Sometimes you will be told something so completely ludicrous that you don’t even register it as a fact. One of these statements is “there are thousands of people who believe the Earth is flat and the government is conspiring to keep this a secret from us.” Why do they think this? What possible evidence is there for a flat earth? Why would the government go out of their way to orchestrate such a complex conspiracy? All these questions are answered in the documentary Behind the Curve which has recently premiered on Netflix.
Behind the Curve follows a series of “Flat Earthers,” focussing on the group’s self proclaimed leader, Mark Sargent, as he builds up to the world’s biggest ever Flat Earth conference.
It seems that producers of the show could easily have taken the comedic route when filming. Each new character introduced is more ridiculous than the last. One man says that society’s view of Flat Earthers is wrong and that they are all “either really successful or doing [their] own thing.” Surely this is a level of self confidence everyone should aspire to. Another laughs at the ridiculous people that think because her name, Patricia, ends in CIA she’s a government spy. She goes on to explain that she doesn’t believe the Boston bombings, 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination actually happened because she wasn’t there to see it with her own eyes.
However tempting, the directors have avoided taking a ‘mocking’ approach towards these people, but have chosen to almost look further into how they arrived at such conclusions.Arguably the most notable part of the entire documentary is when a scientist from California Institute of Technology provides an impassioned speech about how “flat earthers” are the scientists society left behind.Their inquisitive minds and desire to question current norms could have allowed them to be very successful researchers. Through interviews with NASA scientists and psychologists, the filmmakers present us with a way to attempt to understand how such extreme views are created and how they spread.
The idea of someone posting a video on YouTube entitled “10 reasons why the Earth is flat” seems like it could be a joke. But what happens when that person uploads a video with “10 reasons why vaccines will kill you” or “10 reasons why climate change is a lie?” Only 47 per cent of American believe climate change is the result of human activity. Denial of scientific fact is far more serious than MarkSargent ranting on a podcast and Behind the Curve shows us this bleak reality while offering us a way to move forward.
Image: Kevin Gill via Flickr