Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Anniversary

A year ago, I published a little book called The Earth Is Not Flat. At the time I just thought it would be interesting to introduce people to the fact that there are, it seems, people who actually have convinced themselves that the Earth is flat, and take to YouTube and Twitter and Facebook to expound that view, much as Samuel Birley Rowbotham did in the 19th Century, though I suspect not nearly so eloquently.

I thought that by now the furor would have died down, since the idea is so obviously ridiculous, the evidence so easily debunked. But since the publication of the book, its companion blog, this one, has received nearly 50,000 views, at an ever-accelerating pace. Twitter accounts are popping up all over the place, with new YouTube channels as well. I can't say how many of them are legitimate, but it hardly matters, since the flat-Earth notion is at least popular enough that it attracts people who repost the content of others in order to monetize it, and that's too popular for me.

I am re-writing the book, not to include new arguments that the flat-Earthers have presented, because hardly anything I've seen in the last year is really new. No, what I'm trying to do is put flat Earth in the larger context of the ease with which people can use the Internet and tools readily available on their computing devices to spread nonsense among the gullible.

And, against my better judgement, and by popular demand, I am including much more in the way of counter-arguments to the flat-Earthers. I didn't think it was necessary. In fact, I think that one short chapter on sun and moon observations should be enough to show anyone that a flat Earth is completely impossible (and I will include such a chapter).

But, alas, my readers want more. They want more detailed arguments in answer to the flat Earth. So I'm following the sun and moon observations with a dressing down of Eric Dubay for, as much as many among the flat-Earth pundits rail against him, most of them end up using his arguments (and, in turn, Dubay steals most of his arguments from Rowbotham and Campbell).

If I feel, after going through Dubay's "proofs," that there is material I haven't covered, then I'll tackle that.

And then I'm done. No more revisions of the book, and probably a re-tasking of my Twitter account to broader issues that I think are a lot more important. Besides, I'm tired. Arguing against something so obviously wrong, with people so obviously uninterested in deep research or investigation, takes its toll.

I have better things to do with the remainder of this life to waste it on anyone who believes that the Earth is flat.

4 comments:

  1. "Arguing against something so obviously wrong, with people so obviously uninterested in deep research or investigation, takes its toll."

    I think it more likely in at least 95% of cases that it takes a troll.

    "I have better things to do with the remainder of this life to waste it on anyone who believes that the Earth is flat."

    Too true, there are many perfectly intelligent and useful people wasting their time and creative output on arguing with trolls who's aim to waste our time.

    I wonder how many are actually true believers, and how they break down into groups.

    There's people that just accept what they are told cos they want to be different.

    There's people that are convinced by the arguments because they have not the capacity to examine them and see their flaws.

    Then there's some that are simply just suffering from some form of psychosis, the serverly paranoid and quite unwell.

    I still reckon those three groups only account for 10% of the FE population though. The rest are trolls, successful trolls if we go by the amount of effort and life we expend on topic.

    Still I hope defending reason and the globe might just stop some of the gullible ones falling for it.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not so sure about 10%. I agree that about 90% of the material out there is made by trolls (and charlatans), but I think the number of people who have bought into the flat-Earth notion and post occasionally about it on Twitter or Facebook (as opposed to going to the trouble of making a video on it) is higher than I once thought. There are a lot of gullible people, and a lot of people for whom the flat Earth is just another piece of support for a literalist interpretation of the Bible. Or another way to play the rebel.

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  2. When do you think the revised book will be out?

    (You may have said. Sorry if I overlooked it in my quick read of the post)

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  3. Shooting for early summer. I have another book, juvenile fiction, that I'm also working on. They're kind of racing each other.

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