You may recall the excellent face-off between rapper B.o.B. and Neil DeGrasse Tyson over B.o.B’s insistence that the Earth is flat. It was fun, partially because it was hilarious that we are still having this conversation, and partly because it caused Neil DeGrasse Tyson to make this video
I did not react to the feud in the same way that I did when Creationists get into it with popular scientists, mostly because flat-Earthers are extremely rare and do not try to teach their “alternative theory” in public schools. They are so rare, in fact, that I was partly convinced that B.o.B. had simply picked the most ridiculous thing he could think of and said it on Twitter in order to get his name on TV for a few days, rather than because he actually believed it.
Even if he did believe it, I thought, I’m not going to lose my shit because one rapper slept his way through elementary school science and now thinks he’s being clever. I can just enjoy these short clips, and move on with my life.
Unfortunately, B.o.B. seems to have sparked something of a fashion. Not amongst other rappers, but rather amongst American athletes. It seems that being a flat-Earther has become very in.
IFLScience has reported that no fewer than four athletes have discussed their conviction that the earth is flat, most famous amongst them being Shaquille O’Neal.
Shaq made the comments on a show called The Big Podcast (please don’t read the comments there), which he co-hosts, back in February that has just been released. Below is a genuine, verbatim quote of what he said:
“I drive from coast to coast, and this shit is flat to me. I’m just saying. I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it’s flat to me. I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle, and all that stuff about gravity, have you looked outside Atlanta lately and seen all these buildings? You mean to tell me that China is under us? China is under us? It’s not. The world is flat.”
When one of his co-hosts noted we had satellite imagery of Earth pointing out that Earth was, indeed, round, he responded: “Oh satellite imagery? That could be [a] drone or made up.”
Oh dear Thor. I cannot express how disappointed I am in Shaquille O’Neal right now. It is one thing to say “hey, I don’t understand how the Earth can be round when the horizon looks flat” or something similar. It is a mere expression of ignorance, one that demonstrates scientific curiosity, and one that will spark an informed answer. I’m not going to put you down if you did not have access to a good education and merely want to understand how the basics of science and math work. But to go so far as to think that your perspective is the only measure of reality, and all of those NASA people and scientists around the world have been faking everything just for the shits and giggles of pulling the wool over our eyes, and you just happen to be the smartest person on the planet to have figured it out? Holy crap, you are self-centered in the extreme.
Apparently, this fantasy is so popular that the other athletes who have talked about it publicly don’t even see what the big controversy is. According to Kyrie Irving:
“This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat.”
I am officially worried that this is becoming a thing.
While rappers are not usually lauded as role models for children by most parents, athletes most certainly are. If this starts becoming more and more popular, who knows where it leads. Next thing you know, we’ll have the flat-Earthers right alongside the young earth Creationists in the government, on school boards, and on TV explaining how unfair it is that they don’t get an equal say in the classroom.
We need to nip this in the bud now.