Conspiracy theories are probably as old as the world itself. Chances are that you've probably heard some of them too―for example, of 9/11 being an inside job, or Jews ruling the world, or vaccines causing autism, etc. Psychologists say that in uncertain times or after experiencing certain traumas, a person can be more prone to believing in conspiracy theories. But as with everything in life, it's way more complicated than that.
So when one Redditor asked a question Former flat-earthers, what made you realize the earth is, in fact, not flat?, the thread was bound to go viral. Although only a handful of former flat-earthers came forward, it's still interesting to see what made them change their minds. Or, what made them believe in conspiracy theories in the first place. So scroll below to read the answers from 20 people and share in the comment section whether * you * (or your loved one) have ever found yourself deep down of the rabbit hole of conspiracies.
More info: Reddit
Former flat-earther here. I started to realize that I was doing mental gymnastics every time I saw everyday evidence that the earth is round. i.e. telling myself that live footage on the space station was just CGI propaganda as that's what flat-earthers believe. It just got to the point where I started feeling desperate to make myself believe it and started to see that there wasn't much real evidence in the first place.
My husband got trapped in a YouTube black hole of flat earth videos for awhile. Drove me up a wall. As of recently I discovered he changed his mind. His reasoning? He discovered the majority of flat earthers are Trumpers with extreme political views and who agree with trumps stupid logic. Husbands flat earth ideas died that day.
Not sure if this counts, but what the hell, I'll go for it.
I was brought up in a crazy Zionist-Evangelical-but-also-non-denominational Christian household. Ideas that my mom either believed in for a while or that she still believes to this day include: faith/prayer-based healing, young earth creationism, spiritual warfare, anti-vax, Fit for Life, anti- antibiotics, anti-doctors (in favor of naturopathy and phytotherapy), and of course, a flat earth.
I drank the kool-aid from the ages of 3-12 ish, but came to my senses around age 12-13 and progressively learned that all of the above concepts are BS. When I was 12, my mom (with her grade 11 education) decided to homeschool all her kids, which actually helped me to learn some important universal truths for myself. Up to the time of starting homsechool I had been in Christian private schools which entertained young earth creationism and flat earth ideology.
One thing you need to know about my mother is that she's a lazy, delusional narcissist and nothing is ever her fault. It wasn't her fault when she failed to get out of bed to teach us and slept in until after 1pm every day. It wasn't her fault that we were left to a scant few workbooks and textbooks which we spent about 30 minutes per day on. It wasn't her fault when she left me, the oldest child, to teach my siblings. It wasn't her fault that her youngest daughter didn't know how to read when she was supposedly in grade 3. It wasn't her fault that the only teaching resource we had after briefly going through textbooks each day was cable TV.
It wasn't my mom's fault that science shows on Discovery and other educational channels taught me that the earth is round, over 4 billion years old, that there were no dinosaurs on Noah's Ark, and that antibiotics are good when used correctly.
Edit: Thanks for the award! Also I just want to be clear that I have nothing against Zionism, just against one single church that claimed to be Zionist/Evangelical for a while before re-branding into a non-denominational church while I was still a child member of said church. Be kind to one another :)
I have an acquaintance I met in the Navy, who joined specifically so he could see that the earth was flat while at sea. Every day he would chart the ships location, speed, heading, etc, a few times a day so he could make a map of their path. Ultimately he realized that the path the ship was taking would be impossible if the earth was flat, based on the distance they were travelling vs their speed. When he finally got skeptical of the earth being flat, his LPO went topside with him and pointed out the curvature by giving him binoculars and explaining that if the earth was flat, he should be able to see the land they were making for. He couldn't see anything off the horizon. After that, he was convinced.
Edit since this got some traction; he didn't just take a cruise because he was convinced that if he wasn't part of the crew, the bridge crew would lie to him since they would be paid off by the government. Also, his LPO tried to show him the curvature of the earth more than once, but until he realized that the ship couldn't travel the way it was traveling if the earth was flat, he was convinced that the curvature was just an illusion. Dude ended up reenlisting and is still in the Navy, he's a very successful machinist mate and a really good sailor. He now believes the earth is a globe.
