Painterman wrote:For the sake of clarity, I'll risk repeating myself and explaining something you already know, to redraw this important diagram in a slightly different way. A dividing line between "ball earth skepticism" discussions and Flat Earth psyop exposés is called for. So-called "ball earth skepticism" is a parody. No one selling it takes it seriously. But the Flat Earth psyop is an assault on the cohesion and viability of the independent research community acting as competition to, and a check on, organized media. Thus, however much a joke "ball earth skepticism" may be, the Flat Earth psyop is a serious matter, like how the article you excerpted describes. By the way, I shall check this article out in full, thanks for posting.
The sad truth is that these things are not true for everyone following it. "Ball Earth Skepticism" is the most innocuous way to phrase just what it purports to be — which is why it is not a parody. It is a search phrase used deliberately to attract people to the dead end of the "Flat Earth" videos that have dominated the NASA-skeptic market. Legitimate people are attracted by the misleading title and get stuck in the lingo being crafted by and for that demographic and those pretending to be a part of it.
To be more clear still, let me just suggest that edgewaters is right in the sense that this is a very familiar pattern: a "demographic", such as data collected from an independent and loose research group with 'camaraderie', is crafted carefully to be attractive to their language. The language is insinuated into the group and mixed with doses of weakness catalysts by those pretending to be a part of that group. For example, if the group has a "distaste" for research or for detecting infiltration, occasional phrases are inserted once enough attractive language has been agreed with. Those phrases may sound like, "I just don't bother with the research, I'm not very good at it," or, "I am just a simple person asking simple questions," but these usually serve as literary hand-waving to dismiss the responsibility of actual research or constructing and conducting new experiments. "You really want me to believe all of [insert controversial phenomenon] is fake? Disprove all of it!"
It may just be that this particular weapon is noxious when combined with the most publicly reviled beliefs. We have already passed beyond some of them. But the "danger" I think you sense, Painterman, is something that we may have difficulty controlling from now on. Because we really don't know. We are only using faith or belief now to say to ourselves, "This is a concept that the public has largely researched/considered to its natural limit" (e.g.; unicorns) or "This is something the public has questions about" (e.g.; rocketry).
Consider the labels that have been thrown at us over the years. The "Conspiracy theorist" joke, the "No planers" scaremongering tactic, the "Moon landing deniers" label and on into the "Holocaust deniers" stage (as Critical Mass just sagely pointed out). All used to shut down serious, clear, rational talks. And we can guess that each
of these labels is designed at the moment of its creation in the mind of the author to be a kind of "curse word". The positive aspect of this is that we can see that some of the people who use these words have nothing more than such "curses" to throw at us, which have no rational basis.
They do, however, have some social power when used enough. So we ought to be careful, for sure. Loudly declaring "We are not Flat Earthers!" sounds a bit desperate, but is something like that what you have in mind?
You may say the cuss "Flat Earther" is actually being connected to a mockery of our research, but as edgewaters points out, this has always been the case. Fake "Conspiracy theorists" have gathered and have turned it into monetary "success". Fake "no planers" like Nico Haupt and Ace Baker have been trying to insinuate their language into our parlance and it just so happens we did take on the term "psychological operation" and moved on. Fake "Moon landing deniers" have also tried to present a mixture of good and bad evidence. I believe the fake "Holocaust deniers" would do the same thing given a chance. And now we have NASA doubters proudly taking on the labels "Flat Earth" and "Ball Earth Skeptic" even though those things have been designed for them to take on.
There are truly not as many reviled mythical things left for us to be associated with. Next thing you know, they will just say, "Don't go to CluesForum. Thar be dragons."
I am not sure how to really address it, or if it should be. Our strongest position may
be to maintain distance from it, just as we have with things considered "too laughable" for mainstream consideration. Or not. Simon maybe has some intuition about how to handle it. I think distance is alright. To be selective with our language
should not be a problem, since I believe we actually use a larger vocabulary and more diverse series of writing styles than the boring "Flat Earth" YouTube video makers. However, we have to address — carefully — our own NASA doubts in order to distinguish them, while being very cognizant of the fact that this is, by no means, the last "curse word" they will tie to a limited hangout of the hoaxers' own creation.