1. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

  2. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    • Like Like x 1
  3. snaphat

    snaphat Member

    After seeing how the balaton laser curvature experiment and subsequent discussion has gone, I'm of the opinion that it should be ignored. It seems that even when provided with reasonable critique and guidance, there's not much that can be done to convince them otherwise.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Bass In Your Face

    Bass In Your Face Active Member

    I honestly still think that providing a clear base of evidence for any/all claims possible to be accessible by anyone who *would* be willing to be objective is still better than not having it available. Gullible people will tend to stay gullible, unless acted upon by an outside force.

    Making things clear across the board is the only thing that can be done, imo.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    Does the recent influx of flat earthers here have precedence? Did it also happen with chemtrailers?
  6. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    It's only a handful, and probably just due to Metabunk only recently starting to cover the topic. Chemtrail folk have been popping in occasionally since 2007.
  7. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    I know I speak for myself here, but does anyone else have concerns about how much time they're spending on flat earth stuff?

    Debunking. Answering questions in forums. Researching and providing evidence.

    It does take a lot of time, and time I could probably spend better doing other things.

    I mean, at the end of the day, flat earth is a pretty ridiculous concept, believed in mostly by people who seem oblivious to reason, and almost impossible to converse with.

    Question is: what's the point? Does it do anything?

    I think even if the 10 most popular flat earthers were blasted into space and reported seeing a globe it probably wouldn't change a thing (apart from for them).

    I need to stop. I guess I'm burned out by a recent foray into a flat earth facebook group that turned out as productive as trying to teach Shakespeare to an infinite bunch of monkeys (luckily, I'm banned from that now).

    Really, there's no place like home. ;)
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I do. I think people do it in part because of the fun aspects you mentioned before:

    But I also do it because I find their belief fascinating. I think studying this can also tell us something about beliefs that are lower on the spectrum, like chemtrails and 9/11 controlled demolition. The same psychology is at work in the different topics to different degrees. Blinding confirmation bias seems to be the most significant similarity.

    So yes, probably spending too much time, but I try to get something out of it.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    that may be the case with all hobbies. you just need to find a balance between what is fun or productive and when your hobby starts interferring with other activities then it's probably time to pull back.

    i think it's cool that people debunk. like your NY video was "odd" and interesting, so hearing an explanation is nice. i personally wouldnt read a long FB 'debate', i dont even like long threads here on MB. but if i see a video shared on fb or a meme i will read a few comments.

    i think for non hardcores (i mean i'm really just guessing here as im not a non-hardcore on anything either) a short "what you are seeing is refraction" then a link to a "science for kids" video that shows me what refraction is, or a "that experiment has been debunked as it's measurements are no good" and a link to a MB debunk is good.*

    *Not 18 pages of course!

    You have mentioned this a few times, so i'm thinking it might be time for you to pull back a little bit. or concentrate on doing some OPs here. Just remember, get to the debunk early in your text. use simple graphics wherever possible to help visual learners and break up the text. basically write all your OPs as if they are for me who has no prior knowledge of scientific concepts. If your interest lies in debating only with the more hardcore that seem smart.. i cant help you with that. maybe set yourself time limits, or take a break for a few weeks in between (the FE theory will still be here when you get back from vacation)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Bass In Your Face

    Bass In Your Face Active Member

    The "conspiracy' mindset is what I am most interested in.
    Watching it work and make decisions is fascinating to me, enough that hearing them out (for the most part) is a learning experience by itself. You learn patience, how to be more articulate when discussing a topic, and you're forced to re-learn (or learn) a lot of information that you may have otherwise ignored.

    I think I would probably not care so much if conspiracies (any) did not directly affect my personal life or people around me, but sadly, they do.... its 9/11 or Gov. hoaxes for the most part, but I have a friend who now (probably temporarily) is a Flat Earther.. which only draws my attention towards getting to the bottom of such nonsense.

    Does it matter?

    In the near future when some sort of space elevator is built, or great heights are more easily accessible and cheap, the curve will be obvious, and the FE debate will pivot to adapt, claiming the curved horizon is from the edge of the disc.. and so on and so forth.. until its easier for humans to actually be in space, in which time maybe FE adapts the idea of space but still thinks governement's are together in on something major..

