Flat Earth, yes apparently it’s a thing.
You might have thought this one had been conclusively put to bed with the advent of global circumnavigation, space travel and Michael Palin but for some people there’s still a window of doubt.
Flat-Earthers believe that the Earth is a disk not a globe, with walls of ice around the edge and the planets, moons and stars hovering in a sort of dome-shaped firmament above. This doesn’t mean the disc earth is carried by a Giant Star turtle . . . because that would just be silly.
The Flat Earth theory has enjoyed an extraordinary renaissance in the last few years, largely due to social media. Whilst we all love a funny cat video, Facebook and YouTube are a dangerous breeding ground for fake news, crackpottery and the Kardashians. Psychologists have studied the pernicious appeal of conspiracy theories such as flat earth and identified a number of causes.
Firstly, these theories tend to thrive in times of unrest and societal crisis as people try and derive a feeling of control by embracing “knowledge and insight” that other people lack. There’s also an innate narcissism in positioning yourself as the lone voice making a stand against Big Government, Big Pharma or NASA and its cheeky photographic evidence. Another reason is a literal religious interpretation of the Earth’s origins and form, after all the Vikings thought the earth was surrounded by an impassable ocean and giant snake. Then there’s the difficulty of grasping the actual physics involved when, even if you stood on the highest mountain on a clear day, it’s impossible to discern any curvature of the earth’s surface.
However, Aristotle provided the first empirical evidence for the spherical shape of the Earth by around 330 BC. I could list all the scientific reasons why a flat earth is physically impossible but what’s the point when some people want the reassuring fiction of living in a really, really big snow globe rather than a scary, uncaring universe.
So if you think figuring things out is a better approach than making stuff up, we’ve put together a tongue in cheek collection of Flat Earth T Shirts, Mugs and Hoodies. Yeah Science Bitch.