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John Chuckman


“The Earth may not be flat, but it just might be doomed’

Well, what can I say?

In the 21st century, a presumably educated man writing about the notion some obscure people somewhere have that the earth is flat?

I have news for the writer, somewhere on earth you will find some people embracing almost anything you can imagine.

Humans are not completely rational. And we have a range of intelligences from brilliant to dullard. We are also the victims of all kinds of mental and emotional glitches, nature’s little random gifts and mistakes, from anxiety or paranoia or depression to various manias or psychopathy.

We are the product of a hugely complex evolutionary process, and many are also its innocent victims.

The Internet, like a gigantic supplementary memory serving everyone, keeps all the weird stuff we believe and imagine handy so that any eyes can read it or gaze on it.

But the stuff was always there. It is not new. It is not even remarkable.

After all, we have people believing there’s an old man with a beard up in the sky somewhere who takes a personal interest in each of our mostly uneventful little lives.

“because the Earth being round is a classic example of an issue where, unless you’re an astronaut, you sort of do have to take somebody’s word for it.”

That’s simply untrue. The spherical shape can be understood, but it requires a far better than average intelligence. Eratosthenes calculated a roughly accurate diameter of a spherical earth more than 22 centuries ago.

The information for many was simply not known or could not be grasped, but that is hardly remarkable given the variations in human minds.

What concerns me most about this article is that it quietly slips in something unpleasant which is becoming very popular in the corporate press, and that is that there is danger out there on the Internet and perhaps it needs some controlling.

That is an idea, anti-intellectual and politically-loaded, that is at least as foolish as, and probably more dangerous than, the idea that the earth is flat.

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