Categories
"ethics" #gamergate drama flat earth irony alert memes misogyny sarkeesian!

Memeday: Flat Earthers channel GamerGate in their attacks on Neil deGrasse Tyson

Flat Earthers: Not big fans of Neil deGrasse Tyson
Flat Earthers: Not big fans of Neil deGrasse Tyson

Like a lot of people, I was a bit gobsmacked a couple of months ago when rapper B.O.B. came out as a literal Flat Earther, as in, someone who literally believes that the earth is a disk, not a sphere.

Having something of a professional interest in bad ideas and the people who hold them, I’ve been poking around in the FlatEarthosphere ever since. Turns out they have a lot in common with the bad-idea-believers that I’ve been writing about daily since I started this blog.

Like the internet’s innumerable antifeminists, the Flat Earthers love making interminably long videos in which they ramble incoherently about their beliefs.

Happily for those of us with shorter attention spans, they also like making memes, many of which are strikingly similar to antifeminist memes not only in their often inept design but in the fundamental dishonesty of many of their “arguments.”

Consider, for example, the way that Flat Earth mememakers have given science dude Neil deGrasse Tyson the Anita Sarkeesian treatment.

The Flat Earthers hate Tyson, who took down B.O.B. and his Flat Earth beliefs on Twitter in a literal mic-dropping moment on the Larry Wilmore show and even by making a cameo in a diss track aimed at the rapper.

While not inundating Tyson with death and rape threats, as far as I know, the Flatties have pored over his past writings and public appearances looking for things they can go after him about — much as Gamergaters did with Sarkeesian.

And, as Gamergaters have done many times with Sarkeesian, the Flatties have taken innocuous remarks from Tyson and misrepresented them so thoroughly that, to them at least, they look like a “gotcha!”

You may recall how Gamergaters seized upon Sarkeesian’s statement that “everything is sexisteverything is racist, everything is homophobic.” The comment, taken out of context from a talk she once gave, became the subject of endless jokes and indignant blog posts and even a music video.

And there were of course memes:

sarksexist1

sarksexist2

Sarkeesian was pretty clearly just pointing out that sexism (and racism, and homophobia) permeate almost every nook and cranny of our culture. Which is true. But Gamergaters assumed (or pretended) that she thought plants and birds and rocks and things were all sexist somehow.

The Flatties have done the same thing with some comments from Tyson on the not-quite-perfectly-spherical shape of the earth.

He gave a slightly longer explanation of this at an event in 2007. It’s not something that he made up; it’s true. The centrifugal force from the rotation of the earth has made the earth ever so slightly chubby. (Why it’s chubbiest slightly south of the equator I don’t quite know.)

Obviously, Tyson isn’t saying that the earth is literally the shape of a pear. He’s saying that it deviates an eensy teensy weensy bit from a perfectly spherical shape. Indeed, in the 2007 event he made clear that the earth is only very very slightly pear-shaped; that “cosmically speaking, we’re a practically a perfect sphere.”

None of this is really very hard to grasp. I’m utterly baffled by dark matter and string theory and most other things that astrophysicists spend their lives pondering, but I understand centrifugal force. Everyone who’s ever been on a merry-go-round understands centrifugal force.

But Tyson said “pear-shaped,” and the Flat Earth mememakers aren’t going to ever let him forget that.

dg1

He ha! He's just like that other black guy named Tyson!
He ha! He’s just like that other black guy named Tyson!

dg3

dg4

dg5

dg6

dg7

Other Flat Earth mememakers find the word “oblate” funnier than “pear.”

Tyson actually answered this question in the very same short talk in which he made the 'pear" remark, but never mind.
Tyson actually answered this question in the very same short talk in which he made the “pear” remark, but never mind.

dg10

There are more Neil deGrasse Tyson pear-shaped-earth memes out there — many many many more.

But I’m not sure anyone will ever be able to top this one.

nicepear

Such is the state of Flat Earth memery today.

And after all this, the Flatties have so little self-awareness that they attack him for making jokes about them.

jokememe

Jeez, Flat Earthers, so sensitive about a joke? Grow a pear.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

124 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his pronouns)
4 years ago

The earth is not a planet.

That just raises even MORE QUESTIONS.

What the hell is Earth then??

Q. How big are the planets in the FE model?
A. Pretty small.

What the hell is pretty small??? Is this only planets in our own system???? What about the ones in other solar systems??????

?????

???? ????????

At least round Earth and gravity theories have almost all the lose ends tied up, jesus christ.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his pronouns)
4 years ago

http://youtu.be/oOCydGRcv1A

Me, right about now.

Karalora
Karalora
4 years ago

Well, its not the flatness that makes the Disc cool.

