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


My point is that testing the hypothesis often isn’t as straightforward as it seems, and you can end up doing bad science without realizing. Bad statistical methods are everywhere (see replication crisis) and even when people seem to be using good statistical methods there can be hidden flaws.

Apart from the papers and statistical tests, there is a social layer in science that sometimes works to filter out bad ideas (parapsychology - (man that is typo-prone!)) and sometimes serves to overlook problems (e.g. power poses, much of priming). In the very long run, the data pushes towards correct interpretations, but the process of overcoming the influence of particular personalities or social groups can take decades (“science advances one funeral at a time”).

Edit: People actually have a paper on the funeral effect:


Ah, yeah, it went right by me. I do agree that most folks don’t care about science per se. Gotcha.


Yeah, that I can agree with.


There are a couple current and ex-NBA players who claim to be flat earthers. Shaq O’Neill and Kyrie Irving for two. But I am pretty sure they are just trolling the media.


I propose that we no longer refer to them on this forum as “fringe people” but instead use the more appropriate term…“people of the land. The common clay of the new West.”






Kinda late to the game here with they reply, but…

At least in the journals my lab publishes in (Science, nature, cell) there is always one pure math / statistics reviewer in addition to the other peers doing review. I think some of fields (like genetics) have upped their game significantly in the last 15 years and are now far more rigorous. That said, doing our best to eliminate bias (by say not selecting a model that makes incorrect assumptions about your data) is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.

If you can only get your paper published in a low impact/citation journal (that happens to have more minimal peer review) then that can speak to the quality of your work.

These junk sciences don’t get published in credible journals for a reason.