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Flat Earthers: What They Believe and Why

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Flat Earthers: What They Believe and Why

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2 months ago

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

This is scientific. American science talk posted on March. Twenty seven twenty twenty. I'm Steve Mirsky. I'm going to let my guest introduce himself in a moment because he does a better job than I could. Midway through the following discussion. We'll take a break for a short segment sponsored by the Calveley prize with Caltech Planetary Astronomer. Michael Brown who has done groundbreaking work though solar system breaking work on the Kuyper belt and its largest members. His segment is not unrelated to what will be talking about now. It's not about corona virus. You'll find some parallels to how some people are reacting to corona virus. Buckle up so I'm Michael Marshall and I'm the project director of the good thinking society which is a charity based in the UK the whole purpose charities to promote science to challenge pseudoscience. So we'll do work Ford Science Education and then another PA the work that we do. The bulk of my work is to find ideas. That aren't backed by evidence and find people who are promoting those ideas find people who are buying into those ideas and to explore them and figure out if anything can be done to prevent people being confused by them Hound by the misled by them and those kinds of things. So I spent a lot of time looking at things like alternative cancer kills and the people who promote those and alternative medicine spent a lot my time going to see people who say they can talk dead. Oku can do faith healing and then another part of my time is spent token people who believe in unusual ideas and kind of proponents. And that's how I came across the flat. Earth world is through my slightly odd a hobby at the time before I was working. Fulltime as as a skeptic is a hobby of mine to be in rooms filled if he who disagree with me to just understand what brings people to ideas that. I would look at and say well. This can't be true. These kind of fringe and extreme and unusual beliefs. What brings people to believe them? And what what? What kind of path leave people there will? Evidence supports supports that position in their minds. And how do they engage with the world with that worldview and try and have conversations? Podcast where I talked to people who have kind of fringe beliefs and instead of having a conversation that a lot of people have if they are a skeptic about something and they're talking to believe where you shout at them and tell them never home and point out all the evidence and tell you gets into a volatile discussion sometimes instead of that. I've tried to have a civil and polite chat to try and explore the gap between us. So I don't believe in this idea of yours but I'm reading to figure out why I don't believe it. Why do so? Let's have a conversation? So have these kind of civil discussions and that's kind of how I came across That the flatter theory and the idea that there are people walking around today. Who think well this flat. This is really interesting and serendipitous that were sitting here because I knew that there were some flatter. Thor's out there and I just thought it was kind of strange and funny and about a week ago I discovered a friend of mine who is very well educated. She got a doctorate in biochemistry and She has a sister who's also very intelligent and very well educated and my friend told me that her sister is a flatter and that her sister is very indignant about the idea that We don't take them seriously and she said something to the effectiveness is hearsay. That we're getting for me right now. That will you know if you looked at the evidence. Then you'd know that what you've been told isn't true. So all of a sudden became fascinated with the flat earth people and then Just on twitter and I had I had been a follower verve yours until I saw this tweet that somebody I follow must've re tweeted that you had just given a talk in Edinburgh where I have been and So I reached out to you and it turns out you live in Liverpool and here I am in Liverpool today. So that's why we're here talking so tell me what do the flat Earth People Think and why do they think it so to your packet question that will bit because it's very easy for us to see the flat? Earth Movement is one singular cohesive movement and. That's how I I thought about it when I first came across in two thousand thirteen when I came across the flutter society in the UK. And so I had a conversation with the vice president of the Flat Earth Society and I assumed you probably have in your mind that people who believe the world is flat thing that the world's disk and in the center you've got the Arctic Circle then you've got all the continents of the world are splayed out to fill the circle. Antarctica is like the edge of disk. But I found out when I first spoke to flatter societies that not everyone in the world has that version of the world and the heads. Some do believe it's a disc but others believe that. Yes the Arctic Circle in the middle the landmasses around it and then on top Around the edge but instead of it being discreet disc some people believe in fact Antactica just on forever and all directions and so they believe that the earth is actually an infinite plane in all directions