Whenever you see the words "X Proves the Flat Earth" in a video title, you know that whatever is in the video won't. Yet, I can't stop watching them. Why?
Is it because I enjoy laughing at the delusions of Flat Earthers? That is probably part of it. But if that were the whole story, I'd watch videos about other wacky conspiracies – for example, the people who think that snow isn't made out of water, or chemtrail believers, or [that one guy who thinks airplanes are demons] , and points out so-called "demon orbs" in his grainy, artifact-filled captured footage. <iframe width="1260" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QhibN89WJtI" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>
So what is it about flat Earth videos that keeps me coming back day after day? At this point all the lore is familiar to me:
1. Water doesn't curve!
2. The horizon always rises to eye level!
3. All images are fake or taken with a fisheye lens!
4. Skylines are seen before they should be able to be seen!
5. Gravity is just density!
And so are the counters:
1. Just because something does not happen on a small scale is not proof that it cannot happen on a large scale.
2. Even 11km in the air (around the maximum altitude of a commercial long-haul flight), the horizon only dips a mere 3.36 degrees. Such a small dip angle cannot be detected with just the eye.
3. The reason fisheye lenses are often used for rocket launches is because they provide more bang for the buck; more can be seen in the shot with one. Even after applying a fisheye lens correction the Earth still curves.
4. Either a mirage or shoddy mathematics in all cases. "8 inches per miles squared" is a parabola, not an arc.
5. This explains nothing; if gravity is just density, then why is the direction of motion of more dense objects downwards in the first place? Gravity causes some of the easily observed effects of density but is not itself density.
Despite being certain the flat Earth theory is false, I can't stop coming back for more. There is something oddly comforting about the idea of a flat Earth. On a flat Earth, God is not only a possibility but rather an inevitability. A flat Earth restraints the demons of nihilism - a flat Earth requires God's intervention every second of every day simply not to collapse under its own weight.
That to me is what is so insidious about the flat Earth: how it draws in followers by sheer force of comfort alone. The flat Earth debate really comes down to is this: would you rather be comfortable, or right? No matter how much I learn about the improbability of the flat Earth, some part of me still believes that proof of it lies just over YouTube's algorithmic horizon.