My chosen piece of fake news is this Facebook post in a Flat-Earth group on Facebook. Here is the link:https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156357274641925&set=pcb.2634498766565283&type=3&theater&ifg=1
The following is a rough translation of the first picture: “The Lake Pontchartrain Bridge, forms a fixed [???] composed of two parallel bridges, traversing Lake Pontchartrain (South Louisiana in the US). The longest of the two bridges has a length of 38.35km. In 1969, the Guinness Book of Records classified it as the longest bridge in the world. In 2011, in response to the opening of a bridge over the Jiaozhou Bay in China, Guinness World Records created two categories of bridges over water: continuous lengths and suspended over water. The causeway of Lake Pontchartrain became the longest bridge above the water (continuous system) while for the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in China, the bridge is the longest suspended. Concerning the towers of the Pontchartrain Bridge, which you can find on a map, the legend states that they are separated by roughly 300 meters . The 1st photo was taken by Brad Zerangue, from the other parallel bridge. You make out roughly thirty towers in the photo; they fade more and more, becoming diffuse gray stains, but they’re always visible. 30 times 300 equals 9000 meters which would be 9km. I’ll leave it to you to go over the given known official statements by the round earth, so that you know at what moment the difference in height of the earth’s curvature becomes apparent…”
If you’d like to hear some more, this is the end of the post and the subsequent translation:
“In any case, the architects will take it well in counting everything into their collection of parameters, but the supposed curvature of the earth is not in fact part of that. In reality, you note that the observer on the ground, in moving higher, will be able to see too far, because of the logic and the given handouts on the round earth. You could begin to become interested in the functions of the eye just as the field of vision restrains, as a function of the perspective due to the position of the observer on the ground… and once again, the water doesn’t curve, and will rest level, from tower to tower. The Earth is fixed, and we move about liberally on it, by earth or by sea, and in a limited aerial space.” You can visit the link to find the discussed pictures.
Explicit meaning: This piece of Fake News is something of a ‘proof’; it’s trying to demonstrate logically that the Earth is flat because of the given discrepancies in Round-Earth descriptions.
Audience: While the intended audience may be the general public (the logic is written as if it is for anyone to see and discover the apparent discrepancies in Round-Earth descriptions), it is written with language that implies it is also meant for people who understand flat earth arguments.
Circulation: It appears in a Flat Earth Facebook Group, but could just as easily be shared by users on Facebook who find it compelling. The author of the post is a common poster in the group, although the origin of the given pictures is unknown.
Communicative Strategy: Essentially, the post wants to display the common sense of the Flat Earth narrative. By showing empirical evidence (images) and explaining the interpretation in a very simple way, the poster hopes to convince others. In terms of emotions that it evokes, only one phrase suffices. “Oh, duh, that makes way more sense!”
Context: In order to understand the post, one has to understand that the Round-Earth narrative is widespread and that Flat-Earth narratives are looked at as obviously wrong. In concert with the derision their narratives receive, when one sees the basic logic, it seems that the Flat-Earth narratives are not ‘obviously’ wrong.
Fact-Checking: It’s hard to fact-check Flat-Earther materials because one has to know the actual physics involved. But what suffices in my book is the relative simplicity of the given argument; physicists are often dealing with results that seem to go against common sense (e.g. quantum physics, which shows that certain particles can pass through walls [kind of- I’m providing a terribly oversimplified explanation here]; special relativity, which depends on the fact that one can never go faster than the speed of light). The two cases I’ve just mentioned, in fact, occur on non-human scales (the incredibly small and the incredibly fast), just as the curvature of the Earth would occur on a fairly large scale. The poster is also arguing against Round-Earther arguments from other non-scientific entities – she engages with a Round-Earth meme, not an actual scientific paper which explains the arguments for a Round Earth. So, while I cannot explain to you all of the necessary physics as to why the Earth is round, I can say that what seems like ‘common sense’ cannot really displace the work of experienced physicists.