In 2017, The United States found itself in bizarre war on science, with deniers of basic scientific knowledge pervading highest offices of our nation’s government. President Trump has countless rejected climate change, brushing it off as a conspiracy theory invented by the Chinese. Perhaps motivated by this shift in social climate (cause, you know, actual climate doesn’t change), flat-earthers have felt confident enough to go on social media rampages trying to espouse their flat-worldview.
But wading through the sea of philistines, there are individuals who hope to progress the human race through scientific advancements. One of those people is Elon Musk. The real-life Iron Man is trying to save the world from itself with Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX. SpaceX is the bedrock for his Mars colonization mission.
Musk has a pretty active Twitter account, where he likes to keep his followers updated on his projects and other important goings-on in the science community. His tweets can be satirical at times and perhaps unintentionally funny. On Nov. 28, Musk tweeted in response to an article he posted about how on Mars the daily changes in the sky are opposite to Earth’s sky. The next day he tweeted: Why is there no Flat Mars Society!?
The Flat Earth Society is a real organization. If you were thinking that if flat-earthers were just some scattered pockets of crazies, you were wrong. They’re organized, and this is their mission statement:
“The Flat Earth Society mans the guns against oppression of thought and the Globularist lies of a new age. Standing with reason we offer a home to those wayward thinkers that march bravely on with REASON and TRUTH in recognizing the TRUE shape of the Earth – Flat,” reads the mission statement on their website. "Come join us in our forums and get started learning about the greatest lie ever told.”
Flat earthers tend to be a confrontational bunch, but the Flat Earth Society’s response to Musk was perfectly nice, although completely baffling. “Hi Elon, thanks for the question. Unlike the Earth, Mars has been observed to be round. We hope you have a fantastic day!”
Why their response is so strange is because it seems to go against some of the core beliefs. After all, they believe the Earth is a flat disc, so why on Earth (see what we did there?) would Mars be round? Also, they think that NASA’s photos of outer space are all fabricated. The purpose of NASA is to fake the concept of space travel to further America’s militaristic dominance of space,” says the Flat Earth Society.
To be fair, there is a sect of flat-earthers who also believe that Mars is flat. Yep, they’re called flat-Marsers. I guess when you’re trying to get logic out of an organization void of it, you’re not going to get satisfying answers. Just look at some of the things they actually believe …
For example, flat-earthers believe that the sun is extremely close to us. “It’s about 2,500 miles above us,” a representative from the Flat Earth Society told VICE. In reality, the sun is about 93 million miles away from Earth, and for good reason. If the sun was actually that close, the Earth would be nothing but an orb of molten lava.
They also believe the Earth is the center of the universe. Seriously, if you thought these concepts were already addressed in Platonian times and dealt with, you were dead wrong. A so-called, flat-earth expert, Eric Dubay, claims that this can be proven by time-lapse photography:
“Star trail time-lapse photography is absolute proof that Earth is the stationary center of the universe around which everything in the sky revolves. If the Earth’s supposed motion was what caused the star trail effect, Earth would have to be performing daily 360 loop-de-loops, inverting upside down, coming back around, and NOT rotating on an axis, otherwise the same stars would not remain visible in the sky for well over 12 hours (as they do), and would all move across the sky horizontally! The fact that we can see the same stars all night long revolving perfect circles around Polaris proves it is the stars moving relative to a fixed [Earth].”
Another one of their core beliefs is obviously that the earth is a giant space frisbee. They believe that Antarctica surrounds the perimeter of the disk. Right at the edge, they think there is a 150-foot tall wall of ice.
Oh, and gravity, there is no such thing, according to flat-earthers. They think that our giant disc accelerates upwards instead of objects accelerating downwards. They think the disc does this through a force called “dark energy.”
Flat earthers believe that if the world was round, that planes would just fly right off into space. They think pilots have to constantly bring the nose of their plane downwards. They think that if pilots didn’t do this, they would find themselves 31.5 miles above the earth’s surface in an hour.
Flat-earthers also try to prove the earth is flat with ridiculous “experiments” that never prove their points. Right now, there is a 61-year-old flat-earther from California who has a death wish. He hopes to shoot himself into space with a homemade rocket, so that he can once and for all prove the earth is flat by photographing it from space.
Yeah, those flat-earthers are a crazy bunch. Elon Musk hasn’t responded to their tweet yet. And maybe he never will. It is hard to reason with them after all. But, there have been other prominent members of the scientific community who completely shut them down.
Rapper B.o.B is a flat earth conspiracist and he got into a bit of a Twitter feud with one of the greatest scientific minds of or time, Neil deGrasse Tyson. B.o.B believed that the Earth was flat because looking out on the horizon, he couldn’t see the curvature in the earth’s surface.deGrasse responded to him on The Nightly Show.
“Listen B.o.B, once and for all. The Earth looks flat because, one, you’re not far enough away, at your size. Two, your size isn’t large enough relative to Earth to notice any curvature at all. It’s a fundamental fact of calculus and non-Euclidean geometry—small sections of large curved surfaces will always look flat to little creatures that crawl upon it,” he said.
While he epically burned the flat-earther rapper, DeGrasse also made a poignant statement about how harmful anti-intellectualism can be:
“There’s a growing anti-intellectual strain in this country that may be the beginning of the end of our informed democracy,” Tyson said. “In a free society, you can and should think whatever you want, and if you want to think the world is flat go right ahead. But if you think the world is flat and have significant influence over others, like successful rappers … or presidential candidates, then being wrong becomes being harmful.”