Mar 22, 2017 I Paul Seaburn

Shaquille O’Neal and Other Flat Earthers

How many people believe the Earth is flat? More than you might think, and many of them are athletes, musicians and Hollywood celebrities (OK, that’s probably not a surprise). Last month, Kyrie Irving of the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers came out as a Flat Earther. While some suspected he was joking, his statement may have opened the door for other believers. This week, broadcaster and NBA Hall of Fame member Shaquille O'Neal announced that he’s a Flat Earther too. Really?

I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it's flat to me. I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle, and all that stuff about gravity.

Shaq’s comment on his podcast makes him the fourth basketball star to recently go flat (in an earthy way), joining Irving as well as Wilson Chandler of the Denver Nuggets (“Just walk outside and use your five senses") and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors ("I haven't done enough research but it may be flat”). Teaming up with them from another pro sport was NFL wide receiver Stefon Diggs of the Minnesota Vikings (“How mad would you guys be if I said I agree with kyrie? Well don't care”).

tila tequila flat earth 570x380
Tila Tequila

These guys are a little late in joining the Flat Earth movement. In January 2016, social media star Tila Tequila went on Twitter (where else?) to rant about her beliefs:

It's 2016 & nobodys been able 2 prove 2 me that the earth is round. Where is the curvature in the horizon? #FlatEarth prove me wrong dammit!

Why are all the buildings in NYC standing straight up? If earth was round then some of the buildings would have a slight tilt. #FlatEarth

If the earth was a spinning globe then how come airplanes can still land w/out crashing? Because the face of the earth is flat. Not a globe.

While Tila merely argued with her peeps, rapper B.o.B. went at it with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in both tweets and rap tracks.

What has convinced these celebrities and members of the Flat Earth Society that the Earth is flat? Shaq touched on one idea – they believe that gravity doesn’t exist (funny talk from this big guy who looks like he’s developing his own gravitational field) or has never been proven. They look at things falling (basketballs, apples) or rising (warm air, helium balloons) as a function of buoyancy and density – more dense sinks, less dense floats.

Shaq, Tila and B.o.B. also bring up the flat horizon argument – if the Earth is round, why isn’t the horizon curved? That’s where the flat-Earthers are forced to give up or join the Moon-landings-were-fakers who don’t believe that any pictures from space are real. Throw in the ideas that the North Pole is the center of the Earth disc and Antarctica is actually an ice wall that holds in the oceans and you’ve got a lot of scientists beyond deGrasse Tyson to battle with.

Are these celebrities true believers or looking for a 16th minute of fame? Probably more of the latter, but the fact that the discussion is going on, other people are being exposed to their ideas and the Flat Earth Society has even more ways to defend them says the March for Science on April 22nd is more needed than ever.

Or is it too late?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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