Conspiracies hold back real progress
Twitter and other social media sites are erupting due to a new feud between rapper B.o.B and the entire science community. The subject of the feud? The hip hop artist is promoting a theory that has been disproven for centuries — the idea that the earth is flat.
It all started more than two-and-a-half millennia ago, when one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, Pythagoras, declared the earth to be round. Since that time, most people have accepted Pythagoras’s claim to be true. Despite the myth that Columbus and his men were worried about sailing off the end of the earth, historians are now sure the crew knew better. The New World Encyclopedia says most people knew the earth was round even in the 15th century, and perhaps as early as several hundred years B.C. Columbus was far more worried about eradicating entire indigenous peoples than falling off the edge of the world, and none of his men would risk appearing ignorant by suggesting the earth may actually be flat. In truth, it wasn’t until 2016 that the theory regained significant ground, and the world has B.o.B to thank for that.
B.o.B, a popular rapper, began tweeting flat-earth theories and his supposed proof on Jan. 24. A flat-earth model shows the countries arranged as they currently are — just on a flat, circular surface as opposed to a sphere — with the exception of Antarctica, which circumscribes the planet on all sides, existing like a natural border to the edge of the earth. This is why access to Antarctica is restricted by virtually every nearby country. Meanwhile, the sun and moon orbit what we once thought of as the North Pole, moving around in a circle suspended high above earth. Night occurs when the sun is on the other side of its circle. Circumnavigation is still possible because the countries still form a circle, just a flat one instead of a spherical one.
Of course, if one were to apply any logic to this theory, he or she would ask, “What about the numerous pictures we have of earth from space?” B.o.B believes this indicates one of the most well-hidden conspiracies in history. According to the rapper, scientists have been behaving suspiciously for decades, and he believes it is because they have a lot to hide. Why might scientists want to hide the fact that the planet is flat? First of all, they wouldn’t, and also the earth isn’t flat. That part aside, some conspiracists believe both the United States and the USSR lied about making it to space during the Cold War, in order to appear to have won the space race against each other. This would mean the moon landing had been staged. Since then, neither country has dared to refute its previous claims. Why hasn’t gravity pulled the planet into a spherical shape? Because gravity is another lie made by strangely sadistic scientists. Earth is just hurtling through space at exactly the rate of what we think of as gravity, causing things to fall against its flat surface.
Believe it or not, B.o.B isn’t the only person alive who actually believes the earth is flat. There is an organization called the Flat Earth Society that exists to uncover one of the world’s oldest conspiracies. On their FAQ page, the first question is, “Is this site a joke?” Unfortunately, it’s not a joke. And while it may seem to be a completely ridiculous but innocent organization, it is anything but. There is a group of people living in the 21st century, maintaining ideas that were disproved centuries ago. Because the United States of America is a free country, people are allowed to believe whatever they want — but sometimes it can be dangerous. Another conspiracy theory promoted by B.o.B is that the Holocaust was a myth created by the United States in order to justify destroying Germany, which is another unfortunately popular, but less innocent conspiracy. An incredibly common Internet meme is “Bush did 9/11,” which is just flagrantly offensive to the victims of the trade center attacks. It is a citizen’s duty to question his or her government, but to capitalize on national tragedy is to spit in the face of decency.
It is exactly this kind of outdated, backward thinking that has held science back on countless occasions throughout history. How are we supposed to move forward when people constantly doubt hard evidence? If theories of gravity, the shape of planets, and space exploration were all scrapped, the science community would fall back hundreds of years. This is the same effect politicians have when they doubt climate change — something scientists have confirmed but many individuals still doubt. Instead of accepting science and moving forward based on its findings, people choose to deny evidence and hold the world back. Regarding theories that doubt the authenticity of the Holocaust, few things are either more insulting or dangerous. Claiming the Holocaust never occurred, apart from being grossly anti-Semitic, eliminates historical precedent for modern issues like Trump’s idea to ban Muslims from the United States. If Trump’s theory stood alone, it might appear to be an extreme but fairly harmless idea. With the knowledge of how Jewish and Japanese people were victimized due to similar policies in WWII, one knows Trump’s idea must never come to fruition. To act as though the attacks of 9/11, one of America’s most significant tragedies, were implemented by its own leaders is not only virtually baseless, but it also ignores the issues that really matter, like America’s faulty foreign policy. To point out real, palpable issues is one thing. To promote discord and hatred of establishment is another.
The year 2016 has come, and while the country is in a better economic state than it has been in years, there is a rising level of misinformation underfoot that threatens to destroy centuries of progress. With widespread xenophobia and alarming statements being made by politicians, it has been impossible to ignore the tremendous wave of ignorance that has been sweeping across the United States recently. The last thing the country needs right now is even more ignorance, especially from people like musicians who have significant influence over the American youth. It is important now more than ever for Americans to filter what they hear through several layers of common sense and human decency. With strong enough collective sense of mind, the youth can outlast this unfortunate wave of ignorance and go on to change the world for the better.