Regress Argument and Infinite Regress

Flat-Earthers like to invoke the regress argument. They would keep asking “what is causing it?” on every statement in an attempt to turn the argument into an infinite regress. If they meet a question that gets unanswered, they would incorrectly declare the initial statement wrong.

In reality, we can know something exists even if we do not know what is causing it. Keep asking “what is causing it?” on pretty much anything will eventually give us an unanswerable question. But it does not mean we do not know it exists.

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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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Global Conspiracy Smoke and Mirrors

Some flat-Earthers use the so-called global conspiracy as an ‘escape hatch’ to abandon a losing argument. When being cornered, some flat-Earthers will tell us that flat Earth is a work in progress; it is normal for it to be incomplete, for now. “But the most important thing is to uncover the global conspiracy and save the world from these unscrupulous few!”

In reality, the global conspiracy theory is only one of so many concepts invented to prevent flat Earth from being falsified.

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Invalid Hypothesis for the Observation of a Distant Object

Flat-Earthers love to observe the visibility of a distant object. But the observation can never prove Earth is flat.

The observation of a distant object can only go as far as to disprove Earth is a sphere with a radius of 3959 miles. A flat Earth is merely one of the so many possibilities, but it is still possible the Earth is a sphere, only much larger.

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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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Mentioning NASA in Arguments About the Shape of the Earth

Humans knew Earth is a sphere since at least the 3rd century B.C., far before the first spaceflight and before NASA was founded. Flat Earthers have no choice but to slander NASA to defend the flat-Earth belief, but there is no need to rely on NASA to know that Earth is a sphere.

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Appeal to Ridicule

Appeal to ridicule is a fallacy that presents opponents’ arguments as absurd, ridiculous, or humorous, making the opponent and their arguments the object of a joke.

Flat Earth lacks a scientific basis, and flat-Earthers have no choice and will usually end up committing the appeal to ridicule at some point. On the other hand, real scientific arguments are done without ridiculing arguments from others.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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