    ..so as exhausting as it sounds to continue to debunk something that will only pivot when confronted with impossibilities, I still think if you gain something from it personally, then it can only be a positive experience for everyone (given you actually lay out verifiable facts for people to compare and make their own choices)
    • Like Like x 2
  11. SR1419

    SR1419 Senior Member


    This is why I have ignored all of it...selfishly I wish a topic of more interest to me would cause a spike like the FE has but if people come here and post bunk it needs to be addressed.
  12. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    other than maybe JFK and there maybe being a second shooter.. arent they all ridiculous concepts?

    but here is an example of what you are facing @Rory . So... debunk, but work on not getting frustrated. From things like this i read i really think i'm in at least the upper 25th percentile of brains. which is a scary scary thought. No matter what you do or how hard you try, you will never be able to make the whole world "rational" or "nice". And remember the adage that 'you cant take care of/help others, unless you take care of yourself first.'

    • Like Like x 1
  13. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    I would say less productive, that production of Hamlet you organised had its moments. Seriously though I feel your pain. Thats why I've dropped off those threads at the mo.
  14. SR1419

    SR1419 Senior Member

    Perhaps...although some more than others I guess...you have to pick your poison.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

    This company is planning to give tourists balloon rides to near space - 100,000+ feet.


    They say, "We are planning to launch our first flight towards the end of the 2016 calendar year..."

    It's costly - $75,000
  16. Bass In Your Face

    Bass In Your Face Active Member

    At least it's affordable for rich people, so for instance, the rapper B.O.B. who is currently making money off of his "flat earth" album, could easily pay that and see for himself, and given he has such a blind following, he could be a beacon of truth in a time where seeing earth's curvature from a far is a rare event in someones life, due to obviously, money, and time.
  17. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Fascinating look into the mind of a Flat Earther. :
    • Informative Informative x 3
  18. NoParty

    NoParty Senior Member

    Wow! Just :oops: wow.

    That Gemma is a Clinical Psychologist is just one of the many intriguing details in the fuller story Mick linked to.

    Literally shaking my head...just don't know what to make of it...
  19. skephu

    skephu Senior Member

    High-altitude balloons are a much cheaper option. You can send up a camera.
  20. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

    I had my own lonely period. More than a year ago I started to tell people that there were people who believe the earth is flat. They thought I was at least half a crackpot. I was told that those FE folks were just giggling, self-aware Trolls or Poes playing around, and I was dumb enough to believe they were serious. I found a few other people who also believed that FE believers were real and we huddled together, but then I told them that eventually 15 to 20 percent of the population would be either FE believers or at least sympathetic to FE and was rejected again for not believing that this silliness would soon die.

    I base the prediction on what I know about psychology and my decades long familiarity with Uforia, ESP, cattle mutilation, satanic cult hysteria, etc., etc. I'm an old guy and lived through the days when all of those were huge. In the 80's people went to prison after literal witch trials, convicted of crimes that never happened.

    I'm familiar with the syndrome described in the article: a seemingly normal person becoming obsessed with a crackpot idea. Just one example:

    Tim Edwards of Salida, Colorado saw and filmed a strand of spider web glinting in the sun and was convinced it was a miles long mother ship UFO. He was previously "normal" but then became obsessed with UFO's to the annoyance and consternation of family and friends.

    By reading hundreds of YT comments I've also run into the bit about FE being very comforting and life changing. People often describe it as a revelation that has brought a religious calm. But I've also run into this over the decades with any number of other crackpot beliefs... and *whisper* mainstream religious belief. I think it's an end to analytical thought and uncertainty, to a state of mind in which analytical thought has been turned off and uncertainties have been put away. A state in which rationalization and perseveration of belief have become the dominant mode.

    The compulsive behavior is a result of reward. Each new "discovery" brings a reward. And rationalization itself is rewarding. Each time the belief has been protected by a process of rationalization there's a rush. It's addictive.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016
    • Winner Winner x 1
  21. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    It's related to the Mandela effect, an irrational rejection of the objective for the subjective in the form of pseudo-objective evidence and reasoning, which are really just semi-random rationalizations of subjective experiences.

    The Flat Earth Wiki puts it like this:

    or "do your own research!"

    Missing for that descriptions is the rejection of existing science, but it's certainly implied

    I can certainly see how people could get sucked into something like that, especially people who consider themselves to be very intelligent. It the type of thing that would have really appealed to me in my late teens and even early twenties.
    • Like Like x 1
  22. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    I have a hypothesis about this which I don't have the tools to express. Suffice it to say that I believe it's all related to the general Human condition of feeling "lost" in the universe and knowing, at some level, that grand truths are just outside our range of perception.
  23. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    Joe Rogan podcast had Michael Shermer as a guest (excerpt from 9/14/2016)
    The first 6 mins speaks of "flat earthers", and the possible motives or reasons for this boost in internet chatter......

