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Algonquin Books

Off the Edge : Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Culture & Why People Will Believe Anything by Kelly Weill

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Since 2015, there has been a spectacular boom in a centuries-old delusion: that the earth is flat. More and more people believe that we all live on a pancake-shaped planet, capped by a solid dome and ringed by an impossible wall of ice. In Off the Edge, journalist Kelly Weill draws a direct line from today's conspiratorial moment, brimming not just with Flat Earthers but also anti-vaxxers and QAnon followers, back to the early days of Flat Earth theory in the 1830s. We learn the natural impulses behind these beliefs: when faced with a complicated world out of our control, humans have always sought patterns to explain the inexplicable. But something else has shifted. Powered by Facebook and YouTube algorithms, the Flat Earth movement is growing.

At once a definitive history of the movement and an essential look at its unbelievable present, Off the Edge introduces us to a cast of larger-than-life characters. We meet historical figures like the historical figures who first popularized the theory and the many modern-day Flat Earthers Weill herself gets to know. We discover what, and who, converts people to Flat Earth belief, and what happens inside the rabbit hole. In this incisive and powerful book, Kelly Weill explores how we arrived at this polarized moment and explains what needs to happen so that we might all return to the same spinning globe.

"A deep dive into the world of Flat Earth conspiracy theorists . . . that brilliantly reveals how people fall into illogical beliefs, reject reason, destroy relationships, and connect with a broad range of conspiracy theories in the social media age. Beautiful, probing, and often empathetic . . . An insightful, human look at what fuels conspiracy theories." --Science