Kyrie Irving is one of the most entertaining basketball players on the planet, and he has always seemed to be an eloquent, intelligent human being, but all of that was shattered last week when he joined the ranks of Tila Tequila and B.o.B. as a prominent proponent of the flat-earth theory. In the grand field of conspiracy theories, few are as beautifully straightforward as that of flat earthers. It is not part of a grand cosmology of conspiracies involving JFK and the Illuminati and extraterrestrials and steel beams; it is based upon the notion that the earth feels flat, and so it must be. It buttresses no other claims. As evidence, flat-earthers do not cite uncovered government documents, linking up names with spurious figures and documenting everything with careful red ink; they cite pictures of the horizon, which appears to be flat. It is gloriously pure in its conception: That fact doesn’t feel right, so it isn’t.
All of the other absurdities of the flat-earth conspiracy theory flow from this one assertion, but they are wonderful in their invention. Antarctica, they say, is an enormous wall of ice around the edge of our flat earth; NASA covers up the existence of the ice wall in an effort to keep people from climbing over it and off of the disc; eclipses are caused by some sort of invisible “anti-moon.” (Check this article out for a more detailed investigation.) As we’ve seen over the past few months and years, all social platforms are good for disseminating misinformation and conspiracy theories, each in different ways. Accordingly, the best possible place to get your flat-earth conspiracy theories reinforced is on Instagram.
Perhaps the most popular account is the 36,000-follower flatearthtshirtco, which shares sardonic memes and short inspirational videos. They are also noteworthy for calling people who believe in a round earth “globeheads.”
The account flatearth_ focuses more on instructive information, and has the courtesy to set this one to a good beat:
This post is illustrative of both the supposed actual structure of the universe according to flat-earthers and an example of their weird insistence upon the curvature of the human eye as proof of their theory:
Also popular is lookingforthetruth, which pairs more memes with huge blocks of white text on turquoise backgrounds. They get extremely mathematical.
Dome_Finder is one of the best ones, in that it is almost all image-based. It proves why Instagram works so well for flat-earth accounts: It is based entirely upon the way a single thing appears, and so utilizes countervailing images as irrefutable counter-evidence. Like, damn:
There are a lot more, like flatearthtruth and flatearthtoday, which also commingle image macros, drawings, videos, quotations, and inspirational quotes for adherents to rally around. Throughout, Irving is treated as a spokesperson and a martyr.
Of course, antiscientific sentiment isn’t confined to flat-earthers. As the Denver Post points out, it’s just as absurd to deny climate change or the efficacy of vaccinations, and all of these beliefs feed into a greater undermining of the work of scientists. But flat-earthers are more inconsequential in their particular manifestation of this trend, and these accounts can serve as an almost pleasant reminder that some conspiracies are too weird—and useless—to get much further than a few celebrity adherents.
At least, until the president ditches Twitter for Instagram. Then we’re all in trouble.