In the stew of false information and conspiracy theories that swirls online, perhaps no idea is as flummoxing as the belief in a flat Earth. Flat-Earthers believe that the Earth is a flat disc ringed by an ice wall. All those elegant models of a round Earth that perfectly explain seasons, eclipses, sunrises and sunsets? Lies and cover-ups, they say. Pictures of the round Earth from space? Government conspiracies. The fact that you can see ships disappearing hull-first over the curve of the horizon with your own eyes? Well, flat-Earthers claim to see something different. It's been a big publicity year for flat-Earthers, who have gained celebrity backers, promised death-defying stunts in the name of their theory and held their first conference. Here are eight times the conspiracy theorists have gotten their names out there in 2017. 1. Shaq attacks Earth's roundness Basketball player Shaquille O'Neal was roundly mocked online when he announced on his podcast in March that Earth is "flat to me." He went on: "I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle, and all that stuff about gravity. Have you looked outside Atlanta lately and seen all these buildings? You mean to tell me that China is under us? China is under us? It's not. The world is flat." A few days later, though, Shaq announced that he was just messing with everyone: "I'm joking, you idiots," he clarified. But people who think the world is flat aren't necessarily primed to believe their ears when they hear a beloved celebrity saying he was just making a joke of their theories. A quick stroll through the Flat Earth Society forums suggests that some true believers now think Shaq was simply pressured into retracting his statements and that he's on their side. 2. Rapper B.o.B crowdfunds a satellite The rapper B.o.B, also known as Bobby Ray Simmons Jr., is famous for having gotten into a Twitter fight with physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson over whether the Earth is round.
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