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Dleg    2,641

I've been hearing about these wackos over the past couple years, and recently discovered that a pharmacist I know believes in this shit whole heartedly. He constantly posts on Facebook about it, and uses all sorts of flawed mathematics that he clearly doesn't understand to try to justify it. Nothing will convince him otherwise.  What disturbs me most (aside from the movement starting in my home state of Colorado, and apparently headed in part by an engineer) is how this illustrates a poisoning of thought,  where people start to genuinely doubt science yet believe in the most improbable,  massive conspiracies, all fed by manipulative messages that you can't trust scientists,  educated people,  professionals,  etc. because they must be personally benefitting from it. The Flat Earthers may seem to be the most idiotic of these groups,  but the basic tenets underlying their rejection of science are the same as those behind the anti vaccination movement and - yes - climate change denial as well as anti-evolutionism.  Because these other erroneous schools of thought were viewed as slightly less absurd and even socially advantageous (in certain religious or political circles), enough people are apparently willing to apply the same level of doubt and skepticism to any number of other scientific theories and fact, especially if it begins to seem popular to do so within their social groups.

I'm worried that the Flat Earthers are just the beginning of a potentially catastrophic expansion of this type of thinking. The start of another Dark Ages, where progress stalls because science becomes distrusted or even illegal in favor of religion, superstition, and mob rule.  While I personally believe that religion can coexist with science,  as it has for the past few hundred years,  I do think that we've been too weak and tolerant in our response to anti vaxxers, creationists and the like, and if we don't start to more vigorously stand up for science and fact, we could very well be condemning our descendants to a much lower quality of life, and eventually threatening our own science-based profession.

http://secondnexus.com/technology-and-innovation/flat-earth-society/?utm_content=inf_10_1164_2&tse_id=INF_230818c094c911e7aba2ffcf7683ccd7

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cement    565

I blame the 24 hour news cycle for giving wackos air time.

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Dleg    2,641

I agree that's a huge part of the problem. 

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ptatohed    583

Dleg, I agree with nearly everything you said and I see your concern.  But I don't share the same worry that this dark age thinking will start spreading.  I think it is getting harder and harder for the anti-vaxxers to avoid getting their kids vaccinated (it is required here in CA to attend public schools).  I think the flat eathers will never be anything but a tiny minority thought of as looneys by the rest of us.  As for anti-evolution creationists, yeah, there are plenty of those but until they can make a legitimate scientific case for it supported by verifiable facts and evidence, I don't think we'll see the teaching of it in public school and we'll continue to see the teaching of evolution.  (As for climate change, I have to admit I am one of "those people" who are not convinced that climate change is manmade.)

I have an Evangelical Christian friend who is whole heartedly against vaccinations (although he eventually had to give in), and I have a Seventh Day Adventist friend who is convinced the earth is flat.  There is nothing you can say to or show them to change their minds.  

But, hey, the Bible says the world is flat so, it must be flat, right?  

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wilheldp_PE    548

Rush Limbaugh literally said that he thought that Hurricane Irma was a hoax perpetrated by the Climate Change crew to try to brainwash the masses.  If you can look at the radar and satellite images of a category 5 hurricane bearing down on a state and go through the mental gymnastics necessary to call it a hoax, I think all hope for humanity is lost.

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Dexman PE PMP    3,435
1 minute ago, wilheldp_PE said:

Rush Limbaugh literally said that he thought that Hurricane Irma was a hoax perpetrated by the Climate Change crew to try to brainwash the masses.  If you can look at the radar and satellite images of a category 5 hurricane bearing down on a state and go through the mental gymnastics necessary to call it a hoax, I think all hope for humanity is lost.

I believe he evacuated shortly after doing that show...

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Dleg    2,641
16 hours ago, Dexman PE PMP said:

I believe he evacuated shortly after doing that show...

True. 

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Dleg    2,641

I just started a graduate course in behavioral and social foundations of public health. For the first assignment, I chose to research the anti-vaccination movement and the influences that drive it.  All professional papers - no websites or news media reports.  It is very interesting. From what I read, I do not believe those people are "reachable", although I do think it's possible to slow the spread of their worldview (and it has been shown to be growing).

One interesting paper that I downloaded, but ended up not using, was an article exploring the conspiracy theorist mindset and in particular, developing a mathematical probability model to demonstrate that it is impossible to cover up a conspiracy of the size necessary to support things like NASA hiding the flat earth.  It also noted that people who were anti-vaxxers were likely to believe in other consipracy theories as well.

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Supe    3,464
2 minutes ago, Dleg said:

developing a mathematical probability model to demonstrate that it is impossible to cover up a conspiracy of the size necessary to support things like NASA hiding the flat earth.

