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Study: Most Flat Earthers Get Their 'Facts' From YouTube

'Their algorithms make it easy to end up going down the rabbit hole'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2019 1:55 AM CST
This Dec.1972 photo released by NASA shows a view of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center)
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(Newser) – Researchers believe they have figured out why a growing number of people all around the world believe that the Earth is flat. Texas Tech University assistant professor of science communication Asheley Landrum says interviews with 30 "Flat Earthers" at conventions in 2017 and 2018 revealed that all but one of them decided our planet wasn't a sphere after watching YouTube videos, the Guardian reports. "The only person who didn’t say this was there with his daughter and his son-in-law and they had seen it on YouTube and told him about it," Landrum said at an event run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“There’s a lot of helpful information on YouTube but also a lot of misinformation,” Landrum says. "Their algorithms make it easy to end up going down the rabbit hole, by presenting information to people who are going to be more susceptible to it." She urged scientists to counter videos like "200 Proofs Earth Is Not a Spinning Ball" by releasing their own videos saying "here’s why those reasons aren’t real and here’s a bunch of ways you can research it for yourself." Google said earlier this year that it plans to gradually reduce YouTube recommendations for potentially harmful misinformation "such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11," CNET reports. (This Flat Earther blasted off in a homemade rocket.)

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