I think my favorite recorded Flat Earther interaction was when Elon Musk tweeted at the Flat Earth Society and asked them why they believed the Earth was flat when we could plainly see that Mars is round.
They responded that unlike the Earth, Mars has been observed to be round.
I wasn't entirely a flat earther but when I was younger, I was falling for everything I could find on the internet: hollow earth, flat earth, we're actually inside the hollow earth etc etc
I fell in and out of the belief over time until I saw a video of an expirement where one group flew a helicopter far out over the ocean and another group watched it with a powerful telescope as it slowly lowered to the horizon. It dissappeared behind the horizon while the helicopter was still a considerable distance from the ground. That ended that phase for me for good.
I doubt you'll find many, if any reformed flat earthers. For people like that who are so entrenched within their ideology, the flat earth isn't just something they believe, it's who they are. They have flat earth friends, listen to flat earth podcasts, watch flat earth YouTube, and wear flat earth clothes to their flat earth meetings. Even if deep down, someone like that had an epiphany and realized that they were wrong, imagine how hard it would be to reject all of these relationships, the community, and the friends that are held together because of that one common belief. It's similar to why it's so hard for people to leave cults or extremist religious or political groups.
Hey something I can finally answer! Not me but my good friend and room mate fell into the flat earth black hole while in university. Started out as a joke but then he just fell into it more and more.
Eventually I challenged him to do an experiment to figure it out ourselves. We went to opposite ends of a big inlet - bay. He had calculated the supposed curvature of the earth and figured out that from the distance between us me at one end and him at the other we should have a few metres of water between us. We both took some powerful green lasers that he had smuggled back from China in years past. While on the phone I would shine my laser somewhat into the air, watching to avoid plains and helicopters, then now that he could see me he would shine his laser up into the sky and slowly lower it until it disappears or just me. If it hit me, the earth was possibly flat. Well it disappeared 3 or so metres above my head every time. He accepted it and we moved on besides a brief time where he thought it was refracted from the water
My ex husband is a flat earther. Literally nothing you can say to him will make him think otherwise. Including that damn “fifteen degree drift.” He acknowledges that he doesn’t think like everybody else but insists that everybody else is wrong. I can’t tell you the countless hours that I wasted in YouTube rabbit holes with him explaining the logistical ways the earth is flat, and that there is an ice wall encapsulating us to prevent the oceans from pouring over. They are a different breed of people.
Edit: a word Second edit: holy cow this blew up. Now 90 percent of my karma is due to a comment about my crazy ex husband, who y’all seem super intrigued by. To answer a few questions, he HAS had a court appointed mental evaluation, but refused to get anymore help. He has not been diagnosed with any kind of schizophrenia but I’m almost positive he does have it. Also, to everybody telling me how patient I am, I wish you were right. I gave up eventually, because there was no winning. I sometimes wonder if I had pushed harder if he would have snapped out of it. But I know deep down he won’t. I’m trying to keep up with comments but there’s a lot and I have 3 young ones!
Was never a "flat earther" but I humored the theories and felt like some of them had some strong points that made me think they could be right. However, I realized it took away all the hard work and dedication from amazing scientists who spent their lives trying to educate and expand our knowledge and understanding of our world and space.
Also The fact that you can see Jupiter rotate with a personal telescope was a huge turning point for me. Flat earth theories make it seem like NASA is lying about everything but fail to mention you can see SO much from your backyard. You can also use a star tracking mount and watch the earth tilt through the sky
TLDR , I thought it was possible for everything to be doctored without realizing that everyday people can see so much.
I think I was about 3 when I first saw a globe and had it explained to me.
As someone who entertained but never genuinely believed the idea and went pretty deep down the rabbit hole it's distance/time. On a flat earth map circling the north pole should be an extremely short trip while circling the south pole would be the longest route on the planet. The further south you get the further apart things should be and the longer trips would take. The flat earth map really falls apart there. Once they start arguing that time works differently based on location you know there's no way to justify the argument.
Edit: okay I get it time works differently in different locations sometimes but every one of you that pointed that out knows it doesn't apply to my example enough to explain things.
