The Earth is flat: dealing with fringe viewpoints in the pervasive internet era


This guy is nuts, but hey, willing to put his money where his mouth is at least

The flat earthers have been referenced a few places recently, central theme being this: if the patently, obviously crazy idea that the earth is flat can thrive on the Internet, then … literally anything else can too.

It is scary, and true.

The orthodox say their faith makes them a persecuted minority, mocked to their faces by friends and strangers for nothing more than First Amendment-protected beliefs. “We get accused of being idiots, of doing it for money,” Knodel said. “Believe me, there’s only humiliation in this. We do it because we believe it.”

There is a whole section in Wikipedia for dealing with this, fringe elements that aggressively push fringe beliefs, and it is a fascinating read:


Obviously not mocked and persecuted enough…


Beliefs aren’t protected. Speech is. If you actively choose ignorance you can’t demand anything from anyone. Look at religion. The whole concept of faith is about choosing to believe something. There’s no religious imperative in believing demonstrable falsehoods like the earth is flat, so choose to believe the truth if it’s such a hardship. Easiest thing in the world. It’s not like being gay or black or differently abled. Unless, of course, they’d prefer being a flat-earther is classified a psychological disorder…


One of my favorite podcasts, Oh No Ross and Carrie, has been looking at flat earthers for their last three episodes. Here’s part one:



Er what? Religion is protected and that’s a set of beliefs. The question is then whether belief that the earth is flat is a religion. I guess it has to be, since it sure ain’t based on science.


Religion is a specific class of beliefs singled out for protection. I can’t decide one day 2+2=5 and expect tax exempt status.


If you read the article, though, he tried as hard as he could to avoid doing exactly that with Kickstarters and GoFundMes.


Gravity don’t exist.

The Earth sucks.


‘I made a rocket without science (cause science is fake), just math formulas.’

Natural selection only works if we let the idiots die.


Why not? You can decide an old man lives in the sky and expect tax exempt status. How is declaring 2+2=5 any different? Why can’t belief in a flat earth be a religion?


Why is he launching himself? Want to prove the earth is flat, just find the edge, should be easy, right.


If only this is what religions believed :(


Ha, that’s an excellent point. Why bother shooting yourself into space when you just fly an airplane straight in one direction?



“Atmosflat”, lol.


the earth is flat, but curved into spacetime, it’s so simple.


I love the flat-Earth thing because evidently none of them has a boat or a plane.

“There is a big wall around us.”

Well… then grab a camera and a boat and go over there and take pictures. It’s like me maintaining there is a unicorn in my attic and then never just walking up there to prove it to people.


What do flat-earthers think about the moon? Is that a flat disc too? Why do the surface details of the disc change over time? It must be so exhausting to try and rationalise so many things.

I also wonder what the conversion moment for a typical flat-earther is. Did they look at a map of the world and take it too literally?


It’s a magical potato.


I generally just don’t care about these people anymore. And by “these people” I mean anyone whose “religion” dictates that they believe a demonstrably false idea.

Want to believe that the Earth is flat, or that evolution doesn’t happen, or that poisonous snakes won’t bite you when molested? That’s fine with me – go with (your) god.

I admit that I feel a little bad for their kids, but… the world needs poorly-educated people to perform unpleasant tasks and we can’t ALWAYS count on there being under-developed countries to provide them to us. A self-selected underclass seems like a better option than the melanin-based thing we’ve got going now.

The only time I get incensed about these folks is when they get numerous enough to threaten public policy and endanger MY kids’ education.


Belief isn’t really part of the First Amendment. Speech and exercise, or practice, of religion, is. The Founders understood you can’t control what people think, only what they do, and the amendment is there to prevent the state from mandating certain practices based on religion or forbidding same based on religious considerations.

What one believes is rather immaterial, really, except in so far as belief drives actions. One can believe everyone should be Catholic, and one can say everyone should be Catholic, but one can’t use the state to force everyone to be Catholic. Nor can one discriminate against non-Catholics on the basis of their being non-Catholic.

Where it gets really tricky is in defining religion for purposes of pigeonholing which behaviors fall under its umbrella, and in figuring out which behaviors that are agreed to be religious are still outside the pale based on other aspects of law. The latter case includes things like faith healing instead of modern medicine, polygamy, child brides, and stuff like that. The former is even trickier. Scientology? Pastafarians? The Force? Wicca? The IRS has language defining a church, but not, technically, religion, for purposes of tax liability. Other than that, I’m not sure what language the government actually uses. In practice, we run up against the difference between the modern world and the world of the 18th century, where “religious diversity” meant pretty much different shades of Protestantism and the lingering presences of old-world Catholicism.