Why Believe the Earth Is Flat?

Caitlyn Cavanaugh (9th), Reporter

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The dark forces of nature have been having a field day with 2018, and after kids swallowed tide pods, participated in the Blue Whale challenge, and questioned whether or not water was wet, one could only assume that they would have had their fill of ill-advised judgement. Unfortunately, any hope for such would only be in vain.

If you ask anyone who claims to believe in the flat-earth, they will most likely site long drawn-out evidence, or direct you to a video of a 30-year old man living in his mother’s basement, voicing theories that vaccines are mind control devices and Donald Trump is a lizard.

Maybe some are idiotic or gullible, but there is the rarity of someone who genuinely believes so, despite any and all evidence stacked against them.

An editorial, “Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass Opinion,” by J. Eric Oliver reads that more than half of total Americans believe in at least one major conspiracy theory, and when people acknowledge one concept, they are more likely to believe in another.

A quote from Professor Viren Swami states, “Someone who already believes, for example, in the 9/11 conspiracy theory is much more likely to accept the Flat Earth conspiracy theory, because it fits into their world view that there are people who are manipulating and doing bad things.”

A widely accepted theory by Swami suggests that people turn to these assumptions so as to gain control over their lives and beliefs.

He concluded that people are “much more likely to accept a conspiracy theory because it gives them a sense of agency.”  

Yet, where the flat-earth theory contrasts from others, is that there is no apparent trigger. It is reasonable to assume that because lives were lost and permanently altered due to 9/11, that it would produce an outcry of people demanding answers. But there doesn’t seem to be any event or societal revelation associated with the topic theory: so what could have brought it about?

Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent, political scientists and co-authors of American Conspiracy Theories, performed an experiment where they used tactics to try to make subjects experience anxiety and panic.

In trying to cope, they found that the control group were most likely to believe that large corporations, such as the U.S. government, were plotting against them, and justified these beliefs by citing unexplained inconsistencies, much like the assumptions about the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“I believe that the earth is round, [because] that’s what all of the evidence points to,” said freshman, Claire Knittel, followed by, “and because NASA said so. But they also said that the moon landing was real… oh my god, I believe in the flat earth.”

It stands that due to the popularization of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission theory, that the lunar landing was faked, the population and flat-earth community have developed a mistrust for NASA. And seeing as the majority of the public’s knowledge of outer space and space travel comes from that association, contradicting their argument with facts and logic would be a shot in the dark.

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