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Neil deGrasse Tyson, perhaps the most famous astrophysicist in the world and a seemingly affable guy, upset teachers and started something of a Twitter frenzy with a tweet blaming U.S. schools for people who believe the world is flat:
With this tweet, which had more than 72,000 retweets and more than 188,000 “likes” late Friday afternoon, Tyson was expressing alarm at “flat-Earthers,” people who believe the Earth is flat and who have been able to grab some headlines in recent months as videos insisting the Earth is not a sphere have become popular on social media.
The Daily Mail recently ran a story titled, “Inside the World of flat Earthers,” and the famous former basketball Shaquille O’Neal was in the news a few months ago when he said the Earth was flat — and then later said, “I’m joking, you idiots.” And the Courier just published a story noting that flat-Earthers had posted signs along a highway in Scotland urging people to research the flat Earth.
Flat-Earthers believe NASA is part of a broad conspiracy to fake the evidence of a spherical Earth, and there are societies of people, such as this Flat Earth Society, that produce materials “proving” the conspiracy. For example, this is the description of one of the podcasts available on this group’s website:
In this series we will be dispelling a number of globularist claims. This week we take a look at lunar eclipses in the ball model and using the Parallaxian mind-set put forth by Samuel Rowbotham showing the globe earth theory to be incoherent with observed phenomena.
Tyson’s tweet blames America’s schools — most of which are traditional public schools — for such ignorance, but is that really fair? It is true that science education is not a priority in too many schools, and young people don’t learn anywhere near enough about the world. But a refusal to believe basic science like this suggests something other than minimal or lousy teaching, such as willful ignorance, a rejection of science and/or religious beliefs.
Great to have you on board! I, too, was a general science and a biology teacher and, likewise, feel ashamed and angry at myself for teaching so many students pure fantasy. I even encouraged them to question and investigate, but was so indoctrinated myself about the spinning globe, I never even considered questioning THAT. The only way I can see to undo the unintended damage I did is to educate as many people now as I can about how deeply we’ve been lied to about SO MANY THINGS. We should all sue our colleges and universities for fraud and get our wasted tuition money back!