Isn’t it, though? Because the Disc is flat, it requires a powerful magical field just to exist as a habitable planet. And that magical field also enables many of the cool things, like witches and wizards and trolls and Wild Ideas and Binky. We don’t have those things on our boring old plausible Roundworld. Well, maybe the Wild Ideas.

History Nerd
History Nerd
4 years ago

A few flat Earthers accept gravitation theories but Newtonian gravitation has never really been on the flat Earth or geocentrist side. Galileo’s work showed that heliocentrism does a better job of explaining observational data than geocentrism, but he didn’t prove that geocentrism must be false. Newtonian gravitation explained why heliocentrism would lead to astronomical observations, so it destroyed any attempt to “save” geocentrism by tweaking models to fit the data.

Catalpa
Catalpa
4 years ago

Why is it that the flat earth people don’t agree with the theory of gravity, again? I mean, gravitational theory, at its most basic form, is just that large amounts of mass extert an attractive force on other masses (well, all mass attracts and is attracted to other mass, really, but its only on the large scale that such things are easily noticable.) If the earth WAS a massive flat disc of matter, there would still be a gravitational force exerted, under this theory.

epitome of incomprehensibility

Silly scientists. The earth is actually an oblate orange, not a pear. Stephen Dedalus said so in Ulysses: “Why should I not speak to him or to any human being who walks upright upon this oblate orange?”

I knew my English Literature degree would come in handy some day!

katz
4 years ago

Is the planet bigger than a breadbox?

Paradoxical Intention - Resident Cheeseburger Slut

Catalpa | April 16, 2016 at 5:53 pm
Why is it that the flat earth people don’t agree with the theory of gravity, again? I mean, gravitational theory, at its most basic form, is just that large amounts of mass extert an attractive force on other masses (well, all mass attracts and is attracted to other mass, really, but its only on the large scale that such things are easily noticable.) If the earth WAS a massive flat disc of matter, there would still be a gravitational force exerted, under this theory.

[Insert douchebag screeching about how this is all feminists trying to force them to find fat people attractive]

Anyte
Anyte
4 years ago

Catalpa, gravity supports a round planet because the pull of gravity works in every direction. Thus the gravity from a planet’s dense core pulls equally in every direction forming a spherical shape. (Like every observable planet in our solar system).

The only way gravity could create or sustain a disk shape mass would be if it was unidirectional or focused in one direction but weak in others.

EJ (The Other One)
4 years ago

@Catalpa:
It’s for the same reason that racists dislike haploid testing, the Pope dislikes study of the human mind, and Elizier Yudkowsky dislikes the concept of future-discounting: if a widely-accepted method threatens to undermine the basic tenets on which you’ve built your philosophy, then that widely-accepted method must be wrong and needs to be discredited as thoroughly as possible.

Painteyelash
Painteyelash
4 years ago

This made me think of Dean Esmay’s attitude towards Neil deGrasse Tyson: he has accused him of engaging in “hate-propaganda” because of ‘Cosmos’. 😀

Catalpa
Catalpa
4 years ago

That makes sense! (Well, I mean, the Flatties make no sense, but the reasoning for their hostility towards grvitational theory makes more sense.) Thanks for the explanations, Anyte and EJ.

occasional reader
occasional reader
4 years ago

Hello.

Well, the simplest argument is that the Earth is flat because the maps are flats. Take that, scientists !
Globe ? You have just fold a flat map into a globe (or pear, or banana, or crane, or any shape you want), it is just a trick !
This is a “Earth is an origami” theory. I wonder if i can gain some cultists around that and make a bunch of money.

Have a nice day.

reymohammed
4 years ago

I can only imagine a delightful picture Magritte might have painted (but probably didn’t), called, “The Fruiting World”.

dlouwe
dlouwe
4 years ago

@Viscaria

No way, really? I really don’t understand how they can rationalize air travel, then. “Pilots are a bunch of stinking liars” is the only explanation that could be consistent with their vision of reality, afaict.

Basically, they assert a bunch of things that mean travelling on a flat earth is indistinguishable from travelling on a round earth. Like it’s impossible to travel in a “straight line”; compasses are oriented to the north pole, so going directly east will still curve around to form a circle. Also anyone who has been to or flown over the south pole is mistaken.

Also, NASA isn’t set up to convince us that the earth is round, rather their job is to convince us that space travel has happened for other reasons. But they also happen to (wrongly) believe in the round earth, so that’s what all of their forgeries depict. Thus while it’s beneficial to the Flat Earther cause to debunk NASA’s forgeries so that people can’t use it as “evidence” of the round earth, it’s not because there’s a conspiracy.

Why is it that the flat earth people don’t agree with the theory of gravity, again? I mean, gravitational theory, at its most basic form, is just that large amounts of mass extert an attractive force on other masses (well, all mass attracts and is attracted to other mass, really, but its only on the large scale that such things are easily noticable.) If the earth WAS a massive flat disc of matter, there would still be a gravitational force exerted, under this theory.

