How to distinguish a flat earther from a comedian | Opinion

If our planet were spherical and rotated, airplanes could not fly. This is the plot of a Tik Tok video in which a young man wants to convince us that the Earth is flat. In his speech he uses as an example airplanes that fly “from Spain to Teruel”, but that will never reach their destination: if they travel in the opposite direction to the rotation, they will go too fast and pass by; and if they fly in the same direction, “they will never get to the place” because the Earth goes faster and escapes.

Do not panic: this is a humorous and parodic video, the work of @cristiandelasierra from Cádiz. On twitter it has been received between applause and laughter, but more than one has taken it seriously and has put it as an example of how bad we are, with comments such as “friends, finish your studies” or “and that these people have the right to vote.”

If anyone is in doubt, they can log into their account and see that it is full of funny videos, including a few with very good material on conspiracy theories. For example, in another of them he explains that it is a lie that there is a hole in the ozone layer because if not, all the oxygen would have escaped. To confirm this, he proposes an experiment that “you can repeat at home”: breathe.

Still, we shouldn’t make the mistake of laughing at those who have taken this comedian seriously. Many of the answers to the tweet that popularized the video they mention Poe’s law, according to which it is very difficult to distinguish an extreme ideological position from its parody. This law was coined in 2005 by Nathan Poe, during a discussion about creationism in a forum. In fact, the original text refers only to these ideas: “Without an emoticon that winks an eye or some other clear display of humor, it is completely impossible to parody a creationist in such a way that someone cannot confuse him with one of truth”.

At the end of the day, what Cristian exposes in his video is not so different from what many flat-earthers say. For example, these conspiranoids have very long dissertations about what are the “real” routes of airplanes and insist that a spherical Earth is absurd because that would mean that in Australia they live upside down. No kidding, they have their own memes about it and they mean it. At least I think so.

In fact, it is not difficult to turn any conspiracy theory into a joke without changing a single letter, like the idea that we are inoculated with chips in vaccines or that Stanley Kubrick filmed the moon landing. But this is not all to laugh at flat-earthers (for once), but as a reminder that all hype is bordering on self-parody. If we do not know if someone is joking (or if someone believes that we are) it may well be because the debate has become so disfigured that we are losing touch with reality.

And that often happens in politics and in networks, among many other topics and without the need to get into conspiracies. For example, a few days ago the deputy of Vox Macarena Olona shared a video in which he assured that “Don Julio Anguita, nowadays, of whom he would feel deeply proud is Vox.” Was he serious or was he a sketch from The intermediate? Another example: a company fires 900 employees for Zoom. Was it real news or a dystopian satire in the style of Black Mirror? Like many tweeters with the false flat Earth, I find it increasingly difficult to distinguish. Although, without a doubt, I would prefer that half of what I get was a joke that I did not get.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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