So it’s hard not to have an incredulous, mocking kind of attitude about things like people believing the earth is flat, right?
I watched this movie, Behind the Curve, about the “flat earth movement” a week ago and just re-watched it again with Joe. I think it’s a great documentary that starts with just… my gosh, who are the people believing this bonkers stuff? Are they for real?
But then it really digs into the WHY behind more than just this movement. What do these people get out of it? Why do they keep rejecting the obvious evidence in front of them?
The best part is a split scene between a flat earth gathering and a science gathering just a few blocks away. There is a scientist who takes the stage and I think really breaks down a great argument for not coming at movements like this (you can substitute these beliefs for things like climate change denial, vaccines cause autism, etc.) with a sense of superiority, belittling, assuming they’re all dumb or crazy.
I mean, I’ve definitely made the jokes. The rolled eyes. I’ve been frustrated at different people or groups of people who reject verifiable facts in a way that make me want to throw up my hands and walk away.
But how does that serve our community? We are absolutely living in this “alternative fact” world and simply mocking “the other side” is not making things better. Humor is good, satire can be valuable, but how can we approach it without total dismissal of a human being or a group of human beings? I think humor is most effective when “punching up,” looking at the power dynamic of what you’re poking.
As a journalist, I do know the flip-side danger of legitimizing a certain argument. Coming at it from a “your ascertain of facts is just as correct as mine” mindset, without a heavy dose of critical thinking, can mean a whole different kind of trouble. I don’t believe that’s good either, and I don’t pretend to know how to effectively push back against this idea that there are facts and there are alternative facts.
But checking my attitude about who “the other side” is can be a good start.