They don’t necessarily think gravity doesn’t exist, but rather that it’s not as strong as widely believed. If it was, then they’d have to come up with a different ad hoc explanation for why a flat earth wouldn’t collapse into a sphere.

Viscaria
Viscaria
4 years ago

Thanks, dlowe! That really clears up a lot. And this:

Also, NASA isn’t set up to convince us that the earth is round, rather their job is to convince us that space travel has happened for other reasons.

is just amazing.

Corey
Corey
4 years ago

@Scildfreja: RationalWiki (dot org) is a nicely comprehensive catalog of crankery.

Corey
Corey
4 years ago

Earth’s shape also deviates from oblate-speroid-ness somewhat. The best description of Earth’s shape is one I learned, like so many things, from TV Tropes: a “geoid”. Which means “Earth-shaped”.

(The relevant trope: “Shaped Like Itself”)

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 years ago

What explanation, if any, do they have for why if you start drawing maps from metes-and-bounds data, eventually you’ll reach a point where your lines cease to meet one another?

DexX
4 years ago

It’s funny, because you can get plenty of first-hand evidence for the roundness of the Earth by simply hopping on a plane and travelling a long way.

My first time overseas in 2003, I flew from Melbourne to Japan, close to due North, then flew one of the great circle routes* from Tokyo to New York. It was a ludicrously long flight – I picked a doozy for my first ever overseas trip – and I cracked the window shade and peeked outside a few times when we were meant to be sleeping. It baffled me for a moment that I was seeing tundra and icebergs, until I remembered learning about circle routes in school.

The second round-Earth thing that startled me on that trip was the fucking sky being upside down. If you’ve never seen this, it’s really trippy. I’m one of those folks who likes astronomy and pays attention to the sky, but I’m far from an expert – I can point out a few constellations, take good guesses at planets, and that’s about it. Anyway, driving through rural Ohio in the middle of the night, I had to stop the car and jump out to gape at the sky. It was the night of a full moon, and the moon was upside down. I looked over, and there was Orion, also upside down. (Well, technically he was the right way up, but I’m from Australia so we’re used to him being inverted.) I had a moment of what I have since come to call “existential vertigo”, when you have a sudden, stark realisation of your true insignificance in the universe. I suddenly knew – really knew, in my guts – that I was standing on the surface of a ball tumbling through space. It may sound trite, but I think that moment made me a better person.

tl;dr – Flat-Earthers need to get out of the fucking house and do some travelling.

* FYI, a “circle route” is a long-distance flight which takes the shortest straight-line route across a spheroidesque globe, but which appears as an arc, and sometimes almost a complete circle, when mapped onto a Mercator projection or other flat map of the world. This is caused by long-distance routes in the northern hemisphere crossing the Arctic circle. So yeah, in flying from Tokyo to New York, we flew across Alaska and Northern Canada. It was pretty cool.

EDIT: p.s. Sorry, I know I’ve already rambled on, but I have to mention this: the curvature of the Earth has gotten people killed. I’m not talking about Renaissance sailors, either, but in the last few decades. During the idiotic Falklands War in the 1980s, the British bombed their own troops. They were using grid-based maps for their infantry, but the Falklands are quite extremely south, so the lines of longitude are starting to taper together quite sharply. Basically, they keyed their long-range artillery coordinates off a flat grid, forgetting about the whole “spheroidesque” thing, and bombed the fuck out of a bunch of their own troops.

Fabian Prewett
Fabian Prewett
4 years ago

@ Catalpa

I looked into it recently because I was incredulous. They believe that the reason objects dropped land on the ground is not due to gravity. Apparently, we are accelerating upwards at such a speed, that the ‘disc’ that is the earth flies upwards and ‘catches’ it. Along with other objects closest to the ‘disc’, they are being pushed upwards.

There is no such thing as the poles. Instead, the edge of the disc is a wall of ice. Of course, if that were the case, it would take years to travel the circumference of this ice wall. But logic doesn’t seem to come into it.

I had to check it wasn’t the 1st of April.

Fabian Prewett
Fabian Prewett
4 years ago

@DexX

Flat-earthers believe that the reason the earth looks curved from aeroplane windows is because the glass is actually fish-eye lenses. It’s all part of the ‘conspiracy’ to make us believe the world is globular. Why anyone would do this is a mystery and the flat-earthers themselves are equally vague. It must be a financial reason….or something. It must be so hard to breathe with your head wedged that far up your own arse.

The Furious Mouse
4 years ago

The fuck does this have to do with #GamerGate?

TheZark
TheZark
4 years ago

@Mouse
Because both use incredibly bad logic.