Sunday, February 07, 2021

Earth isn't flat and government isn't good

  (My Eastern New Mexico News column for January 6, 2021)

Have you ever run into someone who believes the Earth is flat? I was shocked to discover such people exist. Many of them also believe the moon is a hologram, gravity doesn't exist, and space isn't real. It's a bewildering experience listening to them try to make their case while fending off evidence to the contrary.

To them, everything is faked. They believe it empowers government somehow to lie about the shape of the Earth. They've never been able to explain to me how this works, and I still see no connection.

Imagine how it would feel to be completely surrounded by people who believe this and base their day-to-day decisions on this belief.

What if they tried to force you to act as though you believed this is true, too? Could you really change your beliefs in response to their threats? Would you pretend to agree so they'd stop harassing you? I hope you wouldn't change your mind because of the social pressure they'd use on you.

Would you get tired of people telling you the Earth is flat and refusing to listen to any evidence which pokes holes in their belief? Can you imagine being in that situation?

It's the same feeling I get listening to people claiming political government is inevitable, necessary, or even desirable. They may as well be singing the praises of cancer and recommending we all get a fatal case of it.

The arguments they use in favor of their position all come down to some variation of government breaking your leg, handing you a crutch stolen from some other victim, then demanding to be thanked for "helping" you. This kind of help I can do without.

Yet, I understand them better than they probably imagine since I used to believe this, too. That's right, back when I was much younger, I was a bit of a government-supremacist just like most other people still are. Only now I see why the arguments I once leaned on are as flimsy as "Flat Earth Theory".

People who still believe the Earth is flat-- I mean, that government isn't cancer-- don't care to consider the opposing evidence, but I will.

If someone could show me proof, or even convincing evidence I'm wrong, I would consider it. All proof and evidence I've ever been shown is easily refuted. The Earth is not flat and government isn't beneficial.

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Not my problem, why should I care?

There's a common worldview that can be illustrated as: "It doesn't matter to me so it shouldn't matter to anyone else."

I see this take pretty often.

Maybe that new legislation doesn't affect you. For this reason, you might not care.

I care if legislation affects you negatively even if it doesn't affect me at all.

If the legislation is good for me but violates your rights, then I'm still against it. Of course, I'm always against legislation, so that's not surprising.

But it also happens when people observe that someone else's hobby or interest is destroyed or hindered in some way. Such as, I kind of hate "sports", but it still bothers me that some women's sports participation is impacted when men, cosplaying as women, are allowed to play against women in supposedly "women-only" events. 

Personally, I wouldn't care if all sports of that sort went away; I only care at all because others care. If sex isn't going to be recognized as a real thing anymore (even though it still is real), then just eliminate sports sex categories and let people of similar ability compete with each other. I'm still not going to watch, but I care somewhat.

I have fallen into this way of looking at things before, though. 

When ground-based astronomers and astronomy hobbyists complained about the early, brightly reflective, Starlink satellites making bright streaks across their photos, I callously pointed out that ground-based astronomy is obsolete. I also mentioned that you can track when and where the satellites will pass, and so you don't have to complain about your astronomical photos being ruined. 

Saying ground-based astronomy was obsolete made some people go crazy at me, but an astronomy professor told me the same thing decades ago, so it's not just my opinion. But, I-- even being an enthusiast for astronomy-- wasn't affected by the issue, so I didn't feel that anyone else should care, either. But maybe I should, just to be consistent

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