How about "Flat Earth" theory ?

  1. GCJ

    GCJ Well-Known Member

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    Flat Earthers tend to be incredibly pliable with science. The theory about flying in a plane counter to the Earth's rotation made me genuinely stop and think: should they get there faster?

    Nonetheless, I figured it out and moved on.

    Flat Earthers, like their forebears, don't.

    Can't, actually.

    The rotation of storm systems on a global scale says everything, and that's something you can observe for yourself locally.
     
  2. Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

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    Some conspiracies are easily believable, like a fake moon landing, when you're not part of the process itself and looking in from the outside.

    Flat Earth though is one where you have to be WAY outside of a lot of things in order to get taken in. However its the same reason that people get taken in by the warnings about Dihydrogen Monoxide*. Sadly most people don't have that advanced an understanding of science and don't have the skill to self-learn either. And in fairness to them self-learning isn't a subject taught at schools. If you are lucky you might get an A-level tutor who encourages it, but in general self learning isn't promoted**. Once you reach university (IF you get there) its encouraged, but a fair few can still make it through the process with limited self learning skills.

    * Facts About Dihydrogen Monoxide
    ** and if you put down answers not in the mark scheme you could even lose marks!
     
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  3. Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    You make a very valid point I think here, and something, being educated to that standard myself, I hadn't really considered before. I'm a great believer in life-long learning. I don't see that learning should stop at school. I think that education is the key to solving many social problems. I also think the lack of it is the cause of some present problems. It is a great way to get ahead in life, rather than to win the lottery or X-factor. It is supposedly encouraged by government and organisations, and yet, as you say, by "learning," most people expect to sit at a desk and to be talked at. That clearly cannot be afforded, even if there were enough teachers, nor is it a suitable way to learn for everyone. In fact, the people who didn't do well at school, are most likely the exact same people who don't take to that way of learning. There are plenty of ways to self-learn, the internet is a wonderful resource that is changing poor rural communities across the world, but poor people in the UK have less internet access, and it is a skill itself to know what is valid source of genuine information, and what is a pile of conspiracy theory junk. I do think they teach critical analysis of sources at schools, but it is a very dry subject. Teaching in schools is going to have to change though. In 20-30 years, if it hasn't changed, then it will no longer be fit for purpose.

    I would add that many people do have all the skills to self-learn, despite it not really being taught to them in school. Even people in quite manual, minimum-wage jobs can have an expert knowledge in a subject that interests them. The key there is that particular subject has engaged them enough that they have made a point to read more about it, and they probably never saw it as "education" at all but simply a hobby. Some people have a fear of education, partly because of a poor experience at school with bad teachers and boring syllabuses. What I cannot understand is the idea among some people that being uneducated is somehow "cool." Being uneducated is definitely not cool and it means you cannot argue with what you are told by others. Being uneducated holds you back and allows others to "keep you in your place." Notice those people on Twitter who cannot argue with substance but who make fun of poor spelling and grammar (though I accept that the latter often comes hand in hand with the former, I would prefer they tackled error within the factual statements rather than the way they were presented.)
     
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  4. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    I just need the hole in the math, if there is one. Primarily because FE is too far out, even for UFO types, it needs to be shelved as flawed, not just unproveable. Hey, for all we know we are living in a hologrammatic hallucination, fine, but there's other things to worry about first. Stand up for 3d!
     
  5. Lumens

    Lumens Lesser Known Member

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    Did anyone take them to the shore and watch a ship disappear under the horizon yet, like they did hundreds of years ago?
     
  6. Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

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    You are right that most people can self-learn to a degree and they can find resources. However its far fewer who know how to reach out, make contacts and start to self-learn a subject far outside of their general understanding. High end maths or sciences tend to be way out of reach of many people; many of whom might well have dropped both subjects after GCSEs; and that's if they did any formal education thereafter. As a result its very easy to get missled by someone.

    I recall reading that humans, even though we can be cynical, are very trusting as well with regard to information. We are very apt to believe the first bit of information (that we understand/can comprehend) that relates to a subject. After that point it actually takes quite a body of evidence to change our viewpoint. It's that whole "first impressions matter" aspect of life. We "know" we do it (more or less) but we still can't easily stop ourselves doing it without paying proper attention to our behaviour and having some training in how to sift through information. Further we have to be prepared to do it. For the average person the fact that the Earth is round or flat or octagonal is not a point of important information, but a point of trivia. The kind of thing that wins a round in the pub quiz. They aren't charting aircraft or boats; they aren't going into space; their interest in the weather is whether its hot/cold wet/dry tomorrow.
     
  7. Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    I totally agree and I could give other similar examples about the grasp of economics of the 'man on the London Omnibus' but we are forbidden to discuss that anymore. Some newspapers have a lot to answer for by being deliberately misleading on a raft of complicated subjects.

    The world is becoming increasingly technological though, to the point where circumstances in which a lack of knowledge of high end maths and sciences do actually personally affect people. While newspapers and politicians would like to paint arguments as good and bad, dark and light, wrong and right, most decisions (and probably every article on this morning's TV news) are shades of grey, and taking up diametrically polar opposite positions does not help to resolve them. The use/misuse of expert witnesses in Law is something I strongly believe brings science into disrepute among people who don't understand how science works, since the scientific method is incompatible with the adversarial system of Law, and indeed of politics. This is how you end up with people saying that "we don't need experts" when clearly we need expert knowledge more than ever before.

