One Single Proof Fallacy

The fallacy of “one single proof” occurs when someone rejects overwhelming evidence because of the lack of specific evidence and declare the entire argument invalid.

A common trick of flat-Earthers is to demand unrealistic evidence of spherical Earth. After their demand is not met, they would proclaim Earth is not a sphere, and conveniently ignore all the other evidence of spherical Earth.

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How to “Prove” a Basketball (or any Spherical Object) is Flat

If we were to magnify the surface of any spherical object with large enough magnification, then at some point, it would appear flat. This can be easily demonstrated using a macro lens as the Redditor ‘Useless-Pickles’ did. He magnified the surface of a basketball using an extreme macro lens as a philosophical demonstration.

This shows that the surface of a spherical object can easily look flat if the object is large enough, or the observer is small enough.  And the basis of all flat-Earthers’ belief that the horizon appears flat is insufficient to determine the shape of the Earth. By applying the same “logic” as these flat-Earthers, we can actually “prove” a basketball is flat, which, as we all know, is clearly wrong.

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Circular Reasoning

Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy in which the proposition is supported by the premises, which is supported by the proposition, creating a circle in reasoning where no useful information is being shared.

Flat-Earthers often commit the fallacy of circular reasoning to defend the notion that the Earth is flat. Such reasoning is never useful, and cannot be regarded as evidence of anything, despite what they are claiming.

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Kettle Logic: Conflicting ‘Explanations’ in the Flat-Earth Model

Kettle logic is making multiple contradicting arguments in an attempt to support a single point or idea.

Kettle logic occurs very frequently in the flat-Earth community. If they meet a natural phenomenon cannot readily be explained using the flat-Earth model, they would often devise ‘experimental models’ to ‘explain’ how the said phenomenon can happen in a flat-Earth.

The problem? These models are in conflict with each other.

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Common Sense: Not a Reliable Indication of Truth

Something would ‘make sense’ if it appears to be correct according to our personal experience. But common sense can be deceiving.  Common sense relies on our own experience which has a very limited scope. For a lot of things, our common sense is not a reliable indicator of truth.

Perpetrators of flat-Earth often exploit the shortcoming of our common sense. They would say something like “It looks flat, so it must be flat!” Some of us fell victim to this scheme and would make the conclusion out of a mere hunch in place of more thorough and exhaustive observations.

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The Fallacy of Statement of Conversion

The fallacy of statement of conversion is committed when someone is taking a statement of conversion as valid without actually hearing a reason for the conversion.

Flat-Earthers often tell others that they used to believe the Earth is a globe, but now they ‘know better’ and believe in a flat-Earth. All this only tells us they changed their mind. Accepting this as proof of a flat-Earth would be committing the fallacy of statement of conversion.

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Contextualism and Flat Earth

Contextualism is treating what we know as context-sensitive. We can use the epistemic contextualism as a philosophical tool to explain the Earth is spherical, and bypass all the scientific explanations.

Flat-Earthers love to shift the context to where we would no longer function as a normal human being because only in this context, most of us cannot possibly know the shape of the Earth.

But in the context where we all act like normal human beings, there’s no problem to know the Earth is spherical, even if we don’t know all the scientific details.

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Confirmation Bias

Humans have cognitive biases that can affect our judgments. One of these cognitive biases is the confirmation bias. Because of the confirmation bias, we tend to seek the information confirming our preexisting beliefs.

Confirmation bias is a fact of life, and all humans have it. Confirmation bias can result in different subjective opinion from a different subject. A characteristic of any pseudoscience —like the concept of flat-Earth— is that they don’t try to minimize the confirmation bias, but they actually encourage it.

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Flat-Earth Ideology and The Fallacy of Lonely Fact

Flat-Earthers often commit the fallacy of ‘hasty generalization’. They would draw the conclusion from limited sample that fail to represent the entire population. Sometimes they would even draw the conclusion from a single case, and it becomes the fallacy of ‘lonely fact’.

Furthermore, they would deliberately cherry-pick cases that support their position, and use those to disprove the other cases that are against their position.

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Appeal to CGI of the Second Form

Another CGI related fallacy regularly committed by flat-Earthers has the general form of:

  • Observation: there’s no photo or video of the object ‘X’ that is not made with CGI.
  • Conclusion: ‘X’ does not exist in the real world

This is invalid for two reasons:

  1. A real object is still real even if nobody has taken a photo of it.
  2. The premise itself might be invalid because there could be someone who has a photo of the object, and the perpetrator of the fallacy is simply unaware of its existence.

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Appeal to CGI of the First Form

A logical fallacy commonly committed by the victims of the flat-Earth ideology is CGI related. CGI —or computer graphics imagery— is the use of computers to produce realistic images or videos.

Because this fallacy is very common within the flat-Earth circles, let’s give it the name ‘appeal to CGI’. Its argument has the general form of:

  • Observation: a photo or video of an object ‘X’ is made with CGI
  • Conclusion: ‘X’ does not exist in the real world

This is a fallacy because it is definitely possible to create a CGI image or video of a real-world object.

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Global Conspiracy Smoke and Mirrors

Some flat-Earthers use the so called global conspiracy as an ‘escape hatch’ in order to abandon a losing argument without having to appear to lose face.

When unable to defend the flat-Earth hypothesis, some flat-Earthers will tell you the ‘flat-Earth theory’ is a work in progress, it is normal for it to be incomplete, for now. “But, ” it is inevitable they would say this, “the most important thing is to uncover the global conspiracy and save the world from these unscrupulous few!”

But, the global conspiracy theory itself is simply an invention.

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The Philosophy of CGI

When a photo of spherical Earth is pointed out to flat-earthers, they will dismiss it as CGI in the blink of an eye; even if they haven’t done any analysis at all. They do this because their belief in flat-Earth is not evidence-based, and any evidence contrary to their beliefs needs to be invalidated no matter how.

They are so used to doing it, and sometimes they become confused by it themselves, to the point that they would take the slightest hint of digital manipulation of any picture of the Earth as evidence of the flat Earth.

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