I'd be interested in that.  I'd like to know, mathematically, what the probability is of managing to prevent a "leak" on something like the moon landing.

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Road Guy    6,707

Did you all see the story about the joke event posted on FB to "shoot at the hurricane" and then like 80,000 people registered to attend the event. and then some sheriff and the news got all serious about why shooting at the hurricane wont make it go away - I think CNN and Huffington post actually had diagrams that showed what could happen if a bullet entered into the hurricane.. but seriously people (news folks especially) should just stop taking things so seriously.. 

I think everyone new that was a "joke" from the get go.. but we have actual news people spending their time doing this:

kMsoq_Al?format=jpg&name=600x314

That's probably the same thing that happened with the flat earth thing but now they read stuff like this Original Butt Hurt Scientist Post above and then just decide to see how far they can carry the joke...

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knight1fox3    4,525
53 minutes ago, Supe said:

I'd be interested in that.  I'd like to know, mathematically, what the probability is of managing to prevent a "leak" on something like the moon landing.

x2. Or the conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 attacks. Which is ironically today :(

USA

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Dleg    2,641

No, I can tell you from knowing one of the flat earthers and seeing the posts from his friends, they are true believers.  

1 hour ago, Supe said:

I'd be interested in that.  I'd like to know, mathematically, what the probability is of managing to prevent a "leak" on something like the moon landing.

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147905

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Flyer_PE    951
28 minutes ago, knight1fox3 said:

 

1 hour ago, Supe said:

I'd be interested in that.  I'd like to know, mathematically, what the probability is of managing to prevent a "leak" on something like the moon landing.

x2. Or the conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 attacks. Which is ironically today :(

USA

 

I was thinking the same thing regarding 9/11.  I was in a room with several structural engineers that day and they were not one bit surprised at how those buildings came down.

A few of my thoughts on conspiracy theories (especially if it's government cover-up in question):

1.  The government as an entity is either a diabolical genius or a total idiot.  It can't be both.  I've always been entertained when I see (insert president's name here) accused of both by the same person and in some cases in the same paragraph.

2.  If the two choices between bad government action are evil intent and stupidity, the safe bet is stupidity.  Unintended consequences are a b!tch.

3.  Given that the only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead, how on earth do these people think the word won't get out on something requiring the silence of hundreds if not thousands of people?

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Jbone27    25

So I always thought that the flat earthers didn't actually believe the earth was flat but just wanted to claim something outrageous to spark interest in their belief that people should do their own research and challenge the scientists for proof or something along those lines. I didn't realize they actually thought that.  I didn't think a movement so easily disproved could hold any water,  guess I gave people too much credit. 

 

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Dleg    2,641
29 minutes ago, Dleg said:

No, I can tell you from knowing one of the flat earthers and seeing the posts from his friends, they are true believers.  

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147905

Abstract:

Quote

Conspiratorial ideation is the tendency of individuals to believe that events and power relations are secretly manipulated by certain clandestine groups and organisations. Many of these ostensibly explanatory conjectures are non-falsifiable, lacking in evidence or demonstrably false, yet public acceptance remains high. Efforts to convince the general public of the validity of medical and scientific findings can be hampered by such narratives, which can create the impression of doubt or disagreement in areas where the science is well established. Conversely, historical examples of exposed conspiracies do exist and it may be difficult for people to differentiate between reasonable and dubious assertions. In this work, we establish a simple mathematical model for conspiracies involving multiple actors with time, which yields failure probability for any given conspiracy. Parameters for the model are estimated from literature examples of known scandals, and the factors influencing conspiracy success and failure are explored. The model is also used to estimate the likelihood of claims from some commonly-held conspiratorial beliefs; these are namely that the moon-landings were faked, climate-change is a hoax, vaccination is dangerous and that a cure for cancer is being suppressed by vested interests. Simulations of these claims predict that intrinsic failure would be imminent even with the most generous estimates for the secret-keeping ability of active participants—the results of this model suggest that large conspiracies (≥1000 agents) quickly become untenable and prone to failure. The theory presented here might be useful in counteracting the potentially deleterious consequences of bogus and anti-science narratives, and examining the hypothetical conditions under which sustainable conspiracy might be possible.

I think the author is way off in his final sentence, though, predicting the usefulness of his work in convincing believers that they are wrong.  His paper is just a part of the conspiracy!

