The Importance of Education

Darryl E Berry Jr

Several years ago, someone I knew announced that the world was flat. I had heard of people who believed that the Earth was flat. It seemed so fanciful that I accepted it as satire. However, this person presented me with someone sincere in their belief.

I listened as he explained his reasoning, all the “evidence” he had found, and all the “flaws” with the globe he had also found. Then, he encouraged me to watch flat Earth videos to learn more, and they were fascinating to watch. It was easy to see the threads that weaved through every logical fallacy and incorrect notion.

Perhaps had these folks had an education, they would be knowledgeable enough to recognize the emptiness of the flat Earth position. Perhaps with authentic scientific training, they would have developed the critical thinking, reasoning, and investigative skills to research sufficiently, draw valid conclusions, and appraise claims about the world properly.

That people believe the Earth is flat is perhaps one of the most profound indications of the importance of education. Not everything ever taught in college has indeed been accurate. The flat Earth position was the established position at one point. However, while there may be things we soon learn are incorrect or can use some development, the Earth’s spherical shape is one of those things with a myriad of overwhelming evidence to support, and the flat Earth is something that has been unequivocally disproven many times over.

That something in today’s world so established can be mistaken demonstrates how far afield from logic, reason, and facts we can stray without proper knowledge and ability to think and reason. As I pursue my college degrees, it is apparent enough that any thinking person who attends a college physics class, or astronomy class, cannot help but learn enough to think and investigate at a level high enough to establish the shape of the Earth. Furthermore, beyond that, what we can do with education is extend our knowledge and ability.

For years, I have noticed that flat Earth believers have been stuck in the same place, having the same arguments based upon the same baseless positions – well, almost the same. At one point, they made explicit enough claims that they could be disproven. Now, most flat Earth believers make amorphous claims, and even then, they deny and try to avoid admitting that they made a claim. Perhaps with an education, they would appreciate the principles of honesty in discourse and research and the falsifiability of claims. Perhaps they would understand and appreciate the role and establishment of evidence and not fall for delusions that others or they concoct.

I remember an instance of telling this person that I saw the International Space Station (ISS) come around twice in the same night. I asked him to explain that. The information was new to him and took him aback. However, he very quickly countered with, “They could have airplanes that are landing and taking off one after another to make it look like the ISS is coming around like that. We don’t know what they have.” So, to clarify, all of space technology is a conspiracy per the flat Earth believers.

I informed him it seemed he just made that up just then. He acknowledges that. I asked him if he had known that the ISS came around at that pace. He did not. I asked if he had any evidence of this series of airplanes conspiracy – which would have been odd given that he had just made up the scenario as an ad hoc refutation of new evidence. As expected, he did not have any evidence of it. However, for flat Earthers, if they can make something up that they can believe refutes evidence against their position, then in their mind, they have refuted that evidence. Imagine where the world would be today if we accepted whatever we wanted to imagine about a situation as fact.

Consider boarding an airplane that the engineers and manufacturers decided was viable without designing, calculations, or testing. Moreover, consider a future without educated people, still citing flat Earth believers as an example. People have asked flat Earthers for a working map of the supposedly actual flat Earth. However, of course, they cannot present this. Usually, they do everything they can to change the subject.

Nevertheless, here we are, with people believing the Earth is flat for years and having no progress in any practical way. If most people were as uneducated as flat Earth believers, we would have no maps, no electricity, no cars, no airplanes, and no phones. There would be no technology whatsoever. We would be living like cavemen, while also blabbering to ourselves about inane absurdities while imagining we are geniuses.

By and large, the world’s educated people have moved the world forward. Nevertheless, we know that even today, college-educated folks have not made all discoveries and inventions. However, even those intellectual titans who did not earn a college degree had the necessary knowledge and analytical skills to discover what they discovered and invent what they invented, and in that sense, they were well-educated. Sans natural talent and ability in these skills and fields, it seems that a college education is among the best ways to develop these skills.

Having interacted with several flat Earth believers over the years, I have found that they target the ignorant and uneducated in their recruitment. The basis of their recruitment tactic is sowing doubt and distrust through exploiting the ignorance of the person to whom they are speaking. They make claims that they know to be false. When this is addressed, they might acknowledge the falsity before trying to approach with something else. It became clear then – and from seeing recordings of other conversations they had – that they were presenting a known inaccuracy that had I not known better, they would have continued with me none the wiser. It occurred to me to consider what the flat Earthers who fell for these cons thought when they found the dishonesties. However, it seems they fall easily into the template and forward such inaccuracies themselves. The flat Earth “movement” seems very much like a cult, based on my experience with and research on cults.

A solid education is a potent inoculation against charlatans and misinformed people who would push notions like flat Earth on the ignorant and unsuspecting. It seems certain that education-inoculated youth have less chance of falling prey to such nonsense and, through education, are better prepared to understand the world and contribute to our understanding and progress.

Copyright (c) 2022 Darryl E Berry Jr