These people believe the Earth is flat

Published: Oct. 16, 2018 at 4:22 PM EDT
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An group of people gathered at a park in Arcadia, California, eager to argue that the Earth is not round. Nathan Thompson is part of a movement that identifies itself as Flat Earthers. CBS News explored that movement in a recent report.

They believe the Earth is flat, that we're on a disk floating through space with a small sun hovering above. One might say, what about the Earth's curvature? "I don't know. No one's ever seen it," said one man.

Thompson insists, "The perimeter of Flat Earth is a wall of ice." So what's holding in the ocean? "That's what's containing everything," he said.

And what's underneath? "Well, you know, we haven't dug that deep," said a Flat Earther named Rene.

Netta Hagler arranged the Flat Earthers meet-up. She questioned the fact that Earth is spinning through space at 1,000 miles per hour. "But we can't feel it. I don't believe I'm spinning right now. No," said Hagler.

Patricia Steere said, "Probably most people who hear of it will laugh at it, think we're idiots. But we're not idiots; we're intelligent people from all walks of life and all ages."

In an effort to prove their case, Flat Earthers have brought levels onto planes, zoomed in on the moon and "found" clouds drifting behind it. "Moon is only a few miles up," said one Flat Earth YouTuber. "We've been lied to on such a massive scale!"

So what about photos of the Earth from space? Steere said, "Completely and utterly false."

How about the sun? Is it 93 million miles away? "No, the sun is not as far away as we've been told, nor is the moon. They're probably about the same size," she said.

What should we make of photographs of astronauts at the space station? "Completely fake. Harnesses, wires."

Wait, I thought we landed on the moon? "No. We didn't go to the moon," said Steere. "And we don't have a rover on Mars. And we didn't do a fly-by of Pluto. We've never been to space. Period. End of."

Basically, Flat Earthers only believe what they can see for themselves.

National security expert Tom Nichols, who teaches at the Harvard Extension School, said, "People have really become obsessed with the idea that, if it's not part of their direct experience, it can't be true.

"People have lost faith in experts. We've developed a kind of reverse snobbery that says if you have a great deal of education, if you're at a well-known institution, by definition you must be a liar!"