Newsweek

The Earth is Round

...But the Flat Earth move­ment is grow­ing, and its tac­tics are spread­ing. It’s time we learned how to talk to sci­ence de­niers

- BY LEE MCIN­TYRE

But the Flat Earth move­ment is grow­ing and its tac­tics are spread­ing. Can we learn to rea­son with sci­ence de­niers?

Ev­ery day in the me­dia, we see on­ce­un­think­able sci­ence head­lines. More than 700 cases of measles across 22 states in the U.S., largely due to those who be­lieve vac­cines do more harm than good. Cli­mate change leg­is­la­tion stalled in the U.S. Se­nate—mainly be­cause of par­ti­san politician­s who rou­tinely con­fuse cli­mate and weather—even as sci­en­tists tell us that we have only un­til 2030 to cut world­wide car­bon emis­sions by half, then drop them to zero by 2050. And, in one of the most in­cred­i­ble de­vel­op­ments of my life­time, the Flat Earth move­ment is on the rise.

The at­tack on sci­ence has got­ten so bad that two years ago there was a “March for Sci­ence” in 600 cities around the world. At the one in Bos­ton, I saw signs that said, “Keep calm and think crit­i­cally,” “Ex­tremely mad sci­en­tist,” “No sci­ence, no Twit­ter,” “It’s so se­vere, the nerds are here,” and “I could be in the lab right now.” It takes a lot to get sci­en­tists out of their labs and onto the streets, but what else were they sup­posed to do? The is­sue of what’s spe­cial about sci­ence is no longer purely aca­demic. If we can­not do a bet­ter job of de­fend­ing sci­ence—of say­ing how it works and why its find­ings have a priv­i­leged claim to be­liev­abil­ity—we will be at the mercy of those who would re­ject it.

Sci­en­tists (and oth­ers who care about it) have not re­ally found an ef­fec­tive way of fight­ing back against sci­ence de­nial. In this “post-truth” era—with head­lines like “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds”—it is an open ques­tion how to con­vince peo­ple who re­ject ev­i­dence, not just in sci­ence, but also on a host of other fac­tual mat­ters. In the em­pir­i­cal realm, sci­en­tists of­ten choose to re­spond by pre­sent­ing their ev­i­dence, then get up­set and refuse to en­gage more when their data aren’t ac­cepted or their in­tegrity is ques­tioned. Per­haps this is un­der­stand­able, but I also be­lieve it is dan­ger­ous just to walk away and dis­miss sci­ence de­niers as ir­ra­tional (even if they are). Even worse is to re­act to their hec­tor­ing on the ques­tion of whether there is “100 per­cent con­sen­sus” on global warm­ing, or whether we’re “cer­tain” that vac­cines don’t cause autism, by blus­ter­ing about “proof,” which only gives aid and com­fort to one of the most dam­ag­ing myths about sci­ence: that un­til we have proof, any the­ory is just as good as any other.

But we re­ally can’t af­ford to do this any­more, nor can we af­ford to de­fend sci­ence sim­ply by talk­ing about its suc­cesses.

Cli­mate change “skep­tics” al­ready know about the mar­vels of peni­cillin ... but what does that have to do with the spike in global tem­per­a­tures in 1998? And philoso­phers of sci­ence have spent the past hun­dred years look­ing in vain for some defini­tive log­i­cal “cri­te­rion of de­mar­ca­tion” be­tween sci­ence and non­science, so we can clearly call out pseudo-sci­ence.

A bet­ter way to re­spond is to stop talk­ing about proof, cer­tainty and logic, and start talk­ing more about sci­en­tific values. What is most dis­tinc­tive about sci­ence is not its method but its at­ti­tude: the idea that sci­en­tists care about ev­i­dence and are will­ing to change their views based on new ev­i­dence. This is what truly sep­a­rates sci­en­tists from their de­niers and im­i­ta­tors.

