Kyrie Irving may not truly believe that the Earth is flat, but he may not NOT think that. He’s just asking questions in the hope that everyone will believe what they want to believe and be comfortable, even if they are propping their feet up on the ottoman of ignorance. That’s the sense one gets from reading the latest piece in the New York Times exploring the basketball player’s cosmic observations.
Timothy Burke of Deadspin published an efficient and necessary companion piece highlighting the absurdity of Irving’s comments last night. And by necessary, I mean that those who only read the source material could walk away thinking Irving is a seeker standing on somewhat solid ground.
He is not. He is mired in some sort of squishy quicksand where truth is not important. The earth is not flat. It’s not. Ask the experts. Ask ancient civilizations that figured out with the naked eye. Ask anyone who has been to space or, uh, seen a satellite image.
His agnostic approach is not revelatory. It is also not particularly interesting enough to merit coverage. And while the Times writer, Sopan Deb, does as admirable job of allowing Irving to explain in his own words, there is one motivating factor driving the publication of such a piece.
We know Irving is wrong. We know that he is thumbing his nose at an obvious settled fact and leaning into wild conspiracy. It is Man Bites Dog, not Dog Bites Man. There are no profiles of athletes who use the Scientific Method to inform their worldviews because that’s a responsible — and yes — boring topic.
Irving is getting coverage because he’s wrong. And not interested in admitting he’s wrong. The problem is, if you keep hammering the topic and allowing him to present his argument as if is created equal to the round-Earthers, it gains credence.
Forgive the hand-wringing, but we are living in a world where people aren’t just ignorant of facts, they display a willing indifference toward them. They don’t matter and suggestions otherwise are painted as elitist or an attack.
Irving is big on the masses doing their own research, which is a bit odd because any worthwhile dive into the topic leaves the choice between two camps: knowledgeable people with a scientific background or fringe YouTube video enthusiasts. It will be helpful for outlets who are giving Irving a microphone to continue this discussion to put his claims in stark context between his quotes.
Treating him like he actually has something to say, or as a cute sideshow belies the fact that this whole charade is sad, not funny. He doesn’t realize how ridiculous he sounds. Worse, many who read his specious thoughts don’t realize it either.
It’s time to ask if these pieces are doing more harm than good.