It started with a conversation on whether the flat earthers (a group of people who are starting to question science and who believe the earth is flat) had a point. It ended with me realising that there are people who are so closed minded that it's pointless discussing things with them.
No, I don't believe the Earth is flat.
But...what's interesting is that the flat earthers are getting to the heart of a problem. That is, we trust in science too much and what the average person believes is bonafide fact can actually be just a theory that has yet to be disproven.
Perhaps it is from my geological background. My degree taught me to observe what is happening today and from that you can study the past, and you can then use that to predict potential future events. That is called the uniformitarian principle.
My friend, however, studied biology and has a very different outlook. One thing led to another and a debate ensued.
I was spurred on from watching a YouTube clip of Philip Schofield interviewing some Flat Earthers. He completely ridiculed them and kept asking them if Newton was wrong about the apple falling. And this is where the lay person gets things confused.
Gravitational force is an observation of a natural phenomenon. It is a stable observation.
Gravitational force is not evidence that the world is round.
There are plenty of observations that do show that the Earth is spherical, however. Such an accumulation of observations can be used to collaborate and create an over all picture.
What the flat earthers are doing is carrying out experiments to test those observations (scientific rules show that results must be repeatable). From what I gather, they are experiencing differences in results (potentially from not having a big enough testing area) and so they therefore use it to bolster their belief that the Earth is flat.
To ridicule people for a different belief is wrong. Or did we not learn anything from Galileo's imprisonment by the Catholic Church? If you remember your history, he was in serious trouble for claiming that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
The point of science is to open up our minds to possibilities, not close it down with dogma. It is also the duty of scientists to accept the rigorous testing of theory.
In the 1800s, scientists believed in an aether that allowed light to transmit itself...because it has wave form it was believed that there had to be an invisible medium that enabled light to be propagated through it. It was known as a luminiferous aether. Michaelson and Morley experimented to try to determine the relative motion of matter through this supposed aether. They found nothing. The theory was later made completely obsolete by Einstein's work.
How about Newtonian physics superseding Aristotelian physics?
And Quantum Physics... I'm not going to go there. That's something entirely different but absolutely fascinating.
I worry about how monochromatic people seem to be. One dimensional. Dogmatic. "Us and them" thinking.
You only have to see how strongly the divide between the Brexiteers and Remainers is to see this in action. There is no grey area. It really is Us and Them.
And, OK, I fall into this trap myself as a staunch remainer.
It is human nature to divide into groups but it seems to becoming more defined now than ever before. The last time it was this bad was before World War II.
It is easy to blame circumstances on another group of people rather than look at resolving the issue.
So is it important to know that the earth is round or flat? Not really. What is important is that we maintain an open mind and let people decide for themselves using truthful observation and fact.
Did it go down well in the debate? No, it did not. Because dogma rules.