The latest episode of Big Picture Science radio show/podcast is called “Flat Earth” and features several interview segments about how amateurs are questioning scientific authority and attempting to sound sciencey all the while. Why do they do this? It’s complicated. The rise in flat earth belief is a good framework for this episode. This new conspiratorial claim is clearly not about science ignorance and lack of education – we all were taught at least this basic earth fact – but it is about the rejection of authority. They are refusing that established narrative and substituting their own personal ones. Evidence is seen through their own two-dimensional lenses.
Check out my Spooky Geology piece on the Flat Earth: Anti-globular convictions: Flat Earth belief explodes in popularity
We also covered this on the podcast regarding Mad Mike Hughes’ attempt at “proving” the earth is flat and the convention of flat-earthers.
The show also spoke to Dr. Neil Gemmell who is collecting samples of Loch Ness to extract environmental DNA. This is also a topic I wrote about (see “The Science of Nessie: Then and Now” on this site) and we discussed on the podcast. Be sure to check out the entire backlog of episodes at 15 Credibility Street.
So this Big Picture Science episode featured various topics in which I’m particularly interested and have some experience. So, it only made sense to include me too! Dr. Seth Shostak and his team contacted me a few weeks ago to arrange an interview about my new book. I sent him the book and we connected at the local NPR affiliate studio to record. Much of the discussion has been cut to fit the format, as these things go, but you can listen to the entire program here. Or just my portion here.
If the strange dichotomy within amateur investigators to both respect but disrespect science intrigues you, you really must get my book, Scientifical Americans: The Culture of Paranormal Researchers. I know it’s a high price tag but please consider it in support of my entire body of work – aimed to examine and understand science + society. Support really means a lot. There is much more work to be done here. But first, I plan on doing an experiment of my own supporting a spherical earth: I’m heading to Australia to show that it really exists. Yes, in the surreal and absurd world of conspiracists, the giant island continent and, presumably everyone and everything on it, is a lie. There have always been such extremists who live in a pseudo-reality but the Internet has made these flights of fantasy mainstream.