Monday, April 09, 2018

No, a third of Americans probably don't believe in a flat earth, but 2% do

A recent YouGov poll reveals that as many as 2% of Americans believe that the Earth is flat, and, perhaps even more troubling, 4% of 18-24 year olds believe it.
This is embarrassing enough, although nothing like as bad as some of the headlines that have been drawn from this study. For instance, Forbes blares out "Only two-thirds of American millennials believe the earth is round", suggesting that fully a third of young people in the USA think that the earth is in fact flat, and a UNILAD headline comes straight out and says just that. But this is a rather misleading and incendiary reading of the poll results, due to the way the question was phrased. In fact, the poll details show that fully 30% of 18-24 year olds are either unsure or have doubts one way or the other, and only 4% actively believe in a flat earth. And even that presupposes that they took the poll seriously.
But, hell, 4% (and 2% overall) is bad enough! And there is some evidence that the belief is increasing. What are they thinking? Well, what they are mainly thinking is religion. Over half of the flat earth respondents in the YouGov poll claim to be "very religious" (as compared to about 20% in the general US population) and take their cues from the Bible, which was written about 2,000 years ago when cosmology was not a hot subject at university, and which merely happens not to mention that the world might be a sphere.
  • The horizon always appears perfectly flat, except in NASA's clearly faked pictures.
  • You never have to look down to see the horizon, no matter how much you rise.
  • If the earth was really a sphere hurtling through space, the water on earth would be wobbling and splashing all over, rather than flat and still as it often is.
  • If the earth was spherical, long rivers would have to travel uphill round the curve of the globe.
  • If the earth was a spinning globe, a helicopter hovering in place would see the land moving below it.
  • Likewise, airline pilots would constantly have to adjust their elevation and direction to avoid shooting off into space, and would be constantly battling 500mph headwinds due to the earth's spin.
  • If the world is spinning, then a bullet fired directly upwards in the air should land miles to the west, not back in the same place.

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