I had a chance to test this the­ory in per­son when I at­tended the Flat Earth In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence (FEIC) in Den­ver last Novem­ber. I found my­self among 600 cheer­ing, clap­ping Flat Earth ad­vo­cates in the main ballroom of the Crowne Royal Ho­tel and Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, who were tak­ing part in a two-day ex­trav­a­ganza of talks and mul­ti­me­dia per­for­mances that present “ev­i­dence” that the “glob­al­ists” have been pulling the wool over our eyes for mil­len­nia.

On a scale of main­stream re­spectabil­ity, Flat Earthers would prob­a­bly fall be­low cli­mate change de­niers and even anti-vaxxers. Few peo­ple truly be­lieve that the Earth is flat (though the num­ber in­creases among mil­len­ni­als com­pared to other age groups). In­deed, I’ve en­coun­tered many peo­ple who ques­tion ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and the safety of vac­cines who are loath to be in­cluded in the same cat­e­gory as those who think Pythago­ras, who first pos­tu­lated that the Earth was a sphere, was part of a vast con­spir­acy that ex­tends to airplane pi­lots and pas­sen­gers, NASA sci­en­tists and any­one else in a po­si­tion to know “the truth” about Earth’s shape. But the habit of thought among all these groups, as my visit to Den­ver con­firmed, is strik­ingly sim­i­lar. If we are go­ing to un­der­stand sci­ence de­nial and fig­ure out how to counter it, the Flat Earth con­fer­ence is a good place to start.

NASA and Other ‘Space Lies’

First, let’s deal with the thresh­old ques­tion: Yes, these peo­ple were se­ri­ous. Be­liev­ing the Earth is flat is not some­thing one would come to lightly, for they are rou­tinely per­se­cuted for their views. Ev­ery­one I spoke to said they used to be­lieve in the global Earth but one day “woke up” and re­al­ized that there was a world­wide con­spir­acy of peo­ple who had been ly­ing to them. “Trust your eyes” was their mantra. “Do your own ex­per­i­ments.” “Wa­ter is level.” “Space is fake.” “A gov­ern­ment that could lie to you about 9/11 and the moon land­ing is one that could lie to you about Flat Earth.”

Most Flat Earthers de­scribe their con­ver­sion as a quasi-re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence, where one day they “took the red pill” (they adore the movie The Ma­trix) and re­al­ized the truth that the rest of us have been blind to for our en­tire lives, as a re­sult of our mise­d­u­ca­tion and in­doc­tri­na­tion—the Earth is flat.

To state this im­me­di­ately raises a se­ries of ques­tions: What do they ac­tu­ally be­lieve? (That the Earth is a disk, with the “moun­tains of Antarc­tica” spread out along the perime­ter and a dome over the top.) Who could keep such a se­cret? (The gov­ern­ment, NASA, air­line pi­lots and oth­ers.) Who put them up to it? (“The ad­ver­sary,” one man told me. “The devil re­wards them might­ily for cov­er­ing up God’s truth.”) Why don’t oth­ers re­al­ize the truth? (Be­cause they’ve been fooled.) What is the ben­e­fit of be­liev­ing in Flat Earth? (Be­cause it’s the truth! And, for many, it is the only phys­i­cal ac­count that is con­sis­tent with the Bi­ble.) What about all of the sci­en­tific proof of a round Earth? (All flawed...which is what the con­fer­ence was about.)

To spend two days at­tend­ing sem­i­nars with ti­tles such as “Globe­busters,” “Flat Earth With the Sci­en­tific Method,” “Flat Earth Ac­tivism,” “NASA and Other Space Lies,” “14+ Ways the Bi­ble Says Flat Earth,” and “Talk­ing to Your Fam­ily and Friends About Flat Earth” felt in some ways like spend­ing two days on another planet. The arguments were ab­surd, but in­tri­cate and not eas­ily run to ground, es­pe­cially if one buys into the Flat Earthers’ in­sis­tence on first-per­son proof. And the so­cial re­in­force­ment that par­tic­i­pants seemed to feel in fi­nally be­ing among their own was pal­pa­ble. Psy­chol­o­gists have long known that there is a so­cial as­pect to be­lief. FEIC 2018 was a lab ex­per­i­ment in peer pres­sure.

