Kyrie Irving is a grown man who believes that the world is flat. I would be completely floored by this, if not for the fact that the literal first post I made on this blog was about another man who earnestly believed that the Earth is flat. B.o.B., the rapper about which I made that post, was a little more believable since he was a rapper who dropped out of school in the ninth grade. Kyrie Irving, on the other hand, is usually regarded as a very intelligent person. After all, he went to Duke University.
Irving made this admission of belief on the Road Trippin’ podcast, a podcast that follows his teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye on the road during the NBA season. I wish he had tweeted it by accident, or was caught on a hot mic, because I have a hard time reconciling the fact that he knew he was being recorded, and he thought that a good use of a rare opportunity to speak his mind unfettered was to assert that the most basic astronomical science was false.
Flat-earth trutherism is hardly a knew phenomenon, unfortunately. However, according to the research I did for my B.o.B. post–and a few glances at Wikipedia–most flat earth truthers since the acceptance of a round earth have done it for religious reasons. Kyrie, like our friend B.o.B. (born Bobby Ray), cites the fact that you do not see the curvature of the Earth on a plane, as well as the fact that the horizon stays flat as you travel as proof that the Earth is flat. Obviously, this is because the Earth is too large for you to notice this (and you also can fly high enough to see the curvature of the Earth) but I digress.
In explaining his beliefs, he takes the approach of “They-want-you-to-believe-ism.” Part of his statement reads, “Is the world flat or round? — I think you need to do research on it. It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.” And he continues, “They’re particularly putting you in the direction of what to believe and what not to believe.” Perhaps the reason “they” want you to believe that the Earth is round is because it is proven science, and “they” are scientists.
Kyrie Irving likely heard from someone that being skeptical was equivalent to being smart, and he has chosen to run with it. And yes, it is smart to be skeptical about many things, but, and this just might be me, we should probably leave the skepticism about science to scientists.
And also yes, science is often proven wrong, and I suppose that every scientist in the world could be in cahoots to convince you, the third best player on the second best team in the NBA, that the Earth is round. I suppose, also in cahoots with these scientists are Isaac Newton, who died in 1726, Pythagorus, who died in the sixth fucking century B.C.E. They all were part of a special order of pseudo-scientists attempting to cover up… what exactly?
This might be what gets me hung up on the flat earth theory so damn much. I just don’t see what incentive people would have to lie about the shape of the Earth.
Obviously, I found in my research that some people think it’s because the elite have an agreement with the lizard people who live on the other side of the Earth, but I doubt that’s why Kyrie believes it.
Every good conspiracy needs a plausible motive to work. The 9/11 conspiracy theory works because we wanted to go into the Middle East to protect oil. The JFK conspiracy works because the CIA disagreed with his foreign policy. The 1985 NBA Draft Lottery conspiracy works because the NBA would greatly benefit if the New York Knicks got a superstar (this is the one conspiracy theory I honest-to-god, 100% believe). What are the people covering up the flatness of the Earth trying to gain, though?
The absence of evidence is not evidence to the contrary, and there is no surer way to spot a stupid person trying to act smart than to see someone think this way. Even if there were no photos of the Earth being round (or you, for some reason, thought they were fake), that is still not proof the Earth is flat. To prove that, you would need a photo of a flat Earth. This, of course, does not exist, because the Earth is round, but if it wasn’t, there would have to be one photo of a flat Earth.
I am personally not a fan of SpaceX, but I will buy stock in everything Elon Musk touches if he gives his first manned flight above the Earth to Kyrie Irving. Then, he would have to believe that the Earth is round, right? Or would he say that the government was somehow faking the direction of down?
Adding onto his comments about the Earth being flat, Kyrie asks, “can you really think of us rotating around the sun, and all planets align, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these ‘planets’ and stuff like this?” The answer is, of course, yes. I can think of those things, because they are real. In fact, so can his teammate Richard Jefferson, who called him out for putting the word “planets” in quotes. Undeterred, Irving responded, “Everything that they send [to space] doesn’t come back. It doesn’t come back. There is no concrete information, except for the information that they’re giving us.”
Forgive me for wanting to yell into a pillow for 10,000 years, but of course there’s no “concrete information” except for the information they’re giving us, because you broaden the definition of “they” to include all scientists. That’s like saying, “There’s no evidence Santa Claus isn’t real except for what they tell us,” when you use “they” to mean everyone over the age of ten.
Democracy is great, and the democratization of many things due to the Internet and increased connectivity in the world is one of the most exciting and positive developments of the 21st century. But science should not be democratized. At least not for non-scientists. When it comes to what order you’d rank the Star Wars movies (5, 4, 7, 6, 3, 2, 1), then yes, your opinion is just as valuable as anyone elses. When it comes to astronomy, not so much.
I would be a little more sympathetic to Kyrie if he didn’t double-down when asked about it later, stating, “I think people should do their own research,” because fuck no, they shouldn’t. Unless they are going to study astronomy for years, use the latest technology, and get their research peer-reviewed, they shouldn’t. The research has been done. We know the answer.
It would be hacky to try to tie this denial of basic facts into our current political climate, so I won’t do that.
I’ll just close in saying that it is ironic that Kyrie takes such a skeptical stance when encouragements of skepticism are given in school and in the world to precisely avoid what trap he’s fallen into. The exact reason we’re taught to be skeptical so we can realize that a guy’s Blogspot from 2005 that “proves” that the Earth is flat is an unreliable source. If you’re going to intentionally go against the grain of all scientific wisdom, you’re just trying to be interesting by intentionally being different (like how I say that Hail to the Thief is my favorite Radiohead album).
I am actually very glad that we live in a time where athletes are encouraged to speak their minds. In fact, the only time that anyone ever tells a famous person to stop using their platform is when they disagree with them, and even I am a bigger person than to do that. So Kyrie can keep saying whatever he wants about the non-spherical nature of the Earth, and I won’t lose that much sleep, but for the love of God, could he stop sounding like a guy who dropped out after a marijuana possession charge, said he was gonna get his G.E.D., didn’t, and comments on Reddit that he “is a genius but never applied [himself]?”
Also, Kyrie is really overrated and is not a top-five point guard in the NBA (even if you consider James Harden a shooting guard).