I’ve been someone fascinated by conspiracy theory sub-cultures since back when they were, yanno, not electing our government officials.
And it’s troubling, watching people hold firmly to beliefs that don’t stand up to even the barest scrutiny, and stand in defiance of literally every scrap of available evidence.
As many pointed out, jbarms should probably have used the “serious” tag, as the thread was overrun by hundreds of terrible jokes.
But sprinkled in among them were a few real stories of people who’d changed their minds, or worked to change the minds of others.
Let’s have a look.
1. “That’s how big the earth is.”
I convinced a flat earther, temporarily, by asking him if it was possible for a sphere to be so large that you could not tell it was a sphere my simply being on the surface of it.
It took him a while, I used an analogy of a extremely long line that was so slightly curved you could not tell so by looking at a small section of it.
Eventually he said yes to the sphere and I told him that was how big the earth is.
A few days later he reverted, most of these people aren’t mentally stable, they believe in a lot of conspiracies.
2. “None of this would work at all.”
I talked to a flat-earther about my job working for a company that tracks ship locations, routes, and speeds by satellite. We also had ways of monitoring carbon emissions based on fuel consumption and known weather conditions. None of this would work at all if the earth was flat. Not a jot of it.
I could only explain the most basic concepts, but it was enough for him to understand and realize that I was right and that he’d been convinced by someone who had no practical experience of the spherical nature of the Earth. I think that’s what really did it – my experience was really tangible. This happens then this happens then we measure this etc etc… no theory, just practice. A bit like showing a child a rock dropping to the ground in order to explain gravity, rather than giving them the whole theoretical shebang. Y’know?
A serious answer here
The thing that made me stop was just the question “why would nasa lie to you”
4. “They mostly make me sad.”
I spent about a year infiltrating the flat Earth community on Instagram. I garnered a decent following with an account dedicated to flat earth travel photos (an intentionally absurd premise).
In that time I learned a quite a bit about the community including how to discern the trolls from the real deal. The majority of legit flat earthers are extremely distrustful of anything the government says or does. These same people are 9/11 truthers, Holocaust deniers, and anti-vaxxers and they connect these conspiracies together. Many of them have also attached flat Earth theory to religion, magic, or mysticism.
Before my infiltration I’d always considered conspiracies fun. Like they were the fan fiction of real life. Now they mostly make me sad. For all the phony accounts like mine, there are still plenty of people out there willing to drop a couple of hundred dollars on a flat Earth convention.
5. “Time away to detox.”
Not a flat earther. But I was a 9-11 “truther” I guess you could say–insofar as I thought it was an inside job. I was heavily influenced and believed in multiple conspiracies in the Zeitgeist film as well. There was a never ending source of dark, shadowy “they’s and them’s” controlling everything behind the scenes.
I think there were a few factors that helped me escape that:
• Losing my father. It was such a life changing event at that age that it made me reconsider everything in my life.
• Some light training in evaluating information. I learned about how to vet sources, primary, whether something was actually news or just an opinion/editorial, etc.. Ironically, this education came before I was duped. After my dad died, suddenly this started to kick in more.
• Lack of time/means to dig myself a deeper hole. I started college shortly after my father passed and that + a full time job took up all my time. I had none to buy further into the newest crazy bullsh*t. I had no Facebook/Twitter/IG/etc.. No smart phone or texting. My primary use of Reddit once I discovered it was for r/Naruto, r/Bleach, rage comics, and advice animals.
So all in all, I think the time away gave me time to detox. If I had been on social media as I discovered those things, I can only imagine I very well may have become a Q believer as well.
Looking back I see how gullible I was in that moment, fooled by the onslaught of half truths and clever “logic” of the various theories. I know better now (and I should have known better then), but I’ve been humbled to the fact that everyone is vulnerable to this sort of stuff. To think otherwise is deluding yourself.
6. “He required no proof.”
Not me, but got a flat Earther to question his beliefs (and hopefully critically analyze them) by giving him the proof he asked for, to which he responded “mainstream science and media are lies”.
I asked why he asked for proof if he could just disregard it as lies either way, then told him that since he required no proof (or evidence against) to believe something, it made him the easiest person to deceive and that it seemed pretty sheep-like to me.
He deleted all of his flat earth comments and hasn’t posted about it since.
7. “Facts and logic.”
Surprisingly enough. Facts and logic. More specifically star patterns. What we observe can not happen on a flat earth.
8. “Five years.”
It took about five years.
It was alot of willfull ignorance on my part, I just refused to question the logic of it. In fact I spent most of my time coming up with crazy fantasies about alot of things I didn’t understand.
