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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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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Flat-Earthers like to accuse that science accepts ideas due to the cult of personality toward the people behind the ideas. In reality, science accepts ideas because of their merits, not because of the identity of the people behind the ideas.
Isaac Newton is considered one of the most influential scientists ever. But we have no problem saying that some of his ideas were just plain wrong and not scientific.
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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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Contextualism is the treatment of knowledge as context-sensitive. In discussions about the shape of Earth, flat-Earthers like to use the extreme denialist context in which if there is any tiny possibility that we might be wrong, then we do not know it at all. But if we apply the same context to everyday scenarios, we will fail to function as normal human beings.
To avoid unreasonable arguments, we can shift the context back to what applies to everyday scenarios. If these people ask, “How can you be certain of <something> if you haven’t proven it yourself?” we can reply, “The same way you are certain that North Korea is real.” In an everyday context, we all know North Korea is real although most of us cannot personally prove it.
Continue reading “Contextualism: How to Debunk Flat Earth in a Reasonable Way”
Sometimes flat-earthers 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, they say, only mutual respect can enable everyone to understand and determine the actual shape of the Earth.
In reality, it has been the wish of the general public the whole time. However, respect works both ways. If a flat-Earther starts respecting scientists, professionals & the general public, it will be no longer possible for them to retain the belief in a flat Earth. It does not matter how politely they make their demands, it cannot change the fact that disrespecting others is an integral part of the belief in a flat Earth and can never be separated.
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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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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.
Continue reading “Regress Argument and Infinite Regress”
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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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.
Continue reading “Global Conspiracy Smoke and Mirrors”
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.
Continue reading “Invalid Hypothesis for the Observation of a Distant Object”
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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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.
Continue reading “Mentioning NASA in Arguments About the Shape of the Earth”
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 (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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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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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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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 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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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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