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Controversial YouTube star brings flat-earth conspiracy theory to new audience: kids

Nara Schoenberg, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

The theory that the earth is flat reached a new audience recently, thanks to a viral video by controversial YouTube star Logan Paul.

Paul, who is popular with middle school and high school students, released a trailer for an upcoming documentary in which he attends a flat earth convention and interviews participants. While his ultimate conclusion is not revealed in the trailer, he is shown telling a cheering audience, "My name is Logan Paul and I think I'm coming out of the flat earth closet."

The video, has more than 1.2 million views.

"A lot of kids look up to popular people like (Paul), so it could have an effect," said Owen Cooney, 13, of Chicago's Beverly neighborhood.

The trailer, which is a little more than 2 minutes long, takes a light tone and highlights some quirky claims, with a young woman arguing, "People like to think that (the earth) is round, because the shape of your eyes is round." Paul is seen flirting with a flat-earther, arguing with a friend who dismisses flat-earth theory and staring into the camera with a crestfallen expression: "I just don't know what to believe anymore," he says.

There's no support for flat earth theory among mainstream scientists, according to Seth Jacobson, an assistant professor of earth and planetary science at Northwestern University.

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"I know of no one (in science) who is a flat-earther," he said. "It's not a thing."

Jacobson said that there are many different ways to show the earth is round: You can get on a plane or ship and travel all the way around the globe. You can go to Lake Michigan and watch a ship sail out to the horizon and then dip below the horizon bit by bit; that wouldn't happen if the earth was flat, Jacobson said.

Or you can just look at photographs of the earth as seen from space: a big blue marble set against a sea of black.

"That's the ultimate piece of evidence, right?" said Jacobson. "We now have not just indirect arguments for the curvature of the earth, but we have direct arguments: We've taken a photograph."

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