Is a flat earth making a come back with millennials?


(Jimmy Sellers) #1

I was watching TV this morning and one of the talking heads mention this link. I thought at it the minimum it would be fair to ask why the most informed and educated generation in history would be conflicted on this issue.


Flat Earth/Geocentric Theory
(SeanO) #2

I think the following video has some fun explanations from ancient times of how even they believed the earth was round and offers a fair explanation of why people still believe these types of arguments - because they are not well educated.

I would offer the additional potential explanations:

  1. People are not purely rational - emotion and social dynamics affect belief (hence one reason I think so many smart people believe in macroevolution religiously - it’s the popular thing to do - everyone knows its true - right?)
  2. People like to ‘be in on the secret’ - it’s one reason cults flourish - we all want a sense that we are special - and having secret knowledge is attractive in that sense - the gnostics used this hook as well - it gives a sense of meaning
  3. It is easy to be ignorant in one subject / area when you spend the bulk of your time outside of that area and don’t spend any time fact checking peoples’ claims - especially when (2) applies

(Jennifer Judson) #3

I wouldn’t give this much credence. YouGov is a community of persons who willingly share their views in surveys online–so it’s not a random sampling in general, but a random sampling of their online community. Also, some people enjoy giving outrageous answers for the fun of skewing results.

But now that a news organization (talking head) has picked it up and reported on it it will probably become a thing.

Concerning the religious aspect of the survey it’s poorly conceived. Unless there are questions that give a clue as to whether their religiousness plays a role in their belief in the earth being flat or round it’s at best a meaningless correlation.

We’ve reached a point in our culture where we must ask ourselves, are polls really predictive of our behavior? Or are we behaving a particular way because polls have swayed us?


(Jimmy Sellers) #4

I know stock price and veracity are not necessarily proportional but Yougov trades at almost $600 a share on the London exchange, If I am not mistaken this was a sample of 8000 plus participants. I think we have use 500 and 1000 samples to predict US elections. :laughing:
I would defer to anyone who had a better handle on polling.


(Andrew Bulin) #5

It’s crazy what people are willing to believe. :confused:

Paul’s charge to Timothy becomes just what I need:

2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. — 2 Timothy 4:2-5 NASB


(Jennifer Judson) #6

I find any polling done strictly through the internet to be suspect. Our “smart” computers and search engines algorithms are predetermining items that get pushed to us depending on our previous internet choices and searches. So if I view a lot of liberal editorial sites, liberal stories get pushed my way.

So if an online poll is pushed to my browser I might take interest and answer the survey. Or in the case of YouGov, I might find that site via a social media search of my choosing. (Note: even the ads you see on social media are predetermined based on your previous interests). Either way, my connection may mean a pre-disposition to particular answers.

Whereas a phone survey by a reputable polling service will randomly call numbers throughout a predetermined geographical area–such as all states/territories eligible to vote in the case of an election. Pollsters believe it does not take a large number to get an predictive poll, but the key is in the randomness.

That’s where a fully online survey has great potential to be skewed. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Just means I personlly take it with a full box of salt.


(Carson Weitnauer) #7

Yea, I’m pretty skeptical of the survey. I think there are a lot of people who would think it is pretty funny to respond, “I always thought the world is round, but more recently I am skeptical/have doubts”. Without some further, qualitative research on this, I’m skeptical.

For more reason to think this survey is not well designed, I found this brief article helpful: https://www.sciencealert.com/one-third-millennials-believe-flat-earth-conspiracy-statistics-yougov-debunk

Before you decry that last stat as the state of young people’s education (how can they not know!?), keep in mind - other YouGov polls of Americans have found that 13 percent of those young folks don’t even know what feelings they have about salad, and 20 percent don’t know what they think of romantic breakups.

There could be so many reasons for choosing the “other” box, including not really caring or not thinking about Earth’s shape, and simply wanting to get through the survey to cash in those reward points.

As for the 4 percent of young flat-Earthers unearthed in the data - there’s no way of telling how truthful they were being, and whether they just wanted to mess with the researchers when they saw the amusing study question.

Besides, the 18 to 24 group isn’t even the only millennial set in this poll.

According to the latest generational cutoff point designated by Pew Research, the oldest millennials right now are actually 37 years old.


(SeanO) #8

I think the fact that Neil Tyson felt the need to respond indicates that while the movement may be a small one - it does exist. There is a conference dedicated to it :slight_smile:

However, saying that belief in a flat earth is on an upward trend in our culture is hopefully not the case and would certainly require more than one survey, even if it was a well crafted one (which appears questionable in this case).