    ....for the whole interview, see.....

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
  24. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    His account of Wallace's experiment/wager is a bit off. The "little sticks in the ground" version of the experiment was inconclusive (probably because the sticks were too low). And Wallace did get paid, quite quickly (experiment was March 5th, he was paid April 1), after an independent review. The subsequent problems were largely due to Hampden harassing him afterwards. Wallace took Hampden to court for libel, Hampden was jailed several times. Six years later Hampden won a court decision refunding his stake.

    I learnt of this from the astonishingly fascinating book "Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea", more on which later.
    • Useful Useful x 1
  25. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Moderator Staff Member

    I have this book, and I remember finding it pretty interesting. I read it before I got involved with any Flat Earthers, though. Maybe I should re-read it.
  26. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    One could also read "The Science of Discworld" and its sequels.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  27. c.eileen

    c.eileen Member

    Generally speaking, I think that a lot of the science bunkum can be diminished by improved science education in elementary and high school.

    Take the flat earth hypothesis, for instance: Yes, I was shown a globe in elementary school and told, "This is the Earth. It is round like a ball." Period. No explanations for how we know that, no history concerning the revelation that Earth is a sphere, no experiments to prove it (not that my 1960s elementary school could have done such experiments, but we certainly could have studied the work of those who did). That the Earth is a sphere was just this "thing that we all know," a given that needs no further exploration, nor explanation. I had never encountered the name Eratosthenes until I was in college and took a class in Physical Geography as part of a general science requirement!

    There was a lot of science that was handed to us as a given...and still is. My feeling is that if we taught scientific inquiry earlier and more rigorously, rather than just handing out facts (givens) on which "we will be tested later," then students will be better prepared, as adults, to assess claims that are based on science, good or bad. For example, many of the chemtrail believers are straight up ignorant of how the atmosphere behaves not only because they were never taught what we know, but they were never taught how we know.

    I recognize that it would be ill advised to expend precious classroom time repeating experiments and proving theories on matters that we already know, but somehow there must be a happy balance between critical thinking (specifically exploration of how we know something), and the simple regurgitation of facts as authoritative decrees. Too many people simply don't know how science works, how we find out things about the natural world, and this is why you have people not only falling for things like FE and chemtrails and climate denial, but being suckered by "breakthroughs" in bunk nutrition claims, miracle cures, and infomercial patent gadgets that don't and can't do as purported.

    Of course, the psychology and sociology of bunkum is more complex than a simple deficit in education, and there will always be those who will believe no-matter-what. However, improving critical thinking and encouraging exploration into how we know something in science will have a positive impact on reducing belief in bunk. That kind of education needs to start early—in elementary school—and rigorously pursued in high school across not only science courses, but history, sociology, and philosophy as well. Note: The latter two areas of study would have to be introduced into American public high schools as general requirements and not just limited to advanced placement college-bound students.
    • Like Like x 1
  28. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Senior Member

    It's not just a matter of trying to convert FE believers. When FE believers make basically flawed arguments even well meaning people often can't respond, due to holes in their understanding of basic physics.

    One example: No basic understanding of inertia. I've seen all these arguments.

    -When an astronaut steps out of the ISS, going 17,000 mph, he wouldn't just float next to it. He would be left behind. (How stupid do they think we are?)

    -When a baseball is hit, if the earth were really moving 1,000 mph, as soon as it left contact with the earth the earth would move underneath it and we would see it whip away at 1,000 mph. It would fall miles away.

    -The classic hot air balloon rising up and waiting for the earth to move under it.

    -A common misconception is that Science says: That things like baseballs and balloons follow the earth's motion because the atmosphere is pushing them... and why does the atmosphere follow the earth's motion? Because it's being dragged along by gravity. And why do the earth and planets follow the sun on its galactic orbit? Because they are being dragged along by the sun's gravity.

    -If you throw a ball in the air inside a train or car or plane it keeps up because the engine is pushing it. (I think the idea is that the air inside is pushing it forward and the air is being pushed by the engine.) But if it went up through a hole in the roof it wouldn't be a part of the "closed system" and it would fall behind the vehicle.


    - If the earth were really spinning 1,000 mph the centrifugal force would be enormous. One YT commenter offered to put me on a windmill spinning at 1,000 mph and see if I could hang on.

    This is not at all limited to FE believers but is common. Because of that they have no rejoinder to these FE arguments.

