We have this common misconception that before Columbus everyone believed the Earth is flat. It makes perfect sense that we believe this false thing since it's generally presented that way in school. Hey, it makes for a good story!
"The intrepid explorer, Christopher Columbus, despite warnings that the world was flat, set out in his ships to prove everyone wrong by going around the Earth to establish new trade routes! He faced constant threat of mutiny as all of his crew feared they were going to go over the edge of the world! But he persevered and finally landed in a brand, new world!"
Something like that, anyway.
The truth is, though, that educated people didn't believe that. The Greeks figured out that the world was round well over 1500 years before Columbus stepped foot on a ship. It had been accepted knowledge for a long, long time before the Middle Ages began. Accepted by the educated, that is. The "common" people were a different story.
There were exceptions. Every so often, someone (educated) would come along, usually on religious grounds of some sort, and declare that the Earth was flat. Anyone could look around and see that that was true. Plus, you know, "The Bible!" No one should listen to "science"!
It made sense to the uneducated masses. Sure, look around, because anyone can clearly see that the Earth is flat and all this "science" talk of a spherical planet is part of some rigged system trying to take advantage us!
The truth was that the common people, being uneducated, couldn't understand the science. It took explorers going out and sailing around the world, all the way around the world, before the idea of a flat Earth became a thing of the past.
Mostly a thing of the past, since there is still a Flat Earth Society with people in it who cling to this idea that the science is a fraud and the Earth is actually flat. Or that the science is just wrong, or the scientists just aren't smart enough to decipher the information correctly. Obviously, the Earth is still as flat today as it ever was.
The rest of us, though, don't give these people much credence. It's an idea that doesn't deserve much more than an eye roll and a "Oh, you're one of those people" responses. Because, you know, there's more than just science to back up the fact that the Earth is a sphere. People have been up there and out there and seen it.
Can you imagine if a Flat Earther ran for President?
I can, because we have that going on right now.
We have the science that shows that man-induced climate change is happening. Educated people who understand the science virtually all agree that this is what is happening. The problem we're having with that is people looking around, much as the uneducated masses did during the Middle Ages, and not seeing the curve of the Earth. Or the larger picture. Whatever.
They're seeing things like what I saw posted on Facebook recently, "What climate change? It's 51 here in [place withheld]!" They're seeing the arctic vortexes and, well, whatever it is they're seeing is not the pattern. They're still grasping onto "global warming" and allowing harsh winters to mask "climate change."
And, then, we have someone like Donald Trump come along and say things like, "There is no drought in California." He's the religious nut (not that he's religious) from the Middle Ages coming along and saying, "The Earth is flat!" He doesn't know or understand the science, and he doesn't want to. It wouldn't actually surprise me if the next "wacky" thing to come out of his mouth was actually, "The world is flat!" It would fit right in with his statements that climate change is a hoax and that the science is bullshit.
The sad part is that I'm not sure if he did come out and say that the Earth is flat if that would dissuade his supporters.