Behind the Curve, racing to catch the bus to Loony Tunes

 
burt
 
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burt
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17 March 2019 08:15
no_profundia
 
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no_profundia
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17 March 2019 15:07
 

Quote from the article:

They readily swap stories about the ideas that led them to break with physical reality and join the community, and they candidly discuss the losses of family, friendships, and marriages that accompanied that break. It’s clear that, for many of the subjects, their beliefs provide them with access to the benefits of being part of a community, something they might struggle to get through any other means.

This quote presents a mystery for me. Part way through our frustrating discussion with TwoSeven1 I started to get a bit of a bad conscience. I started imagining that he probably has all sorts of social relationships tied up with his silly beliefs: church, family, friends. If he were to suddenly decide that abiogenesis was possible and life evolved largely through natural selection it might not simply involve a change in belief but a total rupture with his current social community. I can imagine why someone would be reluctant to go through that, and holding a false view about the early history of life may very well be preferable to cutting ties with friends and family. To some degree the above quote supports that. The flat-earthers feel like they are part of a community.

But, it also mentions that many of the flat-earthers lost family, friends and marriages to their bizarre beliefs. So, this reluctance to disturb social relationships cannot be the whole story. I would very much like to understand the social aspects of this. Is it possible they were unhappy in their social relationships and that this became an excuse to cut ties they wanted to cut for other reasons? I would like to believe in a social explanation for these strange beliefs - as opposed to cognitive biases - because it makes me more sympathetic to the people who espouse them but this quote makes me wonder if I am barking up the wrong tree.

 
 
Cheshire Cat
 
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Cheshire Cat
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17 March 2019 22:14
 

I just watched the Netflix documentary Behind the Curve.

Mark Sargent and his female counterpart, Patricia Steere, strike me as people who crave attention — lots and lots of attention. My feeling is that they both wanted to be big fish in a little pond, which is exactly what they have succeeded in becoming. They are stars within the tiny but growing flat earth community, and are a nominal presence on Youtube. Whether they believe what they espouse is an unanswered question.

The bulk of the flat-earthers, I suspect, are people who don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, science; people who probably avoided science classes like the plague in high school or college. They trust their own senses and intuition, and think it’s the intelligent thing to do. That’s a difficult attitude to get around. Do you believe science or your own lying eyes? I see no curvature to the earth, therefore the earth cannot possibly be a globe. If the earth was really spinning at 1,000 miles an hour, then why can’t I feel it? Authorities lie all the time, why should I believe these unbelievable stories from scientists?

Probably, at the center of all this is an existential dread brought about by the truths science has revealed to us during the past hundred years or so: that we are living on a giant spinning rock, circling around a blazing ball of thermonuclear hot gas, which is flying through the vacuum of space at mind boggling speeds, and floating inside an almost infinite, black, cold, void. These are not the most comforting of thoughts.

No, instead, let’s retreat from the edge of that cliff, that yawning abyss, and return to a world we can understand, even if it makes no sense: a flat disk world covered by some kind of dome, with the sun and moon acting as mere light sources, spinning not that far above us. People sitting around a campfire 10,000 years ago would have been comfortable with that story.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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20 March 2019 05:12
 

The truth always has a funny way of making its way to the surface.  Coz nothing outlives the lie.  What frauds need are other frauds to keep the lies alive.  It softens the blow when you lie among liars by providing a shelter in which to hide like a secret.  That lasts until someone has the tenacity to call it out.  So quite a long time usually.  It’s like feeding trolls.  You can always feel superior in a world of pretend and you can lie to yourself for as long as you surrender to the delusion.  I guess that’s why many people still subscribe to the antiquated trappings of religion.  To admit you don’t know when it’s a lie means you fell prey to the con and that makes you a stooge.  To deny the facts when the truth comes calling makes you just another liar.  We’re not always meant to follow the leader.  You just have to be willing to play the long game.

 
 
proximacentauri
 
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proximacentauri
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20 March 2019 10:14
 
no_profundia - 17 March 2019 03:07 PM

Quote from the article:

They readily swap stories about the ideas that led them to break with physical reality and join the community, and they candidly discuss the losses of family, friendships, and marriages that accompanied that break. It’s clear that, for many of the subjects, their beliefs provide them with access to the benefits of being part of a community, something they might struggle to get through any other means.

This quote presents a mystery for me. Part way through our frustrating discussion with TwoSeven1 I started to get a bit of a bad conscience. I started imagining that he probably has all sorts of social relationships tied up with his silly beliefs: church, family, friends. If he were to suddenly decide that abiogenesis was possible and life evolved largely through natural selection it might not simply involve a change in belief but a total rupture with his current social community. I can imagine why someone would be reluctant to go through that, and holding a false view about the early history of life may very well be preferable to cutting ties with friends and family. To some degree the above quote supports that. The flat-earthers feel like they are part of a community.

But, it also mentions that many of the flat-earthers lost family, friends and marriages to their bizarre beliefs. So, this reluctance to disturb social relationships cannot be the whole story. I would very much like to understand the social aspects of this. Is it possible they were unhappy in their social relationships and that this became an excuse to cut ties they wanted to cut for other reasons? I would like to believe in a social explanation for these strange beliefs - as opposed to cognitive biases - because it makes me more sympathetic to the people who espouse them but this quote makes me wonder if I am barking up the wrong tree.

Flat-earthers and Creationists probably represent two very different ‘types’ of irrational belief. The former is a fringe group, while the latter represents a fairly mainstream belief - the last Gallup poll showed more than a third of Americans believe humans were created in their present form by god. The psychology of a flat-earther may be more that of an ultra conspiracy theorist, while that of a creationist could simply be based on indoctrination from childhood and social/religious relationships into adulthood that support creationism. The flat earthers seem to have different motivations driving their fringe belief. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some people subscribe to both beliefs, but, would suspect the social and psychological reasons to be dissimilar.

[ Edited: 20 March 2019 11:01 by proximacentauri]
 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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22 March 2019 22:30
 

I, too, watched the documentary, and my take is that Flat Earthers are primarily suseptible to conspiracy theories.  They do not seem anti-science as much as they want to feel like they have escaped Plato’s allegorical cave, and have an unhealthy skepticism of authority in general.  Naturally, they have a very low level of scientific understanding in general, as demonstrated by the spectacular failures of their attempts to scientifically prove the Earth is flat, and the convolutions they must do to explain the failures.  And like believers in gods, Flat Earthers are steadily backing themselves into a corner by trying to use science to prove their point, but unlike religion, Flat Earthers do not have a “faith” argument, and are required to defend their position with objective evidence, and when the evidence does not align with their belief then the evidence must be at fault, so they seek an explanation for the faulty evidence.

So, are we to take them seriously as a threat to established scientific dogma?  My tea leaves say to let them hang themselves with their own rope as they struggle to explain their own evidence for why the world is flat.  I sense they will go the way of religious doomsday cults and quietly pretend they never really believed the world is flat.