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Science

Reporter Shares Experience of Visiting a Flat Earth Convention (vice.com) 356

Tom Usher, reporting for Vice: I arrived at the venue -- a Jurys Inn hotel -- on a wet Saturday morning, to discover that the event was essentially a small carpeted convention room boasting a few cameras, some stalls selling merchandise, and 70 or so attendees watching PowerPoint presentations beamed onto a wall. As I entered, I was offered a gift of "fluoride-free" toothpaste. This made perfect sense, given the location. A popular conspiracy theory states that governments across the world have been putting fluoride in our water supply to tranquilize the masses, despite the fact the only piece of "evidence" for this theory -- which involves both the Nazis and the Communists -- has been widely discredited. With the tone set for the day, I sat down to watch some speeches.

The speakers all seemed well aware of how "globe-earthers" view the idea of a flat Earth, i.e. ludicrous, and their talk of the current scientific establishment felt very "us versus them" -- a nice bit of truther tribalism. One speaker talked at length about the moon, and how its orbit proved the Earth couldn't be spherical, which seemed a little counterintuitive. Another talked about how the Egyptian pyramid structure points toward clues that the Earth is a flat diamond shape, supported by pillars. Between sounding off about the Vatican and the fact that the establishment has indoctrinated us to believe all sorts of things, including that the Earth is a sphere, a third speaker suggested that cancer is caused by negative emotions and argued that dinosaurs didn't exist.
The story also explores why some people still believe these long-debunked theories. Further reading: The bizarre tale of the flat-Earth convention that fell apart (CNET).

Reporter Shares Experience of Visiting a Flat Earth Convention

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  • I'd say that anytime there is a duality of opinion, no matter how much evidence there is, you'll always find people on both sides.

    I think we should be more concerned with the People Against Washing Hands Society.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Stupidity combined with arrogance ("We know better!") will always be with the human race. There are far to many stupid people that do not understand what a "fact" is. Of course, cults of stupid depend on a majority that is a lot less stupid, or they do not survive. If they reach a certain size (e.g. the US as of today), they eventually self-destruct as ignoring reality is not sustainable on that scale.

    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @05:14PM (#56605082)

      I'd say that anytime there is a duality of opinion, no matter how much evidence there is, you'll always find people on both sides.

      Because otherwise there wouldn't be a duality of opinion?

      • Tautological assertions are true if tautologies.

      • I'd say that anytime there is a duality of opinion, no matter how much evidence there is, you'll always find people on both sides.

        Because otherwise there wouldn't be a duality of opinion?

        Scientists have also determined if your parents did not have children, you probably won't either.

        • Scientists have also determined if your parents did not have children, you probably won't either.

          Not true. You can adopt an adult and become their parent in most states.

    • by grep -v '.*' * ( 780312 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @06:36PM (#56605422)
      Back when Galileo was talking about "orbits" and such, I'm sure he had the same pushback -- "you IDIOT, how stupid ARE you?". Enough so that the church kept him under house arrest until his death.

      My point isn't that they're right, but they have an idea. Just like WE have an idea about spherical planets. So just like MOND vs dark matter, there's a debate (at least on their side.)

      FINE. That's fine. *I* think the world is literally a cube from Superman's Bizarro World. So let's ALL make some predictions and observations and see what works. If you don't like an observation, fine, explain how it's wrong or produce a repeatable different one. But the more things a theory explains the "better" it is, right?

      Spontaneous generation might still be proven right, but you'd better have everything absolutely perfect and repeatable to be accepted. I want the galaxies closer together -- AND a pony -- but wishing doesn't make it so. (So I guess I'll have to use astral projection to visit them instead of in person -- have to get the help of "expert" Shirley MaClaine for that one. Anyone have her phone number, or is she Out of Office / Body for awhile?)

      Or is Flat Earth an unsupported belief AKA religion? "I don't care what you say, I know what's right." What, are they going to take their ball with an ant on top and go home?
      • My point isn't that they're right, but they have an idea.

        It's an idea which has been disproven. That makes clinging to it dumb.

