What is truly scary about flat Earth belivers?

Picture of Flat Earth

 Flat Earth people
Yeah, you can mock them and think they are dumb, but…

What is truly scary about flat Earth believers? The scary thing is that they are not crazy or even particularly abnormal.

There are those wheels, in your head, turning and telling you ‘This can’t be true’. But it is that very disbelief that creates the problem. Just about everyone has beliefs to which they are emotionally attached. Including your belief that you are fundamentally different from a flat-earther. It is the emotional attachment that creates bias. Things in your environment, in particular things to which you attach self-esteem, cause people to have attachments to ideas.

You might ask, ‘How can a person possibly associate a thing that so opens them up to ridicule with self-esteem?’. The answer is quite simple. People who feel they know the truth feel superior to those who do not. In fact, the more persecuted a person feels for knowing the truth that others do not and the more others are incapable of seeing the truth the more special they become. Every flat-earther believes they are smarter and wiser than you because only they have seen through the vast conspiracy to cover up the “truth”. You, on the other hand, are too stupid and gullible to have caught on.

But my beliefs are not like that

You are biased the moment you look at another person and feel you are superior to them because you know the truth and they do not. The truth that we see is filtered. Truth is filtered on many levels. The pipelines through which our information comes to us is generally biased. When people disseminate information they do so for gain. This is a basic principle of human action. All actions are purposeful. Even if one does not understand the purpose for their action they still have one.

When I speak of “gain” it’s important to understand what that means. In personal terms, one is driven by a desire to move toward greater comfort. Again, “comfort” in this context needs to be defined. Comfort is a psychological state. Virtually, no one feels everything is perfect all the time. In fact, this state would be highly unfavorable from an evolutionary viewpoint. Creatures that exist in a state of comfort for any prolonged period get eaten. Creatures that are constantly working to maximize their conditions for safety and security for themselves and those around them do better. This is reinforced at the lowest level of the brain by the biochemicals that make us feel good and/or bad. By that same notion, being trapped in a situation where we are unable to improve things will make us very unhappy.

This all being said, most of the information we receive comes to us filtered. It is filtered by the people who deliver it to us, who have many different motivations. Information is filtered by the consumers (you and me). People tend to disregard information that doesn’t fulfill a need. A weight of importance is given to any information consumed. You might, for instance, read “Okra is high in vitamin C” and disregard it because you don’t like okra. We take in so much information that filtering it is essential, so we can focus on what is important (to us).


Finally, nearly everyone you know has a set of beliefs and values in which they take comfort. The truth of those beliefs and values feels objective but is in reality subjective. Political beliefs are chief among these. If you grew up in rural Wyoming you would almost certainly be a Trump supporter and if you grew up in urban Massachusetts you would most likely be a Hilary supporter. There is very little reason to assume that there is any real biological difference between these two sets of people in general intelligence or anything else. However, the personal experiences and environments are significantly different. This causes each to come to radically different views. Each also concludes the other is too stupid to see the truth. Basically, both sides believe the other side to be like the flat-earthers; unable to see what they know to be the objective truth.

One thought on “What is truly scary about flat Earth belivers?”

  1. I was trying not to be long winded again. But failed epicly. Sorry about that part. This brief article got me thinking a lot.

    After decades of dealing with esoteric practice, traditional clergy, politicans, activists, alternative sub cultures and hard core academics alike, I could not help giggled wickedly at every sentence. The belief structure social psychologist in me has made similar observations again and again, in cult and within in the rational university halls alike. Once we make any idea a God ,we have granted our idols some power over us and that can be a dangerous business. One we have trouble rescuing ourselves out of.

    We all must watch that arrogance, our own self congratulatory tendencies to say” I AM not that stupid.” as we compare and contrast ourselves against those we hold to be profoundly other than we are.If we have begun to be wise, we might only say “I am that stupid anymore.” Either way it can be a trap.

    Even if we can resist labeling ourselves as vastly superior to the “them” , we still face the danger of dehumanizing those with easily discernable differences.

    Should we actually give ourselves license into be hostile just because we perceive some clear cut differences that may actually be nothing more than the ghost of repeated brain impulses reinforced by addictive biochemistry?

    Personally, I think is rather silly of us to do so. It is an autopilot sorta state often reflecting our own persistent unwillingness to live with conscious mindfulness. But that conclusion too is just a belief I hold, not one I am willing to obligate another to hold because I could always be incorrect.

    Mindful conscious living does have a down side in that it does not inoculate us from the pains that our belief based autopilot can sometimes reduce. So there are some very solid advantages manifest by this defense mechanism.

    My status as an overly educated nerd,something I have been programmed to feel too much pride about, makes me aware that their are limits to knowledge. Some of our primitive brain processes serve our psychological survival needs by invoking belief as a fail safe.That can be better than giving into despair when it let’s one live to fight another day. Everybody thing has two sides and the longer I survive the more I seem to need both sides and both edges of every mind sword my thoughts can swing.

    Who has not believed a thing in one stage of development, say as a small child, only to discard it in the next stage of our life’s estates wondering how we could have been so ignorant ? We all do it. It is how we are built.

    But should we continue to use it as a basis for judgement against others ? I think that it is a dangerous habit and one I try to move away from but still back slide into in spite of my convictions. Balance is just freaking hard to maintain.

    To qoute a famous musician I adored enough to make godfather to my biological children “…believing the strangest things, loving the alien…” .
    I think it is perhaps my favorite song. Both an anthem of possible peace and a warning not to judge too harshly that which gives comfort to a struggle soul.
    We all scream in pain and need comfort. We turn to our belief for that.
    If we are lucky, we have been taught beliefs that will uphold us. If not, then we must continually debug our own software to rid ourselves if the more toxic we hold in our collection.

    I also rather like the quotes from the movie Dogma where The Black Forgotten Apostle Rufus goes on about how ideas are better than beliefs because of the extremes to which humans will go to when defending their beliefs. I would so like to see us stop slaughtering each other over beliefs, which are at the end of the day, nothing more than something about which we feel a sense of certainty ,that may or may not ever be proved or up held as verifiable Truth. This is a rather filmsy thing to deny another person life or sanity or humanity over. Yet we do it daily and have been plunged into millennia of war because we such habits.

    One day we might evolve to see the difference between our perceptions and our reality. But until we do, perhaps we ought to be kinder to those who are also seeking the comfort of a little certainty in the same fantastical, storm tossed waters that our own minds must swim in.

    Bowie also put it well when he sang ” You don’t want knowledge. You want certainty “. We are not comforted by doubt. But we cling to our feelings of certainty. All I can actually be certain of is that if I am armed with toxic beliefs I am a danger to myself and others.

    The belief that the earth is flat is so much less dangerous that many held by people that give us permission to dehumanizing those in our out group. So I am more willing tolerate the occasional flatearthers in my world than I am tolerate latent fascists who push homogeneity and totalitarian orthodoxy down everyone’s throat.
    I guess we all choose our battles.

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