We Need Flat Earthers

Flat Earthers are, of course, kooks. But their existence and the capacity of cuckoo groups like them to organize conferences and hang out together online or in person is a sign of a healthy society.

We are currently moving from a healthy society to one that persecutes people like them for spreading “false information” that might “cause harm” and “incite violence” towards mainstream geographers because it’s a sign of “white supremacy” and “patriarchal colonialism,” and so on.

18 thoughts on “We Need Flat Earthers

  1. For the sake of conversation, tell me – had someone 20 years ago said “We need groups of trans people to meet online and in conferences to discuss their idea that having a penis does not mean that a human is a biological male, since that makes society healthier!” would you still say the same thing?

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    1. I’d say it today just like I did 20 years ago. Of course, trans people should be able to get together and discuss their identity freely.

      It’s when flat-Earthers get their beliefs written into the school curricula as the only acceptable version of reality and start firing people for saying that the Earth isn’t flat that I start having a problem.

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      1. “It’s when flat-Earthers get their beliefs written into the school curricula as the only acceptable version of reality and start firing people for saying that the Earth isn’t flat that I start having a problem.”

        May I ask why you think it necessary to wait for the problem to actually break out before seeing it as one? I’m all for free speech and everything but at the same time am cognisant that our political systems are by no means perfect and vulnerable to distortion by some ideas. In turn, that means that some ideas expressed freely can result in outcomes that are so bad that they are worse than the outcome of limiting some speech.

        For the sake of conversation (because this does put you on the spot a little bit) – if you knew that free association and free speech of kooky flat Earthers would result in a future change of the school syllabus, the firing of all smart scientists who have anything to do with space travel & satellites etc, would you support suppressing that speech?

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        1. Free speech doesn’t result in suppression of free speech. I’d never support shutting people up, ever. Because it’s not their speech, erroneous as it may be, that causes violence, oppression, etc.

          What causes violence and oppression is when some people decide that they know what’s best for everybody and start shutting people up “to prevent violence.”

          It’s the same principle as not arresting people for drunk driving because they have alcohol at home. You can’t punish and suppress preventatively.

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          1. “Free speech doesn’t result in suppression of free speech.”

            Yes it does. All of those people in government everywhere suppressing speech got into government in the first place because their supporters were able to freely talk about them as a candidate. Afterwards those same people who utilised the free speech of the nation in order to install their candidate then attempt to make it impossible for their candidate to be removed by silencing all speech but theirs. It’s marxism 101 – use their systems against them. Systems that allow free speech are attacked using free speech.

            “I’d never support shutting people up, ever. Because it’s not their speech, erroneous as it may be, that causes violence, oppression, etc.”

            This begs the “if you could, would you go back in time to kill Hitler as a baby and prevent WW2” question, because speech really is sometimes the cause of a lot of violence depending on what is being said 🙂

            “What causes violence and oppression is when some people decide that they know what’s best for everybody and start shutting people up “to prevent violence.”

            Respectfully, I disagree. The moment a law is made, violence is done, because all laws are enforced by the monopolised violence of the state that created them. The two main differences between laws that uphold free speech and laws that suppress free speech are 1 outcomes and 2 who benefits.

            “It’s the same principle as not arresting people for drunk driving because they have alcohol at home. You can’t punish and suppress preventatively.”

            Again, respectfully, I disagree, because the law against drunk driving is consequential ie based on cause & effect. Alcohol in a persons body causes the effect of them being impaired reflexively/cognitively etc, which causes the effect of that driver being less able to adequately use a motor vehicle, which is them sometimes the cause in itself of the driver crashing the car. Alcohol stored in the home is not part of the chain of cause & effect yet and so cannot rightly be targeted by a law based on consequential thinking.

            Anyway, if I may, another question – if you knew that a political system was vulnerable to distortion by uncontrolled free speech, then would you seek to prohibit the speech, or alter the system so that it would withstand uncontrolled free speech?

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            1. This is a philosophical disagreement we have. This idea that speech causes violence – rather than people cause violence – is alien to me. I don’t see the point in proceeding because we will keep going in circles.

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              1. “This is a philosophical disagreement we have. This idea that speech causes violence – rather than people cause violence – is alien to me. I don’t see the point in proceeding because we will keep going in circles.”

