The Futility of the Flat Earth Debate

By Jonathan Roseland

Why "flat earth" is a Dunning-Kruger trap for skeptics and believers...

More people than ever now believe in the Flat Earth. Perhaps you’ve wondered about it yourself…

Now I’m the first guy to be distrustful of things that the government tells us and I’ve watched most of the conspiracy documentaries on the topic but I remain utterly unconvinced of the flat earth because of simple logic…

There is tremendous economic incentive for someone to expose the supposed hoax of the globe earth yet no one has yet to offer really compelling evidence of a flat Earth.

IF the earth was flat


Multinational corporations would travel there to exploit natural resources. Drill baby, drill!


Some ambitious journalist, celebrity, or adventurer who wanted to become world-famous would crowdfund an expedition there to the end of the world. Take photos of it. Make a documentary about it and it would become the story of the century.


The discovery that the world is flat would seriously undermine atheism and secularism — millions of people would go back to church looking for answers. It would be incredible for religions.


Somebody with a long-range drone aircraft could launch it from Patagonia, Argentina, and fly it south for as long as it took to prove or disprove the flat Earth.

Richard Branson

Some vain glorious millionaire or billionaire would organize a secret mission to the ice wall and then brag about it.

World Government

One of the less scrupulous world governments would travel there and publicize it to embarrass other competing governments that are lying to their citizens.


There would be many thousands of individuals working in various governments that would know about the flat earth and possess proof. They would have a tremendous opportunity for fame and fortune by exposing the truth.

Yet despite millions or billions of dollars in economic incentive up for grabs by anyone bold or clever enough to expose the hoax, all we have as evidence is grainy photographs and backyard experiments with rockets. What flat earthers are making such a fuss about is all highly dubious evidence AGAINST the globular earth model, they have no real substantial evidence FOR the flat Earth.

Flath Earthers are akin to people who say capitalism is a useless, failed system because there are homeless people. It’s like saying…

Capitalism has given us extraordinary medicine, technology, and entertainment along with unprecedented quality of life and freedom BUT it’s a big failure that we should abandon because it’s not working for a small fringe of scruffy, smelly guys who sleep on the streets.

Flat earth skeptics and believers get into these futile debates.

Ultimately, these debates are pointless because neither party are real scientific domain experts on any of the specific domains. I’ve yet to see a debate with a credentialed scientist seriously defending one side or another. These discussions seem to just be between internet personalities or “journalists."

I’ve studied a specific domain of science for the past 6 years — human performance enhancement — I looked at thousands of studies, read many books, conducted self-experiments, and interviewed experts thus I could competently debate about human performance enhancement. Since I have a modicum of domain-specific understanding I realize how clueless I am when it comes to any other topic of science.

The people debating FOR the flat earth are classic cases of the Dunning-Kruger effectthey spend a couple of weeks or months watching YouTube videos and reading articles about a topic and they are convinced that they are experts in half a dozen different domains of science that intersect this conspiracy theory.

The side debating AGAINST the flat earth theory is also problematic. There’s a blurry line between science and pseudoscience that’s damned difficult to discern by anyone who’s not devoted years of their life to studying a field.

  • Anywhere that scientific establishment and public funding meet you have corruption, fraud, and perverse financial incentives.
  • Scientific journals are losing their integrity thanks to the pay-to-publish model.
  • Political correctness is compromising science.
  • The replication crisis has demonstrated the failure of the peer-review process.

Flat earth skeptics assume they are scientifically literate because of their educations but they too are likely Dunning-Kruger dummies. The reality is that most Americans after spending 12 years or more in educational institutions are scientifically illiterate, 72% according to the MIT technology review.

You don’t need to invoke science or get into a pseudoscientific debate to prove or disprove something when it can be debunked using critical thinking.

The popularity of the flat earth theory is not just a sign of how dumb people are, some of the true believers seem to actually be quite smart — It’s a sign of how rare critical thinking has become.

More about critical thinking

Check out this documentary series I did on bad science


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