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‘Behind The Curve’ (review)

Produced by Caroline Clark,
Nick Andert, Daniel J. Clark

Directed by Daniel J. Clark
Featuring Mark Sargent, Patricia Steere

 

Pardon me for a moment while I give a huge head nod to Daniel J. Clark, who directed this fine piece of documentary filmmaking.

In today’s world, where the rejection of objective reality is so prevalent Clark tells the story of Flat Earthers with dispassionate distance.

I couldn’t have done it.

I could not have followed these people around and been in a room with them for months and months without breaking and screaming something to the effect of, “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MINDS!!??!!”

Daniel Clark did an interview in GQ during the run up to the film which is dripping with compassion and thoughtfulness. He didn’t want to make fun of these people.

Generously showing their point of view without judgement or overt objection Clark gives us a long look into the Flat Earth subculture and its leader, Mark Sargent. Sargent is the orbital center of the film. Clark doesn’t mock him in any way, but their is no other way to describe the man than sad.

Everything about Sargent is depressing. His mother’s kind sweetness is dampened by her disappointed expressions as she talks to the camera. Mark Sargent has a podcasting partner named Patricia Steere and their relationship seems to be this strange chaste romance that is really awkward to watch. Sargent and Steere visit NASA and their obtuse and clueless observations are painful to listen to.

It’s in these moments that Clark and his editors were so brilliant. Sargent adamantly tries to activate a simulator at the Johnson Space Center by repeatedly tapping a screen. It doesn’t work and Sargent goes on a meandering stroll of fallacious logic to indicate the simulator not functioning was proof that everything NASA does is fake. He and Steere giddily walk away and the camera gently pans to the start button on the console next to where Sargent sat. Clark powerfully says, “THESE PEOPLE ARE UNSPOOLED,” without actually saying it.

The real value of this documentary is the brilliant scientists that provide commentary. In the context of flat earth listening to actual scientists discuss scientific methods. They give detailed and applied explanations of some really important concepts. They talk about testing hypotheses, confirmation bias and recency bias. They give really important applied explanations of cherry picking data and ignoring evidence. As a society we face the rejection of objective reality on a daily basis so to watch a documentary film make plain the dangers of that rejection can actually give us hope.

Everything about this documentary is well done. Watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Behind The Curve is available on iTunes, Google Play, & Amazon Video Direct

 

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