The Flat Earth Movement Is Expanding Around the Globe

We know they have the money to fund billboards. We know they have proponents in the NBA. But now the Flat Earth movement is gathering in person and more people are joining in.

Because who gives a damn about science, reason, and thousands of years of wisdom?

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The Denver Post‘s Graham Ambrose reports on the growth of the fringe, evidence-free movement in Colorado:

“This is a new awakening,” [Colorado group founder John] Vnuk says with a spark in his earth-blue eyes. “Some will accept it, some won’t. But love it or hate it, you can’t ignore Flat Earth.”

The Fort Collins group — mostly white and mostly male, college-age to septuagenarian — touts itself as the first community of Flat Earthers in the United States. Sister groups have since spawned in Boston, New York, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Chicago.

“There’s so much evidence once you set aside your preprogrammed learning and begin to look at things objectively with a critical eye,” says Bob Knodel, a Denver resident and featured guest at a recent Tuesday meeting. “You learn soon that what we’re taught is mainly propaganda.”

This should be obvious, but it’s possible to be so open-minded that your brain falls out. Just because you question the beliefs of the majority doesn’t mean you’re automatically a critical thinker. You can’t just throw around the word “propaganda” to describe accepted knowledge unless you have evidence to back it up — and the Reality Deniers don’t have any.

So what causes these people to turn their backs on what we know to be true and accept a not-even-halfway-decent conspiracy theory?

Like nearly every member of the movement, [“father of Flat Earth organizing in the United States” Mark] Sargent converted to Flat Earthism late in life. For most of his first five decades, he believed Earth to be a spinning globe. But something changed around the summer of 2014, when he stumbled upon a YouTube video contending that Earth is flat.

“It was interesting, but I didn’t think it was real,” he says. “I started the same way as everyone else, saying, ‘Oh, I’ll just prove the earth is round.’ Nine months later, I was staring at my computer thinking, ‘I can’t prove the globe anymore.’

Shocking. Someone who didn’t understand science assumed he was smarter than all the scientists and convinced himself he knew something they didn’t. (It’s not the first time this has happened.)

At least we have this parenthetical in the article:

(All scientists and educators consulted for this story rejected the idea of a flat earth.)

It’s tempting to laugh them off, but what’s disturbing is that we have an entire government right now full of people who dismiss sound science. Writing off a curved Earth sounds silly, but writing off vaccines as optional, or climate change as anything but a dire threat, or evolution as a hoax is commonplace in this Republican administration. Trump’s team hasn’t said anything about a flat Earth, but what’s stopping them? We know evidence doesn’t play a role in their decision making.

This isn’t an article about a fringe group of people.

It’s tragic foreshadowing. It shows the type of thinking that is actively permeating our country.

(via Danny Coleman. Image via Shutterstock)

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