Circular Reasoning: The Rise of Flat Earth Belief

Michael Marshall (Marsh) from the Good Thinking Society and Merseyside Skeptics was our speaker for October. It’s been a while since he last came to Plymouth, but he always gives an entertaining talk so we were very much looking forward to the evening.  He drew in a big crowd, filling up the B-Bar.

The modern Flat Earth movement is a relatively recent phenomenon, which Marsh puts largely down to YouTube and its algorithms for suggesting content for people to watch.  Aimed at getting the maximum number of views, this can lead people into a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, of which Flat Earth belief is just one.  It’s a mistake, though, to believe that flat earthers all have the same model of what the flat earth is like. There are many versions of flat earth theory and Marsh found that before engaging with believers it’s necessary to find out exactly what it is they believe.

Not that it’s likely you’ll be able to change their minds.  They have many, sometimes convoluted and contradictory, ways of justifying their belief and shielding them from criticism.  But Marsh feels it’s important they are not ridiculed, but instead that we try to understand what motivates them.

We had a good Q&A session after the talk, which continued in one of the local pubs after we left the B-Bar.