HOW I KILLED A FLAT-EARTHER, AND WHY IT WAS PROBABLY WRONG
Yes, for those of you lucky enough not to have come across it, flat earth is a thing — a self-styled ‘movement’ in fact. I’ve been aware of it for a while, because I sometimes watch weird stuff on Youtube, and, you know, things just pop up.
I know – it’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard since Joseph Atwill’s theory that Shakespeare was a teenage Jewish prostitute.
Who knows where it comes from?
I’ve an idea.
Flat-Earthers say the deception starts with Pythagoras, who was ‘the first Mason’. He discovered that the earth was flat but decided to tell everybody it was round, for reasons which are not clear, and the deception has been kept going ever since. Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, all bad guys. All Masons. But the real big bad guy is NASA, which faked the moon landings (obviously) and now fakes all the space walks and space station footage in swimming pools and aircraft using parabolic trajectories to simulate low gravity.
And indeed, thereby does hang a tale. An important part of it has been told very capably by Bart Sibrel in his documentary A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon. Based around archived NASA footage he was sent anonymously, the film shows astronauts in near-earth orbit clearly faking a ‘distant’ view of the earth by using a port-hole and a gel. Sibrel followed this up with a cringe-inducing little film called Astronauts Gone Wild, in which he tracks down a number of the astronauts who claim to to have walked on the moon in the Apollo missions, and tries to force them to swear on the Bible that their claims are God’s truth.
The film confirmed for me what I already knew, but it was interesting — and moving, actually — to hear it from the horse’s mouth. When Sibrel blags his sit-down interview with Buzz Aldrin and then ambushes him with the footage, Aldrin does not dispute its authenticity. He gets visibly agitated, declares the interview over, demands the camera be shut off, and starts sorting out books and papers as a displacement activity, but continues the dialogue with the implacable Sibrel. His quarrel is not with the evidence but with Sibrel’s dishonorable journalistic procedures. At one point, Sibrel’s irritating spiel gets to him and he snaps, ‘Look! We were passengers, OK? Just guys going on a flight.’
I feel for the guy.
That’s a historically revealing utterance.
Apart from Aldrin’s moment of exasperated candor, what makes the film so watchable is the element of suspense: Sibrel, who of course deserves great credit for his exposé of the Apollo program, happens to have an unusually self-righteous manner and a supremely punchable face, a thought that visibly crosses the minds of most of the astronauts interviewed. As I watched I was saying to myself, ‘Dude, you’re gonna get punched! You’re gonna get punched!’ When it finally happened it was Aldrin again, ambushed in the street after the interview, Sibrel waving the Holy Book in his face and calling him a coward, a liar, and a… thpfunf, I think it was.
You could see it coming, and it came: it was no anti-climax; a solid straight right to the jaw with a nice audible connection.
Flat-earthers take the evidence that the Apollo missions did not go to the moon and flip it into an argument — actually a dogma — that we didn’t go because we can’t, and we can’t because the earth is covered by a huge dome made of crystal or sapphire or whatever they feel like saying it’s made of, and outer space doesn’t exist.
There is indeed a clear connection between NASA’s global theater and the genesis of the flat earth movement. But that isn’t it.
OK, picture the scene. Some NASA high-up calling in the psy-ops expert and saying,
‘Look, Bob, I’m worried. Sooner or later the public’s going to catch on to all of our frauds. The moon landings. The space station. All that. What are we going to say when they do? How are we going to handle it? I hope you boys in psy-ops are going to come up with something good.’
‘Relax. We’ve got it covered.’
‘But how? I mean those 1960s special effects are wearing a bit thin. People are getting more savvy about effects and film techniques and all that. That stuff is not wearing well.’
‘Like I said, Doug, don’t worry about it. We know what we’re doing. We’re already onto it. Never underestimate the stupidity of the general public.’
And the way they’re onto it is this; this is their answer to the dilemma: three little words.
Flat… Earth… Theory.
Because how do you counter a conspiracy theory but with an even wilder conspiracy theory? Large numbers of people who are deeply and justifiably suspicious of NASA have now apparently bought into NASA’s own psy-op: the Flat Earth. Now government and media can claim: ‘People who believe that the moon landings were faked also believe that the earth is flat! Ignore them — they’re nuts!’
They must be loving themselves to bits over this. The sheer brilliant stupidity of it.
But it’s not just the general public — there are one or two notable people in the naturally paranoid truth movement who have fallen prey to the psy-op as well. And here it gets harder to understand, since such individuals are aware of the social engineering, weaponized anthropology and psychological operations which have controlled and shaped culture and discourse in the West for the last seventy years at least, and the central thrust of these towards an ‘archaic revival’, a reversal of the Enlightenment and a re-occulting of the faculty of reason. In view of the success of the Flat Earth op, I’d say this project is going pretty well.
Both would also be aware of Information Czar Cass Sunstein’s 2008 Working Paper for the Obama administration entitled ‘Conspiracy Theories’ in which he proposes ‘cognitive infiltration’ of the truth movement. Of course the internet is full of accusations and counter-accusations as to where the infiltration lies, but the answer of course is that it’s pervasive, and there’s no doubt in my mind that in Flat Earth ‘theory’ we are looking right at it. Do those who fall for it have no logical defenses against this travesty?
