by Donovan Condon
Flat Earth Theory is generally the belief that the earth is flat despite all evidence to the contrary. The people who believe in this theory are referred to as “flat-earthers”, and there are still many people who believe in it to this day. The origin of this theory dated back ages before technology could disprove it. It was originally a widespread knowledge that the earth was flat because it seemed flat, and that was the easiest explanation. With new technology, we found that the earth is a sphere along with other planets. The theory is popular with many people including some celebrities like B.O.B. It is important because with the knowledge we have now, it would disobey the laws of nature if it were flat, but conspiracies about governments and NASA prove to be a leading factor in many conspiracies and points flat-earthers make.
Along with the general consensus that the earth “seems and feels” flat, there are other points they use to prove it. One theory is that, with distrust in government and NASA leading it, is that the earth is a circular disc with a huge wall(Antarctica) surrounding it. The wall is guarded by NASA employees to make sure no one climbs it and falls off. They also believe that gravity is an illusion. Rather, they say that instead of objects accelerating downward, the flat earth disc accelerates up using the force of “dark energy.” Despite the theory of gravity never being disproven, the theories they hold true to do not have much, if any, evidence to support them. Flat-earthers also believe photos of the globe are photoshopped, GPS systems are faked and handled purposefully, and that faking a government agency like NASA is for the financial gain of governments. They believe all this in despite that the majority of people believe in gravity, satellite photos, orbits, and all the other profound evidence.
There is not really a certain cognitive contribution to this belief but rather a skeptical view of the government. As do many conspiracy theories, flat earth theory builds off of the reasons why people would cover it up, rather than establish better data on the issue itself. If there are events and actions that seem to cover it up, it only encourages the disbelief in a spherical earth, and in turn, proves the flat-earth theory.
As mentioned before, some celebrities believe in flat-earth theory as well, which can strengthen the beliefs of others due to the platform given to those celebrities. B.O.B has a song called “Flatline” in which he discusses the fact that no matter how high in elevation a person is, the horizon is always eye level. This in truth is just an illusion of the eyes, but regardless the people who listen to his song and don’t do the research are being misinformed. This type of platform that B.o.B has can influence a great deal of listeners and fans into believing the earth is flat as well. This and a general mistrust of the government and agencies such as NASA are some reasons why the flat earth theory is popular and why it has not been eradicated.
The theory of earth being flat is a popular debate among many, but some psychological explanations as to why people believe in it, or why it has not been eradicated are minority influence, vagueness, and magical thinking. Minority influence is a large factor with this theory because the majority feel there is nothing to prove and that it is a fact that the earth is round, while flat-earthers have a strong willed and sometimes educated argument as to why it is not. A huge part of flat earth theory is that it is vague. Going into to detail could disprove their claims about the earth, so stating general ideas is easier and can’t be proven wrong as easily. The last explanation is magical thinking. Humans have a tendency to perceive unseen forces causing an event rather then realizing the obvious solution, and this is the basis of all conspiracy theories.
Natalie Wolchover and Live Science Staff. “Are Flat-Earthers Being Serious?” LiveScience, Purch, 30 May 2017, www.livescience.com/24310-flat-earth-belief.html.