At the supermarket, Mark Sargent might appear to be just another middle-aged guy in line.
In his car, not so much. The license plate on his white Chrysler sedan reads “ITS FLAT.”
The Whidbey Island man is world renowned for saying the world isn’t round.
What’s up with that?
Sargent is a front runner for flat-Earthers on the globe, or disk, or whatever it is that keeps us from bouncing up to Mars.
Not that he believes in Mars.
“The entire Apollo program is a fabrication. NASA was created to keep this thing under wraps,” said Sargent, 50. “We are living in a structure, a planetarium, a terrarium, a Hollywood back lot, like ‘The Truman Show.’ ”
The surface is like a dinner plate, he said, with Washington sitting near the middle and Antarctica a frosty rim. And no, it doesn’t spin.
In addition to his “Flat Earth Clues” YouTube video channel with 70,000 subscribers, he does a radio show and wrote a book. He has a cameo in a new 90-minute documentary, “Behind the Curve,” where he explains: “The South Pole is a 200-foot wall of ice, straight-up ‘Game of Thrones’ style and the sun and moon are just lights in the sky.”
He makes money at proselytizing that the world is flat?
“Yeah, surprisingly,” Sargent said.
Chew on that as you slog your way through your flat-out boring 9-to-5 job.
He’s being flown to a San Francisco meetup later this month and will speak at a New Zealand convention in the spring.
Sargent lives with his mom, Patti, a retired South Whidbey home economics teacher, in her golf course condo off Highway 525, a few miles south of Freeland.
She’s also in “Behind the Curve,” which she is trying to get shown at the Clyde Theatre in Langley, where some of the footage was shot. It’s about $5 to view online.
“I can understand where he is coming from,” she said. “It is eye-opening. I want the truth to come out, no matter what it is.”
Sargent’s sister is not a convert. “It’s one of those topics in families that you don’t bring up,” the mom said.
While a student, Sargent got kicked out of Western Washington University for making illegal fireworks to sell, and later won a digital pinball championship when he was on probation. He spent 20 years making a living playing video games and doing tech support in Colorado.
He returned to Whidbey Island in 2015 when he got deep into flat Earth.
“It is an awkward topic to bring up, unless you have a good segue into it,” Sargent said. “Most people are taken aback by the whole concept.”
Not a problem. He has enough company with his own ilk at meetups and online. It’s a male-dominated crowd, though there are flat Earth dating sites.
The movement attracted sports stars known for their spinning sphere skills.
Boston Celtic Kyrie Irving said the Earth was flat, then changed his mind and apologized to science teachers. Shaquille O’Neal said he was just joking when he chimed in that when he drives from Florida to California or flies on a plane “it seems to be flat.”
Golden State Warrior Steph Curry recently stirred controversy when he said the moon landing was fake.
Rapper B.o.B sparked a Twitter battle with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, calling him a liar, and later trying to raise money to somehow prove it.
A 2018 survey by online data researcher YouGov.com found 84 percent of adult respondents were sure the Earth was round. Of those, only 66 percent of Millennials 18 to 24 were convinced, with 4 percent believing it was flat — the others had varying degrees of skepticism either way.
More than half polled supporting a flat Earth themselves as “very religious.”
Sargent said he believes in God. And Bigfoot.
How Sargent got hooked on a complex conspiracy, as opposed to Elvis lives and Lizard People, is simple: It’s because he’s single.
“Most people get married and have kids. But if you don’t, you have huge amount of free time on your hands,” he said.
“I looked at just about every conspiracy you could think of. Flat Earth is something that even a great conspiracy person will dismiss. It’s ridiculous. But why is it? Because that’s what you are told when you are 6 years old and it sticks with you. It has been settled. It was settled 500 years ago.”
For him, it was unsettling. After all, he didn’t have a baby keeping him up half the night or a wife demanding he attend to earthly matters.
“Once you get into it, the doubt never goes away,” he said.
What he terms doubt others might term delusion, especially when he says the government started NASA to cover up the truth.
They didn’t want to admit they were wrong, he said.
“They keep expanding on it. Now they are just making stuff up. Like, oh yeah, dark matter (the form of energy which accelerates the universe).”
Maybe to him, but it makes sense to most earthly beings enamored by images of the cosmos.
“We actually have pictures of Earth from space. It’s round. So are Mars and the moon,” said David Montgomery, 57, a University of Washington professor and geomorphologist who studies the Earth’s turf.
“We’ve been able to send rockets to Mars,” he said. “And if Earth and Mars were not both round, the math wouldn’t work. That’s how NASA did it. If the Earth was flat it would have been totally different math. It would have crashed.”
Montgomery played guitar in a band in the 1990s called Flat Earth, named in jest. “I was a geologist so the other guys thought it was funny,” he said. “We only put one album out and it didn’t do really well.”
The UW prof is now in two bands, Good Bones and Big Dirt. You can watch him perform at Tim’s Taverns in Seattle on Thursday.
You’ll have a ball.