Not Flat—But Maybe Our Brains Are (2017Feb25)


Saturday, February 25, 2017                                             7:34 PM

20160107XD-NASA-MagneticReconnectionIt should be no surprise that the era of Trump has brought back a resurgence of Flat-Earthers—in the quest for distraction and chaos, no idea is too ludicrous. (And if Trump didn’t generate three scandals per day, our gaze might linger on one of his fouler failings.) Believing that the Earth is flat is kind of like a religious thing—it didn’t exist for the ancient Greeks, who knew better, and it doesn’t exist today, among most developed nations’ peoples.

The surface of the Earth is observably curved. If you watch a sailboat pass below the horizon, the boat disappears first—the masts remain visible for longer—this is not something that happens on a flat surface. If you send a perfectly horizontal laser-beam across the desert floor, someone a quarter of a mile away would have to hold a piece of paper ten feet over their heads to catch the beam’s reflection—that’s because the light is a straight line—the Earth’s surface is not.

The ancient Greeks did not need to see Earth from space to know that it was round—it is perfectly plain to see, from several simple exercises like those just described—not to mention the Moon—also visibly, patently spherical, is hanging in the sky half the nights.

But beyond this—we also have proof that Earth is not only round—but spinning like nobody’s business—the Coriolis force is what causes Foucault’s Pendulum to work the way it does (and why the water spins in a flushing toilet—clockwise here, and counter-clockwise in Australia. Without the Coriolis Effect, water would simply fall down a drain, not spin around it).

And there’s the question of why nights are longer at the poles—why we have seasons in the temperate zones—and why it’s so hot near the Equator. Ultimately, one has to stay indoors, both physically and mentally, to maintain a belief in anything so easily disproved as a flat Earth. I find that those who insist on a Flat Earth are not merely stating that single mis-fact—they are attempting to delegitimize Facts themselves.

In effect, it is a declaration that a person has the right to dismiss reality, for no reason at all—and that is the case—but the result, in a perfect world, would be a diagnosis of insanity, not a debate with serious people. In my youth, a person purporting the flat Earth theory would be told to sit down and shut up—we were busy going to the Moon back then, and had little patience with willful ignorance.

Now it is all the rage—getting someone to say something wildly stupid is irresistible click-bait to the so-called journalists of mass media—a Flat-Earther is money in the bank to them, regardless of how low it puts the bar of public discourse, or eats away at the fabric of modern society. And here is where we find the connection between the rise of Trump and the sudden resurgence of Flat-Earthers in the media. They both substitute attention-getting for intelligence-gathering. They are both subtle attacks on our way of life—perhaps too subtle for us to defend against. What do you think?


3 responses to “Not Flat—But Maybe Our Brains Are (2017Feb25)

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