“A thriving subculture of new-age truth-seekers and UFO-spotters”

Sam Cowie reports from São Paolo for The Guardian:

Siddhartha Chaibub’s suspicions that the Earth wasn’t really round were first aroused when he stumbled across a YouTube video while living in Brazil’s capital, Brasília…

“The model that is imposed on us – that the Earth is spherical – is full of contradictions,” he said…

Today, his YouTube channel Professor Terra Plana (Flat Earth Professor) – featuring videos such as “25 examples that prove Nasa is a fraud” and “gravity doesn’t exist” – has nearly 29,000 subscribers.

That’s not a particularly large number considering that Brazil is a country of some 210 million residents. However, Professor Flat Earth isn’t alone:

Like Britain and the United States, Brazil is seeing a revival of flat Earth theory: 7% of the population – 11 million Brazilians – believe that the Earth is flat, according to the polling firm Datafolha. The poll noted believers were more likely to be religious or poorly educated.

“Religious” primarily means Evangelical in this context: poor Brazilians have lately flocked to charismatic Protestantism in great numbers. It’s not particularly surprising that some of them believe in absurdities and impossibilities. Russia isn’t that much different in that respect, excepting the flat-earth theory, which is too extravagant for a country with a still strong tradition of space exploration.

Brazil abounds in folk legends, and has long been home to a thriving subculture of new-age truth-seekers and UFO-spotters.

One of the country’s most popular authors, Paulo Coelho, claims to have had “experiences” with aliens “more than once”…

Russians are less into UFOs and alien abductions and more into the “extrasensory” stuff, and interest in that variety of bunkum has probably peaked. However, the demand for the instant miracles is probably as probably as strong as it was in the late 1980s. The Kremlin is probably aware of it – some of Putin’s team are said to be new-age spiritualists – and, by extension, it must also be aware of the potential appeal of non-conventional Protestantism to the Russian masses.

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