According to a new survey that may or may not surprise you, only about 66 percent of 18-24-year-olds are absolutely certain that the earth is round.
Although the findings don’t necessarily mean there’s a large crop of Millennial flat-earthers out there, they do show that a growing number of young adults are willing to entertain fraudulent ideas that contradict known facts.
According to the study conducted by YouGov, only about 4 percent of people in the 18-24 group actually believe the earth is flat. Additionally, 9 percent said they grew up believing the world is round but are now having second thoughts; 5 percent said they always believed the world was flat but are now coming to believe that it’s round, and 16 percent are undecided.
As the blog LiveScience points out, flat-earth believers have been around for over two centuries, but thanks to quacks who have big platforms on social media, the medieval-ish take on astronomy is making a comeback. The movement’s proponents are almost infantile in their reasoning, but that’s not stopping it from taking over the minds of the impressionable.
Of the 8,215 adults who took part in the survey, it was the Millennials who exhibited the most tendencies towards round-earth skepticism or ambivalence on the matter as a whole.
Had a long chat this week with a business owner who volunteered his own flat-earth beliefs, including claiming no one is allowed to travel to the Arctic because it's actually a big ice wall surrounding us. When I told him I was just there, he pivoted to fake moon landing. https://t.co/Mx92VbPqYM
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) April 12, 2018
As far as political persuasions and education levels were concerned, there wasn’t much difference in who dabbled in round earth skepticism, but one common predictive factor was religion.
According to the results, 52 percent of those who said the world was flat also called themselves “very religious,” a descriptor that only 20 percent of Americans as a whole use for themselves. Another 23 percent of flat-Earth believers called themselves “somewhat religious,” while 25 percent said they were either not very religious or not religious at all.
Another sign of growing flat eartherism comes in the form of internet search trends. According to Google Trends, more people have been searching for topics related to flat earth, especially in 2016 and 2017.
While people who believe these atrociously fraudulent things are easily mocked, their growing influence is no joke. Speaking to The Verge, political science professor Joseph Uscinski says people who aren’t flat earth believers can sometimes find the specter of the conspiracy entertaining. Reading about a conspiracy theory is “not unlike [watching] an M. Night Shyamalan movie in the theater,” he says.
“Did secret agents plant explosives in the Twin Towers to fake a terror attack? Did the Mafia undertake a hit against President Kennedy? Do interdimensional lizards secretly interbreed with humans while running the planet? Even if one is not convinced, there is plenty of entertainment there.”
And that’s where the slippery slope that leads off the edge of flat eartherism sometimes begins.
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