How to Debate a Flat-Earther


But he stops there, just when he’s getting to the point. How would you build trust with a flat Earther?


Oh sure, ask the hard questions! :wink:

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Flat Earthers trust scientists who they think are backing their claims, so I don’t think trust is the issue. Rather, I think they have an attraction towards secret societies and secret knowledge.


Has anyone here ever met a flat earther?
I have yet to, fortunately, because I think that would be maddening to me.

However, I think this concept would relate to dialogues I’ve been trying to have with people who are skeptical of vaccines, and now also those who are opposed to masking


This right here. I have a lot of experience talking to Flat Earthers online. The best way to convince a Flat Earthers to re-examine their ideas is to start with how uninformed or to use a less polite word, “stupid”, the typical Globe-Earthers are. This is not a lie, as most people have nowhere near the physics background required to debunk the stronger Flat Earth arguments. Then, show them some of the “exclusive” knowledge that only physicists know of; this makes them feel inducted to an exclusive club with “secret” knowledge. Finally, once they have internalized this feeling of exclusivity, show how this new “exclusive” knowledge actually points to a globe Earth.

Disclaimer: I have never directly turn a Flat Earther to a Glober Earther within a single discussion. The furthest I can do is to get Flat Earthers to question their previously unshaken belief, and start the journey of re-examining their ideas.


Could you induct us into that club by mentioning a few bits of that “exclusive” knowledge? How do we know you’re not just in cahoots with the moon landing hoaxers? And the great circle route conspirators?


The real secret is that there is no “exclusive” or “secret” knowledge, which is why they are in scare quotes – I just tell them stuff that anyone can find publicly in physics textbooks. The point is to make them feel as if they are inducted to a secret club.

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Yes, but what stuff?

The ones that I find hit the strongest are things that goes in opposition to what the general public thinks are true – essentially stuff that makes them think that they are “smarter” than the average person. Examples include that gravity can be repulsive, that energy in the Universe is not necessarily conserved, or how light refraction actually works. All of these are also relevant to Flat Earth arguments.


You sure are being reticent here. Do you not want to explain? If so, why? I’ve seen mystery cultists who were more forthcoming with their secrets.

I’m not sure what I am reticent about. You asked about what sorts of physics I talked to Flat Earthers about, and I answered them. I even give some examples of them.

How many of these flat earthers are YECs too?

There are significant amounts of YECs among them. However, there are also a large amount of Flat Earthers who subscribe to the eternal, unchanging universe model – which is almost like the complete opposite of a YEC. Flat-Earthers are typically very contrarian, and thus do not like the popularly accepted view that the Universe is ~teens billions years old. This contrarian attitude is in common between the YECs and the forever-static-Universe people among the Flat-Earthers.


There’s an Answers in Genesis article on Flat Earth that is a must read. Be sure to unplug any irony meters beforehand.


You did not, however, explain what the evidence was. You only alluded to the general topic. I’m asking for your actual argument.

@PdotdQ isn’t discussing an argument. Rather he is discussing a relational and rhetorical strategy for building trust. What he describes is well aligned with what we would expect to work in this scenario.


My grandfather is one. Ancient aliens person too.

Don’t ask me how those two things go together, I still haven’t figured it out.


Totally agree. But I asked him to discuss an argument.

Simple: Discworld.