Flat Earth convention speaker to sphere-believers: ‘Never forget, we used to be you’

NASA captures a photo of Hurricane Florence — and the Earth’s visible curvature — from the International Space Station.
NASA captures a photo of Hurricane Florence — and the Earth’s visible curvature — from the International Space Station. NASA

Earth is a sphere.

Pythagoras and Aristotle said as much thousands of years ago, and today, if you ask just about any room of adults (or children) what shape the planet is, you’d hear the same answer.

But not if that room is full of attendees at the second-annual Flat Earth International Conference, which was held this week in Denver, Colorado, to bring together globe skeptics from around the, well, globe. Hundreds of flat Earth conspiracy theorists came out for the two-day event, KDVR reports.

“Look with your own eyes,” implored Dorothy Novak, a flat Earth believer, according to the TV station. “Go out to the beach on a cloudy day. Are the clouds curved?”

Attendees were drawn to the gathering for a packed schedule of presentations, debates and discussions — everything from “Women in Flat Earth” to “Flat Earth & The Moon.” But perhaps more than anything else, convention-goers flocked together in hopes of finding like-minded thinkers on Thursday and Friday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Denver’s airport.

“I’m not ashamed,” conference emcee Rick Hummer said, encouraging attendees to chant in unison along with him on Thursday, the Denver Post reported. “I’m not ashamed of ridicule. I’m not ashamed of mockery. I’m not ashamed of insults.”

One speaker at the convention, YouTube personality Rob Skiba, offered a warning to those who question the conspiracy theory the convention is based on, according to the Post.

“Never forget,” Skiba advised sphere believers, “we used to be you.”

Charles Whitehead came from New Jersey to the conference, and said he initially thought the flat Earth theory was absurd — until he heard rapper B.o.B. question the overwhelming scientific consensus on the matter, according to the Post.

Now Whitehead is a flat Earther, too.

“My family ridicules me. They say I’m stupid or I’m crazy,” Whitehead said, according to the Post. “I want to be around people like me.”

B.o.B. is the stage name of Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr., who suggested in a string of tweets in 2016 that he believes Earth is flat

“A lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’ ... but there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know... grow up,” the rapper tweeted, according to The Guardian. “No matter how high in elevation you are... the horizon is always eye level ... sorry cadets... I didn’t wanna believe it either.”

The rapper was quickly ridiculed: There are plenty of ways to prove Earth is round, and one doesn’t have to be a scientist to understand them.

For one thing, Earth casts a round shadow on the moon during eclipses, as Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed out last year when he posted a photoshopped picture on Twitter showing the moon with a flat-Earth-shaped shadow on it.

Popular Science lists ten simple proofs that Earth is round, including the fact that ships traveling away from viewers appear to vanish from the bottom first, which is due to Earth’s curvature. Other indicators include the shape of the moon and other planets — all round.

Last year’s flat Earth convention was held in Cary, North Carolina, the News & Observer reported — and it was sold out, with some 500 attendees.

“Flat-earthers believe our planet is Frisbee-shaped, hovering motionless in space,” the News & Observer’s Josh Shaffer wrote. “The North Pole lies at its center and Antarctica runs around the edge in a ring, preventing anyone from falling off. All photographs reputedly taken from space are computer-generated images or shot through a fish-eyed lens.”

Google interest in the search terms “flat Earth” started to pick up in 2015 and 2016, particularly around the time B.o.B. tweeted about the conspiracy theory, according to a Google trends chart. Interest remains high to this day, as does interest in other debunked conspiracies like chemtrails, Newsweek reported.

Robbie Davidson of Kryptoz Media put together the Denver gathering, the Post reports.

“If my future self came to me and said we would have a conference with this many people, I would have slapped myself,” he said, according to the newspaper.

The New York Times chief film critic A.O. Scott analyzes how movies such as Oliver Stone’s “J.F.K.” helped fuel America’s interest in conspiracies.

Related stories from Belleville News-Democrat