Anyone with a basic education has seen a picture of the Earth and probably other planets in the solar system. Society teaches us the Earth is round from the earliest years of childhood development; we have pictures and videos all documenting Earth from space. To most of us, an image or video is enough evidence to prove that the Earth is indeed round. Others need more robust scientific evidence like actually to see the curvature of the Earth. Whatever the degree of evidence it takes for you or anyone to believe what we are told from an early age, we use that as proof to support our belief. Sometimes all it takes is a drawing, or testimony, or in some cases, empirical research, but we all need some substance to convince us of our own “truth.”
I honestly trust that the Earth is indeed round, and when I first heard the flat Earth argument, I cringed. There was no way I was going to give that argument more than two brain cells. Over time this “Flat Earth” theory got bigger. It surprised me just how stupid some people could be because to me; the evidence was everywhere. It wasn’t until I was in a composition class in college that I paid any attention to the theory. The stars aligned and right around that time a documentary on Netflix came out called “Behind the Curve” and it featured some of the leading flat-earth conspiracists. I had a badass professor who played the documentary in class. All of a sudden, this ridiculous theory turned into a fascinating obsession within me. Forget about the outlandish theory that the Earth is flat, but why is there such disbelief within these people? It is not because they don’t know better or were not exposed to any of the evidence. They confront it every day and openly criticize it too. But why? Why can’t they believe what the rest of us believe (is the pictures we are shown from our government in elementary school, not enough)? What the rest of us accepts as evidence is not enough for the flat-earther community, and that kind of skepticism is essential. Sure, the flat earth idea is silly, but if we put that specific theory aside, the flat-earthers are doing something incredibly important. They are asking real questions, and they are not settling for just pictures in textbooks.
Often the term “sheeple” is tossed around to poke fun at the conforming members of society. Most of us claim that we do not fully trust our government, but yet we tune into the TV for accurate information around the world. How can we trust the information that is fed to us? Is just one source enough? It is these questions that the flat-earth community is addressing and they are gathering their research despite the evidence that has been shoved down our throats from birth. Being skeptical about the shape of the Earth is taboo. But how do we know the Earth is round if we have never been up to space to see it for ourselves?
When I was in middle school, I remember learning about the only land roaming octopus, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. There is a believable picture that was shown to my 8th grade class of an octopus living in a forest, and it even has a Wikipedia page. At the time, all I needed was a picture to believe that there indeed is an indigenous octopus living in the forest of Spokane, Washington. After an intensive five minutes, my teacher broke the news that there was no such land thriving octopus. I was feeling a bit deceived by her tricks, but the point of the lesson was not to believe everything we see on the internet. However, it’s not just the internet, but the TV, newspaper, telephone, and even my closest neighbor that I need to question the integrity of the information. Because ultimately, the media has fucked up before and so has our government.
When the influencers of the flat earth society were being interviewed and asked for their opinion, two issues occurred to me. One being the distrust of our government and it’s national programs, and two; society’s backlash against flat earth community. When on the topic of flat-earth, there are so many TV personalities to poke fun and ridicule the theory. However, no one was concerned that a growing number of people do not trust the government enough to accept the shape of the planet on which they live. It is not just the shape of the Earth people are starting to question; it’s more important things like our local water and air quality.
Let’s take a little more “at home” approach to think like a flat-earther. The city of Sioux Falls sends out a water quality report ever so often, and it gives us a summary of all the things that are found in our tap water. This little pamphlet looks trusting, it comes from the city and must be regulated by the government, so obviously, it can’t lie to the general public. Assuming that the convincing pamphlet is reliable is kinda a “sheople” move. What are they testing and why they are testing is provided in the information pamphlet. But, most of the general public doesn’t even know how to interpret what they are reading. Half the time, most people throw them away with the other junk mail completely trusting the water coming from the sink. We know the city is testing the water, but who is the town trusting to test our water and what are they actively not testing? We the American people should ask. Not many of us remember the time in 1953 where the CIA secretly dosed Americans water supply with LSD in attempts to experiment with mind control. How do we know that our water doesn’t have LSD if it isn’t being tested for it? I don’t see that test in the water quality brochure. Although the flat-earthers are somewhat of a joke in the scientific community because of the whole flat earth theory, they do prove themselves to be independent thinkers of our society. I admire what they are doing, although I don’t agree with their belief that the Earth is flat. What they are doing is what we all should be doing with any information that comes to us. We should investigate using our methods to determine a belief instead of relying on one or two sources. I maybe instead of making fun of them, we should think more like them when it comes to the issues that matter to us. This world is complicated no matter what the shape and we all have a personal responsibility to what we believe.
Coleman, Libby. “That Time the CIA Secretly Dosed Americans with LSD.” OZY, www.ozy.com/flashback/that-time-the-cia-secretly-dosed-americans-with-lsd/68782.
“Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 May 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Northwest_tree_octopus.