Quote-mining is the fallacious tactic of taking quotes out of context to make them seemingly agree with one’s position.
Quote-mining is a common flat-Earthers’ tactic. They take statements from scientists, pick a small part, and remove the surrounding context. The information no longer resembles the initial meaning, but then it is attributed to the original author or speaker to exploit or discredit their names and reputations.
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In 2021, William Shatner becomes the oldest person to travel to space after he went up with Blue Origin. Conspiracy theorists noticed a Photoshopped image of Shatner wearing a Blue Origin Jacket. And they use the image to discredit spaceflight.
Conspiracy theorists —including flat-Earthers— were quick to notice the Photoshop job, yet unable to notice the glaring fact that Blue Origin had nothing to do with it.
Even if they did it, it does not “prove” anything. This incident, however, serves to demonstrate the inability of conspiracy theorists to use their critical thinking skills.
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If Earth is a sphere, how is it possible for flat-Earthers to show us “images of flat Earth” taken from high-altitude balloons? These are the modus operandi of unscrupulous flat-Earthers to obtain such images in an attempt to deceive us.
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Sarcasm, irony, and satire are figures of speech involving statements that are untrue in a literal sense. However, it is expected the audience should understand that the remarks are not true, and will consider them insulting or humorous.
The gullibility of conspiracy theorists is a popular subject of sarcasm, irony, and satire. But being so gullible means many of them are unaware that the remarks are not really true. Many of these people wrongly consider the sarcastic, ironic, and satirical messages as true, and the messages spread as hoaxes in their community.
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Crank magnetism is the tendency of “cranks” to hold multiple irrational, unsupported, or ludicrous beliefs that are often unrelated. Crank magnetism also denotes the tendency of these people to accumulate more of such beliefs over time.
Those who believe flat Earth will tend to believe other “crank” ideas. Some of these ideas are necessary to support the belief in a flat Earth, like the hoax that moon landings did not happen. But most of these beliefs are not related to flat-Earth.
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Implicit attitudes are unconscious influences such as past knowledge, perception, or memory that influence a person’s attitude, even though they have no conscious awareness of the influences.
Many flat-Earthers —especially new ones— seem to be unaware that by believing flat Earth, they are implicitly accusing others of malice & wrongly consider it just another harmless belief. They can be made aware by telling them it is impossible to believe flat Earth without accusing many common people around us —like scientists, pilots, surveyors, etc.— of conspiring. But once aware, it is often still difficult for them to get rid of the influence.
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Some people are confused that we can see a full moon all night. They expect if the full moon is the result of the opposition of the moon from the sun, then a full moon should be visible only at midnight.
Flat-Earthers with such a spatial cognition problem go a step further and use it to “disprove” spherical Earth. In reality, we can easily explain the phenomenon in the spherical Earth model.
Continue reading “Geometry of a Full Moon”
The shill gambit is a fallacy where someone dismisses another party’s arguments by proclaiming them to be on the payroll of some conspiracy without having 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 of having been paid by the global conspiracy. We at FlatEarth.ws get these accusations a lot.
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Doublethink is the holding of contradictory beliefs or opinions in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting all as true or correct, failing to recognize the contradiction.
Doublethink is prevalent in conspiracy theories, including flat Earth. They would believe the different concepts that individually appear to support a flat Earth but cannot realize that these concepts are in reality in conflict with each other.
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Superficial charm is the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. It is one of the attributes of psychopathic personalities. A person with this trait tends to easily manipulate others to hold them in high esteem. Some prominent flat-Earthers can be regarded to possess a superficial charm, which can turn many people to become flat-Earth believers.
Many flat-Earthers regard other people are like them. They think people do not believe in a flat Earth only because they have not seen a video from a certain prominent flat-Earther. In reality, many of us are still able to control our emotions and avoid becoming victims ourselves. On the contrary, many of us will wonder why these people are so gullible that they can blindly believe these peddlers and fail to use their reasoning skills.