But you have to understand that there is just so much we don’t know about that sometimes our priority on what is real and what can be believed can get confused.
I was learning so much so fast that I really didn’t question something so inane as the world being flat. Of course it was, why wouldn’t it be.
The day that changed it forever though was when I asked my father what happens when you get to the edge of the world, he of course said the world is round like a ball.
Being about five years old I thought that made alot of sense.
9. “The Bible declared the earth was flat.”
Okay I get the question is funny and all but I actually did believe, for a time, that the earth was flat.
I was raised in a very religious family, and basically came to the conclusion that the Bible declared the earth was flat, because since I believed the earth was created in seven days, the idea that God set the stars in the sky in one day made much more sense if the stars were simply points of light in a sort of snow globe formation extrapolated onto a bigger scale. Otherwise, he took one day out of the seven to make a septillion or so balls of flaming gas, all with their own planets, and set each one into galaxies before breaking for lunch. It just didn’t make sense to me that he would spend five days on one planet, and make the creation of the trillions of other stuff in the universe a little footnote.
I was confronted about this belief a couple times, only one of which wasn’t laughed off. That single person who engaged started a serious discussion, presenting much more evidence for the globe earth, and eventually told me to watch Carl Sagan. The Cosmos series was on YouTube, and once I watched it, I had to know more.
Finally, a video from the channel MinutePhysics convinced me, in no uncertain terms, that the earth was round.
10. “A rabbit hole of conspiracies.”
I feel into a rabbit hole of conspiracies.
Thankfully, physics is a mandatory subject in Switzerland, made much more sense that any « top 10 facts that prove that the earth is flat
11. “Winter in Brazil and summer in the USA.”
I once had a conversation with a professional UFC fighter and outspoken Flat Earther. I tried to explain how Archimedes was able to prove the Earth was round just by using his shadow. I mentioned air travel and how Hawaii and Japan are not 20+ hours of flying apart.
But what I think got through to him the most was seasons. This particular guy was Brazilian. I explained that because the Earth is round, it’s possible to be winter in Brazil and summer in the USA and vice versa.
He nodded and stared off into the distance silently and the conversation was over.
I don’t think I “converted” him but it gave him significant pause at the very least.
Sunsets man. Sunsets.
I watched all these videos read a book on it talked to people about it. I was one of them.
Everyone else was crazy for not seeing the truth.(still i have a lot of questions about how the heck this thing could possibly be a globe but thats besides the point) but i had an answer for everything.
People would ask why dont we fall off the edge? There is no edge the earths an infinite space. Why do balloons pop when they go high enough? Because theres only so much air and it sinks to the earths surface but eventually you can fly above it and then theres no pressure of the air pushing against the ballon so it pops. Hows gravity work? Gravity is made up i believe in buoyancy.
But one day somebody asked me if the sun is a spotlight in the sky then how does a sunset work. I was like uh.. and i looked into it.
Couldn’t find anything that makes sense. Sunsets turned me back
13. “It appears to be.”
While having coffee with my sister one day, she revealed that she was a flat earther.
I said I wasn’t going to try and convince her otherwise because if literally millions of pieces of evidence doesn’t convince you, then nothing I can say will, but I will ask you a couple of question so that I can understand a bit more. This was the brief conversation:
Q. Do you think the sun is round? Her answer – It appears to be
Q. Do you think the moon is round? Her answer – it appears to be
Q do you think all the other planets are round? Her answer – they appear to be
So to clarify, you’re saying that the sun, the moon and all the planets are round but we’re floating on a flat disk in the same space. Ok.
I think it made a difference from the look on her face but we’ve never spoken of it again.
14. “The heartbreak seemed genuine.”
I entertained it for a while.
What convinced me the earth was a sphere was a video I came across of a group of flat earthers doing a laser test over water. They found a stretch of level water around 2 miles long, then used level lasers to measure the distance from the water.
The test came back quite accurately indicating the earth was a sphere and not flat. They all got super upset and were crying about it.
Seems like a doable and effective test and their reaction, confusion and heartbreak seemed genuine.
15. “Keep a secret.”
Our government couldn’t even keep Bill Clinton’s Oval Office bl*wjob a secret.
You really think they can keep something that big a secret?
I’ve heard it said that you can’t reason a person out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into. I’m not sure I agree with that. I think the important thing to remember is that it almost never happens in just one conversation. It takes time. People change their minds in little bits.
What’s the craziest thing you used to believe?
Tell us in the comments.