Sunday, January 6, 2019

Flat Earthers

A month or so ago, we were watching a segment on CBS Sunday Morning – one of my favorite TV news shows ever – about people who believe the Earth is flat.

I was intrigued by the notion that there are people out there who believe the Earth is flat; that the sun and moon are relatively the same size to each other (explaining eclipses, I guess) hovering just several hundred miles above our heads; that there has been no human space exploration (the moon landings are Hollywood-quality productions); that, indeed, there is no gravity and Sir Isaac Newton got it all wrong; that the oceans are held in place by a wall of ice on the perimeter of this pancake that we live on, patrolled by NASA agents to make sure we don't climb the ice wall and fall off (although I don't know how we can fall if there's no gravity).

We've been lied to, according to Flat Earthers (FE's, in my world), ever since the days of Copernicus, who told us the sun is not the center of the universe. A round Earth is a centuries-long conspiracy. We nonbelievers, in fact, are told to wake up before it's too late,

If a round Earth is a conspiracy, I'm not sure what the end product of this conspiracy is supposed to be. Maybe it's anti-knowledge. Stop sending your kids to expensive colleges, where they clearly teach lies. Stop believing in government, in academia, because it's all a lie to get your money.

The Flat Earth Society claims about 200 people per year are joining its ranks, convinced the Earth is a disc more or less somehow suspended in space. NBA star Kyrie Irving is a former Duke student who tells people to "do the research." Hmm. And I thought he spent just one year at Duke because he declared for the NBA Draft early. Makes you want to see that transcript, huh?

Flat Earthers, apparently, have an answer to everything about this issue, and it gets pretty complicated – too complicated for me to get into in detail. I'm not a scientist, nor an anti-scientist. I'm a sports writer still trying to solve the mystery of the infield fly rule.

But my take on all this is that FE's say they are basing their beliefs on what they consider to be empirical evidence: they've never seen the curvature of the Earth with their own eyes; they don't believe a round Earth is spinning through space at 1,000 miles per hour because they haven't felt the effects of such speed, etc, etc.

Which leads me to my own empirical evidence:

When you're driving 60 miles per hour down the Interstate, is a fly leisurely buzzing around in your car flying at its own pace, or is it also doing 60 miles per hour down, just like you are?

If there's no gravity, why do our ear lobes, nose tips and breasts droop to our knees as we get older? Why do we get shorter in height as spinal compression works its magic?

Psst. It's gravity. That's empirical enough for me, brother.

Where's the equator on a flat Earth? If there's no equator, why do hurricanes rotate in a counterclockwise motion in the Northern hemisphere, but clockwise in the Southern hemisphere?

How do the season's change?

Clearly, you can't reason with people who believe what they believe despite what the evidence shows. Maybe Rudy Giuliani is correct after all: the truth is not the truth.

I'm not sure I want to get into conspiracies that are harder to explain than the actual science (or, as I call it, reality). I'll leave it to shows like Sunday Morning, where I can walk away thoroughly entertained and still wonder why the sky is Carolina blue.

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