Netflix's new documentary Beyond the Curve takes a look at the increasing number of people who believe the earth is flat. When I first heard about flat earthers I couldn't believe it. I was shocked, I laughed, then I was concerned.
The documentary confirms my suspicion that most of the flat earthers also believe in other conspiracy theories. I've found that people who believe in a few conspiracy theories usually find their way to more. They seem to have a desire to be in the know and aware when others aren't. It's a personality type that you see in believers of most conspiracies. Everybody wants to be feel special. And as someone says in the documentary, everyone would like to be the protagonist fighting a secret war against the evil all-engulfing big brother.
The internet seems to have accelerated the spread of these theories. YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit all make it easy to share theories and find like minded people. Before theories required word of mouth, books, mail, and in person meetups to have the same effect. Few rose to that level. Now almost any theory can.
That's also one of the draws of the flat earthers community that's made apparent. They've all found a group of like minded people that they connect to on a level that most people won't. That's a powerful connection that's hard to find even for non conspiracy theorists. Many of the believers have also been ostracised by their peers and family for their beliefs and now rely on the community as their only social net.
It's a concerning issue that doesn't have a clear solution. Is it a failing of the education system? Is it the internet's fault? Is it just an inevitability? I have no idea but it's growth makes me worried there will be less benign beliefs that spread similarly in the future.