Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Flat Earth Society


Here’s a story that was made for the blogosphere. Hopefully, it is not a hoax. For those of who are inclined to think that the millennial generation is lacking in smarts, this story confirms our bias. Of course, sometimes bias is true.

Anyway, as though to show what a good job American educators are doing, a new survey has discovered that a third of today’s millennials are not persuaded that the earth is round. They belong to the flat earth society. Apparently, their teachers never taught them about scientific facts, or about Christopher Columbus… though the round earth has probably been banned from school, on the grounds that it offends that flatheads among us. Besides Columbus is being erased from textbooks because he was a colonialist, racist, imperialist something.

Anyway, here’s the story, from CBS Pittsburgh:

A new survey has found that a third of young millennials in the U.S. aren’t convinced the Earth is actually round. The national poll reveals that 18 to 24-year-olds are the largest group in the country who refuse to accept the scientific facts of the world’s shape.

YouGov, a British market research firm, polled 8,215 adults in the United States to find out if they ever believed in the “flat Earth” movement. Only 66 percent of young millennials answered that they “always believe the world is round.” Science teachers across the U.S. will be shaking their heads after learning that nine percent of young adults answered that they have “always believed” the planet was flat.

Another nine percent said of young adults said they thought the planet was spherical but had doubts about it. In a disturbing display of indecision, 16 percent of millennials said they weren’t sure what the shape of the planet was.

Overall, only two percent of the respondents said they always thought the Earth was flat without any doubt. YouGov found that age was directly connected to Americans’ views on the shape of the world. Seventy-six percent of adults age 25-34 say they’ve always believed the Earth is round, compared to 82 percent of ages 35-44, 85 percent of ages 45-54, and 94 percent of adults 55 and over.

You would be hard put to find better evidence of the corruption of the American educational system. And they worry that Donald Trump does not have a good handle on facts.

11 comments:

David Foster said...

Educated people were aware that the earth was round, long before Columbus.

A decent school science class would not only teach that the earth was round, but explain several means by which that fact can be demonstrated.

Sam L. said...

Have globes been banned in schools? Or "merely" omitted?

Unknown said...

For those of who are inclined to think that the millennial generation is lacking in smarts, this story confirms our bias.

I think that you have too lightly discounted the "smart aleck factor", Dr. Schneiderman.

I am well past 24, but if a pollster asked me a ridiculous question, such as, "Do you believe that lizardmen are running the Earth?" then I would be tempted to answer, "Yes, of course I do!" out of (misguided?) contempt for the very question.

I may be a smart-arse, but I doubt that I am unique.

Brian B. said...

I wrote the "Unknown" comment above. I meant to include the following information, a bit more information on "lizardman" polling results, here:

Slate Star Codex

Stuart Schneiderman said...

You give them far too much credit. Those who believe that the earth might not be round are not the best and the brightest... they are the least educated.

Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...

Here's an earnest reply by Bill Nye on the question from a year ago:
http://bigthink.com/videos/bill-nye-explains-how-we-know-the-earth-is-round
While astronaut Chris Hadfield says there's no use arguing with such people:
http://bigthink.com/videos/chris-hadfield-chris-hadfield-the-astronauts-guide-to-flat-earth-theory

I almost wonder if most weird beliefs are about cultism, and members who want to separate themselves from the larger whole take the beliefs of "cult leaders" whether personal or celebrity, and they let their leaders think for them. Maybe such beliefs aren't even considered "factual" as much as a dogma of membership. And standing up to ridicule from the outside is a badge of honor to a dittohead, with every act of rejection of contradiction strengthening their provisional faith. Shame doesn't apply apparently if you're only mocked by a different cult.

Sam L. said...

Slate Star Codex: I AM the King Lizard, dba as a mild-mannered fellow who had access to and held in my claws keys which would open the Gates Of HELL. Missed my chance every damned time!

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ares Olympus said...

I'll put my cynicism in "Internet-based market research." What incentive does anyone have to tell the truth what they really believe online?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouGov

Stephen Baraban said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.