We have to talk about conspiracy theories

Earth is a 4.5 billion-year-old terrestrial planet that revolves around the Sun, which is at the center of the Solar System. In an ideal world, we would stop explaining right there, because the facts are that obvious. No surprise, this is not the case; we are living in strange times, when the numbers of self-nominated scientists are rising. These guys, deliberately or not, with all their absurd, unproven claims, are doing nothing but creating chaos.

It starts with a thought. At first glance, it seems like an innocent idea just pops up out of nowhere. Sooner or later, it turns out to be a sly one which sticks in the brain and slowly but surely grows. These beliefs could stick so deep that people just stop doubting them. On the contrary, they start to look for evidence which proves their points – this is the so-called Confirmation Bias.

The ultimate problem is that people collect and remember information selectively, but they still draw conclusions. It does not matter if these claims, statements, or allegations are true or not; people only need to confirm their preexisting beliefs and hypotheses for their own comfort. Here is where the famous Dunning-Kruger effect comes in: people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

In this modern age, where a single Tweet could start and stop a war, billions and billions of people are able to make contact with each other and spread the most ridiculous views in Facebook groups or on YouTube.

YouTube has enough space so anyone can make revealing videos about a secret group who rules the world, or about a soon-to-be 89-year-old man who wants to fill Europe and the United States with illegal immigrants, or about NASA, the CIA, the FBI — you name it — who are all lying to the people about the moon landing, aliens and 9/11, just to mention the popular ones.

The easiest targets who tend to buy into conspiracy theories are those who no longer believe in state or government-run authorities. A lot of people claim that they have “woken up” while the majority of the population is being brainwashed by the establishment-ruled media.

It is rather hard to imagine, but in all other ways these people are just like anyone else. Netflix’s new documentary, Behind the Curve, gives an exclusive insight into their unique world.

In their own micro-society, everyone knows the names of Mark K. Sargent, Patricia Steere, or the best of the best, Darryl Marble. (Darryl claims that Sargent and Steere are CIA agents, though.) The business is booming, millions of people around the world are following them – I kid you not, in addition to videos and merchandise, there is also even a dating app for believers.

Behind the Curve follows Sargent, a 40-something guy from Washington State who is still living with his mother. Sargent is a celebrity among the Flat Earthers and his YouTube channel has more than 76,000 subscribers. He is an old-fashioned, talkative guy who truly believes in the cause; that’s why it is hard to choose between simply laughing at him and feeling sorry for him.

Sargent clearly does not know what he is doing. He makes some ludicrous claims in the documentary which a couple of real scientists refute in seconds.

My personal favorite is the one when Sargent said he had checked before but no airplanes were flying above the Indian Ocean because, you know, the earth is flat. In the very next scene, a scientist finds at least ten of them on the flight radar.

The documentary does a great job balancing between humorous and serious issues, stories and messages. Behind the Curve does not judge anybody on their views, but by the end of the film, it is crystal clear which side holds the truth.

A couple of tests are conducted in the film to prove the Earth is not even revolving, but they all fail spectacularly. None of the Flat Earthers quit; on the contrary, they offer some pathetic excuses.

“Interesting. Interesting there. That’s interesting,” says one of them in shock, who accidentally sums up the movie’s main message while failing to deliver two tests in front of the cameras.

The thing is, because being a Flat Earther is not a crime and not a disease, most people will continuously turn their heads away. Ask yourself: could you rely on somebody who thinks the Earth is flat? Would you let that individual teach your children? Although belief in such a thing does not cause any trouble, trying to convert people, especially the young ones, might.

Behind the Curve shows how much the majority of Flat Earthers sacrifice – including friends and family — for something they have never had and probably will never have in their lives: acknowledgement.

Cover photo by Netflix

You can’t stop the players take over the NBA

Before the recent NBA trade deadline passed relatively quietly, the New Orleans Pelicans’ superstar Anthony Davis had kept the whole league buzzing. Boy, it was chaotic; the only thing we were sure about was the fact that the power forward wanted to be out of New Orleans as soon as possible and his dream scenario would have been to join LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Other than that, there were weeks when maybe no one, including the protagonists, knew what the heck was going to happen next. Almost all teams were eager to make a deal, and the word on the street was that they didn’t care about the consequences; they put everything on the Red 7 on one roulette spin and shut their eyes. During the process, some dumb and unreliable trade demands and offers were leaked to the public, keeping fans in doubt. Eventually, the trade never happened, and some might say all remained the same. Well, that could not be further from the truth.

Anthony Davis is the latest player who showed us how powerful he is and how weak the league is under pressure. They say the true artist from the backstage is – who else? – LeBron James, who, according to some unconfirmed speculations, almost had Magic Johnson trade the whole team to get what he wanted. Again, whether it is true or not, this is just the next step for the players to take over the NBA once and for all.

The game top of game has been changed; the employees are more valuable than ever. The young, unstoppable basketball players are rising, and their ruthless agents are up to bat for the best deal possible for their clients and themselves. In the end, no matter what, someone will have to pay.

The funny thing is, while Anthony Davis was keeping the fans all around the world engaged, Netflix added Steven Soderbergh’s low-budget ‘High Flying Bird’ movie which focused on how smart, talented, and valuable players can dictate their fate.

HFB is predicting the future wherein players, the goods, become too important for the market, so the owners and the league must let them eat at the table. The recent NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which grants 49-50% of the revenues for the players, run through 2023–24 with a mutual opt-out after 2022–23. As the league is headed the same direction, becoming more popular than ever, money is pouring in like never before. In three years, the players might seek to get a larger slice of the pie. Business is business.

We are living in an era where at least two types of athletes exist: some people are chasing money, some are building a legacy. Yes, you can do both at the same time, but at some point you ought to choose a path. Kevin Durant made his decision back in 2016 when he let Oklahoma City and Russel Westbrook down, and now he is a two-time champion. The most iconic move, of course, was when LeBron James took his talent to the South Beach and joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. LeBron won two of his three rings in Miami, so ultimately, he chose wisely. On the other hand, after five championships and a couple of injuries, Kobe Bryant signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers at an estimated value of $48.5 million and let his beloved team collapse under its own weight. Clearly, Kobe’s case was a bit different, but he chose money and rode into the sunset with pockets full of cash while the Lakers have since had one of the worst decades in their history.

We, mere mortals, cannot imagine what earning tens and hundreds of millions of dollars feels like. These guys had already been rich as heck when they were signed for less, so they still had plenty to feed their family. The real power is not to give up on money but to have the guts to make decisions like Durant and James did back then.

Now it is Anthony Davis’ turn. After hearing what he had to say a couple of months ago, we can be pretty convinced that he is up for making history.

“I would take legacy over money. I want to have a legacy. All my people that look up to me, the younger kids, I want them to know about AD’s legacy. Don’t get me wrong, money is amazing. But I think in that sense, money or legacy, I think my legacy will win that battle every time,” Davis told Yahoo Sports.

Although the league would never say it out loud, they do love Big Threes – when two or three superstars align to win championships – because super teams bring more money, more supporters, and better ratings. Fining teams for tampering is a joke; with this move, the league wants to prove that they have the control.

The thing is, you cannot do anything to avoid players building super teams on whichever terms they want. At the end of the day, guess what, the players dictate the rhythm. If Anthony Davis is keen on joining LeBron James, trust me, he will find a way to do so.

Cover photo by Netflix Media