        So let's ALL make some predictions and observations and see what works. [...] Spontaneous generation might still be proven right,

        Yeah, if your experiment was dumb enough. That's the problem with listening to EVERYONE. Some people you clearly don't listen to about anything. For example, if they think the earth is flat, you clearly don't need to listen to their theories on fluoridation. Even if fluoridation did turn out to be a commie plot, they wouldn't have been saying so for any logical reasons. They would have been accidentally right, and it still would have been dumb to listen to them. And god forbid ;) that you should get into the habit of listening to them because they were accidentally right, because then just imagine how far down the rabbit hole you could get!

        • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @10:32PM (#56606220)

          My point isn't that they're right, but they have an idea.

          It's an idea which has been disproven. That makes clinging to it dumb.

          So let's ALL make some predictions and observations and see what works. [...] Spontaneous generation might still be proven right,

          Yeah, if your experiment was dumb enough. That's the problem with listening to EVERYONE. Some people you clearly don't listen to about anything.

          There is an internet philosophy that has people bringing up disproven or dipshit theories, and screaming that other people have to disprove them. A really warped idea if "If you don't disprove me to my satisfaction, you prove that I am right!"

          Well, I suppose these modern day Neanderthals paid zero attention in science class, but I remember ancient concepts like spontaneous generation and flat earth being discussed in class, and unless a person wasn't capable of critical thinking, they would catch on real early and quickly that the earth was spherical, and that animals don't pop out of nowhere. Note yes - we now know that the earth was an oblate spheroid and a little chunky at the center.

          The biggest problem with the idea that we must exhaustively explain every debunked idea over and overandoverandover again for people who have exactly no intention of taking the telling is that we'll be stuck forever explaining things like say, the phlogiston theory, when in fact we've moved so far beyond that that it would be a waste of time. Read it in a book, and move on.

          Especially in the age of the internet, a skeptic could set up an experiment with say 50 others of like mind across the globe. Do the old Erastothenes experiment but around a meridian line describing a circle.

          But who am I fooling.

      • Some of it is a good start, like this example:

        So how do people come to believe this stuff?..... it was after watching some YouTube videos and realizing that "with all this movement, water stays flat, calm, and reflective to the point of being a perfect mirror, something that is not possible on a curve."

        If someone said that to me, I would say, "Great! You are thinking outside the box, you are questioning Why?" That is how science starts. Then we would start doing experiments, showing that water can be flat in a curved dish, or discussing momentum in thought experiments (or even going out on a flatbed truck). Asking these kinds of questions is great, but you need to go beyond questioning and start experimenting. That is when your questions turn into discoveries

    • There are some good quotes in the article, explaining the viewpoints of the people involved. This one:

      Fiona continued: "I think, being African Caribbean, you tend to live to a certain extent on the outskirts of mainstream society. It's something the majority of white people don't experience,"........That was probably the most reasonable thing I'd heard all day: If you've been marginalized and feel like you've been lied to by institutions and people you're supposed to automatically trust for much of your life, why should you trust what any of them have to say?

      So to some of these people, it doesn't matter so much whether the earth is flat or round. They are there more to have a community of people they can relax with and feel good with. The science is secondary (or in this case, non-existent).

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Sunday May 13, 2018 @04:09PM (#56604846)

    Just like religions.

    It's bizarre, isn't it?

    • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @04:35PM (#56604938)
      Of course it's a delusion. The article tries to convince me that the convention took place in this mythical country that is supposedly upside down. But since there's no such thing, 'cause the Earth is flat, it couldn't have happened. Duh!
    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @04:41PM (#56604968)

      I would call it instructive. It shows that most people do not manage to understand what Science is and what it can and cannot do, because they lack the mental capabilities to do so. It explains a few things about why so many things on this planet are so fucked up.

    • by Tangential ( 266113 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @04:55PM (#56605018) Homepage

      Just like religions.

      It's bizarre, isn't it?

      Oh surely not! If they can't accept the 'secondhand' proof available from 60 years of space and near-space exploration, then how could they accept religious concepts without a personal experience of having actually seen and dealt with a supreme being?

