The danger of Flat Earthers

The opinions expressed in The Lawrentian are those of the students, faculty and community members who wrote them. The Lawrentian does not endorse any opinions piece except for the staff editorial, which represents a majority of the editorial board. The Lawrentian welcomes everyone to submit their own opinions. For the full editorial policy and parameters for submitting articles, please refer to the About section.

It is no secret that in recent times, the rise of fake news has led to a sort of mass hysteria in our world politics. For many, it feels as though it has become more and more difficult to trust the opinions and judgment of others, and certain groups of people are not helping this situation. Among such people are Flat Earthers; they are promoting an attitude that may seem harmless, but it is truly eroding the collective good of the world. 

There are many examples of people who have risen to fame for their status of being Flat Earth influencers. Among such stories is the one of Michael Hughes. Hughes is known as a self-taught rocket scientist. Hughes built a rocket himself so that he could fly up into the atmosphere, check out the shape of the Earth, and report back his findings to us Earthlings. Hughes said, “I expect to see a flat disk up there. I don’t have an agenda — if it’s a round earth or a ball, I’m gonna come down and say, ‘Hey guys! My bad! It’s a ball!’” He continued, “We’re supposed to come to the end of our lives not with anything left but everything exhausted. And you’ve done everything you can possibly do.” And while this sentiment might seem endearing, it led to a rocket crash that resulted in his death! 

The Flat Earth group has even gone so far as to organize Flat Earth Conventions for like-minded folks. These conventions are spreading misinformation and are a symptom of a seriously hurt society; we are living in a world where many are beginning to feel more and more at odds with the government and those in positions of power. To combat this, these individuals are going to great lengths to establish their individualism, which has led to the rise of Trump supporters and the belief in numerous hoaxes, such as QAnon and the belief in Flat Earth.  

 Arguing with Flat Earthers is futile; they seem to just be in it as a big “fuck you” to science and are motivated by the satisfaction they find in being contrarian. Flat Earthers love to doubt everything we scientifically know, and they cannot seem to see the harm in doing so or in spreading false information. It feels good for them to have a sense of community, and to be able to distract themselves from reality via this bond over something so ridiculous and mundane. 

Flat Earthers are dangerous because they bleed into the fabric of society. It is time that we realize that we as a society are at risk of the very real effects of harmful and uninformed thinking. We must intervene when friends, loved ones and strangers alike drift into the territory of QAnon and Flat Earthism. The newly exacerbated (and Trump-influenced) public tendency for these trends is tearing this country apart. For instance, consider the radical spread of misinformation that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection, and the increasingly divided society that we are finding ourselves in. We need to promote ways of thinking that are more beneficial for the public good.