Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Flat Earth two-fer

Ah, the Flat Earth myth. It's probably the simplest geography-based shorthand for political cartoons and debate.  Unfortunately, as I've mentioned before, it's unfounded.  The widely accepted concept of a nicely rotund Earth pre-dates Columbus by centuries, and probably millennia. Sure, the ancient Greeks may have been the first ones to estimate the actual dimensions of Earth's sphere (unless the Chinese beat them to that too). But the concept of the Earth being round was well known long before that.

So in the end equating a loathsome idea or concept to a Flat Earth mentality is not the best tactic because the analogy it's built on is false (similar to the false belief about suicidal lemmings)

So what to use as an alternative?  Geocentricity would do nicely.  The idea that the Earth is the center of the universe was very widely believed until Copernicus proved it wrong in a monumental feat of scientific genius.... yet the false belief still persisted many decades after the data was comprehensively falsified.

But the Flat Earth shorthand remains commonplace in editorial cartooning... and has been applied to a wide range of topics.  Here's a small collection (to add to previous collections)

Rex Babin
Rex Babin applying it to different administrations' science policies

Mike Lester
Mike Lester on climate change

Steve Greenberg

Steve Greenberg on the recent flat tax debate

And finally a pair of Non Sequitur  strips (by Wiley Miller) about political discourse that ran back-to-back (so even though the first one isn't "Flat Earth" per se, it seemed appropriate to post them together) 

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