Appeal to ridicule is a fallacy that presents opponents’ arguments as absurd, ridiculous, or humorous, making the opponent and their arguments the object of a joke.
Flat Earth lacks a scientific basis, and flat-Earthers have no choice and will usually end up committing the appeal to ridicule at some point. On the other hand, real scientific arguments are done without ridiculing arguments from others.
Flat-Earthers commit the appeal to ridicule in an attempt to do the following:
- To dismiss scientific arguments, especially those cannot possibly be explained if Earth were flat. This is done as simple as using a laughing reaction on an unfavorable argument.
- Provoking emotional reactions from the opponents. If successful, the opponent will respond with an appeal to ridicule, too, and a flame war ensues. Flat-Earthers love it because lacking any scientific basis; this is the only way for them to feel as if “winning” the debate.
- To instill a particular emotion in the mind of their audience, in other words, to indoctrinate. A large part of the “curriculum” of flat Earth indoctrination consists of condescending memes, presenting scientific facts as an object of ridicule. If neutral viewers are affected, they might turn into victims themselves.
- To relieve discomfort due to conflicts between facts and beliefs that Earth is flat, also known as cognitive dissonance. One way to do it is by having an emotional reaction, like the appeal to ridicule.
The biggest challenge in interacting with flat Earthers is to keep calm and ignore their appeal to ridicule moves. Flat Earthers would prefer it if we retaliate by having an appeal to ridicule arguments of our own. Only in that way, flat Earthers can feel as if they are “winning” the debate.
Real scientific arguments are done without any appeal to ridicule.