3/10 Why People Believe The Earth Is Flat w/ Kelly Weill

March 10, 2022

Sam hosts Kelly Weill, reporter at the Daily Beast, to discuss her recent book Off the Edge: Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Culture, and Why People Will Believe Anything. Kelly begins by situating her research into flat earthers as a case study in people’s inclination to faith and belief, separating the flat earth belief from other conspiracies in how – rather than fitting itself within established views of reality – it forces its believers to truly throw out all known information about our world. She and Sam then work to unpack the flat earth canon, walking through the enclosed disk surrounded by ice that is our “earth,” and how this view stemmed from the global construction itself. Next, Kelly dives into how, despite this being rather disprovable, flat earthers tend to not be dissuaded by contrary evidence, as she walks through different attempts to find this ice wall (both legitimate attempts and grifts), before she and Sam jump back to England in the 1840s, in the midst of a shift from religion to natural sciences, to look at Samuel Rowbotham’s foundational works on the flat earth and how they served to make sense of a rapidly changing view of our world. They then move to the 1900s in America, with the founding of the town of Zion, Illinois as a Christian fundamentalist, theocrat-ruled community that quickly was overtaken by a flat earth doctrine, and work through the malleability of this particular conspiracy in fitting alongside countless other beliefs. Moving into contemporary times, Sam and Kelly discuss the role of social media in giving flat earth the boost it needed to push it onto the fringes of the mainstream (oxymoron, sorry), as they dive into the artificial promotion on YouTube and Facebook before they look to the relationship between flat earthers and the other conspiracies flowing through the modern Right-wing, discussing how Q Anon and anti-vax believers are jumping on their overlap with other conspiracists to recruit even more to their side. They wrap up their interview by discussing the flat earth influencer hierarchy, and look into governments, Jews, and witches as the antagonists at the core of these theories. Sam also touches on Russia’s continued attacks on civilians and hospitals, and Trump’s appearance on an MMA pod to discuss his relationship with Putin and Ukraine.

And in the Fun Half: Sam is joined by Matt and Brandon as they dive into Ben Shapiro soft-pitching a new anti-environmentalist conspiracy theory, Fox News giving a voice to the voiceless CEOs of the petroleum industry, and the building bad-faith tension between Jen Psaki and Doocy Jr. They also hold an extensive conversation on the nationalization of the energy industry, Frank from Minneapolis discusses would-be watershed-moments, and Fox News hosts a discussion on false-flag bioweapons. Ben from Worcester gives his own flat earther insight, and Matt gets into Crypto dating scams, plus, your calls and IMs!

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