Entertainer and science educator Bill Nye issued a challenge a few days ago to rapper B.o.B., an influential peddler of the Flat Earth myth.
B.o.B. responded by deflecting.
It all started when Nye did an interview about conspiracy theories. It was mentioned that a lot of professional athletes and rappers believe these things, and they have big audiences.
The hosts specifically brought up B.o.B. and Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving. Nye initially focused on Irving, saying he was surprised someone who thinks that much can believe in a Flat Earth.
These are influential, thoughtful people who think. They think about basketball defense — complicated business. They think about their statistics constantly. They’re constantly evaluating their shooting percentage… They get to the court early and they dribble the ball to see which parts of the court are kinda dead, compared to the lively parts, from somebody who spilled a soft drink five years ago and it didn’t get wiped up fast… It’s just weird!
It’s not that weird. Many intelligent people believe in unintelligent things, and it’s usually because of compartmentalization. They may create products that go through rigorous testing, but abandon those principles in other areas of life.
Nye went on to say that modern Flat Earthers overlook evidence that has been well understood for centuries and urged believers to “Go to the edge and take a picture and post it on the ‘gram.” In other words, if the Earth really is flat, find the edge and prove it.
As for B.o.B., Nye said he was spreading the myth just to “sell albums.” He even pointed to the rapper’s GoFundMe page to buy a satellite that would allow him to take photos of the Flat Earth. Nye said that was unnecessary.
Before you do that, why don’t you consider joining the Planetary Society [which Nye runs], where you’ll have a satellite. Join the Planetary Society where you’ll have cameras. We’ll take a picture of the earth, and you can decide for yourself. Not a conspiracy. Come to Cape Canaveral, and see the rocket launch. I’m here for you, man. B.o.B, I challenge you. Come to Cape Canaveral, and watch a rocket launch… we can take a meeting about your Flat Earth.
It didn’t take long for B.o.B. to respond to the challenge. But instead of taking Nye up on his offer, he deflected, saying, “You got the wrong guy, my friend.”
Look man, I’m a fan. I grew up watching your show, but you got the wrong guy, my friend. The Flat Earth information did not, by any way, start with me or my beliefs. You know, I could point you to some books!
To be clear, Nye never said B.o.B. invented the conspiracy, only that the rapper was spreading it, and Nye was right about that. His point was that influential people who spread faulty information without checking it are a big part of the problem. The Flat Earthers who wrote those “books” the rapper recommended to Nye wouldn’t be able to spread their beliefs as easily without the help of people like B.o.B. doing their dirty work for them.
B.o.B. ignored all that. Instead, he urged Nye to “talk to the big dogs” like yoga teacher and conspiracy theorist Eric Dubay, a man best known for making a documentary claiming Adolf Hitler was really peaceful but his reputation was ruined by the Zionist media.
[Dubay’s] got a book with over 200 proofs that nobody has addressed… I’m an information guy, I can just point you to the information.
Not all information, of course, is useful.
This isn’t the first time B.o.B. has clashed with an icon of science education. He first mentioned his beliefs in the Flat Earth on Twitter in January of 2016, prompting a memorable response from Neil deGrasse Tyson. B.o.B then released a song called “Flatline,” in which he accused Tyson and NASA of feeding false information to the public in exchange for cash. (“Neil Tyson need to loosen up his vest / They probably write that man one hell of a check”) Tyson’s rapper nephew also released his own musical response.
The point is: If information matters, B.o.B. doesn’t seem to care about the evidence that contradicts his pet theory. Still, I’m glad Nye is willing to show him proof personally, and I hope B.o.B. eventually takes him up on that.
(Portions of this article were previously published in No Sacred Cows: Investigating Myths, Cults, and the Supernatural)