I’m a skeptic, and I love the flat-Earth movement

Jul 21, 2017

By Craig A. Foster

The Denver Post recently featured an article about Coloradans who believe that the Earth is flat. As if that wasn’t surprising enough, some members of this community also believe that they are the recipients of flat-Earth prejudice, which I will now term “terrashapism.”

I don’t believe the Earth is flat; given my background, this is not surprising. I am a psychology professor who studies pseudoscience. I lecture about the fallibility of human intuition and the corresponding need for empiricism. I am a member of the National Center for Science Education. I am also a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a local group called Colorado Skeptics. Skeptics generally doubt claims that lack legitimate evidence, but support claims that do.

Accordingly, one might think that I would have nothing positive to say about the flat Earthers who meet just over my horizon. Not so. I love the flat Earth movement. As far as I’m concerned, flat Earthers are welcome to deflate the global Earth faster than New England Patriots footballs. To me, the flat-Earth movement isn’t a threat to scientific sensibility. That threat is already alive and well. Instead, the flat-Earth movement exposes the contradictions that many people create when they disparage flat Earthers, but tolerate or actively support other forms of pseudoscience.

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12 comments on “I’m a skeptic, and I love the flat-Earth movement

  • @OP As if that wasn’t surprising enough, some members of this community also believe that they are the recipients of flat-Earth prejudice, which I will now term “terrashapism.”

    Surely they mean “Terrapin Shapism”! 🙂


    In the OP image – clearly the head and limbs are retracted! 🙂

    It’s TURTLES all the way down!

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  • And what nonsense couldn’t be argued in this manner? Any number of experiments can prove the Flat Earthers theories are nonsense including the original just measuring shadows at different parts of the planet. Anyone who maintains that the Earth is flat inspite of clear experimental evidence that any two people can do (sufficently spaced apart say Queensland to NSW) can do in their backyards with a stick and a protractor is just simply lazy and intellectually dishonest. Unfortunately this does not bode well for the reputation of psychology too much nonsense ends up getting through the cracks in this field.

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  • I want them to explain why it’s nighttime in Beijing while it’s broad daylight in New York, and why we have seasons, and why the moon has phases and why we have solar and lunar eclipses, and where the sun goes when it sets, and why, if you sail or fly in one direction long enough, you’ll end up back where you started, without ever passing the same place twice or going off an edge. If people really believe the earth is flat, and they’re not just contrarians stirring the anti-science pot, they must be living in caves and never get out. Or they’re just delusional idiots. Come on, morons – let’s see your cognitively-dissonant explanations of these phenomena. I want to see just how malleable that putty you call a brain is.

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  • So there are round-earthers who are otherwise morons. There is only one useful response: crush both the flat-earthers and the otherwise-morons with arguments – though this often fails with people who harbor such mental diarrhea because they have been brainwashed to the point of virtual lobotomy.

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  • GrumpyKraut

    A certain percentage of the human race will not, cannot, listen to reason. They are not amenable to reason. Their intellects serve a different master, to wit, their passions. This is one of the unalterable facts of life, and one that could have been included by Hamlet in his (Shakespeare’s) excellent list of grievances.

    They can’t be beaten into submission to reason, as you said.

    Many of Trumps’ stupid (yes, stupid, stupid, stupid) supporters are no more openminded than the recalcitrant, brainwashed flat earth people. But they might respond to pain (losing health coverage or going broke), so it’s a little different. They might be capable of being beaten, as it were, into submission or beaten back into reality – but that is dubious.

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  • @SkyBlue,

    Yes how does one navigate in the old school way say in an aircraft? I have unfortunately gone down the rabbit hole of what these people actually believe are explanations of all of this and they believe the Sun is going around in circles over the Earth. This doesn’t explain of course why the Earths magnetic field would remain consistent with all of this. Of course anyone who has done boy scouts or learned to fly an aircraft knows that while a compass may be used as a reference it needs to be referencing a physical point on the ground or things like crosswinds will cause you to drift off track. This is why flying over oceans (where there may be no landmarks) is incredibly difficult (without radio beacons, gps etc). So not only do they have issues with where the Sun is in relation to N,S,E,W but apparently when I fly over a large continent like Australia pointing in one direction the physical ground is moving along with the Sun to maintain my compass heading? Did that mountain just move to keep it looking like it’s heading West or something? Apparently so too does the Earths magnetic field, and all these things just coincidentally shift in such a magically precise manner so they can conform with our (false?) explanation that the earth is spherical?

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