For the first day, I kept my mouth shut and just lis­tened. I wore the con­fer­ence badge and took notes. The sec­ond day, I came out hard as a philoso­pher of sci­ence. After numer­ous con­ver­sa­tions, I came away with the con­clu­sion that Flat Earth is a cu­ri­ous mix­ture of fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­tian­ity and con­spir­acy the­ory, where out­siders are dis­trusted and be­lief in Flat Earth is (for some) tan­ta­mount to re­li­gious faith. This is not to say that most Chris­tians be­lieve in Flat Earth, but al­most all of the Flat Earthers I met (with a few no­table ex­cep­tions) iden­ti­fied as Chris­tians. While they claimed not to rely on faith as proof of their be­liefs—and were anx­ious to present their own “sci­en­tific ev­i­dence”—most did seek em­pir­i­cal find­ings that would make all of their be­liefs (both

The prob­lem with con­spir­acy the­o­rists is that they hold them­selves up as skep­tics, but they are ac­tu­ally QUITE GULLIBLE.

spir­i­tual and worldly) con­sis­tent with one another. And once they started look­ing, the ev­i­dence was all around them.

Most of the pre­sen­ta­tions were de­signed to show that the “sci­en­tific” ev­i­dence for a global Earth was flawed, and that their own “ev­i­dence” for Flat Earth was solid. Vir­tu­ally all of the stan­dards of good em­pir­i­cal rea­son­ing were vi­o­lated. Cherry-pick­ing ev­i­dence? Check. Fit­ting be­liefs to ide­ol­ogy? Check. Con­fir­ma­tion bias? Check. How to con­vince any­one in this sort of en­vi­ron­ment? You don’t con­vince some­one who has al­ready re­jected thou­sands of years of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence by show­ing them more ev­i­dence. No mat­ter what I pre­sented, there was al­ways some ex­cuse: NASA had faked the pic­tures from space. Air­line pi­lots were in on the con­spir­acy. Wa­ter can’t ad­here to a spin­ning ball.

So I tried a dif­fer­ent tac­tic. In­stead of talk­ing about ev­i­dence, I went after their rea­son­ing.

The prob­lem with con­spir­acy the­o­rists is that they hold them­selves up as skep­tics, but they are ac­tu­ally quite gullible. There is a ram­pant dou­ble stan­dard for ev­i­dence: No ev­i­dence is good enough to con­vince them of some­thing they do not want to be­lieve, yet only the flim­si­est ev­i­dence is re­quired to get them to ac­cept some­thing they do want to be­lieve. Con­trast this to the “sci­en­tific at­ti­tude,” which is a mind­set of flex­i­bil­ity to­ward chang­ing one’s be­liefs based on new ev­i­dence. This was my lev­er­age.

In­stead of say­ing, “Show me your ev­i­dence,” which they were only too happy to do, or “Here’s my ev­i­dence,” which they wouldn’t be­lieve any­way, I asked, “What would it take to con­vince you that you were wrong?” They seemed un­pre­pared for this ques­tion.

I started with one of the main pre­sen­ters after he had just walked off stage. Al­though he ad­mit­ted that he didn’t have any sci­ence back­ground, he wore a white lab coat, which was all the author­ity he said he needed. What ev­i­dence, I asked, might con­vince him the Earth was round? He said, “Just give me proof.” I asked what kind, and he re­ferred me back to one of the pieces of “ev­i­dence” he had just pre­sented from the stage: A pic­ture of the Chicago sky­line from 60 miles out in Lake Michi­gan that had been taken by a Flat Earth “re­searcher.” If the Earth was curved, the build­ings should have fallen be­low the hori­zon, out of sight.

