You’d think that a globetrotting artist with songs titled “Airplanes” and “Strange Clouds” would have a pretty good grasp on geography, but last week rapper B.o.B went on a twitter rant claiming that the world is flat. The artist cited flight diagrams, memes, and other “sketchy images,” arguments used by the Flat Earth Truther Movement since the 19th century.
B.o.B blatantly ignored any counter arguments provided by his many twitter followers, only re-tweeting those who were pro-flat, until Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson stepped in to provide calm and logical explanations as to why the earth is round.
Faced with the crushing weight of centuries worth of science, you would think that the rapper would back down, make like his hit single and tell Tyson “I got nothin’ on you,” but B.o.B. opted to post a scathing “diss record” called Flatline denouncing Tyson and all round-earth believers. At this point, what started as civil scientific debate officially escalated into the world’s nerdiest rap battle, and the internet, or at least Reddit, stood at attention. The next day Neil gave his blessing to a response track, Flat to Fact, rapped by his own nephew Stephen Tyson. The young champion of science dropped facts over the instrumental to the 2015 Drake diss track, Back to Back, and somewhere a Nobel Laureate shed a single beautiful tear without any knowledge as to why.
All went quiet on B.o.B’s end, and on Thursday Neil cemented his victory by appearing on the Larry Wilmore show and both literally and figuratively dropping the mic. However, instead of taking the moral high ground, the astrophysicist encouraged B.o.B to keep exploring, investigating, and using critical thinking, which is what the heart of science is, while also reminding him of the dangers of spreading misinformation.
Information is power, and as scientists, as people, we owe it to each other to not only share our own thoughts and ideas, but keep an open mind to what other people have to say, even if we don’t agree with it. That way we all improve, and as of today B.o.B has taken his medicine.
P.S. Idea to increase research funding: Make a TV show where researchers explain their work in rap form, and battle other scientists who disagree. MTV, pick this one up while it’s hot!
ASANTE HATCHER IS A THIRD YEAR GRADUATE STUDENT INTERESTED IN PURSUING A CAREER IN SCIENTIFIC POLICY AND ADVOCACY. HIS INTERESTS INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, COOKING, READING, SPORTS, VIDEOGAMES, AND WATCHING RE-RUNS OF THE 1988 CRYSTAL LIGHT AEROBICS CHAMPIONSHIP.