      It does beg the question of how they could believe in bacteria or atoms or the Marianas Trench since they haven't personally seen them either...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just like religions.

        It's bizarre, isn't it?

        Oh surely not! If they can't accept the 'secondhand' proof available from 60 years of space and near-space exploration, then how could they accept religious concepts without a personal experience of having actually seen and dealt with a supreme being?

        It does beg the question of how they could believe in bacteria or atoms or the Marianas Trench since they haven't personally seen them either...

        Granted the above, per Aristotle, you can show "the existence of the unmoved mover of the universe, a supra-physical entity, without which the physical domain could not remain in existence" (Physics, Bk. VIII) from first principles:

        * http://tofspot.blogspot.ca/2014/07/first-way-some-background.html

        Asking for physical proof of God's existence is like asking Bilbo Baggins to prove the existence of Tolkien.

        • Asking for physical proof of God's existence is like asking Bilbo Baggins to prove the existence of Tolkien.

          Given that Tolkien exists (or existed) and Bilbo doesn't, it's more like asking Tolkien to prove that Bilbo exists.

    • Exactly, there are whole cults/religions out there that build churches and it is equally illogical. Most people are on average, pretty illogical.
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @04:10PM (#56604852)

    Until they elect a gameshow host as president, start banning research, and screwing over everyone that doesn't kowtow.

    I wonder how Trump is going to be remembered, once it isn't seen as important for half the population that he be seen as somehow respectable. In retrospect, most conservatives see George W. Bush as a big mistake... it'll be interesting to see how that pans out.

    Why do we have to keep switching to these idiotic reactionary anti-science folks so often? What ideals does it serve? It always seems like such madness - madness yelling that it deserves respect as it disrespects everything else.

    • Really I don't like Trump... but HTF and why are you tying this story in with him?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gweihir ( 88907 )

        He is a textbook example of "moron on top and put there by other morons".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The moron that put him there is called Hillary. She thought she'd look favourable next to him.

          Boy, did she fuck that one up.

    • I wonder how Trump is going to be remembered

      It depends how the economy does under his administration, (which, ironically, he doesn't have a whole lot of control over).

      • I wonder how Trump is going to be remembered

        It depends how the economy does under his administration

        Unless something even more important than that happens during his presidency, which he has slightly more control over...

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @04:19PM (#56604894)

    A popular conspiracy theory states that governments across the world have been putting fluoride in our water supply to tranquilize the masses,

    I thought that was solved by television.

    • A popular conspiracy theory states that governments across the world have been putting fluoride in our water supply to tranquilize the masses,

      Jesus those people! Don't they know it's there to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluid? WAKE UP SHEEPLE

      • by Anonymous Coward

        This is how I stopped worrying and learned to love the bong. Or am I thinking of a different meme?

    • I thought that was solved by television.

      Milennials ruined that too by cable cutting.

    • Ever wonder why everyone on television has perfect teeth? It's the flouride.
      • Ever wonder why everyone on television has perfect teeth? It's the flouride.

        By that metric, England would be the most "woke" country on Earth.

    • by Subm ( 79417 )

      A popular conspiracy theory states that governments across the world have been putting fluoride in our water supply to tranquilize the masses,

      I thought that was solved by television.

      That's just what they want you to think.

  • Taking the piss. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2018 @04:20PM (#56604896)

    C'mon, I thought it was common knowledge that the whole "movement" is a giant troll-job aimed at getting just this kind of hand-wringing attention.

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @04:46PM (#56604988)
    You see the great delusion is at work. Satan has tricked you into thinking that facts, evidence and thought are good things when we all know that that evidence and those facts have been created by Satan to deceive us. Now excuse me as I have to step onto the patio and wait for the goose that lays the golden eggs.
  • The "Earth is a flat diamond shape, supported by pillars", is it? So what supports the pillars?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is the by-product of many industries and is toxic. Whatever research this OP is citing (source?) is horribly wrong. The CDC even acknowledges it is toxic. $5 says my comment gets deleted. Slashdot used to be full of smart people, what happened? Oh, a large news company bought it...