“But wait,” I said, “You just told us that ev­ery photo from NASA was Photo

shopped .... Yet I’m sup­posed to be­lieve this one?”

“Yes,” he an­swered, “be­cause I know the guy who took it—and I went out on Lake Michi­gan my­self and recre­ated it from only 46 miles out.”

I’ll say this for the Flat Earthers: They can do math. Dur­ing his talk I’d done a quick cal­cu­la­tion to de­ter­mine that you only had to go out 45 miles for the tallest build­ing in Chicago to dis­ap­pear be­low the sky­line. So was he right?

No, due to some­thing called the “su­pe­rior mi­rage ef­fect.” This is a fa­mil­iar phys­i­cal phe­nom­e­non that oc­curs dur­ing a tem­per­a­ture in­ver­sion, when air near the sur­face is cooler than the air above it; light from a dis­tant ob­ject bends slightly down­ward, cre­at­ing an op­ti­cal il­lu­sion in which the ob­ject ap­pears to be higher in the sky than it ac­tu­ally is. The Chicago sky­line in the pho­to­graphs was a mi­rage. (We’ve all seen a sim­i­lar il­lu­sion of the “in­fe­rior mi­rage ef­fect” when, on a hot day, wa­ter seems to ap­pear on the pave­ment.) He laughed.

“I dealt with that in my talk,” he said. “It’s made up.”

“You didn’t deal with it in your talk,” I said. “You just said you didn’t be­lieve it.”

“Well, I don’t,” he said.

A crowd of his ad­mir­ers was push­ing close and he be­gan to get antsy, but I had one fi­nal ques­tion.

“So why didn’t you go out one hun­dred miles then?” I asked. “What?”

“A hun­dred miles. If you’d gone out that far not only the city would’ve dis­ap­peared but also the mi­rage too. If it didn’t, you’d have your proof.”

He shook his head, “We couldn’t get the cap­tain of the boat to go out that far.”

Now it was my turn to scoff.

“What? You’ve de­voted your en­tire life to this work and you

If we can­not do a bet­ter job of de­fend­ing sci­ence, we will be at the mercy of those who WOULD RE­JECT IT.

didn’t go? You had the defini­tive ex­per­i­ment within reach and you couldn’t go out an ex­tra 55 miles?”

He turned his head and be­gan to talk to some­one else.

Why Worry about Flat Earthers?

such an en­counter might seem like a harm­less curiosity, but some­thing sim­i­lar happens ev­ery day with other sci­ence de­niers. I went to FEIC 2018 to test my the­ory that all sci­ence de­niers fol­low the same ba­sic rea­son­ing strat­egy: start with a hy­poth­e­sis you are com­mit­ted to, no mat­ter its im­prob­a­bil­ity; cherry-pick ev­i­dence in its fa­vor; dis­credit those who dis­agree with you and cast doubt on their work; cite your own ex­perts (even if they have no ex­per­tise); claim that you are be­ing more sci­en­tific than the sci­en­tists; and throw in a lit­tle con­spir­acy the­ory. That’s what Flat Earthers do. It’s what Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is do­ing when he says the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol paid to sup­press the data on thimerosal, the mer­cury-based vac­cine ad­di­tive claimed (falsely) to cause autism. It’s what Ted Cruz is do­ing when he claims, us­ing the ab­nor­mally hot year of 1998 as a base­line, that there has been no global warm­ing in two decades. Flat Earthers may not be dan­ger­ous per se, but their tac­tics are hav­ing life and death con­se­quences.

Talk­ing with sci­ence de­niers is go­ing to be a long process. They won’t be per­suaded by ev­i­dence be­cause their views are not based on a ra­tio­nal way of re­spond­ing to ev­i­dence in the first place. Of course I didn’t con­vince the speaker, or any­one else over my 48 hours at FEIC 2018. But I did do one im­por­tant thing that might have af­fected their be­lief. I showed up.

