Contextualism and Flat Earth

Contextualism is treating what we know as context-sensitive. We can use the epistemic contextualism as a philosophical tool to explain the Earth is spherical, and bypass all the scientific explanations.

Flat-Earthers love to shift the context to where we would no longer function as a normal human being because only in this context, most of us cannot possibly know the shape of the Earth.

But in the context where we all act like normal human beings, there’s no problem to know the Earth is spherical, even if we don’t know all the scientific details.

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The Long Chains of Ad-Hoc Hypotheses Following the Flat-Earth Model

The flat-Earth model survives not because the Earth is flat, but because every time a problem is found, its proponents would quickly invent an ad-hoc hypothesis to explain the problem away. In turn, if another problem is found in one of these ad-hoc hypotheses, they would be happy to invent another ad-hoc hypothesis to explain the problem away. And so on, and so forth.

These ad-hoc hypotheses are there to save their core belief —that the Earth is flat— from being falsified.

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Confirmation Bias

Humans have cognitive biases that can affect our judgments. One of these cognitive biases is the confirmation bias. Because of the confirmation bias, we tend to seek the information confirming our preexisting beliefs.

Confirmation bias is a fact of life, and all humans have it. Confirmation bias can result in different subjective opinion from a different subject. A characteristic of any pseudoscience —like the concept of flat-Earth— is that they don’t try to minimize the confirmation bias, but they actually encourage it.

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Humans Are Social Beings – Science is a Social Process

We often hear flat-Earthers ask if we have researched by ourselves all the things we claim. If we don’t research it by ourselves but rely only on information from third-party, then —according to them— we should never trust the information.

This is obviously wrong. Humans are social beings. In a lot of things, we don’t have a choice but to place trust in others, so we can continue with our lives. Even flat-Earthers are no exception.

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Flat-Earth Ideology and The Fallacy of Lonely Fact

Flat-Earthers often commit the fallacy of ‘hasty generalization’. They would draw the conclusion from limited sample that fail to represent the entire population. Sometimes they would even draw the conclusion from a single case, and it becomes the fallacy of ‘lonely fact’.

Furthermore, they would deliberately cherry-pick cases that support their position, and use those to disprove the other cases that are against their position.

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Appeal to CGI of the Second Form

Another CGI related fallacy regularly committed by flat-Earthers has the general form of:

  • Observation: there’s no photo or video of the object ‘X’ that is not made with CGI.
  • Conclusion: ‘X’ does not exist in the real world

This is invalid for two reasons:

  1. A real object is still real even if nobody has taken a photo of it.
  2. The premise itself might be invalid because there could be someone who has a photo of the object, and the perpetrator of the fallacy is simply unaware of its existence.

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Appeal to CGI of the First Form

A logical fallacy commonly committed by the victims of the flat-Earth ideology is CGI related. CGI —or computer graphics imagery— is the use of computers to produce realistic images or videos.

Because this fallacy is very common within the flat-Earth circles, let’s give it the name ‘appeal to CGI’. Its argument has the general form of:

  • Observation: a photo or video of an object ‘X’ is made with CGI
  • Conclusion: ‘X’ does not exist in the real world

This is a fallacy because it is definitely possible to create a CGI image or video of a real-world object.

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Global Conspiracy Smoke and Mirrors

Some flat-Earthers use the so called global conspiracy as an ‘escape hatch’ in order to abandon a losing argument without having to appear to lose face.

When unable to defend the flat-Earth hypothesis, some flat-Earthers will tell you the ‘flat-Earth theory’ is a work in progress, it is normal for it to be incomplete, for now. “But, ” it is inevitable they would say this, “the most important thing is to uncover the global conspiracy and save the world from these unscrupulous few!”

But, the global conspiracy theory itself is simply an invention.

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