There is a new website that calls itself the "Flat Earth Guild." It's stated purpose is "collecting information that allows our users a more comprehensive knowledge of the Universe and its influence on us."
Despite the use of the word "guild," the site seems to be maintained and promoted by a single individual, who talks of openly considering comments while unabashedly promoting the flat Earth, moon hoax theory, all manner of popular conspiracies (without a hint of skepticism) and the Bible.
The site is minimally researched. The "in-depth analysis" on the moon landings promised by one of its blog entries (which are nothing more than headlines) is actually a couple of hundred words of argument from incredulity followed by a couple of hundred word on lies, which, obviously, the author assumes is relevant to the topic of NASA.
It includes such glaring errors as the statement: "Only a few years earlier the Mercury astronauts had perished whilst still on the launchpad." There was no such incident during the Mercury program; the launch pad tragedy killed the astronauts of Apollo 1. There had already been 18 successful manned American missions before that, so the error is not trivial. It also has not been corrected though I have pointed it out to the author via the site's Twitter account.
As time goes on, it becomes more and more obvious that the site and the account are frauds, pretending toward education and enlightenment but in fact deteriorating into insults and sarcasm and a completely insular attitude toward any real science.
Over time it is hard for someone with this attitude to keep up the pretense, putting out tweets like: "Do dart players aim 3 feet to the right....or do we live on a flat stationary earth?" soon after a tweet which said: "People wrap themselves in their beliefs. In such a way that you can't set them free. Not even the truth will set them free."
Are these people just playing with us? Or are they really so thick that they don't see what fools they are making of themselves? All this high-and-mighty talk about setting yourself free intermingled with insults and bad research and questions that you don't really want the answers to is not the sign of a healthy mind. And I am seeing more and more of exactly this sort of behavior on Twitter.
Not just among the flat-Earthers; since the recent political turmoil here in the US, the rhetoric has gotten, not just nasty, but downright stupid. People who think themselves enlightened will utter the most banal—or just obviously nonsensical—garbage and expect to be taken seriously.
I'm not sure what to make of it. Whatever we are headed toward, I think we need to start working at heading it off. I don't think what's at the end of that tunnel is anything we want to meet up with.
ADDENDUM: This Flat Earth "Guild" person spent an hour today berating me on Twitter, out of the blue, with more than twenty tweets claiming, among other things, that I'm a "bully." If you want to check my Twitter feed, you are welcome to draw your own conclusion. But what was odd, funny really, is that he was obsessed with asking me about this study from the University of Utah, which concludes that Kansas is, in fact, flatter than a pancake.
Flat-Earthers seem to think this study vindicates them. But I love this study, published in the Annals of Improbable Research (AIRS). It's just the kind of bizarre subject matter that makes AIRS so much fun, and so thought-provoking. It's the kind of thing we love about The Mythbusters. And the study itself is written in a quintessential AIRS style (the tone of which is, I'm sure, completely lost on Mr. Flat Earth Guild).
I am also flabbergasted that flat-Earth people cite it. It shows that pancakes are not really all that flat. The highest point of the 180mm pancake was around 10mm higher than the edge. Flat-Earthers talk about eight inches per mile being a lot of curve, but a mile-wide pancake (analogous to this sample) would have a center nearly 300 feet higher than the edge. Do you see the problem here?
Kansas, on the other hand, is very flat. But it's not level. It's higher on the west end than the east. So how is this in any way evidence for a flat Earth?
Mr. Flat Earth "Guild" has asked me to take this blog post down, because I called him a fraud. Instead, with his recent actions, he earned an addendum. If he is reading this, I hope that he will give that cause and effect some thought. I have nothing to apologize for.
ANOTHER ADDENDUM: The Flat Earth "Guild" Guy blocked, and probably reported me, on Twitter. This after a long string of tweets in which he repeatedly claimed that gravity isn't real, without (of course) providing any factual basis for that claim.
The audacity and hubris of these people never fails to amaze me. To think that, without the slightest effort to understand the world around us save for though the lens of a holy book and the need to be smarter than everyone else without actually putting in the work, they believe that they know more than all the world's working scientists.
Good riddance, fraud.