Re­search has shown that peo­ple aren’t con­vinced by data, but by hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple they trust. I don’t pre­tend that the speaker at FEIC trusted me, but I do think that I built up some cred­i­bil­ity by not just do­ing a quick hit-and-run in­ter­view, then leav­ing. I stayed at the con­ven­tion and had many more

con­ver­sa­tions. I even took another guest speaker out to din­ner, where we had a two-hour talk about rocket travel and flights over Antarc­tica. He was in­tel­li­gent, nim­ble and an ex­cel­lent de­bater. I even liked him. But we dis­agreed on al­most ev­ery­thing.

When peo­ple feel threat­ened they tend to re­treat into their si­los, and the Flat Earth com­mu­nity is no dif­fer­ent. They do their “re­search” by view­ing a spate of Flat Earth videos on Youtube and—now that a quo­rum has been reached—they go to con­ven­tions. There is even an up­com­ing Flat Earth cruise planned to “reach the ice wall” in 2020. They re­ally do seem to want to pur­sue ev­i­dence. (My idea: How about a re­al­ity TV show that fol­lows them on this cruise? Call it Edge of the Earth.”)

But the prob­lem with Flat Earthers—and other sci­ence de­niers—is not that they don’t pur­sue ev­i­dence, but that they don’t re­spond to it in a ra­tio­nal way. They lack the sci­en­tific at­ti­tude. So how should we re­spond?

I don’t think it is wise just to dis­miss them. This only cre­ates more distrust and fur­ther po­lar­iza­tion. In­stead, I think sci­en­tists and lay peo­ple alike need to en­gage. Sci­en­tists, after all, would never want to be ac­cused of re­treat­ing into their own si­los. (At the FEIC con­fer­ence I heard a ru­mor—though never con­firmed—that there was a sci­en­tific con­fer­ence at the ho­tel up the street. But of course none of them both­ered to show up and re­fute the Flat Earthers—who made hay out of that.)

Sci­ence de­nial is too dan­ger­ous to ig­nore. You might think that Flat Earth isn’t harm­ing any­one, but they had ses­sions on how to re­cruit new mem­bers, in­clud­ing chil­dren. When one dad com­plained that his daugh­ter was get­ting shut down in class by her teacher, the pre­sen­ter rec­om­mended that she talk to her friends about Flat Earth the­o­ries on the play­ground, where the teacher couldn’t over­hear. The Flat Earth move­ment is grow­ing fast. They’ve re­cently re­cruited some prom­i­nent celebri­ties like Kyrie Irv­ing (be­fore he re­canted) and Wil­son Chan­dler. There are Flat Earth “meet up” groups in many cities, in­clud­ing Bos­ton. Just be­fore the con­ven­tion in Den­ver, some­one funded a bill­board. How many more years be­fore the Flat Earthers are run­ning for school board, ask­ing physics teach­ers to “teach the con­tro­versy,” just as In­tel­li­gent De­sign­ers did not too many years back?

If we can un­der­stand sci­ence de­nial in its most el­e­men­tal form, might we not be able to make progress against all of it at once? For those of us who care about sci­ence, it is im­por­tant to fight back against sci­ence de­nial in what­ever form it arises. But we must do it in the right way.

We need to stop merely point­ing to the suc­cesses of sci­ence and pro­mote the view that un­cer­tainty is a strength rather than a weakness of sci­en­tific rea­son­ing. No mat­ter how good the ev­i­dence, sci­ence can­not “prove” that cli­mate change is real. Or that vac­cines are safe. Or even that the Earth is round. That is just not how in­duc­tive rea­son­ing works.

