Yes, flat-Earthers really do exist

With the sphericity of the Earth empirically established by the ancient Greeks more than 2,000 years ago, it is difficult to believe that there are still holdouts. Yet, as a reporter for Vice recently observed, “If a flat Earth conference in Edmonton, Alberta, of all places, can pull in over 200 people … I think we may be underestimating the size of the movement.”

How prevalent is flat-Earthery? In a previous column, we examined what seems to have been the first systematic attempt to assess the American population’s views on the shape of the Earth, a YouGov poll conducted in February 2018. According to YouGov’s report, when asked, “Do you believe that the world is round or flat,” 2 percent of the 8,215 respondents chose “I have always believed the world is flat.”

When we asked YouGov for the data, however, we received a spreadsheet reflecting data for 10,374 respondents, of whom only 1.28 percent preferred the always-a-flat-earther response. Unfortunately, YouGov was unable or unwilling to resolve the discrepancy, making it impossible for us to reach a firm conclusion about the actual size of the flat-Earth movement on the basis of the poll.