The NASA Space Travel Conspiracy

It turns out that NASA’s just another collection of people who believe in the spherical earth because of tradition and education. The Flat Earth Society explains:

he earth is portrayed as round in NASA media because NASA thinks it’s round. They are not running a real space program, so they wouldn’t know what shape the earth truly takes.

That was the purpose of NASA’s creation from the very start: To put ICBMs and other weapons into space (or at least appear to). I suppose that “explains” why launches apparently do occur, while not doing anything like going to the moon.

I thought it was interesting because it seems to fit the trend in conspiracy thought at the present, that the Oppressive Establishment just believes its own claims, and that’s why the brave revolutionaries don’t succeed. That’s typical with ID, ancient aliens “theories,” mythicists, and the various health conspiracy theories, anti-vax and the like. A recent exception seemed to have been the Truther claims, which certainly posited a witting conspiracy, but it seems that projection works just fine for most conspiracy theories.

Anyway, it seemed somewhat interesting, since I’m getting bored with the denialsim of ID/creationism. The flat earthers seem to have the new converts and naive empiricists that ID and creationism largely lacks, so I’m finding them to be kind of interesting. Either way, though, it’s more of a question of why they believe, not what they argue, so the commonalities are interesting. And one commonality running through crank “science” is, of course, the conspiracy theory, which projects all of their own bad faith onto the enemy.

16 thoughts on “The NASA Space Travel Conspiracy

  1. You’d think that flat earthers would buy a couple of weather balloons and a couple of adequate cameras to look for the purported curvature of the earth (some may have, of course, but one doesn’t seem to get reports of it). How much would that cost? Are they afraid of doing so?

    Of course it’s much easier to view things disappearing over the horizon, or seeing cities and mountains partly “submerged” when viewed across the water. But, to be fair, I wouldn’t put all of my trust into one type of observation like that (couldn’t refraction or something else be responsible?), so I could at least understand why they might want to actually see earth’s curvature (assuming a vast conspiracy making NASA and everyone else untrustworthy). So just go do it, skip the rockets (flat earthers seem to want rockets–well, who doesn’t? But they’re unnecessary), weather balloons should be cheap enough for any decently-sized group of flat earthers.

    Again, though, it’s back to psychology. I suspect that some have done it and didn’t admit the apparent curvature, but I also suspect that many others just won’t do it for the same reason that IDists won’t look for a consistent pattern of intelligent intervention in organisms–they fear what they’d find.

    Glen Davidson

  2. There are plenty of blogs and forums where people with like priors can hang out and scoff at those who do not share them.

  3. GlenDavidson: You’d think that flat earthers would buy a couple of weather balloons and a couple of adequate cameras…

    … or that, in the age of the internet, Flat-Earthers chatting on-line from different parts of the world would have noticed the issue of time zones. If you’re a wing-nut who lives in New York, simply ask a fellow wing-nut from Melbourne what time it is there. The fact that it is noon in New York when it is 2am in Melbourne would seem to warrant an explanation that doesn’t fit well with a pizza-shaped planet.

  4. RoyLT: … or that, in the age of the internet, Flat-Earthers chatting on-line from different parts of the world would have noticed the issue of time zones.If you’re a wing-nut who lives in New York, simply ask a fellow wing-nut from Melbourne what time it is there.The fact that it is noon in New York when it is 2am in Melbourne would seem to warrant an explanation that doesn’t fit well with a pizza-shaped planet.

    Oh yes, definitely a good point.

    When I occasionally deal with flat earthers I don’t typically bring that up, though, because there are ad hoc models that supposedly take care of time zones. Now I know that the linked model is transparently ridiculous, as well as being ad hoc, since the sun would never actually set on that earth at all, at most becoming rather low on the horizon. I’ve seen at least one model, though, that has blocking slats in order to stop the sun from reaching some parts, and while it still doesn’t work (you wouldn’t get a sunset on the horizon), at least it’s not quite as bad as one that has no blocks at all.

    I mean, there are always ways of trying to fix all of the problems, and it can get involved discussing these issues, which is why I tend to avoid the time zone issue (and I bring it up as a kind of warning that one can end up down a rat hole with bizarre fixes). Of course, I have no idea why the sun is supposed to be endlessly circling through the sky over the flat earth anyway, it’s just a strange little “fix” that they’ve hit on.

    So yes, it’s a good point, just don’t expect them to see it that way. To be sure, they likely won’t see any good point as a good point, I’m just saying is that there’s a greater chance of ending up in complex convolutions over time zones than on some other matters.

    Glen Davidson

  5. Mung:
    There are plenty of blogs and forums where people with like priors can hang out and scoff at those who do not share them.

    Was your comment addressed to me, Mung?

  6. walto:
    Could the flat earthers be nothing more than a creation of a NASA conspiracy??

