A recent poll from Insider has shown that a third of Americans believe in at least one unscientific idea, from the Illuminati to extraterrestrials visiting Earth. Believing that our Earth is flat is one of those common conspiracies that the science community, from physicists to astronomers, find ludicrous.

But in the age of the internet, advanced biotechnologies, gene engineering, and AI, many people genuinely believe it. In fact, a YouGov survey found that just 66% of young adults, aged 18 to 24, have “always believed the world is round.”

The great challenge in tackling the flat Earth conspiracy is knowing how to talk to people who genuinely believe that the Earth is flat. And this viral Twitter thread offers an invaluable lecture on that.

Written by an Oklahoma-based astronomy educator, Okie Space Queen, the thread reveals how they take their portable planetarium to show the universe to people in rural areas. Let’s see the particular arguments the author arms themself with to convince flat Earth believers they are in fact wrong.

The author of the viral thread carries this portable planetarium to teach people astronomy, and often they encounter flat earthers

Image credits: okiespace

Armed with wit and astronomy knowledge, the author uses these useful tactics to talk to flat earth believers

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Image credits: OkieSpaceQueen

Flat Earth conspiracy is part of an ongoing trend of general skepticism and disbelief in authorities

To find out more about what makes people believe that the Earth is flat, Bored Panda reached out to Dr. Chris Fleming, an associate professor at the School of Humanities and Communication Arts in Wester Sydney University.

“There’s a generalized skepticism towards all established authorities, so this is sort of an old historical trend that you can trace back to the European enlightenment. Part of what it did was questioning authority.” But with flat Earth conspiracy, that kind of skepticism towards institutions has become insane.

“Most of our knowledge of scientific theories comes through institutions. None of us go around independently verifying laws of physics or effectiveness of drugs. We take it from institutions and experts, we only got indirect evidence,” the professor explained.

Moreover, “Partly the way that people end up disbelieving in science is a questions of the trust in human beings placed in institutions,” Fleming said and added that “Just as people become increasingly suspicious of the government, often for a good reason, and suspicious about science, sometimes with good reason, then you have this idea that I am going not believe these kind of things.”

“And that can become a kind of syndrome, this notion that you’re being lied to by authorities. So in a way, it’s a particular crazy expansion of an otherwise quite healthy attitude,” he added.

‘Democratized’ knowledge that allows anyone with social media to put out their theories is also to blame

Another reason why people believe in such a crazy idea is having naive relationships to our experiences. “In a lot of instances you have people looking out at the world, and they go: ‘kinda looks pretty flat to me.’ That kind of approach to the world is pretty effective on some levels, like seeing if you’ve got milk and you open a fridge and have a look.”

However, for assessing the curvature of the Earth, it’s not such a good strategy. “This is partly the effect of things like democratization of knowledge, since anyone with a social media account can put out their own theories, and stack it with their dubious footnotes and make it look serious,” Fleming concluded.

And this is what people had to comment on the illuminating thread that has gone viral

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