In his paper Sunstein uses the expression ‘crippled epistemology’ to describe the critical skills of conspiracy theorists. An objectionable phrase — but when it comes to the Flat Earth movement, it does kind of fit. One commenter in a discussion I stumbled into on Facebook opined that the sun can’t be 93,000,000 miles away from earth, because how would light travel all that way without ‘petering out?’ Another didn’t think it’s ‘feasible’ or ‘sensible’ for the sun to be so far away. That was his argument. The distance of the sun can’t be 93 million miles, because THAT’S A LOT.
Some flat-earthers go by the principle that it’s impossible for little people like them or me to verify for ourselves whether the world is round or flat, so the best policy is to disbelieve everything coming out of a known source of disinformation such as NASA. Others are fond of saying that you can fly at 40,000 feet in an airplane and still not see the curvature of the earth. One said, ‘I’ve traveled all over this planet and I’ve never once seen this mythical curvature.’
That’s hilarious. You see the curve whenever you look at the ocean horizon. Not a transverse curve, which is only measurable by instruments, but the longitudinal curve in all directions from the observation point. When you look at the horizon, you are looking at the curvature of earth. That’s what the horizon is. You’re looking right at it.
Which brings me to the flat-earther I killed, and whether it was wrong. First of all, it was an accident. Secondly, I may not have killed him, I’m just a bit worried. As I say, I’d stumbled into a convocation of flat-earthers on Facebook, and some of them engaged with me by posting memes and emojis, but one politely asked me to give my number one reason why I thought the earth was round. I said, ‘The horizon’. He started telling me about how when a ship sails over the horizon and you can’t see its hull any more, if you look through a powerful telescope or telephoto lens you’ll see the whole ship again, which proves the earth is flat.
Now, I’ve never tried this and I doubt he had either, so I just asked him — what is the horizon?
He informed me that the horizon is simply the ‘limit of vision’: the ‘vanishing point’ at which we cannot see any further due to ‘the limitations of human sight’.
I pointed out that he had just referred to objects further away than the horizon remaining visible, and that from a beach five minutes from where I live I can see a number of islands which lie beyond the horizon. I asked him again to tell me what the horizon is. What is that line?
He began typing: ‘Sorry, I didn’t express myself clearly. What I meant to say is that we can’t see’
And at that point he broke off, presumably struck by the contradiction in what he was saying. My first thought was that he may have had an aneurism or something, since I don’t think his argument could really be that ‘we can’t see.’ Though maybe – who knows?
I admit that there is a strong possibility that he is still alive, but I do fear having done some damage to the man. I’m not proud of it — but was it wrong? Is it wrong to fantasize about flat-earthers’ heads exploding as they grapple with the simplest of starter questions — what is the horizon?
Flat Earth is undeniably a strange and interesting phenomenon. It’s a thing — a truly remarkable thing. Like it or not, it’s part of our fragmented, degenerative zeitgeist, and the most damning possible indictment of the state of education in Western countries. Or a magnificent tribute to the success of the strategy of archaic revival.
Of course it’s wrong to fantasize about people’s heads exploding because they notice the lethal contradictions of what’s coming out of their mouths. On the other hand, I don’t think these people should just be given a pass. They are the policy of cognitive infiltration in action, and their parade is crying out to be copiously pissed on. If people are immune to reason, then ridicule is the only fall-back. I encourage everybody to use it mercilessly.
This all might seem kind of petty and pointless, but you have to remember that people have been tortured and burned at the stake over this stuff. Hard-won knowledge — that’s a thing, too. Ironic, isn’t it? It took 351 years for the Catholic Church to finally vindicate Galileo. And now he’s in the shit again all over the internet, vilified as some kind of Masonic conspirator by people who’ve never even heard of retrograde planetary motion.
By the way, e pur si muove? Those were the words Galileo muttered under his breath after being shown the instruments of torture and forced to recant by the Holy Inquisition, in Rome, 1633.
And yet it moves.
Which brings me to the last thing I want to say about this – about how I know the world is round and spinning and spiraling through space. Yes, I see the curvature of the earth with my own naked eyes, every morning when I sit on a rock drinking coffee and gazing out at the islands, or in the evenings at a reggae bar in the hills when I spark up a fat one and watch the sun go down.
But there’s something else, beyond what can be proved by reason: an unshakable intuition, I suppose. The flat earth ‘model’ they talk about is not only illogical, utterly so, but feels deeply wrong on another level, which you could perhaps call a spiritual or energetic level. A flat, stationary earth, with sun and moon cranking round overhead on some Rube Goldberg apparatus, the whole thing covered by a fucking lid — it’s so, so inelegant, so clunky. So claustrophobic. And so inert. Just — dead.
It’s not just my brain and my eyes that tell me it’s a wrong, stupid, and dead idea. Yes, I live on a spinning ball, hurtling through space at a speed which is neither ‘feasible’ nor ‘sensible’. It’s beautiful and I love it. Come and visit me on my planet sometime, and feel the energy.