In September of 2019, I sat down with Mark Sargent at the Gather Festival in Stockholm, Sweden to have a conversation. I wanted to try and understand the reasoning behind his beliefs, and non-beliefs — the reasoning that lead him to believe the Earth is flat.
To be clear, I believe the scientific consensus that the Earth is, well, not flat. But fighting Mark’s beliefs with the facts I believe are true from the sources that I trust was not the point of this conversation. This was not a debate, but an exploration of what lead Mark to believe those facts were false and that those sources were not trustworthy.
This meeting came about because Earlier in the year YANSS presented an episode about Behind the Curve, a documentary about Flat Earthers, and in that episode I sat down with the producers to talk about belief, tribalism, scientific literacy, science denialism, and many other ideas which came to the surface during their investigation into the Flat Earther subculture.
Soon after, the organizers of Gather saw the documentary, listened to that episode of the show, and thought it would be interesting if I demonstrated, on stage, the ideas presented within about how to have respectful conversations with people who believe or feel differently than you do — to maintain empathy and avoid arguing or debating until you truly understand where the person is coming from, until you understand their reasoning and motivations.
Since Mark was the main character in Behind the Curve, they thought it would a great way to start their festival of ideas would be to showcase how ideas like Mark’s are formed and maintained.Links and Sources