Behind the Curve

I was hoping that Daniel J. Clark’s documentary Behind the Curve was a reference to baseball. Instead, it’s a deep dive into the Flat Earth Theory and those that believe said theory. After the avalanche of criticism that came from Film Threat critic Bradley Gibson’s review of American Circumcision, I’m going to take a more diplomatic approach to the crazy idea of a flat earth.

Full disclosure, Film Threat does not have a reviewer that subscribes to the Flat Earth Theory. Since I am the only reviewer, who believes in the “Guy in the Sky,” Behind the Curve was given to me. Let me first start by saying, Behind the Curve is the perfect introduction to one of the craziest world-wide phenomenon today, and if you’re not paying attention, you might fall into its trap. That said, this documentary is by no means an evangelist piece, but a doc of objectivity.

With thousands of members and a few leaders, director Clark focuses on two people. The first is Mark Sargent, founder of the Flat Earth International Conference (FEIC). He became famous as a YouTuber with videos titled “Flat Earth Clues,” and now he has a worldwide following. The other is Patricia Steere, host of another YouTube show called Flat Earth & Other Hot Potatoes where she discusses the latest in Flat Earth news and conversation.

Behind the Curve presents Sargent and Steere as sane, rational people and along with seemingly sane, rational people outline the theory of why the earth is flat and how does the sun, moon, stars, and government cover-ups make it all work. You will understand the argument by the end, on occasion though their theories are challenged/debunked by more mainstream scientists.

“…outline the theory of why the earth is flat and how does the sun, moon, stars, and government cover-ups make it all work.”

Speaking of mainstream scientists, it’s interesting to observe just how smug and dismissive these experts are. I get it, they’re right. But damn, they’re basically saying, “we’re right, and you’re an idiot.” A clip from Neil deGrasse Tyson, or as they call him The-One-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, makes him come across as a smart-ass bully. Then I think, “he is right.”

While Sargent and Steere are the backbones of the film’s narrative, Clark does make some essential tangents like how the Flat Earther movement gained steam and has grown significantly over the past several years almost to the point of becoming a religion. The movement even has celebrity followers most famously NBA star Kyrie Irving and Shaquille O’Neal.

What about science? You know, real science. Clark has done his due diligence in interviewing Flat Earth scientists whose focus is to challenge current belief’s in the Earth’s so-called roundness. In fact, the ending of the doc follows a sort of scientific task force formed at the FEIC and their experiment to debunk the curvature of the earth. No spoilers here.

What about the human element? It’s not easy being a Flat Earther. If you think politics divides us, apparently so does science. Clarks goes through testimony after testimony of believers who have been cut off from their families. Imagine what Thanksgiving must be like. “Don’t give Tommy the curved knife. He doesn’t believe in it.” Then there are others holding divorce papers with the ink still wet. The social stigma is so bad, there’s a Flat Earth dating site online.

This sounds like a conspiracy theory. Here is where the can of worms literally opens and those worms wriggle everywhere. What is the government hiding? How did NASA fake space travel and feed us a series of lies? Then the conspiracy turns inward when the movements true founder Math Powerland accuses Sargent and Steere of being government operatives.

“The best word to describe Behind the Curve is empathetic…”

What I found most fascinating was how the Flat Earth movement shines a light on how belief/faith have divided us as a people. We are a split world hiding behind our labels, be it religion Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist. What about politics? Democrat, Republican. The film challenges us to think about how we treat people who don’t believe as we do, especially when we’re right. What do you do with an old friend or family member, who comes out as a flat-earther? Do you mock them? Take away their driver’s license? Fire them from their jobs? Dismiss them because they’re “defective”?

I am not a Flat Earther, period. I’m safe because I’m a happy member of the majority. But once it gets out that I’m a Christian, now what? Want to know who I voted for? What do I really believe? What are my feelings about Trump, #MeToo, Climate Change, etc.? Is it ever possible to bring civility back to the conversation? Or better yet, bring back the conversation altogether.

The best word to describe the way Clark shot Behind the Curve is empathetic. While I believe with my whole heart that they’re wrong about many things on many levels. But they still have the right to be heard, and I owe them the respect to listen to what they have to say. In the end, don’t be afraid to sip a little bit of the Kool-Aid.

Behind the Curve (2018) Directed by Daniel J. Clark. Featuring Mark Sargent, Patricia Steere.

8 out of 10 stars

11 responses to “Behind the Curve

  1. Curious if you could settle a debate between a friend and I, in this doc a certain CalTech astrophysicist named Hannalore Gerling-Dunsmore speaks a few times rather early on. In your opinion – does she talk about Flat Earth in a positive light, negative, or neutral? Do you think she clearly comes off as anti-flat earth or is it not clear to say?

  2. Hannalore speaks about the Flat earth from a scientific light but also a philosophical one. Very clearly she is not a flat earther as the part where she is observing the plane tracking she mentions ” where did this plane come from?” referring to the far south eastern hemisphere and the direction the plane is going, making it very obvious that she does indeed believe the earth is of course round. Out of every individual in the film there wasn’t one astro physicist that believed in the flat earth theory.

