Off the Edge: Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Culture, and Why People Will Believe Anything

Hachette Audio. Feb. 2022. 7:13 hrs. ISBN 9781668624760. $23.95. SOC SCI
This history of the flat-earth movement connects to current popular conspiracy theories. Daily Beast reporter Weill traces the movement back to the 1830s with details about the impulses that make people believe things that don’t conform to facts or even their own research. Today’s social media algorithms work in such a way that anyone who seeks out a conspiracy theory will be fed many more. Xe Sands is the perfect narrator here as she navigates these unbelievable beliefs with a touch of tongue-in-cheek in her tone while still exuding empathy. She conveys the incredulity of the flat earther whose multiple experiments prove the earth is round but they still explain the results as a trick of the light. Sands does a great service to the author, who is partially telling her own story by writing about her research that includes attending meetups of conspiracy theorists. What is the danger behind this seemingly harmless certainty? “Belief in conspiracy theories is a unifying feature of extremist groups of every political and religious stripe.”
VERDICT Those who value information literacy will love hearing what this book reveals. Recommended.
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