Why do they believe it?

Flat Earth model
Image Credit: www.TestingTheGlobe.com

Flat Earthers – people who believe, contrary to all the evidence that currently exists, that the earth is flat. “But there are pictures” you might say. They’ll tell you they’re fakes, doctored photos, photoshopped images because… well, they are. The Blue Marble, for instance, is one of the most famous images of our earth and it’s a composite. That doesn’t mean it’s fake, just and amalgam of a bunch of other images. “But you can see the curvature of the earth in an airplane” This is atmospheric disturbance. “But photos from the space station” Parallax. “But we went to the moon!” Did we though?

It’s got to be frustrating dealing with someone who is so sure of something for which there is no actual testable evidence. It must be doubly frustrating for astronauts who have actually orbited a spherical Earth. I have known people in my life who have been wrong but so sure they were right that up becomes down for them and black becomes white. But why does this happen? Why are these people so deeply immersed in their belief? It is easier to think there is something behind it all pulling the strings of some massive conspiracy than to think chaos is at work in your life.

Photoshopped News Paper Cover showing Film Crew faking the moon landing

Wouldn’t you rather think that some vast and powerful secret organization was behind 9-11 rather than a few extremists? It would make more sense and make you feel more comfortable about the situation. It doesn’t change what happened, but it gives you a mystery to solve instead of thinking about the sheer horror of the action. Wouldn’t it be “better” if there was some massive conspiracy behind the assassination of JFK than just one crackpot with a gun? There could be crackpots anywhere, but if there was a plan in place, you might feel a bit safer. Someone had control of the madman. If your life is spiraling out of control of you feel totally helpless, if’s at first fun to think about there being a moon landing hoax but as your life gets more hectic and chaotic, you might lean into that conspiracy to escape and you wouldn’t be alone in your belief. You would be alone in your life anymore.

I recently watched an episode of Jubilee’s Middle Ground. They invited three scientists to speak to three flat-earthers so that both sides could be heard. Not only are they flat earth believers, but anti-vaxers, religious nuts, and one was very obviously still dealing with emotional trauma over the death of her husband. I felt terrible for these people. I wish I could wave a magic wand and put them on the flat Earth they want so badly to be on for their own relief. I’m sure they’re perfectly nice people, but when confronted with evidence and proof and testable theories, they quote scripture (out of context) and they claim NASA is a bunch of liars. They hurt so they redirect that pain, confusion, or dissatisfaction towards bigger and more abstract targets.

I say all of that to say this…. Bigotry is flat-earth. Hate is flat-earth. Prepping (the crazy gun cache / compound-in-the-desert version) is flat-earth. The 3 percenters and other militia groups are flat-earth. “Trumpers” are flat-earth. Extreme Right-Wing conservatives in most forms are flat-earth. All people with skewed perspectives who won’t listen to proof of the contrary because it’s easier to fear, easier to hate, easier to point to a person, a people, a conspiracy, an opposing political view and say “they’re the problem” instead of facing their own lives and dealing with their own pain.

Too much of a leap?

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