It’s not about facts, unfortunately

A couple of years ago, writer and photographer Will Patrick was after a project during a dry spell. An upcoming Flat Earth Conference would be straightforward—we all love a good conspiracy, right? Two years later, he finally writes it up.

Notes from a Flat Earth ConferenceWill Patrick
If you find yourself wondering how they can resolve their belief in a flat earth against such apparently contradictory things like the International Space Station, rocket launches, GPS, pilots who see the curvature of the earth, the moon landings and, at a bare minimum, the collected works of Aristotle, Archimedes and Eratosthenes, then I’ll just cut right to it: they can’t. Of course, they don’t know that, but then they don’t really seem to care, either. […]

It is as if you could have taken the entire attended gathering of the conference, shot them all into a low earth orbit to circle our very, very round planet several times, then landed them back again to find their beliefs even stronger than before. They would emerge, removing their helmets, to kiss the flat earth beneath them and exalt their claims with even greater fervor.

All this is to say that rational questions and arguments miss the point entirely. These are not rational beliefs, nor even really beliefs. They are more like identities, firmly established and fiercely defended. Their existence is not a happy one, either. It seemed to me that they were commonly the product of deep personal and social tragedy.

Author: Terry Madeley

Works with student data and enjoys reading about art and design, data, education and technology.

8 thoughts on “It’s not about facts, unfortunately”

      1. Yes!! It is interesting why people choose to go down this path. Certainly a lack of education but I remember reading some research on people who believe in conspiracy theories. They generally feel totally powerless over their lives. I’ll try and find the article, very interesting

        Liked by 2 people

  1. My first thought was; I blame this partially on the existence of the internet and how it easily fosters community. And indeed, I see at the end of the article that Google changed the search recommendations to decrease ‘flat earth’ posts/uploads. I also thought about community and how people gravitate to what they believe and lock into that community; this one being not the search for ultimate truth, but the comfort of being so obscurely different and having a community in which to enjoy and partake of that feeling. With nearly eight billion people on the earth, no one will have a single wholly unique idea. And with the power to create communities in the hands of the internet – we’ll see plenty of this kind of thing. Unfortunately, it can’t totally be dismissed as something trivial. Disquieting was a good word for it~

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you might be right about the Internet being partly to blame, but don’t forget we here, with our WordPress blogs, are the internet too, benefitting from a shared sense of community. Perhaps the internet is just a tool, and it’s what you do with it that counts. But yes, thank goodness Google changed their recommendations process in this area, anything to tackle misinformation is a good thing, I think.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Right, blame was not the best word to use. Seeing it as a tool is the better way to say that. Or a road that information travels along – sometimes it can be treacherous, especially when it snows and listeners don’t own the proper gear to navigate it.

        Liked by 2 people

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