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The Flat Earth Documentary Hidden Gem You Can Watch On Netflix

Science dictates the Earth is round, and that's not a new theory. There is confirmed, historic documentation that people believed in a spherical Earth dating back to the Greek philosophers of the 5th century BC (via Ronald L. Numbers). Historian Jeffrey Burton Russell once said that, "no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the Earth was flat," a statement which bears out through the spherical depictions of Earth by Hellenistic astronomers from that time.

Still, some people are unaware of just how long science has believed, through gathered evidence, in a spherical Earth. It's possible you were taught that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 in order to prove that the Earth was not flat — an apocryphal story which comes not from actual history, but from the writings of "Sleepy Hollow" author Washington Irving. Irving, who developed a fascination with Columbus after a visit to Madrid, melded fact with fiction when he crafted the idea that the Italian explorer was some forward thinker speaking truth to power. 

However, that hasn't stopped some people from believing Columbus proved the Earth was round, and it's a belief that began in 1828 when Irving's "The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus" became a bestseller. Sometimes, all it takes for fiction to become fact is for the person telling the story to do so extremely well.

Similarly, there has recently been a renewed interest in the false notion that the Earth actually is flat after all. Despite a total lack of scientific evidence, there are many people who believe in a flat Earth — and if you've ever wondered how that happened, Netflix has a documentary on the subject called "Behind the Curve," available to stream now.

A documentary about (but not in favor of) Flat Earth

"Behind the Curve" is the story of a number of popular voices within the Flat Earth movement. Much of the focus is drawn to competitive gamer, software analyst, and YouTuber Mark Sargent and his quest to draw attention to his belief in a flat Earth.

Most of the ideas behind this Flat Earth conspiracy theory stem from people, with the use of their eyes, looking towards the horizon, and remarking that they simply cannot see a curvature in the Earth. Sargent's extensive explorations into Flat Earth were made popular through his series of 2015 videos entitled "Flat Earth Clues." 

More than a study of Flat Earth, however, "Behind the Curve" is about that grand, human tradition of setting out to prove something one already believes to be true, and ignoring evidence to the contrary. And while the documentary shows multiple Flat Earthers performing experiments which accidentally further prove what we already know (that the Earth is round), it also shows these conspiracy theorists' strident inability to accept the scientific method they themselves employ.

If "Behind the Curve" intrigues you, might we recommend a double feature with a non-Sargent YouTube video — Folding Idea's "In Search of a Flat Earth," a video essay which both utilizes repeated scientific experimentation to prove the curvature of the Earth and also explores how the Flat Earth movement has transitioned in the last few years towards another conspiracy theory: QAnon. An exploration of the conspiracy theory of Flat Earth is equal parts fascinating and disturbing because it is an exploration not only of science, but of the dangers of dogmatic belief without examination, introspection, or evidence.

"Behind the Curve" is streaming now in Netflix.