    The OP was mystified how someone could believe the Earth was flat and that NASA was lying to them. I can quite easily understand how that can happen. I just cannot offer any solutions though.
     
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  8. mosaix

    mosaix Shropshire, U.K.

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    There's an element of inverted snobbery about it. The trend of "people's" this and "people's" that, and "popular" this and "popular" that, is a self defence mechanism to bypass the experts with a "dose of common sense".

    I fear I'm now verging on world affairs - "Stop it, Mosaix!"
     
  9. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    Have many people here have ever tested for themselves that the sun is a sphere?

    Just asking. :)
     
  10. Biskit

    Biskit Cat whisperer

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    I have two problems with experts:

    1: I was one. From my own experience, it's very easy for an expert to take an overly-narrow view of things, and perhaps miss things that matter to everyone else who lives outside of that narrow specialism. Or get so caught up in their own certainty that they miss how wrong they are. Worse still, is when you put a whole bunch of us together and we all agree with each other before galloping off down a wrong path.

    2: A lot of us experts are absolutely no use at explaining things to people outside of our field.
     
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  11. Lumens

    Lumens Lesser Known Member

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    Interesting proposition. Could you test it by looking at sunspots? It is very easy to do, with a cheap telescope, projecting the sun onto a white sheet of paper. You could see how the spots move over time.
     
  12. Dennis E. Taylor

    Dennis E. Taylor Formerly Bizmuth. Destroying Worlds Since {mumble}

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    If you do any astronomy at all, it becomes pretty obvious. The phases of the inner planets, the difference in distances of the outer planets, all clearly show that they are revolving around the sun and not the Earth. If the sun was a disk (I assume that's the proposed alternative), then they wouldn't get any illumination when off to the side or back.

    Not to mention watching moons revolving around planets, transits and occultations, etc etc.

    The problem, IMO, with conspiracy theorists is that it isn't about the actual subject under study. At least not directly. In the case of flat-earthers, they have to put so much effort and engage in so much compartmentalization in order to promulgate something that doesn't benefit them in any material way.

    Obviously some of them are trolls, who just see another way to generate some anger--and studying why anyone would want to do that is an interesting subject all its own. Generally speaking you can tell a troll because every dialog they engage in is a trolling opportunity. They'll very rarely be reasonable and reserved on any subject.

    But the ones who seem to honestly believe (or at least want to believe) are another matter. I'd love to see a study of what leads people to believe vehemently in flat earth, fake moon landing, anti-vax, creationism, 911 conspiracy, fluoride in the water, Roswell, etc etc etc etc. I don't expect it has to be the same motivations in all cases.

    Regardless, I generally don't bother to engage any more. I've never seen such argument have any actual results, and I have so many other things to do with my time that are more enjoyable.
     
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  13. Galactic Journey

    Galactic Journey The Traveler

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    The last episode of James Burke's excellent series "Connections" (made back in 1978!) does a good job of advising how to cope in a world where information, and the rate at which information accumulates, increases so rapidly.
     
  14. GCJ

    GCJ Well-Known Member

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    Looking at the Moon through a telescope, especially when it's visible during the day, will reveal the spherical nature of the thing pretty clearly.

    I've read flat Earth proponents claim that, further to our planet being flat, the heavenly bodies aren't spheres either. To me it's one of the oddest conspiracy theories I've read, and I'm definitely a fan of a good old connivance.

    Even easier than watching a ship disappear over the horizon as proof that we bide on a sphere is to observe distant cumulonimbus cloud tops with their bodies and bases obscured by the horizon.

    Some of those things reach 60,000ft+.
     
  15. Cathbad

    Cathbad Level 30 Geek Master

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    Hush!

    This is a post-facts world, don't'cha know?
     
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  16. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    No point argung logic, ya need the math proof that the whole theory is wrong. Until then people will continue to be drawn into FE fandom like fools.
     
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  17. Montero

    Montero Senior Member

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    @Denis E Taylor - I had an extended fluoride in toothpaste and water argument with someone once - even going to look up some of the websites and counter websites out of an awful fascination as it was the first time I'd encountered it. In the end, when they repeated yet again that the fluoride was there to reduce intelligence and increase docility, I pointed out I'd drunk tap water and used fluoride toothpaste all my life and did they find me either dumb or docile? It went quiet after that. Didn't change their mind, but they did quit. So did I. :)
    I think those kinds of arguments can be worth it if you have an audience. You won't convince the person you are arguing with, you might help ensure that some of the audience get to see a counter-argument that gives them a broader perspective. Not that I bother very often, but some days the total lack of logical argument, joined up thinking or understanding of the scientific method hacks me off to the point of doing something about it.
     
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  18. Cathbad

    Cathbad Level 30 Geek Master

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    This is the reason I'll involve myself in some debates on FB - not for the trolls' benefit.
     
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  19. Dennis E. Taylor

    Dennis E. Taylor Formerly Bizmuth. Destroying Worlds Since {mumble}

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    I agree. You aren't arguing with the troll to convince the troll--that's a dead loss going in. You argue in order to show onlookers that what the troll is saying is crap.

    I, however, am tired of it. I find myself mocking them more and debating them less. And although that may feel good in the short term, it doesn't really help. So I generally leave it to someone else. Fortunately there are enough people who enjoy that.
     
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  20. Paul_C

    Paul_C Well-Known Member

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