Confusing Won’t with Can’t

Flat-Earthers like to confuse won’t with can’t. If they notice an act that would support spherical Earth, but we do not do, they will incorrectly claim, “it must be impossible because Earth is flat.”

There are many things we can do but decide against doing for various reasons. In other words, “we can but won’t.” The fact that we won’t do a thing does not necessarily mean we can’t do it.

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Force the Line

“Force the line” is a method proposed by flat-Earthers to determine Earth’s shape. It is an unrealistic method involving building a very long structure that is maintained flat for its entire length.

“Force the line” is just an exercise of one single proof fallacy. They ignore the overwhelming amount of evidence in support of spherical Earth, withholding their judgment for that one specific method, which is very difficult to execute and prone to errors.

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Anonymous Authority

The fallacy of appeal to anonymous authority occurs if an unspecified source is used as evidence of the claim, and it is impossible to verify the source & the argument’s credibility.

Many flat-Earthers claim to know someone who knows someone who knows a pilot, surveyor, scientist, professor, etc., who has proven Earth is flat. But it is impossible to verify these supposed “experts” & their views directly. Inventing an “expert” to support their position is the fallacy of anonymous authority.

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Fallacy of Overprecision

The fallacy of overprecision occurs when an overly precise number is used to give the appearance of truth and certainty.

Some prominent flat-Earthers like to use overly precise long digits of numbers to give the bogus impression of science. And those susceptible to believing a flat Earth tend to be intimidated by math, and it is easy to awe them with meaningless numbers.

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Argument to the Future

The fallacy of argument to the future occurs when someone claims their argument is true because of the false assumption that the evidence is in the making, and it will soon be proven true.

Flat-Earthers are sometimes forced to concede that they cannot prove a flat Earth, but they believe it anyway because they claim it will be proven in the future. In reality, something like the shape of the Earth has been thoroughly proven to be a sphere. No amount of “research” will eventually prove a flat Earth.

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Inflation of Conflict

Inflation of conflict is reasoning that because scientists appear not to agree precisely on an issue, the entire field is assumed not credible, and no conclusion can be reached.

Inflation of conflict is a common flat-Earthers’ argument. They will look for scientists that appear to have conflicting opinions, blow the fact out of proportion, and conclude that both sides are wrong. In reality, the difference in opinions is likely not that fundamental or not even a difference in opinion. They will still agree that Earth is a rotating sphere in motion around the Sun.

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False Balance

False balance is a bias in which journalists present an issue as more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence supports. False balance spreads misinformation because it gives the impression as if the two sides are worthy of consideration.

Flat-Earthers often complain that the media does not give them equal treatment as they do to scientists. In reality, presenting proponents of pseudoscience as being on equal footing misrepresent the reality of the situation and will only spread misinformation.

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Far-Fetched Hypothesis

Far-fetched hypothesis is a logical fallacy that occurs when someone offers a bizarre and far-fetched hypothesis as the correct explanation without ruling out more mundane explanations.

Every time flat-Earthers “discover” a natural phenomenon that they feel “strange,” they will act as if they are the first humans to know about it and then try to find ways to use it as “evidence” of flat-Earth. In reality, it is far more plausible that other people already know the phenomenon and its scientific explanation, and these flat-Earthers are just unaware of it.

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Single Cause Fallacy

The fallacy of the single cause occurs when it is assumed that there is a single, simple cause of an outcome when in reality, it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes.

If it is said that “A causes B,” it is rarely that B is caused only by A, but usually, there are other things that cause B simultaneously with A that are not explicitly mentioned. Assuming that only A causes B from the statement without further consideration is the single-cause fallacy.

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Appeal to Ancient Wisdom

The appeal to ancient wisdom is a fallacy where someone assumes that concepts and knowledge from ancient times are superior to modern ones. In reality, just because they are from ancient times, it does not mean they are better than modern ones. On the contrary, in practically all the cases, we know a lot more than our predecessors.

Flat-Earthers often show us that in the past, people from various cultures believed that Earth is flat. Using it as “evidence” of a flat Earth is the fallacy of appeal to ancient wisdom.

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“Stuff is Flat”: Incorrect Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Claim About the Observation of Earth’s Curvature

Neil deGrasse Tyson once incorrectly stated that it is still too close to the surface to see Earth’s curvature from the height of Felix Baumgartner’s jump. In reality, we should be able to see it using our eyes.

Flat-Earthers believe people take Neil’s remarks as gospel and use Neil’s incorrect statement to dismiss any observation of Earth’s curvature. However, we have no problem saying that Neil was wrong. It is OK to be wrong as long as we are willing to revise our views when faced with new facts, and we are certain Neil will.

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2001 Mars Odyssey Launch Video

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Flat-Earthers often challenge us to provide a video of a rocket launch that was taken from the rocket itself, without interruption from launch to reaching space, as if it would convince them to accept that it is real and the Earth is a sphere.

The launch video of the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission easily fulfills their demand. But whether they can manage to accept the reality that Earth is a sphere is entirely another matter.

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Subjectivist or Relativist Fallacy

The subjectivist fallacy occurs when someone claims that something is true for some people but not for someone else, when, in fact, it is true for everyone, as demonstrated by empirical evidence.

The shape of Earth is not a matter of belief or preference, but an objective truth from observations that applies to everyone. It is impossible Earth is both spherical and flat at the same time, depending on what we prefer or believe.

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Argument from Incredulity

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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Reification Fallacy

We often abstract complicated things into simpler models by removing unimportant and superfluous details so that we can focus on the aspects of greater importance. The abstraction of real things into models makes it possible and easier to work with. But they are still models and do not possess every single attribute of the real things they represent.

Flat-Earthers often commit the reification fallacy, where they treat models as if they are the real things and attack the tiniest discrepancy to discredit science. However, a model is not reality; it can never perfectly represent an actual thing.

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Stolen Concept Fallacy

The stolen concept fallacy is committed when someone requires the truth of something that they are at the same time trying to disprove. In other words, concept A is used to deny concept B, although A depends on B.

Many conspiracy theories are the results of a stolen concept, including many flat Earth claims. Usually, flat-Earthers would use a scientific concept to disprove science itself. On the other hand, the concept itself depends on science.

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Jumping to Conclusions

Jumping to conclusions (also called the JTC bias or inference-observation confusion) is a psychological term referring to the failure to distinguish between observation and inference. In other words, “when I fail to distinguish between what I observed first hand from what I have only inferred or assumed.”

Many flat Earth “facts” are simply the results of jumping to conclusions. They judged something without having all the facts, to reach unwarranted conclusions.

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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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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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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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