Tales Of A Flat Earth

INT21

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...It is nothing, or at least not necessarily, to do with being mad or stupid. ..

Surely the inability to accept what is obvious to virtually everyone else and what is supported by hundreds of years of investigation is the very definition of being stupid.
 

Min Bannister

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...It is nothing, or at least not necessarily, to do with being mad or stupid. ..

Surely the inability to accept what is obvious to virtually everyone else and what is supported by hundreds of years of investigation is the very definition of being stupid.
Well no not really. I'll bet most people have never really thought much about the roundness* of the Earth and its position in the heavens. And I am pretty sure most people aren't really very interested in science either. All it really takes is for someone else to come along with some plausible sounding explanations as to why things aren't really as you have thought all along and boom, you have a convert who can't really be converted back as according to them, they have already been shown all the evidence. It is not stupidity, more sort of normality.

Sorry *globeness.
 

gordonrutter

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Well no not really. I'll bet most people have never really thought much about the roundness* of the Earth and its position in the heavens. And I am pretty sure most people aren't really very interested in science either. All it really takes is for someone else to come along with some plausible sounding explanations as to why things aren't really as you have thought all along and boom, you have a convert who can't really be converted back as according to them, they have already been shown all the evidence. It is not stupidity, more sort of normality.

Sorry *globeness.
Oblate spheroidness
 

INT21

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...I'll bet most people have never really thought much about the roundness of the Earth and its position in the heavens. ..

The implication of that is that most people didn't take much notice during their geography lessons at school. Most schools have a globe.

People watch tv every day. It is hard to find a day where some item or other doesn't refer to the fact that the earth is a globe.

I don't buy your argument at all.
 

Xanatic*

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How many average joes could tell you how we know the earth is round/geomorph other than saying photos from space?
 

Min Bannister

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Thank you!

The implication of that is that most people didn't take much notice during their geography lessons at school. Most schools have a globe.

People watch tv every day. It is hard to find a day where some item or other doesn't refer to the fact that the earth is a globe.

I don't buy your argument at all.
Perhaps I haven't quite explained it properly. Of course they will have seen those things but I bet they have never really thought about them and just accepted them. You can't be an expert in everything after all. Then someone comes along and says "Hey, did you know that thing you thought you knew? Well it is wrong and I have proof. Join my cool club of people who Really Know What is Going On!" Then they look at the "proof" which is just plausible enough so long as you have never really thought about it much before and Bingo.

How many average joes could tell you how we know the earth is round/geomorph other than saying photos from space?
Exactly that.

(And those photgraphs from Astro-nots can obviously be discounted)
 

INT21

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Xanatic,

..How many average joes could tell you how we know the earth is round/geomorph other than saying photos from space?..

You seem to forget that satellite pictures are a modern thing. Everyone more than sixty year old didn't have them.

Yet we still knew the World was a sphere.

It was called basic education.

INT21
 

INT21

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Min,

..Join my cool club of people who Really Know What is Going On!" ..

'And by the way, my uncle in Nigeria still has this big pile of money the government is holding. If you donate $100 we could get it out for him and then we will be rich'.
 

Xanatic*

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My point wasn't that people don't know the Earth is globe-ish, the point is they don't know how we know.
 

INT21

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But we can easily explain it to the ones who don't know how we know.

It would be down to a failure in their reasoning if they still couldn't see it.
 

INT21

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Min Banister,

...All it really takes is for someone else to come along with some plausible sounding explanations as to why things aren't really as you have thought all along and boom, you have a convert who can't really be converted back as according to them, they have already been shown all the evidence. ..

And there is the basis of every conspiracy theory from ufo to Marylin Monroe.
 
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Hmm. Card-carrying Skeptics say the same about those who believe in alien-piloted UFOs, Bigfoot, and spirits of the dead, among other things. There is a spectrum of weird beliefs, obviously. Flat earth, vaccine denial, climate change denial, 9/11 Truthers, Biblical literalism... they all are rejecting modern reality for an ideological reason. (I'll stick to the claims that can be literally proved wrong.)
I think you're on the right track there. I'd add in 'veganism' as well.

Folk need something to believe in and follow. God is dead, hard science can be complicated, bi-partisan politics no longer even seems democratic to a better informed populace, there's no equality of opportunity...gotta believe in something...the need to believe flaps around like an HV cable in a gale and it just has to latch onto something.