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knight1fox3    4,525

This is certainly a fascinating topic. I'm not necessarily an advocate for conspiracy theories, but I do recall one that I take particular interest in that I think @ptatohed was part of. Where he provided some pretty convincing arguments in favor of how the moon landing was staged. But to all the points made above, how could all those involved keep something like that quiet for as long as it has been? :dunno:

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Road Guy    6,707
52 minutes ago, Jbone27 said:

So I always thought that the flat earthers didn't actually believe the earth was flat but just wanted to claim something outrageous to spark interest in their belief that people should do their own research and challenge the scientists for proof or something along those lines. I didn't realize they actually thought that.  I didn't think a movement so easily disproved could hold any water,  guess I gave people too much credit. 

 

^- This

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Dleg    2,641

You're giving them way too much credit.  They deserve every bit of the ridicule they rightly receive, and they should receive more of it, even if they are just benevolently trying to stir an interest in DIY science research (which is B.S. - like I said I know one of these guys and he genuinely believes the earth is flat and that NASA is covering that fact up)

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knight1fox3    4,525
2 minutes ago, Dleg said:

(which is B.S. - like I said I know one of these guys and he genuinely believes the earth is flat and that NASA is covering that fact up)

Would it do any good to have him talk to someone that has been on the International Space Station? He does understand the concept of orbiting around a spherical mass, doesn't he? :dunno:

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Road Guy    6,707

I am not giving them any credit, I am just saying that its just not worth worrying about..

So what if 0.00000000000000000001  % of the populous believe in something stupid?

About to move this thread to the stupid list ;)

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Dleg    2,641
9 minutes ago, knight1fox3 said:

Would it do any good to have him talk to someone that has been on the International Space Station? He does understand the concept of orbiting around a spherical mass, doesn't he? :dunno:

Anyone who claims to have been on the ISS would be a part of the conspiracy, don't you see?

To respond to @Road Guy, my point is that this type of thinking is part of a growing and increasingly acceptable way of thinking that rejects and distrusts science and is willing to believe almost anything that plays to their particular biases.  The flat earthers probably don't present any particular threat to the rest of us, I am sure, but people who refuse vaccinations do.  As time goes on, if this mindset isn't controlled and is in fact rewarded with ridiculous excuses such as "they are just demonstrating that one should do one's own research", then what will be next?  It's not like humanity hasn't reversed progress before because of superstition , non-rational beliefs, and thinking of scientists as the enemy .  One could easily argue that the internet and the age of mass media makes it even easier for that to occur (choose whatever information appeals to you the most), hence my mention of the "dark ages" as a possible outcome.   

(and to correct your math, it would be 0.2% of the populous that believes the flat earth theory according to the article int he original post, and 20% of the populous that still believes that the MMR vaccine causes autism according to the conspiracy theory paper above)

 

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frazil    770

Well everyone used to think the earth was flat, so I definitely think their numbers are on the decline.  As far as other conspiracy theorists, I really think the reason they seem to be increasing is because of social media.  We never used to hear about them or from them - now they have a platform to get their message out. 

The solution may be in the messenger. Scientists aren't always the best ones to try to convince skeptics.  I saw a cool video about a scientist who convinced the Pope that climate change was real and worth doing something about (Scientist gets the message out).  He is someone that many trust and believe in and will listen too, and it made a difference. You have to convince a leader in their community to believe and he or she will do the rest.

But don't waste your time on the Flat Earthers...they're just stupid.

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Dexman PE PMP    3,435
1 hour ago, Dleg said:

Anyone who claims to have been on the ISS would be a part of the conspiracy, don't you see?

To respond to @Road Guy, my point is that this type of thinking is part of a growing and increasingly acceptable way of thinking that rejects and distrusts science and is willing to believe almost anything that plays to their particular biases.  The flat earthers probably don't present any particular threat to the rest of us, I am sure, but people who refuse vaccinations do.  As time goes on, if this mindset isn't controlled and is in fact rewarded with ridiculous excuses such as "they are just demonstrating that one should do one's own research", then what will be next?  It's not like humanity hasn't reversed progress before because of superstition , non-rational beliefs, and thinking of scientists as the enemy .  One could easily argue that the internet and the age of mass media makes it even easier for that to occur (choose whatever information appeals to you the most), hence my mention of the "dark ages" as a possible outcome.   

(and to correct your math, it would be 0.2% of the populous that believes the flat earth theory according to the article int he original post, and 20% of the populous that still believes that the MMR vaccine causes autism according to the conspiracy theory paper above)

 

When it comes to vaccines, they are a victim of their own success. Parents today have no idea what an iron lung is or the effects of polio. As these anti-vaxers' children start to get sick, often-times they switch course very quickly once they are faced with the harsh realities of what these diseases are capable of.

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I would change pharmacists and cut off all association with that individual.

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