Impressions of an American journalist from meeting with conspiracy theorists, whose theory has outgrown the Internet and entered the real world.
In November 2017, Motherboard journalist Rajiv Golla attended the first International Conference of Supporters of the version that the Earth is not round, but flat. The event was held in Raleigh, North Carolina, and more than 500 people came there – conspiracy theorists, pseudo-scientists and all those who believe in the world Masonic conspiracy.
“The model of the globe is the easiest thing in the world, which can be refuted. We know that the world is flat, but what’s next? “- asked Watsun Atkinsun. He comes from Portland, completely covered with tattoos, and on his neck it is embossed “I’m not afraid to drive. I’m not afraid to die. ”
I do not know what to answer his question. I nod politely and return to the hotel. This is the second day of the world’s first International Conference of Flat Earth Supporters, and I was exhausted. The last 48 hours I spent at the hotel with 500 people who are sure that they live on a flat planet. I spent hours listening to lectures by preachers about the approach of the end of the world, conspiracy theorists and self-proclaimed scientists. Any conversation with these people was somewhat like a dialogue with Atkinsan.
I came to this conference, which took place on November 9-10 in Cary, North Carolina ( on the site of the event it was said that it was held in the town of Raleigh – ), in order to get to know the “flatlanders” and understand how the modern world influences it ancient belief.
This movement looks like an innocuous conspiracy theory in the Internet age. But the deeper I studied groups on Facebook, the channels on YouTube and the blogs devoted to the phenomenon, the less it looked insignificant. This is a community of people who completely reconstructed their idea of the universe. And this conference is the first large-scale event, when the conspiracy group left the Internet forums and massively published.
The conference was held according to classical rules: an exhibition of thematic subjects, speakers, breaks between discussions and a bar nearby. A man with white hair to his shoulders showed wooden models of a flat Earth, and a little further an elderly woman called to her desk with conspiracy books.
For the most part in the crowd, no one stood out – white middle-aged people, mostly men, each of whom paid $ 100 at the entrance. “Do not we look so normal?” – I was interested in the visitors of the event, when they found out that I was a journalist.
At the opening, the organizer of the conference and the director of conspiracy theories Robbie Davidson associated the event with the events of the old past. According to him, “flatlanders” gathered exactly 500 years after the theologian Martin Luther published his 95 theses against the Catholic Church. This led to the Reformation and large-scale changes in the entire religious order.
“This ( the” flatlanders “conference – ) marks the beginning of the new Reformation. Today will affect millions of people, “Davidson proudly announced. As I found out later, the guests of this event think not only about the shape of the Earth. They call into question the current authorities and their values.
Atkinsan claims that the Third World War has already begun. Only it is conducted not against the DPRK, but against the “citizen of the sovereign world.” Allegedly right now someone is attacking the freedom of the human mind, and the theory of a flat Earth is just a small step in the fight against untruth.
Most of the guests I met with became “flatlanders” after the publication of the book ” Plane Earth Conspiracy ” in 2014. In it, the author tells how the authorities of different countries allegedly spread lies about the round Earth for the past 500 years, and describes their version of the origin of the world. This theory has many supporters – they believe that mysterious forces have come up with a lie with the goal of separating people from God and taking control of the planet from him.
“They want to hide the Lord,” is one of the most frequent phrases, which almost always was accompanied by applause at the conference. For “flatlanders” the only way to restore order is to free society from any power and again “to establish man and Earth as the center of the universe.”
The theory of flat Earth is an ultimatum. If you can lie about the land on which you stand, and convince not to believe your own feelings, then you can lie about anything. To this logical conclusion supporters of the version were selected for years.
One of the attendees of the conference, Rob Skiba (Rob Skiba) believes that if a person believes in the official version of the landing on the moon or the September 11 terrorist attack, then he is hopeless. Skiba himself became famous among the conspiracy community as a man who was looking for the ancient race of giants from the Old Testament.
During the conference, the organizers announced the launch of the non-profit scientific project FE Core. In the future, its authors want to send a research team of “flatlanders” to the “ice wall – the edge of the Earth”, better known as Antarctica. The mission requires 1.4 million dollars. This is not the first such a large-scale project. Since November 2017, American Mike Hughes is preparingto fly into space on a homemade rocket to prove that the planet is flat.
“They deny the terrorist attack on the Boston marathon or the massacre at Sandy Hook school because they do not want to live in a world where an innocent child can die at a school desk,” explains Ninamary Maginnis. She came to the conference to her niece, who is obsessed with conspiracy theories.
In a sense, the movement of “flatlanders” expresses the fear that lies in us all – that we were lied about what is best for us. The theory of flat Earth is the reconstruction of the universe, where you are at the height and have unique knowledge, which no one else has. And it’s not you that lag behind the world, but all the rest.
Atkinsan agrees – for him, as for others, a flat Earth is a way to escape the pressure of the modern world and the opportunity to see events from a different angle.
We are in one of the darkest places of the human soul. Flat Earth is just one of those mistakes that you first try to get rid of, and then become part of the resistance. Part of the revival revolution. This is the greatest sense of true freedom.