What we can learn from people who take the Flat Earth theory seriously


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Across the globe, millions of people believe the Earth — that whirling blue sphere, spinning through space — is, in fact, a flat plane. Believers diverge on the specifics but tend to understand that we all live beneath a dome that floats through space, or perhaps, hovers above primordial waters.

It’s unclear how many people believe some version of Flat Earth theory. Tens of thousands of people belong to social media accounts dedicated to these theories, and popular videos explaining the theory have hundreds of thousands of views. Some high-profile figures, including NBA star Kyrie Irving and rapper B.o.B., have flirted with or even openly endorsed the theory. Flat Earth believers held conferences before the covid-19 pandemic and showed up at anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests throughout it.

And polling gives us some sense of the scale of this belief system: As many as 1 percent of Americans (that’s more than 3 million people) and 7 percent of Brazilians (11 million people) say they believe the Earth is flat, for example.

The modern Flat Earth movement has its origins in a snake oil salesman and utopian named Samuel Rowbotham, said Kelly Weill, a journalist who covers fringe movements for the Daily Beast and spent years researching this movement and its adherents. In her book, “Off the Edge: Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Culture, and Why People Will Believe Anything,” she traces the conspiracy theory’s resurgence in about 2015, when it began spreading across social media.


What we can learn from people who take the Flat Earth theory seriouslyIllustration: Mae Decena



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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mic
    Apr 26, 2022 @ 20:16:13

    👌👌👌✒🌹 It’s simple, everything we know so far about the universe and therefore about the Earth is based on causality. If the Earth were flat, the sun would be flat. So we would be really lucky that the Sun, and therefore all the cosmic bodies, are oriented flat to the Earth. It would really be just luck



    • Mohenjo
      Apr 30, 2022 @ 22:29:38

      They don’t think that deeply!



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