that bisects reality which is a really lovely idea. What does that mean by? Second three dollars so it will go on. North South East West go on forever and there is the above and the below. But there's no way of getting from the top to the bottom because it's just infinity of all ice in all directions forever so there's no way of getting below the earth and so this was when. I first came across the floor of moving in two thousand thirteen. This quite vociferous debate that was going on and the website of the three in the flat. Earthers yeah it was. It was quite a schism really and so they'd the society. The the time was largely a forum where they would bring forth that proofs of one version this theory or another and I also think there's another schism going on in the movement at the time Which is between one side which people who genuinely really believed the world was flat and the other side which after he did not believe it but enjoyed intellectual pursuit of arguing a position than you false and so they would find quite esoteric off the wall proofs that most people wouldn't think of and so when I first came across it in two thousand thirteen there are people waiting into these arguments who believe the world is round but had never thought about it the fall but just assumed innocent of arrogant way that they must know better than anybody who's thought about it and come to a different conclusion and so they were stumping into these arguments saying well what about photos of the earth from space and what about this and what about ships going with the rise in thinking. Well this is the Gotcha but not realizing that those are the first things they thought about that. They thought the world approved walls around. And therefore it's probably likely that people who think the world is flat had the same idea and yet they're still flat earth So at least in their mind they must have a good answer to that. The people believe the world was round in these arguments. Didn't have 'cause they'd never scrutinize the idea. They rejecting enough and so what was happening. Was I think to a degree? The part of the schism that were just having fun and move very well. The world wasn't flat but just enjoyed the pursuit of doing that. They will winning those arguments of people who are coming in and arrogantly assuming that they could answer everything and in winning those arguments they were really converting even more people who really believed it. And so you had this kind of effect where we saw spiral out of control a little bit. But I think it it wasn't viral in the way that in two thousand thirteen and a as a in the way that it was in two thousand sixteen in two thousand seventeen. I'm think PA that is because that ISA teric off wall version of proofs could be quite complicated to get your head around so for example if you have the disc version the world and the infinite plane version both muddles suffer from an inability to explain gravity. You don't have the spherical mass united central mass of a central point pulling it all two to one point So it's very difficult to explain. Gravity neither one models but these people who are doing kind of East Tarik arguments are saying well what gravity gravity and accelerate falls towards the ground. Think nine point. Eight meters per second. Squared accelerates downwards. They said that is identical to a world in which the ground accelerates upwards to meet you and so when you let go of something it isn't that it's accelerating downwards that it's the grounds accelerating up to meet it Sephora relativity and that's this is exactly where they come to you so people then say when if ground is if the earth is an infinite in all directions that by sex reality and is accelerating open at nine seconds and always has been since the dawn of time. You'd hit a problem which would be the speed of light. You can't go fast so people don't have a Gotcha for this. And so the people who were putting forth esoteric the wall trobisch arguments would say well look at Einstein's theory of relativity as you approach light speed time itself slows down and the mats in their head works back out again so yes beginning. Quick time getting slower and we can account for gravity in that way. And that's quite a complicated auditing Enron. And so I think the fact that these people were winning arguments was getting converting some people movement but the way in which they were winning them were keeping people away from the movement because they were quite complex ideas to you. Couldn't stick them on a mean as you can these days. Here's a picture of the earth. You couldn't explain all that stuff about the relatively proving gravitate infinite plane version of the world. So I think it was a limiting factor going on and that's why when I first came across the free movement it was probably still pretty small. Pretty unknown I've been given talks about pseudoscience for the last five six plus years and I've mentioned that I came across the Flat Earth. Moving and people would always say to me this. Nobody who actually believes that nobody actually doesn't really exist. That people having fun with stay quite small and then in. Twenty fifteen in two thousand sixteen a couple of things happened that really ignited a movement and it was the publishing of two videos on Youtube video series on Youtube. One I believe was Eric. Debate tuned approves the Spinning Globe. And the other was mark sergeants. Fourteen videos in his letter clue series.