My mother was always getting into crazy conspiracies, and one time she discovered the flat earth theory. She introduced me to it, and I was skeptical at first, but then I tentatively gave it a chance. The videos she showed me were very convincing, using some real science to explain phenomena we see on the earth could happen if it were flat, such as atmospheric refraction causing the sun to disappear beyond the horizon.
But I never fully accepted the theory, since I had a relatively good grasp of astronomy and didn't see how some effects could happen on a flat earth. For example, we know there are two hemispheres of stars that can be observed from the earth, in the northern and southern sky. It's been well-documented throughout history. But if the earth is flat, wouldn't we see only one hemisphere of stars from any point on the earth? And then there was some complete nonsense like the moon producing its own light... despite having visible shadows in craters.
By asking these questions, my mom eventually realized that the flat earth "theory" made no sense. My mindset when approaching the theory was "We can make observations about how things behave, and come up with different explanations for what causes them. So let's compare the flat and globe earth theories and see which holds up better." We both came to the conclusion that the flat earth doesn't adequately explain many of the things we observe on earth, and several weeks later she ended up watching videos by an airline pilot who debunks the flat earth theory, and showed a few to me.
Deep down, I think she also had an understanding of how the solar system works, since she used to teach science and math as an elementary school teacher. I even have a model of the solar system we made when I was a kid. So letting go of the flat earth theory was probably easier for her than some who don't know about moon phases or the tilt of the earth, or anything like that. Many flat-earthers just lack basic knowledge to begin with, and the flat earth theory fills that void for them.
I'm not a flat earther, but I think it truly hit me the world was not flat when I flew from Toronto to Singapore in two different directions, both east and west. Before that, I have this concept that the earth is round and accepted it through the (overwhelming) evidence presented to me. Maybe we should get some flat earthers on some planes and throw them around the globe.
Sunrise and sunsets can't be explained on a flat earth model. That's what "de-converted" me originally. After that it was easy to see the world of proof for a spherical earth.
I thought oceans were a myth, sort of. When I was a kid the largest body of water was a river I could swim across.
When I eventually say the Pacific Ocean for the first time it scared the [hell] out of me.
I got a tattoo about a year ago. The guy was highly rated in tattoo and his photo realistic style was exactly what I was looking for to commemorate my mothers passing 20 years prior. While he is setting up, he puts on the tv and the first thing that comes on is a youtube channel about flat earth theories. What followed was the wildest 4 hours I have eve or had strapped into a chair with a man going at my arm with a device that stabs my skin hundreds of times per second.
What was craziest about him was he had his pilots license. He flies an airplane. When he goes up, he can clearly see the curvature of the Earth. As he explained everything though, it kind of made sense why he would believe it. I cant remember specifics, but I came to realize that all his points would make perfect sense if you were applying them to making 3 dimensional art on a 2 dimensional plane. It was pretty fascinating.
The tattoo ended up pretty sick, too. He gave me a discount at the end because I guess no one actually listens to his rants patiently.
Edit to clarify: The tattoo artist was the flat earther. Also edit to add, I have only ever been in an airplane twice in my life and i barely remember either.
I had a friend, an old guy i used to play pool with, he used to believe the earth is flat until I stepped in and told him something he couldn't explain with a flat earth theory.
We was outside the Pool Club on a late afternoon, and I said to him "Do you see the sun?" He said "Yes,". Then I turned around and said "Now there is the moon, right", he looked at the almost half-moon and nodded. Then I said "Why is it that the light from the sun isn't exactly hitting the moon in a straight line. The light reflection on the moon is in a different position," Example of This Here
He was confused, but I explained that it is hitting the moon at a curve. He never said another word about the earth being flat after that day because there is no curves on flat disc-like planets.
Maybe I'm wrong but to me, if the earth, the sun and moon were flat the light would travel in a straight line.
Well, my ex was a flat earther. I listened to her foolish lies and I became one too. I guess this just goes to show how much being 'in love' with someone can blind you. As I got to know her it became clear her first language was a language of lies. So I started to reevaluate what she had told me. Trust me if there was a way to push someone off the edge of the earth I would have done so.
Former flat earthers here. It was the horizon. A flat earth could never explain the horizon. It surrounds the observer and it is typically assumed to be a circle, which we know it's not a true circle, drawn on the surface of a slanted model of the earth. That's why the earth is really a triangle.