Gaslighting is putting a false narrative that leads other people to doubt their own perceptions and become disoriented. It is central in the flat Earth belief and will be possible if the target fears the losses associated with challenging the false narrative. Gaslighting someone to believe a flat Earth involves two things:
Implicit attitudes are unconscious influences such as past knowledge, perception, or memory that influence a person’s attitude, even though they have no conscious awareness of the influences.
Many flat-Earthers —especially new ones— seem to be unaware that by believing flat Earth, they are implicitly accusing others of malice & wrongly consider it just another harmless belief. They can be made aware by telling them it is impossible to believe flat Earth without accusing many common people around us —like scientists, pilots, surveyors, etc.— of conspiring. But once aware, it is often still difficult for them to get rid of the influence.
Superficial charm is the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. It is one of the attributes of psychopathic personalities. A person with this trait tends to easily manipulate others to hold them in high esteem. Some prominent flat-Earthers can be regarded to possess a superficial charm, which can turn many people to become flat-Earth believers.
Many flat-Earthers regard other people are like them. They think people do not believe in a flat Earth only because they have not seen a video from a certain prominent flat-Earther. In reality, many of us are still able to control our emotions and avoid becoming victims ourselves. On the contrary, many of us will wonder why these people are so gullible that they can blindly believe these peddlers and fail to use their reasoning skills.
Photoshop trolling is prevalent in flat-Earth communities. The most common form involves finding a suitable landscape photo and using Photoshop or a similar app to turn it reddish as though it was taken on Mars. Then, the result is placed next to the original with a caption added to imply that the “Mars photo” was from NASA, and they faked it from the original.
Flat-Earthers will not bother confirming if the image was really from NASA. They cannot realize that they are being trolled —many memes containing such images spread in flat Earth communities as hoaxes.
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. Continue reading “Cognitive Dissonance”
Flat-Earthers like to dismiss evidence of spherical Earth as fake. But if we challenge them to witness it themselves, they will avoid it. They will even turn a blind eye to offers to compensate them if their claim of fake evidence is right.
It is a form of willful ignorance. Deep inside, flat-Earthers are not even sure Earth is flat, or even subconsciously understand Earth is a sphere, but they emotionally believe a flat Earth anyway. Unwilling to let go of their belief, they purposefully ignore any evidence against flat Earth.
Pareidolia is the tendency for the incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, inanimate objects, or abstract patterns.
Flat-Earthers like to find shapes, patterns, or meanings in random natural phenomena, abstract figures, or figures in an unrelated context. Then, they would use them as “evidence” of some wrongdoing. In reality, it is just an effect of pareidolia, giving them false ideas. They are not evidence of anything.
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.
One reason a person can believe in conspiracy theories is the psychological projection. They attempt to deny their negative attitudes by assuming that instead, others have them, even though it is not necessarily the case.
Some people believe others are in a conspiracy against them because of their moral problem: if they were in the same positions of the people they are accusing, they would do the same thing they are accusing others of doing.
The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which incompetent people overestimate their ability and consider themselves much more competent than actually is. Essentially, not only they are incompetent, but they also fail to recognize their incompetence.
The Dunning–Kruger effect is very prevalent in flat Earth communities. Many of them are without basic scientific knowledge, yet consider themselves superior to scientists that have spent a significant part of their lives doing scientific research.
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.
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.
Priming is a manner in which exposure to early information influences the behavior of an individual later on, without them being aware of it. Flat Earth personalities employ this technique to instill specific biases and opinions in the mind of their targets, and for example, to lead them to believe all footage taken in space were faked.
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.