A few thoughts on flat earth

I managed to get pulled into this documentary on Netflix — Behind the Curve. It’s about the flat earth movement, focusing on several people who have pretty much dedicated their lives to it (one of whom, interestingly enough, lives on Whidbey Island, which is not only in my backyard, but it’s also a place I dream of living). What struck me about the documentary primarily is the energy around these folks, especially when they start talking about significance in their own lives. When they talk about not fitting in. Not belonging. Feeling like a misfit.

There are several scientists that are interviewed, some of which see in these flate earthers” a capacity for science that they would like to encourage. They talk about finding a way to support them in understanding where their logic falls apart, and help them to be engaged in scientific pursuits that could benefit the world. They are inviting them to belong in a place that, I think, the flat earthers have felt rejected.

Is it a coincidence that a significant amount of the folks we see on screen are men? And white men at that? Not all of them, by far, but definitely a majority. More than once during the documentary, the sadness in the eyes of these folks was palpable. It’s like the idea of flat earth was a proxy for something. Something more fundamental. Something more foundational.

One of the scientists put forward the question to those of us who wouldn’t consider ourselves flat earthers, What is your flat earth? Where are you holding an idea that doesn’t follow the way that reality works?” I appreciate this question because it opens the door to look at the places where beliefs have come in to support a place of belonging, where perhaps belonging itself might be the thing that would fill the hole we feel within.

How do we meet ourselves in those places? And how do we meet those around us?

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