For more than 50 years, Gary Heather believed, unquestioningly, that the Earth is a globe. But one evening in August 2015, he was browsing YouTube at his home in Hampshire and found a video called Flat Earth Clues. He watched all two l hours, five minutes and 43 seconds of the film – and he wished it was longer.
He describes the moment as a kind of awakening: “You’re having a cup of coffee, and you always have the same brand, and in your mind you think that brand is how coffee tastes. And then all of a sudden you have another brand of coffee, and at that moment you drink it, you instantly realise there are other flavours out there you didn’t know existed.”
Over the last three years, Heather has become a passionate Flat Earther, taking part in experiments to collect evidence calling into question the curvature of the Earth, and campaigning at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. He’s far from alone. Heather co-organised the UK’s first ever Flat Earth Convention in April this year, which saw some 260 Flat Earthers descend on a hotel in Birmingham for three days, with other conferences planned this year in Denver, USA and Edmonton, Canada. The Flat Earth Society’s Twitter feed currently boasts over 80,000 followers.
Conspiracy theories are nothing new, but the rise of Flat Earthers in particular seems to have caught people’s imagination, and stoked up their disbelief. So what is it that draws people to these theories, despite untold evidence to the contrary, and what does it reveal about society at large?
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