To me, it's that underlying reason that is interesting. And dangerous. There is no doubt that this stuff is at least a little bit contagious. And it can turn into a fad - to be cool to believe in it. I see it almost like a cult mentality - you become wrapped into the whole vision of it and lose touch. That can be dangerous because you make decisions about some things in that frame of vision - like vote or make choices for your children, for example. (Or worse, threaten people who are experts in the claim you hate - I'm thinking Michael Mann (climate sci) and Paul Offit (vaccine inventor).) So generally, it's harmless but it can turn into something bigger and uglier if, like bacteria on a petri dish, (or a slippery slope) the growth media is there. People are odd and quite scary sometimes.
Once the group forms, the dynamics are well established: 'We' are right. 'They' are wrong. 'We' are better than 'them' as 'we' are right. 'They' threaten 'our' existence and so must be destroyed...of course if you're a minority group you can't easily annihilate the other 99.9% so you pick a figurehead and blow up their family car or some such courageous act.

So scary, yes. But 'same old same old' also.

Recommend Christine Garwood's book. Really good read.

OTOH, I refuse to argue with ideologically based extremists. You can't gain any ground. If you don't share the same ground rules, there is no talking to them. Even being rude just won't work. Even I've been called a disinformation agent by yahoos who just don't like what I have to say.
There's no arguing with anything faith-based, whether it's flat-earth, bigfoot, MBTI or alien visitation. Notwithstanding the danger posed by large disenfranchised groups clumped around some wacky notion that enables them to justify tyranny, people are welcome to their crazy ideas as long as they don't proselytize and present them as facts.

Once you reach this point, the 'ideology' is a petty tyranny and I'll oppose those, well, forever.
 

INT21

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Sharon Hill.

..And dangerous. There is no doubt that this stuff is at least a little bit contagious. And it can turn into a fad - to be cool to believe in it. I see it almost like a cult mentality - you become wrapped into the whole vision of it and lose touch. That can be dangerous because you make decisions about some things in that frame of vision ..

Have you by any chance been reading Carl Jung ?

INT21
 
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Sharon Hill.

..And dangerous. There is no doubt that this stuff is at least a little bit contagious. And it can turn into a fad - to be cool to believe in it. I see it almost like a cult mentality - you become wrapped into the whole vision of it and lose touch. That can be dangerous because you make decisions about some things in that frame of vision ..

Have you by any chance been reading Carl Jung ?

INT21
Have you read any social or cognitive psychology?
 

INT21

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Coal,

If that was aimed at me, yes.

Reading a collection of works of Jung. His ideas on 'Flying Saucers' is the latest. Written in 1958 though.

INT21.
 

Bad Bungle

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My point wasn't that people don't know the Earth is globe-ish, the point is they don't know how we know.
I was given a small book once, entitled something like '90% of Everything is Shite" or some-such Heisenberg derivative. It contained an anecdote about the 20th Cent. Philosopher Wittengstein, who was in a particularly foul mood one morning. His brightest and bravest student finally asked "what is it now Master ?" Wittengstein was furious, "I just cannot believe how stupid Mankind was for believing for SO LONG that the Sun moved round the Earth." The student thought this unfair on previous generations and tried to defend them by saying they were not stupid, they were scientifically unsophisticated - but they were rational and observant and they thought the Sun moved round the Earth because that is how it appeared to them. "Oh ?" said Wittengstein "and how would it have appeared to them if the Earth moved round the Sun !"

OK so Science wins out in the end but I still won't call the non-Scientists stupid.
 

INT21

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Nope, But watched a lot of modern psychology lectures. And not just Jordan Peterson.

Possibly you could suggest a good modern substitute for Jung.

INT21

(By the way, I find myself disagreeing with Jung on the ufo phenomena)
 

Mikefule

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Surely the inability to accept what is obvious to virtually everyone else and what is supported by hundreds of years of investigation is the very definition of being stupid.
For most of European history, all scholarly investigation was through the distorting lens of an almost universal belief in Christian theology. That would be the hundreds of years of investigation and was considered respectable and credible at the time.

In certain places at certain times, a belief in a particular brand of Christianity was mandatory, and belief in the wrong brand punishable by death. Everyone from King down to the lowest serf accepted unquestioningly that God existed and ruled Heaven and Earth. It was "obvious" for a period of several hundred years.

By your argument, in the late 1600s, surrounded by people who considered the Christian God to be "obvious", and with scholarly opinion united on the subject, any man who chose to reject that and become an atheist is "the definition of being stupid".

I doubt that is what you meant. The difference between my hypothetical 17th century freethinker and the Flat Earther is that the Flat Earther rejects unequivocal evidence, and constructs an alternative theory that has many internal inconsistencies and relies on a hideously complex conspiracy, and does so as a matter of dogma.