    Yeah, They are. Is this going to affect you in any way? Are you going to ponder?

  7. GlenDavidson: I’m just saying is that there’s a greater chance of ending up in complex convolutions over time zones than on some other matters.

    That model is completely hilarious. I have only had the misfortune of interacting with 2 confirmed Flat-Earthers over the past several years and the topic of time zones didn’t come up, mainly because I was too busy being shocked at the sheer stupidity of their position. Thanks for the warning though.

    And from the content of the OP, I agree that the similarities between different fringe pseudoscientific positions is quite interesting. In particular, Flat-Earthers, Climate Change Deniers, and Holocaust Deniers all share nearly the identical delusion of a worldwide conspiracy with unlimited resources and surprisingly inane goals.

  8. Whenever i read about the boring concept of folks who believe in a flat earth IT ALWAYS seems to me just a lame attempt to unite that group nwith anyone who disagrees with some dogma in the establishment.
    Science is all about getting things wrong and then getting them right or righter.
    Its not about the flat earth but it is about creationism. ID/YEC.
    In fact evolutionism is more likely the enduring error like flat earthism.
    both can;t get out of convictions.

  9. Hi Glen Davidson,

    You’d think that flat earthers would buy a couple of weather balloons and a couple of adequate cameras to look for the purported curvature of the earth (some may have, of course, but one doesn’t seem to get reports of it). How much would that cost? Are they afraid of doing so?

    The following videos illustrate why Flat Earthers sincerely but mistakenly believe the evidence from high-level footage actually favors their claims:

    Is the Earth actually flat? Footage from over 80,000ft (no fish-eye lens)
    Where’s the Curvature of the Earth? None of You Can Debunk This Video!

    See also this:

    Flat Earth “Where’s The Curvature?” 90 Miles of Eyre and FLAT

    I hope you can see why people fall for this.

    I’ve found from experience that a confrontative approach doesn’t work with Flat Earthers. The following video illustrates an approach that might work: open-ended, and proposing an experiment as a challenge at the end:

    Curvature of the Earth – Altitude Simulation

    Cheers.

  10. J-Mac: Was your comment addressed to me, Mung?

    No, it’s addressed to the OP with it’s poisoning the well fallacy. You would think that these brilliant and oh so logical “skeptics,” like Glen, would know better.

  11. vjtorley:
    Hi Glen Davidson,

    The following videos illustrate why Flat Earthers sincerely but mistakenly believe the evidence from high-level footage actually favors their claims:

    Is the Earth actually flat? Footage from over 80,000ft (no fish-eye lens)
    Where’s the Curvature of the Earth? None of You Can Debunk This Video!

    See also this:

    Flat Earth “Where’s The Curvature?” 90 Miles of Eyre and FLAT

    I hope you can see why people fall for this.

    I’ve found from experience that a confrontative approach doesn’t work with Flat Earthers. The following video illustrates an approach that might work: open-ended, and proposing an experiment as a challenge at the end:

    Curvature of the Earth – Altitude Simulation

    Cheers.

    Yes, I’m aware that they’re on about fisheye lenses, and airplane windows that supposedly make the horizon look curved (don’t know if that is true or not), but there is a number of them that proposes rockets in order to do their own tests. That’s one reason I like them better than creationists/IDists.

    Mad Mike Hughes supposedly is trying to make a rocket to see if the curvature is there. B.o.B. also raised money for a rocket launch, although I believe the funds were frozen for a while, at least. They could use their own cameras, of course, to get around the unwarranted claims that it’s all faked. Now I’m not sure if the rockets themselves aren’t their major interest (Mad Mike got a lot more donations when he claimed to be a flat earther), but many of them do think that they could do a proper test themselves. So why not an acceptable camera and a weather balloon?

    There are quite a few possibilities for arguing with flat earthers. They could try to explain the cyclonic and anticyclonic effects found above and below the equator. I read one flat earther who claimed that if the earth were a sphere, a few different stars would be in the sky each night (at least at a specific time), as if that weren’t the case–but of course it is. Why didn’t those in the Northern Hemisphere get to see Supernova 1987a, and why don’t they ever get to see the Large Magellanic Cloud in which it shone?

    The truth is, I don’t really argue with them (I did respond to a posted email on one forum, but he never commented there), but I do think probably the best thing for them to do would be to try to do acceptable science themselves. Trouble is, they’re often unaware of what that is.

    Glen Davidson

  12. Wouldn’t there be a much cheaper way to debunk a flat earth model than sending rockets into space?

    Why not book a couple of round-the-world trips on regular airlines? First, spend a couple of days to go round along an W-E small circle. Then, once you get back to your starting point, go round N-S along a great circle until you once more get back to your starting point.

    Draw a map of where you’ve flown over, and try to do that on a flat sheet of paper without the edges connecting back to each other. Can’t be done.

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