Believe it or not, some people still think the world is flat, and that we are all victims of a giant conspiracy. Alex Moshakis heads to Birmingham to meet Britain’s Flat Earthers
To the casual observer, there is nothing remarkable about the crowd gathered in a convention room at a central Birmingham hotel. Middle managers on a staff team-building exercise, perhaps. But their conversations give them away. The clique in the corner discussing the moon landings. The man at the bar chastising an acquaintance for holding on to the science he was taught at school. The woman who asks another, “If they’ve lied about this, what else are they lying about?” The various conversations peter out as the open-mic session gets under way. A 40-something woman approaches the stage. “My name’s Sarah,” she says. “And I’m a Flat Earther.” Other audience members offer similar anecdotes: epiphanies, followed by a complete rebuttal of their previous beliefs. Few are able to explain why a conspiracy might exist, why scientists might go to such great lengths to create false evidence.
I’m in central Birmingham, at the UK’s first Flat Earth convention, a weekend of lectures and workshops designed to provide believers with opportunities to engage with others who subscribe to the same hypothesis: that the Earth is not a globe, as most of us think, but some kind of plane, with edges. Around 200 people have paid to attend.