A Rapper Says the Earth is Flat! All of Recorded Scientific History Disagrees

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Rapper B.o.B. is following in the footsteps of Tila Tequila, having taken to Twitter to preach the good word: that the Earth is actually flat.

BoB seems to have a lot of impressive graphs and statistics to support his position, though in the end it really comes down to this: he’s very, very confused by how big the Earth is.

It’s easy to make fun of BoB for this, because he’s a fucking moron. Humans have known the Earth is round since the ancient Greeks saw the evidence with their very own eyes in an experiment that you can actually replicate, assuming you live next to an ocean with optimal weather conditions and a busy shipping industry. The Greeks noticed that as ships sailed out to sea, the hulls disappeared before the tops of their sails. That only makes sense if they’re going downward relative to you.

But it’s actually kind of hard for most people to have access to an ocean with optimal weather conditions and a busy shipping industry, so they’ve never really seen the evidence for themselves. You could theoretically see it if you’re high enough up, like in an airplane, but even then you’d need to have a wide field of vision, a very clear day, and a horizon that is relatively flat and not covered in mountains and valleys.

And that’s because the Earth is very, very big, a fact we don’t really think about or internalize very often. B.o.B. is stuck trying to figure out why he can’t see the curvature in a picture of himself in front of two cities that he says are 16 miles apart. The Earth curves at about 8 inches per mile, so each city would be about 5 feet lower than the horizon in the center.

Apparently those cities are Atlanta and Buckhead, which are actually 7.5 miles apart, meaning that they’d be about 4.5 feet lower than the center horizon. The photo he posted is 600×450 pixels. The tallest building in the photo is the Bank of America Plaza, which is 1,023 feet and is about 7 pixels high. So each pixel is about 147 feet, but BoB wants to see a difference that would be less than .007th of a pixel. It’s not going to happen. Why? Because the Earth is really. Fucking. Big.

Also? If you want to detect a very slight difference in elevation between two points, learn to take a fucking straight photo.

So yes, BoB is a moron. But he’s a moron who was failed by our education system and our society, which taught him that science is a collection of facts in some dusty books that you either have to take on faith or reject using your own observations. He, and all the morons agreeing with him on Twitter, need to understand that science is in fact a collection of finely tuned observations (not the least of which comes from astronauts going into space and looking at the Earth). These observations result in a society that uses scientific understanding to operate, including building a network of satellites that allow you to play your music on MTV (if MTV still played music), get GPS directions to the top of a mountain, and fly in an airplane from one continent to another and then back around to the place you departed without ever traveling back the way you came. It’s like magic! But it’s science.

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Author: The Come Up Show

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. “So yes, BoB is a moron. But he’s a moron who was failed by our education system and our society, which taught him that science is a collection of facts in some dusty books that you either have to take on faith or reject using your own observations.”

    I’d never heard of this guy until yesterday, so I looked him up. If his Wikipedia page is accurate, he dropped out of school at age 14. He *was* failed by our education system and our society and so much more, but given the extent of his education, I’m not sure he ever advanced to the collection of facts in the second half of the sentence. He may have never stopped to consider any of this until yesterday and because he was never equipped with the skills to discern reality from fiction, he freaked out.

    1. Absolutely incorrect. Kids *should be* taught critical thinking from kindergarten on. They’re not. All kids have science class, every single year through middle school on. All of those kids should enter high school already knowing that science is a method. He didn’t He was failed in that way, and obviously in many, many others.

      1. Exactly what part are you disagreeing with? I did say he was failed by our education system.

        You’re speaking in “should” statements. I’m considering the reality of his situation and what may have actually happened in his life.

        1. She was disagreeing that he had advanced to the point where he should have known better. He either hadn’t (which is an indictment of what is being taught) or he had and didn’t learn it (which is an indictment of how he was taught), I didn’t read it as her saying everything you said was wrong, just that he should have known by then.

  2. Rebecca Watson,

    I just learned about B.o.B being a flat Earther from my friend, Emil Carson, via twitter.

    Turns out B.o.B has even argued with non other than Neil DeGrasse Tyson about the curvature of the Earth, and it still didn’t change his mind.

    Rapper B.o.B thinks the Earth is flat, has photographs to prove it

    By the way, since B.o.b is a rapper, you should have included a little rap song at the end about how the Earth is round. That would have been fun, other than that, great video, keep up the good work.

  3. Not only did the ancient greeks determine that the earth was round, Eratosthenes calculated the circumference with a pretty high degree of accuracy using nothing more advanced than a stick and a hole – surely two of humanity’s least sophisticated tools.

  4. Two thoughts:

    1) As indicated by a number of commenters above and on other sites mentioning this story, nobody had every heard of him until this story got spread by the progressive/skeptic/scientific blog-o-sphere this past week. So if some regional repertory theater actor in Iowa tells a Davenport reporter after the show that he speaks with God on the telephone, is that actually newsworthy? Who cares? Delusional people are dog-bites-man, unless they actually have influence (sometimes the line is blurry, a la Jenny McCarthy).

    2) Rather than singling out a failed educational system, I think you might also look for culpability in the mainstream media and the political tribalism reinforced more and more by Fox and the Christian Right. I know some extremely well educated conservatives who would have absolutely granted credence to evolution and plate techtonics and the ability of weathermen to use a thermometer and ruler to measure temperatures and sea levels 15 or 20 years ago. But now, to be a good Rush/Glenn/Bill member of the Libertarian Tribe, you have to be in full-on denial mode. This rapper may be a drop-out, but I bet you he had seen a globe and photos of the Earth from the moon by age 6 or so, and at some MUCH MORE RECENT point in his life decided that cognitive dissonance was preferable than believing in what The Elites Want Him To Believe, which he has been taught over the last few years of his life is a superior cultural worldview — incredulity at everything. His education didn’t necessarily go wrong in grade school or high school. It went wrong much more recently. And he was a willing participant in the train running off the tracks. So let’s lay some blame on him, rather than every other fucking kid and every other fucking teacher in the exacts same schools that don’t go strutting about like braindead blowhards, but recognize simple truths in life as not being conspiracies tricked up by The Man.

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