The latest flat Earth theory conference was just held in Birmingham in the UK and as expected the presentations were really strange. Similar conferences have taken place in the past, but the flat Earth theory seems to be growing in popularity.
200 people reportedly attended the event participating in lectures, workshops, and social events. Flat-Earthers generally believe that the world is some sort of flat plane floating in space.
Theories about how this work vary, but one commonly held belief is that the Earth is a floating plane with Antarctica at its center and a wall of ice, at its edge. This wall of ice is believed to be protected by NASA to stop people from trying to climb it.
Obviously, flat Earth theories often raise more questions than they answer, but a new theory proposed at the conference aims to solve the most obvious one, which is why don’t people just fall off the edge of the planet if they travel too far in one direction?
The Earth is a game of Pac-Man
Conference speaker Darren Nesbit has the answer. “We know that continuous east-west travel is a reality,” he said. "No one has ever come to or crossed a physical boundary. One logical possibility for those who are truly free thinkers is that space-time wraps around and we get a Pac-Man effect."
So what Nesbit offers is a theory that suggests just like in Pac-Man when you get to the edge of the screen, or in this case the Earth, you simply appear back on the opposite side. Flat Earth believers appear to have a considerable interest in science and space but maintain a deep distrust of scientists and the broader scientific community.
Conspiracy theorist keen to share ideas
Flat-Earthers fall into a group of people that psychologist broadly described as conspiracy theory believers. Karen Douglas, a psychologist at the University of Kent told Live Science that the flat-Earthers she has met do seem genuinely convinced of what they are talking about.
"It seems to me that these people do generally believe that the Earth is flat. I'm not seeing anything that sounds as if they're just putting that idea out there for any other reason," she said. She went to on describe how all conspiracy theories share the same narrative.
Each of them presents an alternative idea about a theory or event that does against the more broadly accepted version. To reconcile their beliefs often vague explanations are given.
"One of the major points of appeal is that they explain a big event but often without going into details," she said. "A lot of the power lies in the fact that they are vague."
What is interesting about flat-Earthers is their passion for educating the world on their theories. Many flat-Earthers, when questioned how they got to their point of view, will say they have ‘studied’ the theory from online video and blogs.
"If you're faced with a minority viewpoint that is put forth in an intelligent, seemingly well-informed way, and when the proponents don't deviate from these strong opinions they have, they can be very influential. We call that minority influence," Douglas said.