Rapper B.o.B. this week proved that celebrities shouldn’t control their own twitter account by lecturing his followers on why the world is flat, and Getintothis’ Shaun Ponsonby was riled.
I’m a big believer in rational thought; take a step back and actually look at the evidence before you make a decision. Just because somebody says something with authority doesn’t mean they are necessarily correct.
I have a hard time explaining that to some people.
For example, the “they probably already have a cure for cancer, they just make too much money off the treatment” argument is troubling for many reasons, not least because it’s based purely on vague suspicion rather than hard evidence, as well as complete ignorance of the science behind it. I am in no way saying that the statement isn’t correct, but to just believe it because somebody has made a reasonable argument based on sentences that are full of the word “probably” doesn’t get us anywhere. Plus, by that logic they could string every single known disease out for as long as they wanted, because most of them will kill or incapacitate you in some way leading to more necessary treatment. The accusation is based on as much actual evidence as the classic “The Illuminati killed Whitney Houston so Beyonce’s daughter could take her place” bollocks.
But I can at least understand the logic that is applied to the cancer theory. No doubt lengthy cancer treatment does make some pharmaceutical company somewhere quite a bit of cash. So, even though I am sceptical, I wouldn’t rule it out entirely.
There are other cases, however, where I find it impossible to comprehend what the flying fuck is going through people’s minds when they spout the shit that comes out of their mouths.
An obvious example of this is Will Smith’s son Jaden. A noted philosopher, Jaden’s total lack of self-awareness is often a joy to behold. In a notorious interview with sister Willow last year, he brilliantly exclaimed his deep thoughts about the world with intellectual nuggets like; “When we think of an apple, we also think about the opposite of an apple”. His twitter feed is probably the greatest account in the history of social networking. It really is worth going through it once in a while. It’s baffling that he thinks his thoughts are profound;
How Can Mirrors Be Real If Our Eyes Aren't Real
— Jaden Smith (@officialjaden) May 2, 2013
The Age Of Adaline Might Be The Best Movie I've Ever Seen, Excluding Twilight.
— Jaden Smith (@officialjaden) December 9, 2015
If A Book Store Never Runs Out Of A Certain Book, Dose That Mean That Nobody Reads It, Or Everybody Reads It
— Jaden Smith (@officialjaden) August 7, 2013
But I can’t really make too much fun of Smith. His dad has been one of the most famous people in the world since before he was even conceived. If he doesn’t come across like he lives in the same world as us, it’s because he doesn’t, and never has. Add that to the fact that all 17-year-olds think they’re bloody philosophers, and really Jaden Smith is to be expected.
The reason I bring Jaden up, other than a run-through of his Greatest Hits, is because I would expect him to look back at all of this in twenty years’ time and cringe a little, like we all do when we think back to the shit we said when we were teenagers. But my confidence in that was shaken this week by the rapper B.o.B., who I was disappointed to discover wasn’t the same one from Twin Peaks.
Yes, because B.o.B., the man behind songs from a few years ago that I remember the titles of, has been lecturing his twitter followers on the “fact” that the world is, indeed, flat – and we are the same fucking age.
But, wait! He has proof! And by “proof”, I mean illogical arguments that fall to pieces the minute you start to dissect them. Take this tweet, for example, in which he apparently ignored the planet’s 40,075 kilo meter circumference.
The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart… where is the curve ? please explain this pic.twitter.com/YCJVBdOWX7
— B.o.B (@bobatl) January 25, 2016
He then continued to shut down attempts from followers to question his “evidence”. One user asked how no edge of the Earth had been discovered, and B.o.B. responded with; “Have u been to the edge ? or is that what your science book told you”?, and bemoaned that “ppl are better at insulting me than they are at thinking”. Ironically, after avoiding the questions he then accused NASA of avoiding his questions.
But people aren’t better at insulting him than they are at thinking – because he’s wrong and they’re right.
Eventually Neil DeGrasse Tyson, very much the Marvin Gaye of astrophysics (you should hear him talk, he has such a smooth, silky voice), weighed in and corrected B.o.B. on…well…everything.
@bobatl Earth's curve indeed blocks 150 (not 170) ft of Manhattan. But most buildings in midtown are waaay taller than that.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 25, 2016
@bobatl Polaris is gone by 1.5 deg S. Latitude. You’ve never been south of Earth’s Equator, or if so, you've never looked up.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 25, 2016
Apparently not liking being corrected with facts by an expert in the field, B.o.B. responded to Tyson with an actual diss track (below). That’s right, instead of engaging Tyson in a debate that he knew he’d lose, he opted for the hip hop equivalent of writing “Neil is a slag” on his maths book.
But what lyrics they are!
Aye, Neil Tyson need to loosen up his vest
They’ll probably write that man one hell of a check
Who will? NASA? They probably do when he conducts work for them. He is a leading astrophysicist, after all. So…uhm…burn…?
I can’t even keep my phone charged up
All this shit I’m talking, I should get my
Rappers get off of my dick, get your own bars up
I honestly don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about there.
[Update: Tyson‘s nephew responded to B.o.B. with a counter-diss track]
Tellingly, for all my searching, I can’t find his answer as to what science books – and scientists in general – would actually have to gain from lying about the fact that the world (like all planets) is round. Is it just so they can sell as many globes as they can maps? Because I don’t think that’s quite the money spinner you are assuming it is. Have you ever met anyone who actually owns a globe? I know I haven’t. And if I did, I would treat them with deep suspicion.
At least with the cancer conspiracy theory, there is a semblance of logic applied. There is no reason to lie about the shape of the planet. The reason NASA aren’t answering B.o.B.’s questions is because he’s a special kind of stupid and they literally can’t be arsed using actual science to disprove pseudo-science, which is a pointless exercise anyway as pseudo-scientists can literally pull any old shit out of their arse and call it fact to pour scorn over the facts they don’t like.
[Update: in the time between writing and publication, I have found that B.o.B. appears to believe that NASA operate some kind of border patrol on the Earth’s edges, which he kept vague and didn’t even bother trying to back up]
NASA, if you’re reading this (and why wouldn’t you be?), send B.o.B. into space so he can see it for himself. You don’t even need to go to the expense of bringing him back – just keep him up there. I’m sure our lives will continue as normal without him.
Honestly, sometimes I think people actively campaign to be the subject of Cosmic Slop. I’m all for free thought, but don’t try to sound like an expert on a subject when you clearly know jack shit about it.
[Update: Tyson appeared on Comedy Central‘s The Nightly Show last night, and launched into a tongue-in-cheek tirade that peaked with; “In a free society you can and should think whatever you want, and if you want to think the world is flat go right ahead. But if you think the world is flat and have influence over others – as would successful rappers, or even presidential candidates – then being wrong becomes being harmful to health, the wealth and the security of our citizens“]
Joseph Fiennes is to play Michael Jackson in a one-off drama for Sky Arts based on an urban legend that Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando escaped New York in a rental during 9/11. I have no commentary on this, I just wanted you all to know.
The fall-out of the Oscars diversity row has certainly inspired debate, but don’t worry…according to white, British, middle class people like Charlotte Rampling and Michael Caine who definitely understand the issues being argued, it isn’t a problem stemmed from institutionalised racism within the entire film industry, and this #OscarsSoWhite malarkey is definitely only about the Oscars and not something understandably being used to open up dialogue about the wider and deeper issues within the industry.
RIP Jimmy Bain.