Whether that is "stupid" is a matter of semantics. Certainly some of their theories are the products of clever and creative minds, but not wise ones.
 

INT21

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..By your argument, in the late 1600s, surrounded by people who considered the Christian God to be "obvious", and with scholarly opinion united on the subject, any man who chose to reject that and become an atheist is "the definition of being stupid". ..

The modern day equivalent could be the Islamic hard line approach. Anyone not toeing the party line would not only be 'stupid', but very reckless.

But there is a major difference. Theology is always open for wooly answers as there are no solid facts to refer to. And in the old days a person could be tilted toward the Church's view by simply observing the heretic roasting on an open fire.

In the case of the flat Earth, we can now show beyond all (well, apparently not quite all) shadow of doubt, that the Earth is a globe.

People who honestly do not believe this must have some mental problem.

INT21.
 

Sharon Hill

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People who honestly do not believe this must have some mental problem.
What's the definition of normal? That is, to not have some "mental problem"? I believe we all qualify with a "mental problem" in some capacity and scope. I know I do. Once again, normal people join cults, normal people do terrible things under certain circumstances, normal people say they believe in completely outrageous things for one reason or another. I don't agree that we can label people stupid or otherwise off-kilter just because they subscribe to some wacky idea for a reason unbeknownst to us. But lots of people do think that it is OK to do that. All I know is that it's unhelpful to do so. In my experience, people cling to beliefs for reasons other than what is obvious to the observer. We can't really know why, can we?

I would really suggest looking into conspiracy theory research to shed some light on this.

And I'm not a big fan of Jung.
 

Mikefule

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..By your argument, in the late 1600s, surrounded by people who considered the Christian God to be "obvious", and with scholarly opinion united on the subject, any man who chose to reject that and become an atheist is "the definition of being stupid". ..

The modern day equivalent could be the Islamic hard line approach. Anyone not toeing the party line would not only be 'stupid', but very reckless.

But there is a major difference. Theology is always open for wooly answers as there are no solid facts to refer to. And in the old days a person could be tilted toward the Church's view by simply observing the heretic roasting on an open fire.

In the case of the flat Earth, we can now show beyond all (well, apparently not quite all) shadow of doubt, that the Earth is a globe.

People who honestly do not believe this must have some mental problem.

INT21.
No, we're approaching this from opposite sides.

I used Christian Europe only as an example that is likely to be familiar to most people in this forum. However, I will say that a person who refuses to toe the party line after careful consideration is not "reckless" but "brave".


For several hundred years in Europe, the paradigm for understanding an interpreting the physical world and events was that everything was caused by God. Theology was their equivalent of science: if they wished to understand or interpret something that existed or happened, they would look to the bible and to theologians. That was the accepted and respectable field for scholars, most of whom were intelligent and sought wisdom. They were not stupid or irrational or illogical. They used intelligence, rationality and logic, but in the context of a world view that they took for granted.

Now that we interpret the world primarily though science, we may regard them as misguided, mistaken, benighted, dogmatic, superstitious, or just plain wrong, but they were not stupid.

Meanwhile, the ordinary people generally accepted this world view as it was the only one that had ever been presented to them by their "betters" — just as I accept that scientists are on the right track with their views on cosmology, quantum theory, black holes and the like even though I have only a superficial understanding of those things. The ordinary people were no more stupid than we are: they just accepted what they were told because it seemed to reflect their reality and they had no reason to query it.

All of this is completely separate from matters of punishment and persecution. Even without those things, all or most scholars would have had a theological view of the cosmos, and all or most ordinary people would have accepted the religion of their time and culture.

So, imagine one free thinker from the 1500s who sat up all night and came up with reasons to reject the God paradigm. Was he really, "the definition of stupid" for being unable to "accept what [was] obvious to virtually everyone else and what [was] supported by hundreds of years of investigation"? No.

Similarly, Flat Earthers are not "stupid" for being unable to accept what is "obvious to virtually everyone else" (most of whom have never even thought about it) or what is "supported by hundreds of years of investigation."

No, what makes them "stupid" is not their inability to accept, but their determination to reject, and to replace what they reject with something that is in some ways more complex — and is certainly internally inconsistent, and which flies in the face of readily checkable evidence.

