When Malachi Henderson went skydiving a few weeks ago, he noticed that the Earth looked flat, even from the plane. He mentioned it to the pilot. “The higher you get, the flatter it looks,” the pilot replied. Henderson wasn’t surprised: The pilot’s response was evidence of something he’d been researching for years.
Henderson is one of a growing movement of Americans who believe that the Earth is flat. They refer to themselves as flat Earthers.
Flat Earthers have a wide range of convictions. Some come to the movement from a religious place, others from a scientific one. But most believe in one simple principle: that NASA and everyone involved in space exploration are liars and that there is a massive conspiracy to hide the fact that the Earth is flat.
Mic spoke with four flat Earthers from across the country, representing a range of ages and religious backgrounds: Henderson, a 34-year-old bartender; Patrice, 57, a business owner from Florida; Walt Johnson, a 49-year-old disabled former disk jockey from Louisiana; and Ben Long, in his 20s.
These are their stories.
The moment they discovered the Earth was flat
One thing most flat Earthers have in common: They found the movement through the internet, though some had already come to the conclusion on their own.
Patrice, who declined to provide her last name, is a Christian. “I love the Lord,” she said in a phone call. “He really guides and directs my steps.” Browsing YouTube one day, Patrice saw “something just about that little phrase ‘flat Earth.’ It just kind of dropped into my brain. I felt like the Lord was saying, ‘Look into that.'”
Ben Long is a member of the flat Earth community who goes by @collusionexpert on Twitter. He first “looked into it” on New Year’s Day 2016, he said. “I broke up with my girlfriend on New Year’s Eve, and I kind of had, like, an early-midlife-crisis-type deal.”
Long said he’s not really interested in the other topics: “Eric’s views on other things aren’t really related.” Patrice seemed more intrigued. “I don’t know if you can handle what I really think about Hitler,” she said. “That subject is at the very bottom of the rabbit hole.”