I saw a man on the television the other day who belongs to the Flat Earth Movement. He claimed that if given a hearing he could convince anybody that this beautiful planet of ours is flat.
I was expecting one of those eccentric guys you try not to sit next to on the bus. However, he seemed intelligent, persuasive even, rattling off fact after fact to counter the interviewer’s questions. All despite the fact that what he was peddling was barking.
We all know that this planet of ours is round. Spherical.
But . . .
But . . .
I shouldn’t really be so quick to ridicule someone who holds an opinion contrary to mine, however in the minority that opinion should be.
Everything we know for sure we have been told by somebody else.
Everything I know is what I’ve been told by somebody else.
The sum of my knowledge is the result of someone else’s teaching.
Space, evolution, history. The micro and the macro.
There is information that I can garner for myself, an understanding of the world that I can form by experience, but I know my limitations. I need it explaining to me in layman’s terms. I rely on ‘experts’ to feed me accepted theories.
What have I ever actually confirmed for myself? Maybe the best way to cook an egg. See what I mean? Limitations.
I once worked with a guy who was a huuuuuge Treky. I think that’s what you call them? Star Trek fans. Again, that’s what I’ve been told. He watched every different spin off series as well as the original one from the sixties. One day, I asked him if he was going to watch Walking With Dinosaurs, the new television show that had been heavily advertised to air that evening.
He answered with a surprising vehemence, “No I’m not! It’s science fiction!”
It took me aback. Even though it didn’t equate with Star Trek, Star Wars, or any other such flagship of the genre, (this was before Jurassic Park), I replied “You like science fiction!” Then, I spelled out: “But Nick: Dinosaurs. Were. Real.”
Then I twigged what the issue was. It was his religion. In my ignorance I can’t now, twenty years down the line, recall what he was. Jehovah’s Witness? Mormon? Whichever it was, the problem was to do with the Biblical version of how old the Earth was. Whether it was flat or round didn’t even enter into it. (Does Genesis explicitly say which?)
And there’s the rub. What he believed, he’d been taught. What I believed, I’d been taught. With little room to manoeuvre.
Whether we realised it or not, we were both products of indoctrination. His was religious. Mine was cultural. Products of our time, standing on the shoulders of giants.
But anyway, despite all of the above, I’m going to nail my colours to the mast here and tell you that the Earth is round. Magnificently round.