Perhaps you see the distinctions I am making as trivial, but to me:
  1. Accepting without question what you are told is stupid
  2. Questioning the accepted view and reaching your own conclusion is a sign of intelligence, but
  3. Wilfully rejecting the overwhelming weight of evidence and replacing it with a fantastic conspiracy theory is stupid
 

AlchoPwn

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  1. Accepting without question what you are told is stupid
  2. Questioning the accepted view and reaching your own conclusion is a sign of intelligence, but
  3. Wilfully rejecting the overwhelming weight of evidence and replacing it with a fantastic conspiracy theory is stupid
This is not in any way a criticism of yourself Mikefule. I like your list and want to add to it.

4. Dismissing a topic without hearing the whole body of evidence that you can reasonably obtain isn't good.
5. Accepting an argument from a source merely because you like that source is bad too.
6. Rejecting a plausible answer because it is "too simple" and someone else "must have thought of it", and you don't want to appear silly for asking has been known to set human progress back as much as 250 years on occasion.
7. Not asking "who profits" when social situations don't make sense, has been known to destroy nation states.
 

INT21

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Mikefule,

Just passing through, will be back later to consider your respons in greater depth. But the following caught my eye.

..Wilfully rejecting the overwhelming weight of evidence and replacing it with a fantastic conspiracy theory is stupid ..

With regard to the Flat-Earthers, is this not exactly what I was getting at ?

Be it a single person coming to the conclusion that the Earth if flat, or a full-blown conspiracy (which requires a number of believers who have a common cause) they are going against irrefutable evidence.

Back later.

INT21.
 
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Surely the inability to accept what is obvious to virtually everyone else and what is supported by hundreds of years of investigation is the very definition of being stupid.
  1. Accepting without question what you are told is stupid
  2. Questioning the accepted view and reaching your own conclusion is a sign of intelligence, but
  3. Wilfully rejecting the overwhelming weight of evidence and replacing it with a fantastic conspiracy theory is stupid
In the first place, it’s not helpful or correct describe some of these thing as ‘stupid’. Even if one takes the view that this is ‘criticising the action not the person’, it’s heard as pejorative and if you want to kick off a row with almost anyone go down the ‘stupid’ route. Almost no-one thinks they are stupid, and if you really want to change someone's mind, this is exactly how not to do it.

In the second place, a lot of perfectly intelligent people believe in irrational things. That on its own undermines any argument based purely on the intelligence of the believer.

What you are perhaps suggesting is that there is a lack of ‘critical thought’, as applied to the beliefs in question. Critical thought can be thought of as exercising the general forms of thought most conducive to sorting the true from the false – or ‘the art of being right.’” (van Gelder 2001).

So one must draw the correct or most likely answer from the available information, using induction, deduction and (then) interpretation and in doing so overcoming bias to make a sound judgement.

It turns out critical thought does correlate with IQ but also with FFM ‘openess’ and also, unlike many other measurable traits or abilities, this is something which can be improved and one can be trained for. If anything, we ought to spend more time on critical thought at school level, including many of the various rhetorical tricks used to confound ones critical facilities (straw men, circular reasoning and so on). That's certainly make politicians' lives harder.

Even so, with good critical thought facilities, we are, as human beings, susceptible to peer pressure, almost hard-wired cognitive biases and also, our own strong innate desire to belong to a group (Sharon’s point about conspiracy theory dynamics is solid).

In other words it isn’t as simple as ‘people are stupid if…'
 

INT21

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Coal,

You are correct in assuming that I was indicating a belief in a flat Earth was stupid. Not the person holding the belief.

However, there does come a point when debating this kind of thing when you have to say to your protagonist 'look, This isn't a 'is there a God or isn't there' kind of thing. The shape of the Earth has been measured ten ways beyond all reasonable doubt and it is known that it is a sphere'.

If they still refuse to accept this bit of knowledge then one has to consider that holding such a belief is a sign of a mental problem. If everyone except you believes that,say, snow is white and you insist it is pink then you either have visual problem that needs attending to, you are trying to wind-up others, or you are being 'stupid'. Stupid because everyone else will say of you ' he/she isn't quite right in the head, best avoid them.

Way back in the day, Galileo was close to being executed for holding his belief that the Earth went around the Sun; and not vice versa. But that was all due to the power of the church. 'Believe what we tell you to believe; or else'.

Conspiracies are very real things. But a conspiracy requires a motive. the conspirators (has to be more than one) are trying to push an agenda. What would be the agenda of the flat Earthers ?

INT21
 

Analogue Boy

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Conspiracies are very real things. But a conspiracy requires a motive. the conspirators (has to be more than one) are trying to push an agenda. What would be the agenda of the flat Earthers ?

INT21
One motive would be, ‘If THEY’RE wrong about that, what else are THEY wrong about or hiding?’
 
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