This week saw one of the strangest hip-hop feuds in recent memory as rapper B.o.B. began spewing his flat Earth conspiracy theories on Twitter and science evangelist Neil deGrasse Tyson took it upon himself to correct him.
What started on Twitter spilled over into a back-and-forth diss track battle in which B.o.B. told Tyson he needs to “loosen up his vest.” Before long, Tyson had released his own response, titled “Flat to Fact,” with his nephew Stephen Tyson taking the lead. “You say that Neil’s vest is what he needs to loosen up?” he rapped. “The ignorance you’re spinning helps to keep people enslaved, I mean mentally.”
Then, last night, the feud made its way to TV. Tyson stopped by his friend Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show on Comedy Central to set the record straight for good.
Removing his tan sport coat to reveal a tight black T-shirt, Tyson picked up a mic and said into the camera, “Listen B.o.B, once and for all. The Earth looks flat because, one, you’re not far enough away, at your size. Two, your size isn’t large enough relative to Earth to notice any curvature at all. It’s a fundamental fact of calculus and non-Euclidean geometry—small sections of large curved surfaces will always look flat to little creatures that crawl upon it.
“There’s a growing anti-intellectual strain in this country, and it may be the beginning of the end of our informed democracy,” Tyson continued. He said B.o.B. is free to think the world is flat, but since his position as a successful rapper, like being a presidential candidate, means he has “influence over others,” therefore, “being wrong becomes being harmful to the health, the wealth, and the security of our citizenry.”
Quoting “my man” Isaac Newton, Tyson said, “‘If I have seen farther than others, it’s by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ So that’s right, B.o.B, when you stand on the shoulders of those who came before, you might just see far enough to realize the Earth isn’t fucking flat.”
With that, he dropped the mic, saying, “By the way, this is called gravity.”