Rise in Flat-Earth Conspiracy Thanks to Protection of Speech, Neil deGrasse Tyson Says

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American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks onstage during the Onward18 Conference, in New York, on October 23, 2018. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Onward18

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson waded into the flat-Earther conspiracy theory this week.

"The rise of flat-Earthers in the United States is evidence of two things: 1) the protection of speech, and 2) the failure of our educational system," he tweeted on Thursday.

The rise of flat-Earthers in the United States is evidence of two things: 1) the protection of speech, and 2) the failure of our educational system.

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 28, 2019

The post followed two from earlier this week. On Tuesday, the scientist posted a picture of the solar system, showing Earth as a flat, rather than round, planet.

"Earth, in this image, would be hard to explain to the forces of the universe," he wrote on Tuesday.

Earth, in this image, would be hard to explain to the forces of the universe. pic.twitter.com/YSADdBEILy

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 27, 2019

The day before, he referenced his book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry​. "On Being Round" — Chap. 8 of **Astrophysics for People in a Hurry** discusses how the laws of physics conspire across the cosmos to prefer spheres. If you think Earth is flat you've never read this chapter or you have yet to establish a relationship with objective reality," Monday's post read.

“On Being Round” — Chap. 8 of **Astrophysics for People in A Hurry** discusses how the laws of physics conspire across the cosmos to prefer spheres. If you think Earth is flat you’ve never read this chapter or you have yet to establish a relationship with objective reality. pic.twitter.com/PQGnS5WMBZ

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 25, 2019

It was unclear what prompted Tyson's tweets about the conspiracy theory. Google searches for "flat earth" have increased since about February 10 and earlier this month, internet personality Logan Paul posted a 50-minute long satire about the flat-Earth theory.

The video now has more than 3.8 million views. The Guardian published an article last month noting that a study found attendees from flat-Earther conferences said they were convinced the Earth was not round after watching conspiracy videos on YouTube.

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American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks onstage during the Onward18 Conference, in New York, on October 23, 2018. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Onward18

Tyson has attracted a large online presence, amassing 13.2 Twitter followers. Public attention has more recently focused on allegations of sexual misconduct.

Vox reported that last year, four women accused Tyson, who is also a television personality, of sexual misconduct. Tchiya Amet, Tyson's graduate school classmate, said he drugged and raped her.

His shows StarTalk and Cosmos: Possible Worlds​ were temporarily taken off air while the networks investigated. Earlier this month, Fox and National Geographic, which host his content, said they had finished the investigation into Tyson and would permit him to return to television.

"The investigation is complete, and we are moving forward with both StarTalk and Cosmos," in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter​. "StarTalk will return to the air with the remaining 13 episodes in April on National Geographic, and both Fox and National Geographic are committed to finding an air date for Cosmos. There will be no further comment."

After initially being accused, deGrasse denied the claims against him and said he supported the investigation.

"That brings us back to the value of an independent investigation, which FOX/NatGeo (the networks on which Cosmos and StarTalk air) announced that they will conduct. I welcome this," he wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. "Accusations can damage a reputation and a marriage. Sometimes irreversibly. I see myself as loving husband and as a public servant – a scientist and educator who serves at the will of the public. I am grateful for the support I've received from those who continue to respect and value me and my work."