Cognitive Dissonance

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.

This phenomenon can also happen even without exposure to the correct information about the figure of the Earth. The flat-Earth belief system is unable to explain all the natural phenomena consistently. Instead, they had to resort to inventing a specific explanation for every single natural phenomenon. And more often than not, these explanations conflict with each other.

They would attempt to reduce the discomfort by expressing emotions. It is the reason that in flat-Earth circles, emotions are much more dominant than logical thinking. Logical thinking will emphasize the conflicts among the different explanations, but emotion will conceal them.

If being shown evidence of spherical Earth, they would respond to the person that brought the evidence using negative emotions, like anger and ridicule. If a flat-Earther is calm and civil in a discussion, but then suddenly reacts using a row of laughing emojis, it is an indication that he now understands he was wrong, but still unwilling to accept reality.

In social media, some of them would react by banning or blocking. They do this so they would be able to retreat to their echo chambers where they are getting only the information they want or need, that supports their belief. It is the reason they would very quickly ban members who bring unsanctioned information to the group managed by flat-Earthers.

To flat-Earthers, flat-Earth is a core belief that must be defended at all costs. As a result, it is hard for them to mentally process any contradictory information, and they would try to minimize such information any way they can.

Emotional “Ball-Earthers”

Some flat-Earthers are often seen telling themselves that those “ball-Earthers” are the ones who are suffering from cognitive dissonance. Most of the time, they are wrong. In the spherical Earth model, every explanation is in-line and consistent with each other. There is no psychological stress resulting from the inability to reconcile various explanations.

If some of the “ball-Earthers” are seen as being emotional, it is usually not the result of cognitive dissonance. There is no conflicting belief, and there’s no emotional necessity to suppress it. In such cases, the emotions are usually caused by one of these:

  1. Frustration, because the flat-Earthers are unable to understand their explanations.
  2. Being offended, because they are being accused of doing malice.  A person can only believe a flat-Earth if they accuse a lot of other people of doing malice.

In the context of the flat-Earth state of affairs, cognitive dissonance induced emotions cannot happen to the so-called “ball-Earthers.”

Flat-Earthers accuse others of being suffering from cognitive dissonance because they try to deny their cognitive dissonance by attributing it to others. This phenomenon is called psychological projection.