Do Flat Earth Believers Have a Mental Flaw?

The funny — and very annoying — thing about conspiracy theorists is that they are willing to believe in an intricate and complicated fabrication far more complicated, and far less supported by any reasonable evidence, than is provided by standard scientific interpretation. Here is a brief excerpt from “Are Flat-Earthers Being Serious? | Flat Earth Society” on (click on the name for the full article):

“First, a brief tour of the worldview of a flat-earther: While writing off buckets of concrete evidence that Earth is spherical, they readily accept a laundry list of propositions that some would call ludicrous. The leading flat-earther theory holds that Earth is a disc with the Arctic Circle in the center and Antarctica, a 150-foot-tall wall of ice, around the rim. NASA employees, they say, guard this ice wall to prevent people from climbing over and falling off the disc.

“Earth’s day and night cycle is explained by positing that the sun and moon are spheres measuring 32 miles (51 kilometers) that move in circles 3,000 miles (4,828 km) above the plane of the Earth. (Stars, they say, move in a plane 3,100 miles up.) Like spotlights, these celestial spheres illuminate different portions of the planet in a 24-hour cycle. Flat-earthers believe there must also be an invisible “antimoon” that obscures the moon during lunar eclipses.

“Furthermore, Earth’s gravity is an illusion, they say. Objects do not accelerate downward; instead, the disc of Earth accelerates upward at 32 feet per second squared (9.8 meters per second squared), driven up by a mysterious force called dark energy.”

I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but it is my opinion that someone who fabricates a ridiculous story like this – or simply believes it – has a serious deficit of rationality. That is, they are a little bit crazy. (Maybe a lot crazy.) They can be perfectly reasonable and intelligent about other things, but completely blind to what most of us would consider obvious truths when it comes to their pet irrational belief. I  understand that some Flat Earth proponents may be claiming it just for fun or for the attention, but sadly there are some who believe it sincerely.

Even further exposure to the facts does not typically help because they have built up (again, just my personal opinion) a mental block against any ideas contrary to their beliefs. In fact, I strongly suspect that they interpret in their minds any data related to their belief (pro or con) to make it seem to them to support the idea. This is a form of “confirmational bias.,” In other words, we look for things that confirm our opinion and ignore information contrary to it. According to researchers Jack and Sara Gorman (father/ daughter team), “…people experience genuine pleasure—a rush of dopamine—when processing information that supports their beliefs. ‘It feels good to ”stick to our guns” even if we are wrong,’ they observe.” (Quoted in “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” by Elizabeth Kolbert

Call it a mental flaw or whatever you want, but to some extent we all exhibit this tendency from time to time, and a percentage of us give into it on a daily basis. But when it distorts reality to the extent that is has with genuine flat-earthers , I personally feel that it should be considered a psychiatric disorder, just from my non-psychiatric, non-professional opinion.

The Earth is an oblate spheroid, and is decidedly not flat on large enough scales. But don’t bother trying to to a flat-earther. Nevertheless, the Earth is shaped like a ball, is not hollow, and although I have never been there, there is overwhelming evidence that Finland really does exist.

(The flat Earth graphic is an unattributed image found online here
I make no claim of ownership and will remove at the copyright holder’s request.)


About Starman

Cosmic Awareness Facilitator. Astronomy, space, physics, science, planets, cosmology, reason, logic, clouds, sky phenomena, the environment, dogs and other animals, and other interesting stuff.
This entry was posted in Beliefs, clear thinking, nature, optical illusion, pseudoscience, rationality and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s