Archives for category: Science

It is a true story that people exist today who believe that the Earth is flat. It is not a true story that the Earth is flat. If you believe the Earth is flat, this blog isn’t for you; it’s for the rest of the population that unanimously agree that you’re just… so dumb. There is not even a question to your dumbness. It supersedes all other qualities you might possess.

flat earth

It’s really hard to tell what is parody and what is sincere because the whole concept defies all logic

Anyway, who gives a shit. Like, Flat Earthers are dumb, fine, but that dumbness is about as harmless as a small child who believes in Santa Claus. Consider the progress that women have made in the last few thousand years, and remember that the backlash against that progress has stemmed from the exact same ideas every single time. Mary Wollstonecraft wrote about women’s issues in the 1700s that modern Men’s Rights Activists would have problems with today. Women are invading men’s spaces! Women are fundamentally different from men and are therefore incapable of learning anything, from the basic fundamentals of education to computer programming! Anachronistic arguments are all dumb, but believing ancient myths about the geometric shape of the Earth is pretty damn benign compared to oppressive, yet equally obsolete beliefs about women.

Fuck, there are just as many scientists that believe that the Earth is flat as scientists who believe that global warming is not a man-made catastrophe! Believing the Earth is flat isn’t going to cause the literal extinction of our species, but hey, let’s focus our energy on tweeting about how dumb this other idiot on social media is, right? When I actively search for Flat Earth theories, my results are pretty much entirely those “debunking” Flat Earth theories or parodying the belief. Next up, I guess Neil deGrasse Tyson will use his wealth of knowledge to “debunk” the belief that there is gold at the end of the rainbow by dedicating the rest of his life to tweeting about light refraction and its irrelevance to mineral deposits.


Come at me, deGrasse Tyson!

The points against caring about Flat Earthers are pretty strong. But if you listen to some of the arguments of those other, more harmful anachronisms, something interesting happens.

Let’s look at anti-Vaccers: equally dumb to everyone else in here, but listen to their arguments. Big Pharma is either actively trying to poison them, or is selling snake oil for a quick buck, or any number of cons that ultimately mean that they do not have the best interests of the population at heart. And the truth is, they don’t! The makers of OxyContin have been actively murdering hundreds of thousands of citizens for years by selling an addictive killer under a deceptive marketing scheme. Or when Martin Shkreli raised the price of a life saving drug from $13.50 to $750 a pill, effectively killing off his less affluent clients. The problem is, pharmaceutical companies are not dedicated to pharmaceuticals, they are dedicated to making that quick buck. The very reason that climate denial exists despite no credible evidence to refute it is because rich people want to create some wiggle room in the truth that allows them to continue to make extravagant short-term profits at the meager cost of our entire planet.


Your best interests are to give me money; then we’ll both be happy!

The truth is that within a neoliberal ideology, everything must be commodified, which in turn commodifies truth. Reality is shaped by those who seek to profit from it, and as more and more of these lies are revealed, more and more the truth begins to look like a lie. Can we really blame someone for thinking the Earth is flat when we’ve been told for so long that cigarettes don’t cause cancer? That lead-based paint, asbestos, thalidomide, and so many others, are completely harmless? Those in power bank on their monopoly on “experts” to greedily manipulate the truth, and we wonder why skeptics arise in the most inconceivable arenas.

Certainly there are other areas of power that strangle the concept of truth for their own benefit. Politicians are notorious for morphing the truth to suit their aims (or the aims of their benefactors). Same with the clergy. So long as there is a discrepancy of power, there will be elites who use whatever means they can to reshape the world to reinforce or augment that discrepancy.

So do we need to care about Flat Earthers? Ehn, no. Maybe dedicating our energy to disentangling authority from power would be a more effective use of our time.

If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around, does it make a sound? While some believe this is an unanswerable koan designed to clear the mind and achieve zen enlightenment, there actually is an answer: no, it does not make a sound. What it would create would be vibrating particles that require a hearing recipient to understand it as “sound.” Consider if there was a bat present at this spontaneous tree felling; it would not produce a sound so much as a sonar “ping.” The bat would translate this event in a much different sense than a human being. Without an interpretive subject, a tree falling in the woods essentially becomes describable only in mathematical terms.


Ask not, did it make a sound? Instead ask, what does having sensory organs at all tell me about my relationship to reality?

Consider an alternative: if a fire hydrant is in a pitch black room, is it still red? Again, the answer is no. Colour requires the reflection of light off of a surface, to be interpreted by the rods and cones in our eyes. If there is no light bouncing into our eyeballs, there is no colour. Presumably there is still the hydrant’s aspect of “red” that would be present while the light is gone, to be reinvigorated when the light returns, but our understanding of it as red is so far removed from its objective aspect that to call it “red” is a misnomer and used only for the sake of comprehensibility. It’s not difficult to imagine a different kind of biological organ that interprets light differently from our human eyes, similar to how a bat would differ from us in interpreting sound waves. The essence of a thing and how it interacts with the world around it outside of how a subject perceives it is thus quite impossible to experience.

This is what Thomas Nagel would refer to as The View from Nowhere. Immanuel Kant would call it the noumenal world. A conceptual world that is unavailable to us based on the fact that our understanding of “worldness” comes entirely from our uniquely human senses. We may be able to understand it in conceptual terms, and science has certainly given us more refined definitions with which we can do so, but its existence in any sense of the word that might have value to us is completely irrelevant to how it objectively “exists.” Music, colour, sensuous touch, and decadent taste; these things have meaning insofar as they are wholly human, oblivious to any other interpretation. Even our scientific tools can only function along the spectrum that our senses allow us to interpret, meaning that the concepts we have of the noumenal world may be far from its totality.

Contemplating a tree falling in the woods should not lead to a conversion to Buddhism, but to philosophical revelation about our relationship to reality.

God forbids certain actions with a bunch of Thou Shalts telling us not to do this, not to commit that, but it’s not like He’s actually stopping us. God is just saying that if we sin, then we’ll spend eternity in hellfire. Which, fine. Maybe people want to avoid that. On the other hand, where I can will myself to sin, I can’t will myself taller. I will never be able to telekinetically move objects with my mind. I can’t sprout wings and soar into the dawning sky. We have this supposed “free” will, but we don’t have a universal capacity to fulfill any fantastical idea we desire?

What this tells me is that God has a greater interest in human beings abiding by the laws of nature than He does His own moral decrees. He puts in all this effort to emphasize the importance of the ethical rules in His divine revelations, yet we as His subjugated creatures don’t even possess the capability of breaking physical laws. We were designed in such a way that we must conform to certain inviolable laws, but none of them are moral. It must be, then, that God cares less about moral rules than he does about physical ones, otherwise He would have created us differently. Morality does not have primacy, physics does, and thus the Bible becomes secondary to science even within the framework of religion.