On Willful Ignorance [or Age of Unreason]

[We take a departure from open hardware to discuss a dangerous trend in society]

I’m confused.  How in the world did we get here?  The war on science, reason, and logic has not seen this much success since the dark ages.  Four in ten Americans reject evolution and many politicians deny climate change.  The relentless fusillade on expertise has taken its toll and it is now open season on observation itself.   Now we are told the truth doesn’t even matter.

oh… and by the way…. the Earth is flat (like your head).  I know this goes against what you’ve been taught, but let’s dig a little deeper and suppress the initial reaction to reject the claim immediately.  We can approach this scientifically and make observations that will either support or reject the claim.

In case you missed it, the Flat Earth Society suggests that the Earth is a flat disk with the North pole as its center and an ice wall near Antarctica preventing us from falling off.  According to this theory, the sun is about 35 miles across and is suspended 3000 miles above the disk, completing one revolution per day around a circle centered 3000 miles above the North Pole.  The seasons are caused by the changing radius of the circular path of the sun.

The image below shows in grey, the path the sun makes over the course of a year.  Black diamond shows my point of observation outside Washington D.C.

We now have a scientific test we can apply to the Flat Earth conjecture.  I’ve computed the elevation angle of the sun from my vantage point over the course of a year.  Elevation angle is the angle of an object made by the horizon, the observer, and the object in the vertical plane.  Below, the elevation angle is plotted vs azimuth.

They used to say “the sun never sets on the British Empire” well according to the Flat Earth society, the sun never sets on D.C. either!  According to this model, the sun should NEVER go beneath the horizon.  This contradicts the fact that we can observe the sun elevation angle reaching zero (when the sun sets). In fact, I should never witness the sun dip below 10 degrees elevation.  Indeed there is no place on earth where the sun sets according to the Flat Earth Society.  Can you please make an observation for me?  If you’ve seen a sunset in your life, can you please state the time and location in the comments?  Better yet, please post any photographic proof of your observation!  Its citizen science in action.

A cult is an organization that asks you to reject your own observations and adhere to another explanation on faith.  The Flat Earth Society is only one example.  Crowd size is anorther. Denying Russian collusion is another.  The question is why? and why now?  As with any cult, there is power in deception.  After the truth is cast out, a cult leader can fill the void with whatever he wants.

Science, not indignation, is the cure for ignorance: hypothesis, observe, conclude.

How people fall into believing the Flat Earth model.

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