“The ‘terraplanist’ lives literally inside a giant bubble with a flat base standing on an undefined ether,” explains Óscar Alarcia, author of The Sect of the Flat Earth. In this self-published book, the Spaniard writes of the origin and evolution of a movement that has experienced a surprising rebirth in the last two years. “It is something old, but it has always been marginal. But now its followers are multiplying.” When we speak, in mid-November, the movement is being celebrated in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the First Great International Symposium of the Flat Earth. “Fourteen of the most prestigious magufos have come together,” Alarcia explains. That same day, another rationalist, the astronaut Pedro Duque, intervened on the subject via Twitter. “I wonder if there is someone who really believes that the earth is flat, and not as a joke. I hallucinate that there is a Spanish youtuber with 88,000 registered on this subject… ,” he wrote.
Yes, very seriously. They disregard any fact that refutes that our planet is, basically, a huge cheesecake. “The terraplanista flees from all official knowledge and from everything the textbooks say,” explains Alarcia. “He is convinced that all historical figures were evil Freemasons, denies the theory of evolution, that of gravity, climate change, heliocentrism, the Copernican principle; the existence of dinosaurs, and, of course, the arrival of man on the Moon. In fact, the Moon does not exist as they have sold it to us, nor the outer space, nor the satellites, nor the Antarctic, nor the eclipses, nor the solstices, nor practically anything.”
Alarcia points out that the spread of the movement is associated with the rise of YouTube. “This would not have happened without YouTube . It has become the headquarters of freethinkers who have to make two or three videos a week making crazy things.” The movement even has popular faces, including Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the rapper BoB. Not even the astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson – the new Carl Sagan – could shake BoB’s convictions. Alarcia has also experienced that frustration. “It is impossible. The more empirical evidence you bring, the more passionately they refute it. It is a faith, a state of altered consciousness. In addition, they adapt. I will not say it’s scary, but it’s worrying.”