Canceling Hypotheses Fallacy

The canceling hypotheses fallacy occurs when someone defends their hypothesis by proposing a second hypothesis to explain the lack of evidence in support of the first hypothesis. In effect, the second hypothesis cancels or undermines the prediction made by the first hypothesis.

Flat-Earthers like to demonstrate what they regard as ‘evidence’ of a flat Earth. However, when it is demonstrated that the evidence is wrong, they would invent a second hypothesis to defend the original hypothesis against the evidence of the contrary. They do it without attempting to bring sufficient proof of the second hypothesis.

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Mutual Respect

Occasionally, some flat-earthers would ask nicely and demand that the scientific and professional community treat them with respect and take them seriously. They ask everyone to respect them because only with mutual respect, then it would enable everyone to understand and determine the actual shape of the Earth.

Such an attitude is what is expected by the general public. However, respect works both ways. If a flat-Earther starts respecting scientists, professionals & the general public, it would be no longer possible for them to retain their belief in a flat Earth. Unfounded slander to a lot of people comes in a package in the belief of a flat Earth, and can never be separated.

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Argument from Persecution

The argument from persecution is a fallacy that asserts that if your ideas provoke others to vilify or suppress you, then you must be right. Note: this fallacy is better known as the Galileo gambit. However, in this case, flat-Earthers themselves are the ones defaming Galileo and his ideas.

Flat-Earthers commit the fallacy when they show off that their ideas are being mocked, censored, or deleted. They get such the treatment not because they are right. But because by believing in a flat Earth, they have to accuse a lot of people of being dishonest and part of a global conspiracy.

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Axiological Analysis

The shape of the Earth can also be determined from the axiological standpoint. If knowledge of a particular shape of the Earth has many applications we use every day, while the other has none, then we can be sure the one with many applications is the correct shape of the Earth.

There is absolutely no technology that depends on the supposed ‘knowledge’ that the Earth is flat. On the other hand, there is plenty of technology we use every day that depend on the understanding that the Earth is a sphere. And therefore, we can be sure that the Earth is a sphere.

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Appeal to Definition

The fallacy of ‘appeal to definition’ is using the definition of a term to support an argument as if the term cannot have other meanings or even conflicting meanings. Flat-Earthers often use this fallacy, for example, over the word “theory.”

A communication problem can occur when a term gets misinterpreted to mean other than what was intended. A simple clarification should quickly correct the problem. The appeal to definition arises if the clarification is refused, and the person insists on using the wrong & unintended meaning of the term, and use it to support their arguments.

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False Analogy in the Use of Scale Models in Flat-Earth “Experiments”

Flat-Earthers like to use scale models to represent an actual object. They would apply the facts they observe from the model to the actual object itself. It is the fallacy of false analogy. The two situations can be substantially different. Just because both the scale model and the real object looks the same, it does not mean they are similar in another aspect.

Observation of the real object is stronger evidence than any argument from analogy —like using a scaled-down model of the real object. Using an analogy to dismiss the result of direct observation of the real object is unreasonable.

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News Satire

News satire is a type of parody presented in a format typical of mainstream journalism. Some satirical news outlets use satirical commentary to comment on actual, real-world news; while others offer wholly fictionalized news stories.

Satirical news outlets have produced some “reports” mocking the flat Earth belief. Unfortunately, some flat-Earthers failed to realize the satirical nature of the “news,” and that the “news” was created to mock them. Because they think it was real news, the “news” spreads in flat-Earth communities as hoaxes.

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Ad Fidentia

The fallacy of ad-fidentia is committed when someone attacks the opponent’s self-confidence instead of the argument or the evidence.

Scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge, which is an iterative, cyclical process through which information is continually revised. Flat-Earthers would often question their opponents if they are 100% sure about their claims. If we admit there is a possibility we are wrong or that our claims might be revised in the future, flat-Earthers will use that to ‘prove’ us wrong.

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Locations on a Similar Latitude and the Differences in their Conditions

Different locations on a comparable latitude can have some similarities. However, the latitude is not the only factor that decides seasonal changes, biodiversity, temperatures, and other conditions. The conditions can be vastly different even on places on the similar latitudes.

Flat-Earthers highlight the differences between locations on a similar latitude to the North and South of the Equator and conclude Earth must be flat. They are wrong. There are factors other than latitude that determine the differences.

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Red Herring

Red herring is a fallacious argument style in which an irrelevant or false topic is presented in an attempt to divert attention from the original issue, with the intention of ‘winning’ an argument by leading attention away from the original argument and on to another, often unrelated topic.

Flat-Earthers often commit the fallacy of red herring —often repeatedly one after another— because their claims are indefensible. For example, they will try avoiding arguments involving direct observations and derail the discussion to other arguments that rely on statements from third parties. Then, they would discredit the third parties and add them to their list of “collaborators” to “win” the debate.