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April Fools’ Day is an annual custom on April 1, where people play practical jokes and pranks on each other and have fun trying to make other people believe things that are not true. Some of these pranks involve the “endorsement of flat Earth.”
After some time, it can be less obvious that these are just practical jokes created for April Fools’ Day, and many flat-Earthers fail to realize that they are the ones being joked about. In flat-Earth communities, some of these pranks are incorrectly regarded as genuine and end up as hoaxes.
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Photoshop trolling is prevalent in flat-Earth communities. The most common form involves finding a suitable landscape photo and using Photoshop or a similar app to turn it reddish as though it was taken on Mars. Then, the result is placed next to the original with a caption added to imply that the “Mars photo” was from NASA, and they faked it from the original.
Flat-Earthers will not bother confirming if the image was really from NASA. They cannot realize that they are being trolled —many memes containing such images spread in flat Earth communities as hoaxes.
People can believe scientific hoaxes —like flat Earth— not because of their sheer stupidity, despite the appearances; but because they are being misled into believing it emotionally. In another matter, these people can still function just like normal human beings.
If the concept being presented requires us to accuse others of malice before we can accept the concept, there must be something wrong with it, and we must be careful. Real science does not depend on such accusations to be true. And thus, we can rule out many of the things being presented as science, but actually not, without having to delve deep into them.
Continue reading “Incitement: How People Can Believe Scientific Hoaxes, Even a Blatantly Wrong Ones, Like Flat Earth”
Cognitive dissonance occurs when a person holds multiple contradictory beliefs or ideas; and is typically experienced as psychological stress when they participate in an action that goes against any of them. Flat-Earthers often experience cognitive dissonance when they are exposed to evidence that disproves a flat Earth.
If the flat-Earthers are unable to accept the reality that Earth is not flat, some will attempt to reduce the mental discomfort by expressing negative emotions, like anger or ridicule. Others would accomplish the same by restricting the source of information, like blocking or banning the third party, to allow them to retreat to their echo chambers, and suppress the uncomfortable evidence. Continue reading “Cognitive Dissonance”
Flat-Earthers like to dismiss evidence of spherical Earth as fake. But if we challenge them to witness it themselves, they will avoid it. They will even turn a blind eye to offers to compensate them if their claim of fake evidence is right.
It is a form of willful ignorance. Deep inside, flat-Earthers are not even sure Earth is flat, or even subconsciously understand Earth is a sphere, but they emotionally believe a flat Earth anyway. Unwilling to let go of their belief, they purposefully ignore any evidence against flat Earth.
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Pareidolia is the tendency for the incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, inanimate objects, or abstract patterns.
Flat-Earthers like to find shapes, patterns, or meanings in random natural phenomena, abstract figures, or figures in an unrelated context. Then, they would use them as “evidence” of some wrongdoing. In reality, it is just an effect of pareidolia, giving them false ideas. They are not evidence of anything.
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The argument from incredulity occurs if someone refuses to accept an argument simply because he cannot personally understand it. Flat-Earthers very frequently use this logical fallacy.
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The big lie is the propaganda method where an outrageous lie —like flat Earth— is said and repeated as if it is true, hoping people will assume it is true for granted rather than critically questioning it.
Even though anyone can easily verify that Earth is a sphere from simple personal observations, many still fall for the notion of a flat Earth. The reason is that it is such a big lie and does not fit their model of modest deception, so they think “it must be true.”
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One reason a person can believe in conspiracy theories is the psychological projection. They attempt to deny their negative attitudes by assuming that instead, others have them, even though it is not necessarily the case.
Some people believe others are in a conspiracy against them because of their moral problem: if they were in the same positions of the people they are accusing, they would do the same thing they are accusing others of doing.
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The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which incompetent people overestimate their ability and consider themselves much more competent than actually is. Essentially, not only they are incompetent, but they also fail to recognize their incompetence.
The Dunning–Kruger effect is very prevalent in flat Earth communities. Many of them are without basic scientific knowledge, yet consider themselves superior to scientists that have spent a significant part of their lives doing scientific research.
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