    I've also found to my surprise that a lot of ordinary people think that the dark part of the moon as we see it in the sky is a shadow of the earth. Not a lunar eclipse. Just an ordinary moon.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
    • Like Like x 2
  29. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Well, given that the education system is not going to change any time soon, I really don't think there's much to be gained in bemoaning it.

    The question here is what should we (debunkers/skeptics) do?

    I'm uncertain, but I don't see much harm from polite engagement.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  30. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    what if the window was cracked? kids throw baseballs up on school buses and they dont (always) bean the kid behind them.

    I think sometimes just introducing a crack in their (science fiction) armor might be more effective than trying to teach actual science. especially with complex science.

    i had to read this 4 times because i was like "lunar eclipse?" huh? and i know what the dark area we see on the moon is from.But as you can see i'm not super in tuned to "lunar vs solar" eclipses. Actually i still dont know what you mean by "lunar eclipse". i thought a lunar eclipse was shadow of the earth.

    So you also have to be careful about describing things in ways that only further confuse the issue.
  31. c.eileen

    c.eileen Member

    Well, improved education would be my response to what we should do. Admittedly though, it is more of a long term solution that doesn't really address what to do about current FE adherents (and other conspiracy theorists and bunk believers).

    I'm not sure what one should do. Personally, I feel that such erroneous thinking needs to be fought against, but it is hard to convince or educate someone who holds a strong belief. With FE, one would almost have to sit them down at the kitchen table and school them in basic physics before even attempting to show them how their evidence is flawed. With chemtrail believers, you would have to give them lessons in meteorology and atmospheric physics. The list goes on…

    …and in the end, they may not believe you. It seems that, though some true believers use "science" to back up their claims, they seem inherently suspicious of the scientific establishment and academia. I've been called a "sheeple" because I accept the findings of conventional good science which happens to contradict what the believers' (bad) science supports. So, it's like you can't win, y'know?

    FE? Should we ignore them? Perhaps. After all, their beliefs seem to be inherently harmless, and if, as has been noted, many/most don't actually believe in FE and regard it as an interesting intellectual exercise, then there is no need to get ker-fluffled about them. There are far more dangerous bunk beliefs out there to combat—such as chemtrailists who threaten pilots and climate-deniers who choose to do nothing to stem global warming.
    • Like Like x 1
  32. NoParty

    NoParty Senior Member

    I get your point.
    I just worry that--besides wasting class time that should be better spent--the fact that
    pro-oblate spheroid material was being dwelled upon, would likely lead to accusations of
    "See? They're worried about the new generation figuring out their lies,
    so they're spending extra time to indoctrinate the kids against flat earth!!"
  33. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Flat earther's generally subscribe to a "zetetic" philosophy, where you believe things only if you can verify them yourself. So it would seem a good approach would be to create a series of simple ways that people can verify from themselves.

    Now this is harder than it seems, as every single step needs to be verifiable. How do we know, for example, that light travels in straight lines? Or that the square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides? Or that Venus seems to have phases?
  34. NoParty

    NoParty Senior Member

    Absolutely. If something as basic as the (almost) roundness of the earth is considered sketchy,
    the principles of virtually any approach you could use for verification, would be as sketchy or more so...

    I really have never heard anyone use "zetetic" who wasn't a flat earther...
    it reminds me of solipsistic, in an unflattering way...though I assume a flat earther would claim
    that zetetic is better or purer or something. I don't know. Feels narcissistic to me.
  35. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  36. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Moderator Staff Member

    A lunar eclipse is the shadow of the Earth on the moon. His point was that some people think the dark part of the uneclipsed moon is the shadow of the Earth, rather than just the part of the moon that is facing away from the sun.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  37. Spectrar Ghost

    Spectrar Ghost Senior Member

    • Funny Funny x 1
  38. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    And convince them that what you are telling them isn't lies born of the vast conspiracy. THAT is the hard part.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  39. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    :) i was trying to demonstrate a point, although i admit i didnt do a great job. i was trying to show that you shouldnt use [possibly unfamiliar] science terms to explain a science phenomenon. and/or, you need to be attentive to wording. Unless you said something like "if it was a shadow of the Earth, the shadow would move across the face of the moon pretty fast, just like it does in a lunar eclipse." (although i know Bass was talking to MBers, not shadow believers)

    i take that part back, that part is assuming they watch Nova on teh Discovery channel or have seen Deloris Claiborne.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  40. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    • Useful Useful x 1