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Looking for life on a flat earth
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-06-12 00:34:45

For days now, I've been pondering whether or not to post a link to this story, but after a talk with my closest friends about how much we despise anti-vaxxers - they just had their first baby - I feel like the story in question highlights a very uncomfortable truth we have to face.

If we can agree on anything anymore, it's that we live in a post-truth era. Facts are no longer correct or incorrect; everything is potentially true unless it's disagreeable, in which case it's fake. Recently, Lesley Stahl, of "60 Minutes", revealed that, in an interview after the 2016 election, Donald Trump told her that the reason he maligns the press is "to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you". Or, as George Costanza put it, coming from the opposite direction, "It's not a lie if you believe it".

This is an article by Alan Burdick, who decided to investigate the "flat earth movement" by going to a flat earth conference and speaking with the attendees and speakers. It's a revealing piece that makes it clear flat earth crackpots are deeply intertwined with virtually every other crazy conspiracy theory, with the "flat earth theory" serving as an umbrella to all other conspiracy theories. Add in large doses of antisemitism, creationism, and Christian extremism, and you've got the general feel of the flat earth movement.

The uncomfortable truth we have to face is not that the earth is flat - don't worry - but that insanity like this used to remain confined, isolated, and harmless. Thanks to the internet, however, this insanity is free to spread and infect others, causing real harm to real people. Whether it's believing that the government is spreading dangerous chemicals through the air in form of "chem trails" or abusing, harming, and even murdering your and other people's children by not vaccinating them - it's the internet that allows this dangerous insanity to spread and cause real harm.

The internet is one of the greatest inventions of mankind, but it's also having dark, unsettling effects on our society that we need to address. I don't have any solutions, but we better start doing a better job of arming ourselves against the constant barrage of attacks on science, or we risk our society descending into chaos.

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RE[2]: relative truth
By Novan_Leon on 2018-06-13 13:53:30
Our perception is relative. That doesn't mean the truth (i.e. reality itself) is relative.

The dress is what it is. That is objective. Our perception of the dress varies from person to person for various reasons, but that doesn't change the nature of the dress.
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Comment by Novan_Leon
By Novan_Leon on 2018-06-13 15:06:53
Since we're going off-topic, I'll add my own two cents to the discussion.

Christians were pioneers in modern science going back hundreds of years. Even today, there are more religious scientists than non-religious, and more Christian scientists than atheist. The idea that science and religion are at odds with one another is a predominantly atheist belief.

There is a large subset of atheists who go further than merely not believing in the existence of a God. They incorporation and adopt other assumptions and beliefs into their worldview until their brand of atheism actually resembles a religion of it's own. Materialism. Secular Humanism. Scientism. Religious Skepticism. Anti-Theism. These atheists communicate, organize and align their political goals. There are numerous atheist organizations around the world specifically for the purpose of promoting these ideals and goals. How exactly is atheism different from other religions again? It's not. This is because "religious" behaviors are inherent in human nature, not unique to people who believe in some form of deity or higher power.

Laying responsibility for the evil tendencies inherent in human nature solely on religion is a mistake. The scapegoating of religion might be justified if there was evidence showing that non-religious people are fundamentally different and don't suffer from the same corruption and tendencies as religious people, but there is none that I'm aware of. The evidence for the "virtue" of atheists over religious people is tenuous at best. Look up "state atheism" for example; the results aren't pretty. The statement "all religions are evil" is a cliche at this point, and doesn't have any intellectual weight to it. A more accurate statement would be "human nature has a tremendous capacity for evil".

As for the flat-earthers, this is nothing new. Crazy people like this have always existed, and the fact that they're communicating and organizing shouldn't be alarming. They're not large enough to be politically relevant. Let them do as they wish as long as they abide by our society's laws.
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RE[2]: Comment by model500
By model500 on 2018-06-13 15:47:47
"Pseudo free market capitalism, consumerism and corporatocracy is totally the way forward!"

well it's better than socialism/communism (that's just for retards and those who love to pile up bodies in gulag), but for how long...I give it, maybe, another couple of decades.
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RE[3]: relative truth
By Wondercool on 2018-06-13 15:48:27
If all of humankind think that a pink elephant exists, it DOES exist, no matter what the 'objective' truth is.

And as said, on many questions there is no 'objective' answer. Most interesting questions have multiple answers or can be answered differently by different people.

Of course this doesn't mean that we have to accept a flat earth or let it go by. Maybe the best way is to keep poking fun at it, just like religion, or any idea that doesn't seem to fit the scientific method.

But I have this sneaky feeling that no rational argument will persuade a flat earther to change his opinion. Not even if you would send them into space. They will argue it's an optical illusion or they were drugged.

Could the best solution be to ignore them and label them: Not interesting?
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RE: Makes sense when you consider "stages"
By sertsa on 2018-06-13 15:58:37
Curious if you have any references to read further in this direction.
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RE[2]: relative truth
By razor on 2018-06-13 23:23:41
Earth being flat is an adequate theory as long as you dont venture out very far. earth being center of universe is believable as long as you dont try to predict movement of stars and planets. Newtonian physics is perfectly good enough unless someone decides to go to space or make computer chips. each one of these theories were adequate for a time before we discovered their limitations.

that was my point. we don't know the reality of the universe, we only incrementally learn about it. what ppl claim to be truth are just opinions. the catholic church had a long history of such strong opinions that many people suffered at its hands. do you think theory of relativity will live longer than "flat earth" theory? read up about karl popper if you are interested. just try to keep an open mind...
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RE[2]: relative truth
By razor on 2018-06-13 23:28:58
haha, it proves my point about internet echo chambers. if i posted a comment about round earth in flat-earther forum, same thing would happen.

an opposing view threatens the ego. and we live in an ego driven world....
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RE[3]: Bias
By jockm on 2018-06-14 23:58:57
I disagree in my case(s) for what its worth
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RE[3]: relative truth
By Kochise on 2018-06-15 08:50:52
It would be more 'true' to say "we don't (yet) know" than to spread blatant lies named "truth" that would empower the stupid to prevent the real truth to be discovered. Is that the image of mankind superiority you had in mind ?

Pretending earth in flat is adequate in a local scope would only prove my point, that stupids don't look any further than their 5 senses allows, the brain being switched off. Creating alternative "truths" won't help to understand and spread them around.

Just like measurement units were all a mess a point in the time, reducing them to common physical units (SI) allowed them to spread globally. Only a couple of stupid countries still relies on retarded systems and crash spatial probes on Mars.
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RE[3]: Rant Time!
By Lennie on 2018-06-16 15:51:18
> They're still interested in market domination, but the direction now seems to be "be more compatible" rather than "embrace, extend, destroy".

The problem is: that the be more compatible is the first step of the "embrace, extend and extinguish" strategy.

> Again-- the facts don't meet the perception. Tracking what I do on a daily basis is irrelevant to their goal, which is to own the cloud and stay on top of the desktop.

Google on the other hand, probably has an AI that's figuring out what I intend to buy over the next 6 months, and that's just creepy.


Why you think Microsoft is different from Google I have no idea.

Both companies are equally deep into the deep learning machine learning.

Also remember Microsoft added advertising to their Windows platform. And they are lowering the 'price' of Windows all the time.

Edited 2018-06-16 15:59 UTC
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