What sci­en­tists can do, how­ever, is say much more than they do about the im­por­tance of like­li­hood and prob­a­bil­ity, to punc­ture the myth of sci­en­tific “proof.” Sci­en­tific be­liefs are not based on cer­tainty but on “war­rant”—on jus­ti­fi­ca­tion given the ev­i­dence. To say that the ev­i­dence for an­thro­pogenic global warm­ing has hit the “five-sigma” level, which means that there is only a one in a mil­lion chance of a false pos­i­tive, is some­thing less than cer­tainty. But who could deny that this is enough for ra­tio­nal be­lief? When cer­tainty is the stan­dard, sci­ence de­niers may feel jus­ti­fied in hold­ing out for proof. So let’s ex­plain to them that this is not how sci­ence works: that cer­tainty is an ir­ra­tional stan­dard for em­pir­i­cal be­lief.

When a sci­en­tist looks for ev­i­dence, and it shows that his or her the­ory is wrong, this can­not just be ig­nored. If the prob­lem gets bad enough, the the­ory must be changed or per­haps even aban­doned, else one is no longer re­ally a sci­en­tist. Yet I do not be­lieve that this is a mat­ter of method or logic (as Karl Pop­per and other philoso­phers have long ar­gued), but of values. One of the rea­sons that sci­ence works as well as it does is that—as op­posed to ide­ol­ogy—it does not pre­tend that it has all the an­swers. It is open to new ideas while in­sist­ing that these must be rig­or­ously tested. In sci­ence there is a com­mu­nity stan­dard to en­force this, based on data shar­ing, peer re­view and repli­ca­tion. The sci­en­tific at­ti­tude ex­ists not just in the hearts of in­di­vid­ual sci­en­tists, but as a group ethos that guides em­pir­i­cal in­quiry in a ra­tio­nal way. But how many of the lay public know this?

That’s why the best way to de­fend sci­ence is to have more con­ver­sa­tions with sci­ence de­niers. I’m not talk­ing about those TV de­bates of yore, where they put James Hansen (a NASA sci­en­tist and lead­ing voice on cli­mate change) on a split screen with some con­spir­acy the­o­rist and give them equal time. There are ob­vi­ously le­git­i­mate con­cerns about giv­ing a plat­form for false­hood. I’m talk­ing about get­ting more sci­en­tists in front of the me­dia, to talk not just about their find­ings, but about the rig­or­ous process by which sci­en­tific re­sults are pro­duced. And yes, I think it is rea­son­able to ex­pect more in­ter­ac­tions be­tween sci­en­tists and sci­ence de­niers, as is now hap­pen­ing with the measles out­break in Wash­ing­ton state, where public health of­fi­cials are hold­ing work­shops to talk with anti-vaxxers.

In sci­en­tific rea­son­ing there’s al­ways a chance that your the­ory is wrong. What sep­a­rates sci­ence de­niers from ac­tual sci­en­tists is how rig­or­ously they pur­sue that pos­si­bil­ity.

How many more years be­fore the Flat Earthers are run­ning for school board, ask­ing physics teach­ers to “TEACH THE CON­TRO­VERSY,” just as In­tel­li­gent De­sign­ers did not too many years back?