  3. No, complete and total dumb shits do not “deserve to be heard”. They deserve ridicule and condemnation for their absurd and anti-scientific theories. Anyone who says anything different is compliant in their fraud.

    1. Please don’t refer to their debunked hypotheses as theories, lest you be considered _just_ as compliant in their fraud. It also lends credence to the debunked religious claims of scientific theories as being “just” theories.

  4. I thought this was going to be a doc on the research, new information, etc. on why there are some who believe the Earth was flat. As usual, we could never really get to that in any kind of detail because they couldn’t wait to start ridiculing which begins at with the scenes from CIT at 10 minutes in with her very first point having nothing to do with science but with social/cultural norms, which we already knew. The explanation of flight paths were both equally passed over giving 30 seconds to each, with of course CIT giving the final judgement of the flight path as ridiculous saying, “then where is that plain coming from?” This completely distorted the point about fight paths – a fact that any pilot will tell you: there are no planes that fly over Antarctica – ever. Though it’s obvious that the shortest route from Australia to the tip of South America would be to flight straight over Antarctica, like we do at the North Pole, we fly in a straight line from Australia, past Africa, over the Atlantic and onto south America on what is supposedly the other side of the Earth. Why? That’s all. Why? What was so hard about this documentary answering that question in detail? Why would you not ask that very logical question to the CIT folks? No plane, ship, person, research team, no one is legally allowed to walk over Antarctica. International Law prohibits trespassing since the 40’s, no one questions it and when people have trespassed they either turned around and returned from which they came or died. No living person can ever say, “I have crossed Antarctica.” Why? Why is it legal to trudge over the North Pole but not Antarctica. Why do we have countless accounts of research of all parts of the North Pole and not Antarctica? Finally, take a model airplane and globe. Take off from New York to London. Easy, right? Now take off from London to South America, of course. Now, take off from South America go the shortest route to New Zealand by flying straight over Antarctica. What’s going on here? Do we flight that route upside down for awhile? Don’t wanna fly straight over Antarctica? Ok, go around Antarctica to the south then., not along the north edge, around to the south. It is THE ONLY place where in order for you complete that path you would have to fly upside down because you are going across the bottom of a round ball. So why have we never done that? Military planes flight upside down all the time. Why are the ONLY flight paths crossing along the north of Antarctica? That’s all that needed to be ask and then the documentary could have boasted that they debunked all of the obvious questions. But instead we are obsessed with our world view, the social implications of even ASKING such questions and we remain completely unavailable to have any, new, different information come in. In order to learn new things, it is not possible until a channel is opened in our minds and that always begins with a question. This documentary, sadly, was not willing to ask any questions and decided instead to make us feel better by shoring up and defending what we already know. Good Science can never be poisoned by the preferences of cultural belief systems – no matter how long those systems exist.

    1. I knew something was up when the camera zoomed in on that “Start” button at the Houston Space Center, after they said it wasn’t working. The start button had not been pushed, as far as I could tell…

    2. “Ok, go around Antarctica to the south then”
      South of Antarctica? What are you talking about? You can’t go south of the South Pole by definition

      “It is THE ONLY place where in order for you complete that path you would have to fly upside down because you are going across the bottom of a round ball. ”
      The stupidity, it hurts. On Earth down is towards the center of the earth. A plane flying over Antartica would not be upside down.

      “n order to learn new things, it is not possible until a channel is opened in our minds and that always begins with a question.”
      Your questions are moronic.

  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/sports/antarctica-race-colin-obrady.html

    What are you talking about? This guy did it on his own. If you want to go to Antarctica you can.
    Also, what is the demand for flights from South Africa to Patagonia? Let alone Buenos Aires?

    Cape Town to southern Argentina or Chile are simply not super viable businesses. Also, take a look at how the jetstream maps, and consider how prevailing winds might impact flight times. Sometimes the shortest route isn’t always the fastest. You probably know this from your own life, when you avoid a road because it’s likely to have traffic or because one route involves more left turns (which slow your travel time) you may get routed on a less direct, but faster / more efficient path. The same is true with flights.

  6. Please don’t refer to their drivel as a theory. That is insulting and a kick in the shins of people who work hard to _actually_ produce scientific theories.

    Also, people have a right to free speech, not a right to be heard or to be taken seriously. People who believe the Earth is flat, the Earth was created by an Unnatural being, that women’s consent doesn’t matter, that people of color can be owned as property, that humans should be a prisoner of their own anatomy, etc., have no special rights to be heard.

    There aren’t two sides to every story, and we don’t need to pretend there are. Your post truth attitude is frankly pretty scary. Evidence and reality matters. When one group severely lacks either, they can be utterly dismissed until they climb out from under the basement and take reality at face value like the rest of us.

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