Shaquille O'Neal Explains Why He Thinks the Earth is Flat and Square. "I Flew 20 Hours and I Didn't Tip Over."

“I didn't go upside down.”

NBA legend turned amateur astronomer Shaquille O'Neal discussed his interest in the "Flat Earth" conspiracy theory on Wednesday, when he told two radio hosts that he "likes listening" to theories that the Earth is flat. The basketball legend has previously questioned the fundamental shape of our planet and whether you could, say, just fall of the edge if you went too far. He cited the empirical evidence of a long flight he took to Australia without tipping over and how land looks through a car windshield. Read on to find out more about O'Neal's theory and the latest on the Flat Earth movement.

1
Shaq Not a Flat Earther, He Says

Kyle And Jackie-O/Instagram

On the Australian radio show Kyle and Jackie O, O'Neal was asked about his previous remarks on the subject. While he shied away from self-identifying as a "Flat Earther," O'Neal admitted he was curious about the idea.  "It's a theory. It's just a theory. They teach us a lot of things," said the former LA Laker, who is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. "I flew 20 hours today, not once did I go straight. I didn't tip over, I didn't go upside down. It's just a conspiracy theory." Keep reading to see the video.

2
"It's Still a Straight Line"

Kyle And Jackie-O/Instagram

Host Kyle Sandilands challenged O'Neal on the theory, noting that it's possible to travel from America to Australia either from the east or west coast.  "It's still a straight line," said O'Neal. "You know they say the world is spinning? I've lived on a lake for 30 years and I've never seen the lake move to the left or right."

3
"I Drive From Coast to Coast, And This is Flat to Me"

Kyle And Jackie-O/Instagram

"I like listening to them," O'Neal said about conspiracy theories like Flat Earth. "It's not about being wrong or right, I just like listening to them."  And talking about them—at length. The Daily Mail pointed out that O'Neal has claimed the Earth is flat before. On The Big Podcast with Shaq in 2017, it was noted that Cleveland Cavaliers player Kyrie Irving had revealed his belief that the planet was not round.   "It's true: the Earth is flat," said O'Neal, who claimed that Christopher Columbus didn't discover America.  "I drive from coast to coast, and this is flat to me," he continued. Satellite imagery could be drawn and made up. I'm just saying, when I drive from Florida to New York: flat. New York to Seattle: flat. Seattle down to LA: flat. LA back to Florida: flat. Matter of fact, it's a square. That's what it is."

4
What is the Flat Earth Movement?

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O'Neal later claimed he was joking about the podcast statements, and some people wonder if Flat Earthers are really being serious.  Flat Earthers spring from the Flat Earth Society, a small movement founded in the 1950s, which claimed the Earth is a flat disc instead of the clearly observable globe that has been photographed incessantly from space. (And by many countries of differing political ideologies, raising the question of how cooperation in a global conspiracy might have been arranged.) The idea has resurged in the internet era, particularly in recent years, which also saw numerous other conspiracy theories take hold.  But it's still a fringe belief. According to a 2017 poll by Public Policy Polling, only 1% of Americans believed the Earth was flat, and 6% said they weren't sure.

5
Why Do People Believe The Earth Is Flat?

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"People, in essence, are just trying to understand the world," Daniel Jolley, a senior lecturer in the psychology of conspiracy theories at the UK's Northumbria University, told CNN in 2019. "And they're looking at the world in a gaze where they're biased in their thinking."  "They may have distrust towards powerful people or groups, which could be the government or NASA, and when they look towards evidence that makes sense to them … this world view (is) endorsed," he added. "It's difficult to break out of that mindset."

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more