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Humans Are Social Beings and Science is a Social Process

Humans are social beings. We depend on each other; not everything we need to do can be done by ourselves. We do not produce every food we eat every day, and the same applies to practically every other aspects of our lives.

We often hear flat-Earthers ask if we have researched by ourselves all the things we claim. If we have not researched it by ourselves but only rely on information from third-party, then —according to them— we should not accept the information. It is merely their way to undermine society, and disconnect us from the rest of society.

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Balloon Satellites

In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. A few of these satellites are balloon satellites. They are satellites that are inflated with gas after they have been put into orbit. There are also other human-made objects which are also called satellites, only placed in a much lower altitude, and with a very different operating method. These are actually regular high altitude balloon, but providing services traditionally provided by orbiting satellites.

Flat-Earthers deny the existence of satellites, and after they discovered the existence of balloon satellites, they started to use the fact as “proof” that orbiting satellites do not exist. It is the fallacy of hasty generalization. Using the same “logic” they are using, we can use the existence of trucks to “prove” buses don’t exist.

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Shill Gambit

The shill gambit is a fallacy where one party dismisses another party’s arguments by proclaiming them to be on the payroll of some conspiracy, without having any evidence other than the arguments themselves. The shill gambit is a type of ad hominem and poisoning-the-well fallacy. It shifts from addressing the substance of the argument to attacking the person and their credibility instead.

Flat-Earthers would usually commit the shill gambit when they feel cornered. They would accuse anyone outspoken against flat Earth to have been paid by the global conspiracy. We at FlatEarth.ws get these accusations a lot.

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Notable Effort Fallacy

The fallacy of notable effort is committed if one accepts good effort as a valid reason to accept the conclusion, even though the effort is not related to the truth.

Flat-Earthers would often over-emphasize their efforts in proving a flat earth and belittling that from ‘globe-earthers’. Then they take the purported noteworthiness of their efforts to conclude that the Earth is flat. This is the fallacy of notable effort. Putting in more effort does not mean the conclusion is more correct.

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Special Pleading

Special pleading is applying standards, principles, or rules to other people or circumstances, while making themselves or certain circumstances exempt from the same critical criteria, without providing adequate justification.

Flat-Earthers like to impose various unwarranted rules and conditions —that were invented spontaneously— to rule out evidence against flat Earth. However, when it comes to the things they regard as ‘evidence’ in favor or a flat Earth, they are more than happy to ignore the rules and conditions that they previously invented.

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False Analogy

A false analogy is a fallacy in which similarity in one respect of two concepts, objects, or events is taken as sufficient to establish that they are similar in another respect in which they are actually are not similar.

Almost all of what flat-Earthers happily claim as “experiments” are actually false analogies. They would take everyday objects and use them as analogies for actual objects. In reality, a shared similarity in both the analogy and the real thing is not sufficient to ‘prove’ both are similar in some other respect.

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False Dichotomy

A false dichotomy or false dilemma is a logical fallacy which involves presenting two opposing views, options, or outcomes in such a way they seem to be the only possibilities: if one is true, then the other must be false. In reality, there can be many in-between or other alternative options, not just two mutually exclusive ones.

Flat-Earthers like to ‘disprove’ spherical Earth using their own ignorance about various issues. Then they would regard their erroneous belief that spherical Earth has been disproven as “proof” that the Earth is flat. This is fallacious reasoning because the Earth can be in another shape instead.

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Einstein’s Thought Experiments and Daydreaming

Albert Einstein used thought experiments as a tool for formulating his theories. His theories provided predictions that can be tested in observation and experiments. He did not perform the observation and experiments himself. Others did and confirmed his theories.

Some flat-Earthers dismiss Einstein’s theories —especially those about gravity— on the basis that they are founded on thought experiments and daydreaming. They are wrong. His theories have been repeatedly confirmed by various experiments and observation performed by many others, even to this day.

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Photographic Evidence

A photograph alone is not sufficient to prove that the things or event in the photo is real. The reality of the things or event needs to be determined using inductive reasoning, where multiple information is considered and evaluated together.

Flat-Earthers often claim that we regard certain things or events as real only from photographic evidence. In reality, there is information other than the photographs themselves that was considered and led us to accept the things or events are real beyond any reasonable doubt.

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Shifting of the Burden of Proof

The fallacy of shifting of the burden of proof is committed when someone makes a claim that requires justification, failed to provide sufficient evidence, but instead demand others to provide the evidence of the opposite of their claim.

Most of the claims from flat-Earthers are bare assertions. They do not provide sufficient evidence. A false way for them to defend their claims is by shifting the burden of proof.

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