                We can abandon it here if you want to, though I will say that the point that I was getting to is that free speech is only suppressed because the system that is in place worldwide is such that free speech would either destroy the system itself or change the ones in charge of it, since the system is very unequalised.

                So, logically, the problem isn’t and never was free speech, while the question wasn’t and never was how to control speech. The right question to ask imo is what kind of governmental system allows large groups of people to say practically whatever they like without social/political tension rising to unacceptable levels.

                Whatever that governmental system is, it would be markedly different to the system presently in place, and practically guaranteed to be overseen differently/be different people, which is exactly why the question isn’t discussed in the mainstream.

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        2. Because when you suppress free speech that goes against the mainstream, you run the risk of suppressing novel new ideas that that have real merit. Basically every new discovery and idea out there has encountered strong initial opposition from the establishment that feels threatened. In the context of science, this happens all the time when a new method or idea threatens lifelong careers from people within the establishment.

          Suppression of new ideas, no matter how crazy sounding they are, is about the worst you can do to a society. It leads to stagnation.

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          1. @ ed: “Suppression of new ideas, no matter how crazy sounding they are, is about the worst you can do to a society. It leads to stagnation.”

            I don’t think that it is so simple. Nazism was once a new idea that got a lot of people interested in it. Same with Marxism.

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            1. And what? Marxism should have been suppressed? To what purpose?

              I’ve used a lot of Marxist theory in my research, and nobody was harmed. Ideas don’t harm. Words don’t harm. People harm. What excuse they use to do that harm is irrelevant. Trying to outlaw one excuse after another is a waste of time because there always be a new one.

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              1. “And what? Marxism should have been suppressed? To what purpose?”

                Yes, Marxism should have been ruthlessly suppressed and eradicated. The purpose of such an eradication would have been to prevent the consequences of Marxism, particularly revolution, war, and the destruction of cultures/societies.

                The reason that Marxism and all forms of it should be eliminated is because in its essence, Marxism is a scam. It’s practically a brain virus that infects human societies and destroys them, which happens because of factors intrinsic to the human being.

                We have understood for at least a century that some human beings are so impressionable and mentally labile that in the early days of radio and television, it was prohibited by government to report crimes over public media excessively, after it was noticed that excessive crime reporting led to copycatism. It worked, and is an example of how the suppression of some things is absolutely in the interests of the human being and society as a whole.

                In the same vein, we have seen several times throughout history that enough human beings are influenced by the confused and idiotic ideas of Marx (and his lesser known predecessors/peers) that they coalesce to form movements or significant groups within societies that inevitably upend them.

                So the way I see it, allowing the ideas of Marxism to spread, from the perspective of an effective leader, is as criminal as allowing a bunch of Nigerians to go door to door to teach everyone how to scam people online, while simultaneously allowing ISIS extremists to go to highschools for purposes of recruitment. It is absolutely insane to allow something destructive to spread throughout your society.

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              2. Every dictatorship starts under the excuse that some human beings are superior to others and have to protect those weak, impressionable others from themselves. This always ends in a genocide.

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              3. “Every dictatorship starts under the excuse that some human beings are superior to others and have to protect those weak, impressionable others from themselves. This always ends in a genocide.”

                That’s totally irrelevant. Dictatorships arise when 2 things are in place at the same time. 1 someone who wants to be a dictator and 2 a system that can be taken over by a dictator.

                The fact that some dictators used a certain thing as an excuse to execute a genocide does not preclude that thing from being the correct action to perform at a certain point in time. Specifically, it would be used to prevent number 2 from coming into existence or persisting – a system that can be taken over by a dictator.

                It is totally illogical to say that the mechanism used to stop a dictatorship from arising is bad because the mechanism has been used by previous dictators who already existed in order to do something bad, since the only way for it to be bad is if the very thing that it precludes exists to misuse it.

                You can’t preclude something and assume that it exists at the same time. It causes a logic error.

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              1. “Freedom of speech did not give rise to Nazism. A broken society and country did.”

                If you look closely, you’ll see that I did not say anything about what gave rise to Nazism.

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              2. Exactly. The way Germany was after WWI, it would be stunning if nothing like Nazism arose. The same is true for Bolshevism in Russia.

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              3. “Exactly. The way Germany was after WWI, it would be stunning if nothing like Nazism arose. The same is true for Bolshevism in Russia.”

                It would be good if we focused on the present, because the shadow of walks in the West already.

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