Neil deGrasse Tyson: Internet tribalism has led to rise of 'flat-earthers'

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson warned Wednesday that the rise of tribalism on the internet has helped enable people who believe in various conspiracy theories, like the idea that the Earth is flat.

“We have extra ways to divide ourselves now because the internet makes it easy,” Tyson told Hill.TV. “If you have some idea that’s a little bit crazy but you don’t think it’s crazy, you type it in and up comes everybody else who shares that exact idea.”

“The tribalization now can cut through the population in other ways that have not been traditional,” he added. “That’s why you have the rise of flat earthers.”

Tyson argued that while this form of modern tribalism appeals to a “base sort of caveman tribal element,” he argued that it is not beneficial for society as a whole.

“The point of civilization is to tamp down what might be primal urges and we all get along because we all share the same planet,” he said.

Tyson joined "Rising" to discuss his new book, “Letters from an Astrophysicist,” which looks to address questions he’s received over the years from fans on science, faith and life itself.

The renowned astrophysicist, who boasts a strong online following, said the questions he has received over the years started as basic science questions but have since encompassed a variety of topics, including even questions over folklores like Bigfoot.

“People are curious about things they don’t understand,” he told Hill.TV. “This is a collection of some of the deepest, most introspective challenges that people have had and my attempt to answer them from may posture as having a cosmic perspective on the world.”

—Tess Bonn