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Monday, 7 May 2018

I watched an entire Flat Earth Convention for my research—here’s what I learned

Speakers recently flew in from around (or perhaps, across?) the Earth for a three-day event held in Birmingham: the UK’s first ever public Flat Earth Convention. It was well attended, and it wasn’t just three days of speeches and YouTube clips (though, granted, there was a lot of this). There was also a lot of team-building, networking, debating, workshops—and scientific experiments.

Yes, flat-Earthers do seem to place a lot of emphasis and priority on scientific methods and, in particular, on observable facts. The weekend in no small part revolved around discussing and debating science, with lots of time spent running, planning, and reporting on the latest set of flat-Earth experiments and models. Indeed, as one presenter noted early on, flat-Earthers try to “look for multiple, verifiable evidence” and advised attendees to “always do your own research and accept you might be wrong."

While flat-Earthers seem to trust and support scientific methods, what they don’t trust is scientists, and the established relationships between "power" and "knowledge." This relationship between power and knowledge has long been theorized by sociologists. By exploring this relationship, we can begin to understand why there is a swelling resurgence of flat-Earthers.

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