conspiracy theories. With their roughly formed minds, they are often mercurially susceptible to strange beliefs, capable of jumping directly to c. But also somewhat more amenable to having their errors corrected. These are people dancing around near the edge of the rabbit hole, or just poking their heads inside. The goal would be to stop them falling in. Or at least falling too far. Even if they eventually figure out that the Earth is round, their journey might expose them to a whole other bunch of stuff that's harder to shake.

    So I disagree that there are simply trolls and people beyond help. I believed (or suspected) all kinds of crazy things in my teens. A few missteps and I could have ended up a true believer.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  39. munchie

    munchie Member

    A major problem when discussing fe is the lack of moderation. Flat earth people are the experts at dragging you down to their level and cluttering the discussion with irrelevant claims to make themselves seem knowledgeable (though it might be unintentional on their part).

    "Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference."

    But! If the discussion is to be had somewhere then I cant think of a place better than Metabunk.

    You are correct, I didn't even consider young people when writing my thoughts on the matter. But young people also need to have some leeway to find things for themselves. They have a need to question things and sometimes it leads to believing in a conspiracy theory. If you think back when you were a teen, would you consider yourself stupid? No of course not. You were intrigued by a lot of things but didn't possess enough experience to make a well-informed decision on some of them. Maybe this is one reason for the conspiracy theories to be so successful? Their "research this youself, look at this 2 hours long Youtube video and make your own mind" -approach makes people think they figured it out themselves.

    Young people are not going to change, so maybe the only thing that can be done is to look at a specific claim and present the debunking in a simple manner. Sounds familiar :D.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  40. WeedWhacker

    WeedWhacker Senior Member

    I find it interesting that just as i decide to re-join this great community....I find this thread. Because? This:

    I'm not a "fan" of Rap "music" by any means....however, I guess I am a "fan" of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson as just
    one epitome of science, and reason.

    This YT video clip kinda clinches it....(sorry, seems to have an advert):
    • Winner Winner x 1