By Tim Binnall
Fans of the infamous Flat Earth Theory gathered together over the weekend for a convention in, of all places, New Zealand. Similar to UFO symposiums and Bigfoot confabs, the Auckland-based Flat Earth NZ Expo featured a number of prominent figures in the field as well as attendees from around the ‘questionably-shaped’ world who are advocates for the controversial conspiracy theory. Although specific attendance figures for the event are unavailable, Oskar Howell, a reporter who covered the event on site, described the venue was “filled with people,” which suggests that, like it’s predecessors in North America and England, the convention was a rousing success.
Noting to one media outlet that “ninety percent of our membership is in the closet,” with regards to their Flat Earth fandom, researcher Mark Sargent credited the Expo as being a place where adherents to the conspiracy theory can speak freely about the much-maligned concept. However, Howell offered the intriguing and somewhat contrasting observation that, as an outsider, he sensed a “tense, almost hostile” atmosphere in which attendees seemingly didn’t quite trust each other for fear that they were still being judged for their beliefs despite the decidedly pro-Flat Earth environment. One hopes that these misgivings largely melted away as attendees spent more time together and realized that they were, indeed, among ‘fellow travelers.’
While New Zealand may sound like a far-flung location for a Flat Earth event, the country actually appears to have quite the burgeoning community of supporters for the theory. A Facebook group attached to the Expo has nearly 2,000 members and, back in 2017, one particularly enthusiastic advocate for the idea went so far to place a ‘Research Flat Earth’ sign beside a popular beach. And, perhaps spurred on by the successful event this past weekend, convention organizer Adrienne Morrison revealed that New Zealanders who support the Flat Earth theory hope to get a meeting with the country’s Education Minister in an attempt to get the conspiracy theory included in school curriculums.