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 ??  ?? VAST CONSPIRACI­ES Some peo­ple be­lieve un­likely plots rather sci­en­tific con­sen­sus not only on cli­mate change but also on whether or not the earth is flat. Clock­wise from be­low left: the Apollo moon pro­gram is a hoax, ac­cord­ing to Flat Earthers; maps of the “flat” earth were on sale at last year’s meet­ing of the Flat Earth so­ci­ety; the March for Sci­ence in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. was a re­sponse to sci­ence de­niers. Fac­ing page: a coal-fired power plant emits cli­mate-chang­ing gases.
VAST CONSPIRACI­ES Some peo­ple be­lieve un­likely plots rather sci­en­tific con­sen­sus not only on cli­mate change but also on whether or not the earth is flat. Clock­wise from be­low left: the Apollo moon pro­gram is a hoax, ac­cord­ing to Flat Earthers; maps of the “flat” earth were on sale at last year’s meet­ing of the Flat Earth so­ci­ety; the March for Sci­ence in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. was a re­sponse to sci­ence de­niers. Fac­ing page: a coal-fired power plant emits cli­mate-chang­ing gases.
 ??  ?? DE­NIAL STRAT­EGY The best way to re­spond to sci­ence de­niers, says the au­thor, is to talk about sci­en­tific values. Clock­wise from right: Flat Earthers con­vened in Chicago last year; par­ents and teach­ers held a rally in Los An­ge­les in 2015 to op­pose ef­forts to end “per­sonal be­lief” ex­emp­tions for child­hood vac­ci­na­tions; pi­lots who point out that the Earth is round are in on the con­spir­acy, de­niers say; an ex­am­ple of the “mi­rage ef­fect.”
DE­NIAL STRAT­EGY The best way to re­spond to sci­ence de­niers, says the au­thor, is to talk about sci­en­tific values. Clock­wise from right: Flat Earthers con­vened in Chicago last year; par­ents and teach­ers held a rally in Los An­ge­les in 2015 to op­pose ef­forts to end “per­sonal be­lief” ex­emp­tions for child­hood vac­ci­na­tions; pi­lots who point out that the Earth is round are in on the con­spir­acy, de­niers say; an ex­am­ple of the “mi­rage ef­fect.”
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 ??  ?? DO YOU BE­LIEVE YOUR LY­ING EYES? Peo­ple with strongly held be­liefs, re­search shows, are usu­ally not per­suaded to change their minds by data or logic but by peo­ple they trust. Left to right: Due to the earth’s ro­ta­tion, stars ap­pear to cir­cle the North Star above Joshua Tree Na­tional Park in Cal­i­for­nia; Kyrie Irv­ing, who plays bas­ket­ball for the Bos­ton Celtics, has publicly said that he thinks the earth is flat; an ice­berg the size of Delaware calved off the Lar­son C Ice Shelf in Antarc­tica in 2017, due to ris­ing tem­per­a­tures.
DO YOU BE­LIEVE YOUR LY­ING EYES? Peo­ple with strongly held be­liefs, re­search shows, are usu­ally not per­suaded to change their minds by data or logic but by peo­ple they trust. Left to right: Due to the earth’s ro­ta­tion, stars ap­pear to cir­cle the North Star above Joshua Tree Na­tional Park in Cal­i­for­nia; Kyrie Irv­ing, who plays bas­ket­ball for the Bos­ton Celtics, has publicly said that he thinks the earth is flat; an ice­berg the size of Delaware calved off the Lar­son C Ice Shelf in Antarc­tica in 2017, due to ris­ing tem­per­a­tures.
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 ??  ?? EX­TRAOR­DI­NARY CLAIMS
Dis­miss­ing sci­ence de­niers only cre­ates more distrust. Clock­wise from top left: Charles Dar­win posed his the­ory of nat­u­ral se­lec­tion more than a cen­tury ago; Spencer Marks (left) is part of a vol­un­teer group that seeks to educate peo­ple on sCI­En­tIfiC In­quIry; ClI­mAtE sci­en­tist James Han­son in­ves­ti­gates boul­ders in the Ba­hamas that may have been left by storms, a sci­en­tist takes mea­sure­ments at the foot of a vol­cano in Ecuador.
EX­TRAOR­DI­NARY CLAIMS Dis­miss­ing sci­ence de­niers only cre­ates more distrust. Clock­wise from top left: Charles Dar­win posed his the­ory of nat­u­ral se­lec­tion more than a cen­tury ago; Spencer Marks (left) is part of a vol­un­teer group that seeks to educate peo­ple on sCI­En­tIfiC In­quIry; ClI­mAtE sci­en­tist James Han­son in­ves­ti­gates boul­ders in the Ba­hamas that may have been left by storms, a sci­en­tist takes mea­sure­ments at the foot of a vol­cano in Ecuador.
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