    • How it used to be: http://web.archive.org/web/199... [archive.org] Not much political articles there.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Slashdot used to be full of smart people, what happened?

      People have been drinking too much tap water all their lives. Their brain development may be hampered, but their teeth are shiny white.

      http://www.fluoridation.com/c-... [fluoridation.com] From the link:

      "Only about 5% of the world population is fluoridated and more than 50% of these people live in North America.

      That may sort of explains the political mess in the US then doesn't it. In most of western Europe, fluoride in water is banned; because they *do* actually read the research, such as the link that darkharlequin posted and don't just parrot others blindly.

    • It is the by-product of many industries and is toxic.

      Everything is a poison. What matters is the dose.

      "Too much of anything is bad for you. That's what `too much' means." - Stephen Fry

  • by toonces33 ( 841696 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @06:10PM (#56605310)

    If the Earth were really flat, cats would have pushed everything off of the edge.

  • Sigh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @06:16PM (#56605344) Homepage

    Could we please stop celebrating and tolerating ignorance?

    Thanks.

    P.S. Just... literally... get a boat. Pick a direction - any direction. And keep going. Whether or not the Earth is flat will be proven within less than 80 days (and that was a long time ago, you can do it much quicker now).

    If something's flat, it either has an edge, or it's infinite. You'll find out, to within a certain margin or error, in a couple of months of travelling, and have some great experiences along the way.

    Either you'll never see the same place twice, or you'll fall off an end. Note: If you come back where you started, you're crap at navigation or the Earth is round. Both of which give you a pretty big hint that you shouldn't be formulating flat-Earth theories.

    Or are we honestly claiming an infinitely long and wide self-repeating tiled plane?

    • In season 2 of the edgy "Flat earthers" reality show, we mourn the loss of Ed who was lost in the polar expedition of season 1 and sit on the edge of our seats as the show culminates in scaling the government sponsored ice cliffs to keep prying eyes away from the secret illuminati base doing experiments at the true edge of the world.
    • There are continents in the way which make that somewhat difficult. And you have to rely on charts to get from place to place so, even if they did by some miracle manage to circumnavigate the globe, they would simply assume that the charts and navigational devices were all designed by Them to ensure that you travel a path which makes the world appear round.

      A much simpler, cheaper, and less time consuming method would be to buy a weather balloon and strap a go-pro to it. A good weather baloon can attain al

  • I want one of those shirts with the UN emblem /w phrase "THE EARTH IS FLAT" under it.

    By far my favorite and most interesting phrase from the whole article "So [becoming a flat earther] made me more skeptical, and more aware."

  • A conspiracy theory is simply when two or more people keep a plan secret that involves breaking the law. It's literally every single crime ever committed by two or more people. Not only are conspiracies real, you can get a respected job as a crazy conspiracy theorist, it's called being a detective.
    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      Technically speaking, you are right.
      Also, if you believe that terrorists caused 9/11, by that definition, you are a conspiracy theorist. In fact the only way not to be a conspiracy theorist about 9/11 is either not having an opinion at all or believing that everything is a giant mistake.

  • Ideocracy is coming real sooner than I expected.

  • Ever consider they're just funnin' y'all? The goal being to see spherical folks get all huffity-puffity, whip out their self-righteous indignation and use it like a bludgeon to beat sense into people they disagree with. And hopefully learn about their own inherent prejudices in the process.

    Just a theory.
  • by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @07:53PM (#56605694) Homepage

    There really are also modern concave Earthers, too...who no doubt tonight think they are looking up at China...

  • If the Earth is as flat as claimed and the F.Es are suggesting we can't observe the Earth as a sphere, would it be useful to provide a test that provides the observation?

    I propose the following test. A triangle's interior angles all add up to 180 degrees. If the Earth is flat it should be possible for three sufficiently spaced teams moving out to the horizon with laser surveying equipment to measure the interior angles of a triangle covering some part of the earth.

    Obviously the larger the triangle the

  • There are just some folks that will believe anything is a conspiracy. They believe science and the world is out to get them. Thankfully these folks are the lunatic fringe and most people understand this. Earth is a sphere, the debate is long over.

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