The Most Stupid People on the Planet

David K. Smith, 23 December 2017

Who are they? No, not astrology fruitcakes (they rate a close second), but Flat-Earthers. Alarmingly, it's becoming a fad; thanks to social media, believers are on the rise, and they even include some (barely-known) celebrities. This in spite of the fact that there are literally dozens of ways that people can prove to themselves—without the need to rely on the word of untrustworthy scientists who are all in on the conspiracy—that the Earth is spherical. But I doubt facts could ever deter true Flatbrains.

Here's a little test for any Flatbrains living in North America. Surely one of you must have a friend in Australia? In the middle of the night, call them on the phone and ask them where the Sun is; they'll likely reply it's somewhere up in the sky. So, how is it that they can see the sun, and you can't? If the Earth really is flat, then everyone in the world will experience daytime all at the same time, and likewise nighttime.

If you're tempted to disbelieve your friend, then ask one of your fellow Flatbrains to call someone they know. After a while, you might notice a trend: the people in Australia all say that it's daytime while you're still sitting there calling them in the middle of the night. If you've got some convoluted batshit explanation for this disparity, then I suggest you learn about Occam's Razor (and/or see a doctor). Anyway, your Aussie friends are all probably wondering what drugs you've been taking.

Or, take a cruise. When you're out in the middle of the ocean, you can't see any land. But if the world was flat, you should be able to see North America... and South America, Africa, and every other continent. And ain't it amazing how you can magically sail from North America to Europe in roughly the same amount of time as from South American to Africa (Flatbrains would need to travel, like, five times longer to reach Africa from South America, according to their map). Oh, you have some batshit explanation for that, too? I am so sorry... a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Perhaps you could start a GoFundMe page to pay for a trip into low Earth orbit. It won't be long before this will be possible; Blue Origin is working on a space tourism program right now (I hope someone tells them their calculations are all wrong before people start to die). Once you reach the edge of Earth's atmosphere, you'll be able to witness for yourself the curvature of our home planet. Or, you could carefully measure the distance separating the two towers of the Golden Gate Bridge: despite the fact that they're each perfectly vertical, they diverge toward the top owing the the curvature of the Earth's surface. True.

Perhaps you can explain why northern hemisphere stargazers can't see all of the same constellations as their southern hemisphere counterparts, or vice-versa. Or why the sun never sets in the Summer at the North Pole, while the rest of the planet still has days and nights. Or why everyone on the Earth can't see the same falling star. I could go on, but I suspect that Flat Earth Kool-Aid is seriously potent stuff.

The fact of the matter is, mankind determined we live on a sphere over five centuries before the birth of Christ. Indeed, the diameter of the planet was calculated to surprising accuracy around 240 BC using only a stick, a ruler, and some simple math. Never mind that people have been orbiting the planet for decades—and a lucky few even saw it from the surface of the Moon. (Let me guess, you're also a member of the wacko group that considers the Moon landing a hoax...)

I can only conclude that true die-hard Flatbrains only believe it out of a desperate need to belong to some social group—any group, regardless of how ridiculous their beliefs may be; in fact, it may be the level of absurdity that's the appeal. But no matter how hard they try, Flatbrains' craziest notions cannot account for some basic things we've all come to take for granted—intercontinental air travel, global communication via orbital satellites, and many others—that wouldn't function the way they do on a Flat Earth. Hell, even gravity wouldn't work right.

If I pretend I'm a child, I can sort of understand why someone might want to believe the Earth is flat: after all, since people are really tiny, and the planet is really big, our eyes are going to tell us things that contradict what grown-ups have long come to accept as the reality of the situation. But, as I've said before, you can prove it for yourself—if you're willing to accept that the results of those tests may contradict what your eyes are telling your simple little brain. And as for those who aren't willing to accept the results... well, it's just proof there's no cure for stupid.

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