Flat wrong: Famous people's pronouncements often sound famously dumb

Here’s how I think it is with most celebrities. Given enough time, the fame gets to you in one of two ways.


The first way is being gradually overwhelmed, making a celebrity lonely and insecure, and pushed toward premature death. Think Marilyn Monroe.

The second way is being gradually overwhelmed, making a celebrity think being famous means being better informed, smarter and closer to perfection.

The first way is sad. The second way could be sadder.

I have a great litmus test to determine whether celebrities are geniuses: Geniuses typically don’t walk around crowing about what geniuses they are.

Take Kanye West, in an interview with The New York Times in 2013: “I am so credible and so influential and so relevant that I will change things.” And this, in a 2013 radio interview: “I am the No. 1 most impactful artist of our generation, in the flesh. I am Shakespeare, Walt Disney. Nike. Google.”

He’s also modest.

There are less famous examples of this behavior.

Like Tila Tequila. Just Google her. After gaining attention on social media several years ago, she managed to skip over the “having talent” part and went straight to being famous.

And she thinks Earth is flat.


HERE’S WHAT she posted Jan. 6 on Twitter. I won’t edit it for grammar and spelling because where’s the fun in that? “It’s 2016 & nobodys been able 2 prove 2 me that the earth is round,” she said. “Where is the curvature in the horizon?”

She says much more about the subject, but to mock her further would be punching far below my weight – not least because she is sadly, by her own public admission, mentally ill.

Then there’s B.o.B. He too thinks Earth is flat.

Not B.o.B. the distinguished astrophysicist. Not B.o.B. the noted geologist. B.o.B. He is a rapper from Atlanta. To give you an idea about the breadth of his knowledge, in December he warned the world about rampant human cloning at the hands of the Illuminati.

He got so churned up recently about a flat Earth that Neil deGrasse Tyson – a real astrophysicist, and a real good one – tried to convince B.o.B. repeatedly with stuff like facts and evidence.

It’s not a new idea. Eratosthenes calculated the curvature of Earth more than 200 years before the birth of Christ. Aristotle argued for a spherical Earth about a hundred years before that.

B.o.B. has declined to comment further about his, um, world-view. But a theory has emerged about it: It’s got to be a hoax – because no one could possibly be that stupid.


I’M PARAPHRASING, but Josh Rosenau, the programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, went into more detail:

“Flat Earthism works well for that purpose because it’s not really tied to any ideology, group identity, or economic interest, so it allows someone to stir up controversy without having to serve as a dog whistle. Espousing climate change denial would put B.o.B. in a partisan box, creationism would mark him as a fundamentalist, etc., but flat Earthism just signals some sort of vague, ill-informed anti-intellectualism/anti-elitism, and no one ever went broke selling that to the American public.”

So perhaps he’s trying to score a few extra moments in the spotlight – though I wouldn’t think that telling the world you’re a dimwit is a sound marketing strategy.

But it’s not just celebrities. It seems like everyone fancies themselves experts these days. With the wealth of information (and misinformation) you can siphon off the Internet, it makes far too many people think they know everything about everything. It gives an illusion that, intellectually, everybody is on a level playing field.

Level, you know – like how Earth is flat. Allegedly.



Wed, 02/21/2018 - 22:10

Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon