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Flat Earth (also known as the Flat Earth myth, the Flat Earth theory, Globe Denial, flat-Earthism, less commonly platygeism, and intelligent geography for parodists of intelligent design) is the pseudoscientific belief that the earth — which the vast, vast majority of the population imagine in their heads as this big spherical thing (or oblate spheroidal thing, pedants) is actually a flat disk shape (Or, at least, cylindrical.). Believers in this almost always claim that the Earth is geocentric as well. Yes, people do believe this, although this belief usually involves some form of religious fundamentalism. Also, if you don't believe in the flat Earth then you're probably paid by NASA and the New World Order.[citation NOT needed]
- 1 Before we even begin
- 2 Flatlining brain activity
- 3 Flat Earthery is plane-ly false
- 4 Flattening their arguments
- 4.1 Arguments for a flat Earth
- 4.2 Arguments against a round Earth
- 4.2.1 So where's the curvature?
- 4.2.2 So why are there no REAL photos of the earth?
- 4.2.3 So why did Neil DeGrasse Tyson say the earth was pear shaped?
- 4.2.4 So why don't rivers flow uphill?
- 4.2.5 So why is travel banned to Antarctica?
- 4.2.6 So how can water stick to a spinning ball?
- 4.2.7 So why don't people on the Southern Hemisphere fall off?
- 4.2.8 Gravity does not exist
- 5 Flat Earth memes and propaganda
- 6 Why the confusion?
- 7 Online resurgence
- 8 Religious flat Earth apologetics
- 9 Islamic flat Earth apologetics
- 10 The irony strikes back
- 11 Views of Earth's curvature
- 12 In a nutshell
- 13 See also
- 14 External links
- 15 Notes
- 16 References
Before we even begin
As you're listening to flat Earthers spew their nonsense, keep in mind that most variants of flat Earthery fail a priori, for one simple reason:
Flatlining brain activity
What must first be noted is the most obvious flaw with the flat Earth model. For it to be true, we need to throw the majority of our current knowledge of science out the window, especially physics and all of astronomy. When confronted about this, flat Earthers typically have their own explanations for the flaws in their model. The "evidence" that flat Earthers provide is entirely circumstantial, generally pulled out of their asses as well. Because of this, flat Earthers are almost exclusively dependent on the rhetorical tactic known as Gish galloping.
You can put all of your energy into it, but you will never find a prominent flat Earther that isn't regularly accused of being controlled opposition.
Secondly, The Flat-Earth model being true would require the most elaborate conspiracy in the entire world. It's obvious that we would need every existing government entity, whether it be a country or a tiny village, and if applicable anyone involved in their militaries and space agencies, to be involved, especially NASA, who for some reason is spending its budget on fabricating evidence of other celestial objects rather than actually exploring space. So, we also need to assume that the Moon landings never happened. Heck, all the world's amateur astronomers would need to be in on it as well. Essentially, every astronomer, physicist, and scientist in the past few thousand years would have to be in on it. The Big Bang theory, along with most of physics, would go out the window as well. Who else would have to be involved? All shipping companies, all airline companies, any transnational company that moves their goods around the world, odometer manufacturers (who would be VERY DEEPLY involved), Satellite TV providers, and the employees of all of these companies. Oh, and let's not forget about cartographers.
And finally, this conspiracy would also be pointless. What would be the point of spending all of this time, effort, and money, into making people think that the shape of the Earth is different? If you tell this to a flat Earther, they will usually say nothing in response. Some might claim it is "to hide God", when there are clearly much simpler ways of accomplishing that, such as suppressing the Bible. Further still, considering that even something as basic as the way shadows behave at sunset can very easily disprove the model, it really goes to show how big of a tinfoil hat you'd have to be wearing in order to block out that much of reality.
Relativity of wrong
Isaac Asimov used the idea of a flat Earth in his essay The Relativity of Wrong to make a point about the progress of scientific knowledge.
He pointed out that the notion of a flat Earth is wrong, but the idea of a spherical Earth is also wrong, as the shape of the earth is better described as an oblate spheroid. Asimov went on to mention how these theories aren't equally wrong (and believing such a thing as a flat Earth is "wronger than wrong") but that they do have use.
An architect working on a small building site would have no use for "Spherical Earth Theory" and would assume the ground is flat, a designer of novelty globes wouldn't need to compensate for the oblateness of the earth, but those sending satellites into orbit do (in fact the distortion has quite a dramatic effect on inclined orbits).
Modern flat Earthery tends to be not even wrong, however.
Flat Earthery is plane-ly false
One can falsify the flat-Earth concept on any clear night an hour or two after sunset by observing satellites in the sky, provided one accepts either Occam's razor or common sense as valid stances. Plus sanity. Unless lots of people with lots of spare money are launching one-shot rockets every night to maintain the conspiracy, or using holograms to project satellites onto the night sky (or something equally insipid), a flat Earth simply won't support a constellation of orbiting objects. They'd fall right over the "edge" of the world, giving you nothing but blurry images of a stack of turtles.
Speaking of planes, airplanes that do long distance traveling, if they can, will often fly near the poles to reduce the distance taken rather than across, say, the Atlantic Ocean. This assumes a spherical Earth, where distance near the poles are shorter.
And of course there is the observation which first tipped off the ancients themselves--that ships sailing into the distance disappear hull-first.
Flattening their arguments
Note that this isn't a false dilemma — the two mutually exclude one another!
So, which one could it be? Well, take a wild guess.
Arguments for a flat Earth
But roads are flat!
A common trope in flat-Earther literature is that roads, canals, etc. are built flat — not taking into account the curvature of the earth.
- Surveyors ignore curvature when surveying a project with relatively short baselines because the error from ignoring curvature is minuscule. Surveyors certainly do consider curvature in creating small-scale maps.
- For a 1 mile baseline the drop will be 8 inches. The length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle with one leg of 5280 feet and the other leg of 8 inches is 5280.00004209 feet. The error in length is 0.013 millimeters.
- This error is so small that if you built a road that went all the way around the earth using one mile long baselines the total error in length would amount to 1.05 feet.
- Some construction projects do take into account the curvature of the earth such as Japan's Proton Accelerator Complex and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
- Of course, those useless projects are all designed by people in on the conspiracy.
But water is always level!
But star trail photography proves that the earth doesn't move!
Although flat earth isn't necessarily geocentrist (as one can technically still adopt a heliocentric worldview while holding to a belief in a flat Earth), flat Earthers almost always fall into that camp.
One particular claim is that long-duration star trail photographs do not show any movement of the stars other than that caused by the Earth's rotation, the flat Earther's reasoning being that, if the Earth is moving so fast around the Sun, the stars should appear smudged. This claim is symptomatic of all flat Earthers' false assumptions about the distance between us and celestial objects, or their inability or lack of willingness to perform basic math.
- Assume a star trail photograph of the nearest star is taken for 12 hours on a 10,000 wide pixel camera. The Earth would travel about 1,287,000 km during that time. The nearest naked-eye visible star is Alpha Centauri, which is 4.34 light-years (41 trillion kilometers) away. The star would appear to move 0.018 pixels.
- Round-Earthers are just trying to pull the wool over the eyes of thinking people with math!
- It should also be noted that there are 2 points to capture star trails and see a star that appears to not move in the sky. These are the famous North Star and (though it is not perfectly aligned in the center of the pole) Sigma Octantis (which is also not perfectly aligned with the center of the south celestial pole). All the stars in the sky rotate around these 2 points which are completely opposite of each other. These are called the Northern and Southern circumpolar stars. This further debunks the flat earth claim when you can witness Sigma Octantis (which doesn't appear to move in the sky) in Australia and New Zealand while you are facing south. On a flat earth map, this would simply be impossible!
- It is worth noting that astronomers have been compensating for the curvature of the earth in the form of equatorial mounts since the late 1700s. Equatorial mounts are used for polar alignment in which the axis of rotation of the telescope is aligned with the axis of rotation of the Earth, and rotated in the opposite direction to eliminate apparent movement. On a flat Earth, the polar axis would always be directly perpendicular to the plane of the planet - but a round Earth requires it to be tilted at an angle equal to the latitude of the observer.
- Over longer time periods astronomers can observe the apparent movement of nearby stars caused by Earth's orbit, though it is quite small. In astronomy, the parsec is defined as the distance where a star will appear to move back and forth by one arc-second over the course of a year.
But the horizon is always at eye level!
Rather, it looks like it is. Ignoring for a moment the fact that an eye-level horizon would have to rise two meters over the distance between itself and the observer, the thing about Earth is it's actually quite big (no, seriously!). If you're ever out at sea, you can quite easily observe that it's not at eye level: from your eye, point an object toward the horizon, then keep it stationary and look along it the other way. You should be looking at a point slightly above the opposite horizon, demonstrating that it really is slightly below eye level.
Indeed, from a height of 3 metres above sea level, assuming an Earth radius of 6371 km, the horizon is about 0° 3′ 20″ (0.0556° if you don't speak arcminutes) below eye level.[note 1]
Arguments against a round Earth
So where's the curvature?
A lot of flat Earthers attempt to disprove the globe model by using pictures taken from high above the earth with a flat horizon, thereby "proving" that the earth is flat: after all, if the earth is round you should see the curvature of the earth. The problem, once again, is that Earth is really big. The pictures flat Earthers tend to provide as evidence are "only" captured from high altitude balloons, or possibly even lower than that. Such heights are almost negligible compared to the radius of Earth, which is why the horizon still appears mostly flat. However when we provide pictures of a curved horizon they make claims like that the gear used to take the picture warps the horizon, causing it to look curved.
Really, the fact that there even is a horizon to begin with should prove the earth to be round by itself, since if the earth were truly flat, a sufficiently advanced telescope ought to be able to see all the way to Madagascar from Alaska. But don't get started on that track in a debate, otherwise you're going to spend your whole afternoon talking about perspective, light refracting from air, the parallax effect, mirages or GoPro cameras, or how even something as basic as a video of a ship disappearing bottom-first beneath the horizon is supposedly faked.
So why are there no REAL photos of the earth?
One common argument used by flat Earthers is that there are no real photos of the earth. Despite being so certain, they never quite explain why is this so, as it is an argument from incredulity. It is also circular logic, as it presumes the globe supporters are already in agreement that the photos are fake in the first place, which would make no fucking sense.
This is simply false; there are many photos of the earth including photos which predate the equipment required to create fake images.
They use this argument while all their flat earth pictures are either computer generated or edited themselves. 
So why did Neil DeGrasse Tyson say the earth was pear shaped?
This argument is used often by flat Earthers to claim that the scientific community is lying. Neil deGrasse Tyson said, "Earth is not only oblate — wider at the equator than pole-to-pole, but pear shaped — slightly wider just south of the equator." In reality, Tyson was describing the fact that just as the earth is technically not a sphere, it is also not technically an oblate spheroid either. For most purposes it is perfectly fine to think of the earth as a sphere (or an oblate spheroid, or a pear-shaped oblate spheroid), but in some contexts, such as when searching for oil deposits, it becomes important to account for even tinier gravitational anomalies. In such cases, a world map called a geoid is used.
The reason the earth appears as perfectly spherical in most photos is that the difference is very small. Nevertheless, careful pixel measurements of images from space show that Earth's equatorial diameter is about 0.3% wider than its polar diameter.
So why don't rivers flow uphill?
In reality, "up" on a spherical planet where gravity is accounted for actually means "away from the core" — and due to gravity's effects on water, it actually flows downhill.[note 2]
So why is travel banned to Antarctica?
So how can water stick to a spinning ball?
This is a surprisingly common question, and reveals how unwilling flatties are of doing a single mathematical calculation. On a rotating sphere, all points in a longitude have the same angular velocity, but as the latitude tends to 0, the tangential velocity increases to its maximum, and so does the centrifugal force. A point on the equator travels 40,075 km (Earth's circumference) in 86,164 s (a sidereal day), yielding a linear speed of 0.465 km/s, or 1,674 km per hour! Everything should fly into space, right? No.
Centrifugal acceleration can be derived to be
r being the radius and ω being angular velocity. With an equatorial radius of 6.3781×106 m and rotational period of 86164 seconds (ω = 7.292×10-5 s-1), an object at the equator must be accelerated 0.0339 ms-2 downwards to stay on Earth. Although gravity varies from place to place, this is far exceeded by the approximate 9.8 ms-2 provided by gravity.
For anything to fly upwards, either gravity would need to be of what it is currently, or a (sidereal) day would have to be shorter than 5066 seconds (1 hour, 24 minutes and 26 seconds) long.
So why don't people on the Southern Hemisphere fall off?
We kid you not, flatheads actually use this argument enough to warrant us mentioning it. It truly says a lot about the level of education of flatheads that use this argument, because this is something that most people get taught in freaking kindergarten.
The Reason people in the Southern Hemisphere don't fly off into space in the direction defined by the Earth's South Pole is the same reason people in the Northern Hemisphere don't fly off into space in the direction defined by Earth's North Pole. "South" does not equal "Down" any more than "North" does. "Down" means "In the direction gravity is pulling," and thus "Up" and "Down" are meaningless concepts outside of the context of some object's gravity well. What is "Down" for someone at the South Pole is "Up" for someone at the North Pole. Most maps and globes are just printed with North always facing the top because it's easier for everyone using them if the four Cardinal reference points always go in the same direction, and they just picked North because the trend was started by those egocentric pricks that were Historical Europeans.
Gravity does not exist
Flat Earthers are gravity deniers for a good reason: it would make their world collapse into a sphere and the trajectory of falling objects would become increasingly tilted inwards in the "Southern latitudes" (i.e. if we keep travelling to the edge). Hence, they must attribute falling to other causes.
The most wrong explanation they have come to is that things fall due to density, which is as good as to saying that temperature is the cause. Density is the amount of mass within a volume, it's not even a force and cannot cause acceleration as a result. Alternatively, considering that acceleration towards the ground is a function of density is at odds with empirical evidence: a feather and a bowling ball reach the ground at the same time in the vacuum. Without air resistance, everything experiences the same acceleration when it falls. Also notable is the fact that they rarely give an explanation for why being denser should make an object move at all let alone why it should always do so in the same specific direction.
The Flat Earth Society has proposed that gravity is the result of the earth accelerating at ~9.8 m·s-2 in the "upwards" direction. This is at odds with other Flat Earthers who claim that the Earth does not move at all. It also fails to explain why the acceleration of falling bodies is not constant at different altitudes.
This constant acceleration disproves the existence of terminal velocity. A consequence of this would be death of anyone attempting to make use of a parachute. This would only be reasonable, if one were to expand the globalist conspiracy to include the coverup of all deaths from parachute failure.
Flat Earth memes and propaganda
Step 1. Tell people the earth is flat. Step 2. End the New World Order. Done. Easy.
"Premise: The UN went out of their way to get all the world's nations in one single big family picture as a symbol for peace, brotherhood, and unity. Conclusion: The UN is keeping secrets from us.(Also, why do global conspiracies always go out of their way to put their iconography in such prominent public places, anyway?)
It's not like people can believe in Christ and God without believing in a flat Earth. No way.
Why the confusion?
On certain length scales, the earth certainly is flat — the ground on what we like to call flatland certainly doesn't look like it has any significant curvature in everyday life. In a mountainous (or even just hilly) region, the local geography is so variable that discerning a curve would be even more difficult. As a result of this, a common sense interpretation of a flat Earth can be reached pretty quickly.
A Mathematician might explain this appearance with the statement that "the earth is 'locally' flat". This may be the reason that Cockney Mathematians coined the term 'local yokels' as rhyming slang for platygeists.
In ancient history
Very early Egyptian and other Middle-Eastern civilisations portrayed the earth as flat land suspended in an ocean, and with a "roof" of some kind over it. This is particularly reflected in some of the prose that made its way into the Bible and has been used to justify flat-Earth beliefs today.
Ancient Chinese astronomy makes no mention of any roundness of the earth; indeed some depictions made it square. In Siam, now Thailand, the flat-Earth idea was part of Buddhist scripture until the 1800s, as part of the Traiphum cosmography. However, most religious scholars considered it as a metaphorical description. It's unlikely that this was ever taken painfully literally in Siam, even before King Mongkut (the one of The King and I fame) officially introduced more modern geography during his reforms and westernization of the country.
In Western science and theology, the notion that the entire world really was flat was discredited the moment it was properly considered and looked at, and had faded by the time of classical Greek philosophy. Pythagoras suggested that the earth was round, and Aristotle provided convincing evidence for it in Ancient Greece, although the main source to suggest that Greeks before Aristotle thought the world was flat is Aristotle himself. Around 240 BCE, Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth to an impressive degree of accuracy. By the Middle Ages, even the Catholic Church's most beloved of scientific theologians, Thomas Aquinas, was advancing the earth's roundness as a fundamental of logic.
In ancient pseudohistory
The idea that everyone used to believe that the earth was flat until only very recently, mostly due to the influence of religion, is essentially a complete myth. A Greek Egyptian by the name of Eratosthenes not only proved the world was round, but calculated its circumference with an error of less than 2%, and did it in the third century BCE. This is often brought up as an example of how secular enlightenment has triumphed over unfounded religious dogma; indeed, some theories state that this is the reason the myth is so popular. Another possible reason for the myth may be the existence of various Flat Earth Societies in the 19th century.
In the Anglophone world, the myth is believed to originate with the novel The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Washington Irving, which perpetuated the idea that Columbus sailed around the globe to prove that it was round. In reality, all that was at stake with Columbus' journey and those of his contemporaries was the size of the earth — it was Columbus' egregious underestimation of the earth's size in combination with an overestimation of the length of Asia by 5,000 miles (8,046.72 km) by Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli in 1474 that led him to theorize that reaching the Indies from the west was feasible. The Spanish Court's reluctance to fund his voyage was based on an estimate of the earth's circumference that much more closely agreed with modern measurements, but was substantially larger than the figure Columbus had come up with. In other words, it was the King and Queen who were right, and Columbus who was wrong.
To be fair to Columbus even with the earth the correct size Toscanelli's map put Cippangu (Japan) near where the western part of Mexico was in the real world; so even with the earth the correct size Columbus was still working from erroneous data. It was only by a stroke of luck that Columbus found a "New World" where he had thought Cippangu was; otherwise, he and his crew would have died of starvation. Umberto Eco paradoxically summarized this point in his essay "The Force of Falsity": because Columbus's critics were right, they were wrong, and because Columbus was wrong, he was right—but only thanks to the serendipity of America.
It was widely known that it would be physically possible to get to Asia by going west (disregarding the then unknown Americas), if you could carry sufficient supplies. What prevented anyone before Columbus from trying to go around the world was uncertainty regarding the circumference of the earth and Toscanelli's measurement of Asia. If either of those calculations were off in the wrong direction the ships were not large enough or fast enough to get from Europe to Asia by traveling west before the food and fresh water supplies on board ran out. Furthermore, with Bartolomeu Dias sailing around the tip of Africa in 1488 the Europeans already had passage (albeit a long and tedious one) to Asia.
In modern history
Given this history, it should come as a surprise to anyone that any human being existing in the developed world right now should still consider the idea of a flat Earth probable. Since the mid-1800s, notably via the Flat Earth Society, modern pseudoscientists have been trying to prove that the earth is flat. As evidence continues to mount against the flat Earth (such as the fact that we can now orbit the planet and view it from a distance or circumnavigate the globe ourselves in an aircraft), the idea is beginning to take a turn for the silly.
English inventor Samuel Birley Rowbotham (1816–1884), under the pseudonym Parallax, published a 16-page pamphlet, which he later expanded into a 430-page book, Earth Not a Globe, expounding his views based on his literal interpretation of several Biblical passages. Under the model proposed by this book, the earth is a flat disc with the North Pole at its center and the south "pole" extending all the way around the outer edge. However, the alternate theory that the North Arctic is the surrounding ice wall is a similar idea. This outer edge is also guarded by a 150-foot-tall wall of ice. (Remember, at the time this was written, no expedition to Antarctica had yet reached the South Pole.) After his death, his followers founded the Universal Zetetic Society which published a magazine Earth Not A Globe; however, the society slowly declined after World War I.
The Flat Earth Society (also known as the International Flat Earth Society or International Flat Earth Research Society) was founded by Englishman Samuel Shenton in 1956. Shenton initially accepted the globe theory of the earth, and indeed suggested his own innovation on how to make use of the earth's rotation. This involved raising an airship into the sky and then holding it stationary. After a few hours of the earth's rotation, the airship would be over America. It could then be lowered, making transatlantic transport extremely fast and cheap, in one direction at least. He went as far as to write to the British government, urging them to use this method. The ridicule and indifference that he received persuaded him that perhaps the atmosphere might rotate with the planet, as suggested by the lack of constant thousand-mile-an-hour winds at the equator, or at any altitude above it.
No, only kidding. Actually, Shenton concluded that the earth could not be rotating, and that there was a conspiracy (for no defined reason) to hide this fact.
This conspiracy blossomed to include everyone in every government, civilian pilots (post-war) and/or GPS manufacturers (1960s), everyone in every telecommunications industry, everyone in the southern hemisphere (the difference between the currently-accepted globe and flat Earth map are so massive below the equator that they would be difficult to ignore) and anyone using an odometer on a trip between any four landmarks. Also included in the conspiracy are thousands of supersoldiers keeping ordinary citizens from witnessing the Ice Wall, which surrounds the flat Earth (one begins to wonder if Shenton felt that the best way to change a lightbulb was to hold it in place and get 300 other people to spin the building). As for what lies beyond the Ice Wall, the Flat Earth Society has this to say:
Beyond the 150 foot Ice Wall is anyone's guess. How far the ice extends; how it terminates; and what exists beyond it, are questions to which no present human experience can reply. All we at present know is, that snow and hail, howling winds, and indescribable storms and hurricanes prevail; and that in every direction "human ingress is barred by unsealed escarpments of perpetual ice," extending farther than eye or telescope can penetrate, and becoming lost in gloom and darkness. Some hold that the tundra of ice and snow stretches forever eternally."
The FES is now defunct, but was still active in 1980 under the leadership of (the now deceased) Charles K. Johnson. There is another modern Flat Earth Society with Daniel Shenton as its president, mainly notable for having its first member be synthpop musician Thomas Dolby, whose chief/only real qualification for such is that he made a rather good album called The Flat Earth. In fairness, unlike anything else one might provide to support the notion of a flat Earth, at least the album exists.
Questions that Flatheads can not answer intelligently
Q: "How can satellites and GPS be explained by flat-thinkers?" 
A: They are hung on balloons.
Q: "Explain annual meteor showers please?" 
A: They are just fireworks.
Q: "Heard of Coriolis force?"
A: Nope. Alt: It's caused by currents in the Aether
Q: "Are the other planets flat?"
A: No. Alt: Would you expect the fifth of the several pieces of furniture in your room to be a chair even when the other four are?
Q: "But weren't they all formed in the same way?"
A: Ummm...... Well, nobody knows how everything was created. Alt: Well weren't all the pieces of furniture built in the same way?
Q: "Why is the southern jet stream so similar to the northern one, speed and shapes?" 
A: Oh, sure, you give a government source. There's no real evidence for a southern
"hemisphere" jet stream. 
Q: "Is Space Junk a myth?" 
A: Yes, invented by the world's space agencies to discourage people from trying to get into space and prove their lies!
Q: "There are many space agencies in the world. Do they all lie?
A: Yes, because the New World Order secretly runs every single one of them, either directly or indirectly.
Q: "Why does Antarctica get twenty-four hours of sunlight during December if the earth is flat?"
A: Another hoax. Have you ever been to Antarctica?
Q: "What about non-stop southern hemisphere international flights, like LATAM 801 from Santiago Int'l, Chile to Auckland Airport, NZ, or Qantas 63 from Sydney Kingsford, Australia to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Int'l, SA? They take roughly the same amount of time as northern-hemisphere flights going similar distances."
A: They don't actually exist.
A: They don't exist.
Q: "Then where do they take me when I buy a ticket for such a flight, dumbass?"
A: THEY. DO. NOT. EXIST. IT'S. ALL. FAKE.
Q: "Isn't this an awful lot of mental hurdles to jump over just to insistently back up the idea of a disc-shaped Earth, when assuming a ball-shaped Earth answers all the above questions in a much simpler manner, and with much more scientific evidence to back it up?"
A: You tell me.
Reply: Ok. You are a baldface liar.
Q: "So what causes the various seasons?"
A: The Sun gradually rising and falling.
Q: "Then why is it winter in the northern hemisphere while it's summer in the southern?"
Q: "Okay, then why does Christchurch, New Zealand get more than 15 hours of sunlight a day during December?" 
A: Um, refraction?
Q: "Shouldn't it be trivially easy to demonstrate a flat disc-shaped Earth exists by showing any one of the "Southern" latitude lines is vastly longer than its companion line in the "North?"
Q: "Speaking of which, if we assume a flat Earth, then why would the Australians and South Africans get an entirely different set of stars in their night sky like they do in a round Earth, and which can be demonstrated to be the case simply by flying there? After all, looking at the model of the world which you folks present would indicate that every star in the night sky would be in line of sight to nearly everyone on Earth, no matter where they stand."
A: Wait, what?
Q: "Oh, and haven't you ever seen a shadow climb up the side of a tall building as the sun sets? How the heck does that work if the sun never actually dips below the Horizon?"
A: "Uh... I have to go, um, iron my, um, dog. Bye."
Sadly, the flat Earth model is gaining popularity — or at least more vocal proponents — via the Internet, especially on various nutcase-enabling platforms like YouTube. It seems to be rooted in complete and active suspicion of all authority and an assumption that Mainstream Science™ is just one big, faceless monolith — spreading lies to keep the public in the dark about, er... Some nefarious end!
NASA, being part of the Illuminati according to the flat-earthers, is possessed of infinite money and control while at the same time being so incompetent they leave easily-spotted mistakes in their propaganda that expose the whole thing. Flat-earthers like Jeranism make videos filled with a mix of Gish Gallop and creative misunderstanding, willful ignorance, and flat (hah!) denial of facts and evidence to the contrary.
Motives for advocating a flat over a round Earth despite evidence to the contrary vary. Many young-earth creationists who think it's 6,000 years old don't go so far as to say that it's not round. However, there are some particularly kooky evangelical flat earthers.
Modern geocentrists make a point of distancing themselves from the flat-Earth belief. Charles K. Johnson based his flat-Earth belief on a hyper-literal interpretation of the Bible (asserting that Jesus' ascent "up" into Heaven is proof of a flat Earth, since a round Earth would have no "up" or "down").
The rapper B.o.B., who has had several hits including "Nothin' on You" and "Airplanes", outed himself as a flat-Earther in 2016 and released a diss track called "Flatline" aimed at astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Tyson's nephew, who is also a rapper, released a counter-diss track in response. Astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss wrote in Slate such views can be useful — even if grotesque — when they can be used to check our assumptions. He proposes three clear reasons why the Earth is round.
Religious flat Earth apologetics
“”Even a layperson today can observe that the earth is not flat.
|—Answers in Genesis (even they look smart next to flat Earthers!)|
Many Biblical literalists claim the Bible disproves evolution and other scientific theories prima facie. Since there is no real debate about the shape of the Earth, these passages call Biblical literalism into question. The irony of flat Earthers encouraging people to stop blindly accepting what they've been taught and do their own research has not gone unnoticed, considering that the primarily cited origin of flat earth ideas is indeed the Bible.
In numerous passages, the Bible claims that the earth is a flat disk and/or rectangular, usually implicitly. Whether or not the Bible "really" says this is often debated — but if the Bible was written by people who lived in societies who were unaware that the earth is a more or less spherical object which orbits the Sun, then we would expect this view to be reflected in their writings. Presumably, God's concern would be the salvation of their souls, so it's difficult to see why clearing up the true shape of the Earth would be important for that endeavor.
Biblical flat-Earthism is very rarely accepted. Wilbur Glenn Voliva even offered $5000 as a prize for anyone who can prove that Earth is not flat. Of course, his predictions about Earth ending in 1923, 1927, 1930, and 1935 also failed. Teaching about spherical Earth was banned in the schools of Zion, Illinois, at that time.
“”There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology, and astronomy. There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.
Appeals to the Bible
What the Bible actually says about a flat Earth is clearly a matter for debate amongst Christians. But it is certainly both instructive and amusing to read the various Christian interpretations and rebuttals.
The king seeing all the earth
- "Daniel 4:10-11. In Daniel, the king “saw a tree of great height at the centre of the earth… reaching with its top to the sky and visible to the earth's farthest bounds.” Only with a flat Earth could a tall tree be visible from "the earth's farthest bounds" — this is impossible on a spherical Earth, or is the tree a rocket?
Theological rebuttal: The strength of Daniel 4:10-11 as an argument for a flat Earth is considerably reduced by the fact that this part of the Book of Daniel recounts a dream experienced by the Assyrian king of Babylon. Thus, it does not necessarily refer to an actually existing tree or make any statements about real cosmology. This interpretation would seem to indicate that biblical literalists do not even know how to read the Bible properly.
Jesus seeing all the kingdoms
- Matthew 4:8: "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain [spaceship?], and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world"
- Luke 4:5: "And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time."
Theological rebuttal again: The strength of using Matthew and Luke as flat Earth claims is reduced by the fact that "kingdom" is a human construct. If you classify all the places on Earth that you can't see from that particular location as "not kingdoms", such as barbaric tribes and non-monarchies, it can be fitted within that description. However, how the devil knows that those places are not ruled by kings (again, the concept of "king" is also a human concept) is not exactly clear.
You could also go with the idea that Satan simply showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world over the course of a trip around the equator or in sequence, because the text does not imply that they were shown together.
Yet another possible interpretation is that only kingdoms in the then known world (southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia) are meant, which could be seen from a point in space not far above the surface of the Earth. Take your pick, flatheads.
The earth is a circle
- Isaiah 40:22: "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth (Earth’s orbit?), and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy (map), and spreads them out like a tent to live in."
Jews and Christians use this quote to "prove" that the Bible implies that the earth is spherical, although the word is "circular", and may refer to the perception of a 360 degree panoramic view. Some scholars point out that Isaiah never uses the Modern Hebrew word for sphere Kadur, anywhere. It is not clear to Theists whether this is relevant, because the interpretation of the word Kadur in the Bible is disputed by Theists. This line probably does refer to a flat model of the earth, since an alternative translation is "He sits enthroned above the vault of the earth," a reference to the firmament.
Also worth noting is the fact that the passage describes the Heavens as like a canopy, not the Earth. This interpretation would seem to indicate that Biblical literalists do not even know how to read sentences properly.
- Isaiah 11:12 "And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners [north, south, east and west] of the earth."
- Revelation 7:1 "And after these things I saw four angels standing on four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree."
As with the Daniel quote, modern Jews and Christians, who have been educated by Science, don't take this literally; to them the events described in Revelation are a series of visions, rather than an accurate description of the world (which would indicate that you shouldn't take the Holy Bible literally). Another interpretation of this verse is that four corners of the earth don't refer to literal four corners but to cardinal directions, which is further supported by the description of the four winds which are commonly referenced by their cardinal direction. An additional consideration is that Leviticus 19:27 refers to the "corners of the head"; this means that either A)the authors of the Bible had no problem with using the word "corners" non-literally while discussing round things (which would give the absurd implication that they used idioms and figurative speech just like everyone else ever), or B) The Ancient Israelites had heads like Minecraft Characters (in spite of all fossil evidence to the cont-- Oh wait...).
Even ignoring all the above rebuttals and debate amongst Christians about what the Bible "really" says, there's still the issue that if we are indeed meant to read the Bible this hyper-literally, then that would imply that when Jesus said we were to be "like doves," that he meant we were to grow feathers, eat mostly seed and fruit, regurgitate crop milk, and make mostly cooing noises.
The problem, of course, is that the very people who insist the Earth is flat because of (their) literal interpretation of the Bible, when pressed on the above points, retreat to a non-literal interpretation of those points, thereby undermining their whole argument that the Earth is flat because the Bible literally says it is. Essentially, they can pick and choose what parts of the Bible are hyper literal or not.
Islamic flat Earth apologetics
Some Islamic fundamentalists possibly believe the earth is flat, using a literal interpretation of several Qur'an verses. Iraqi astronomer Fadil Al-Sa'd declared that the earth is flat, and that the Sun is much smaller than the earth and revolves around it.. In 1966 the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baaz, is rumored to have declared "The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment." However historians such as Robert Lacey believe that this quote was misinterpreted (and that Ibn Baaz was actually asserting that the Earth doesn't orbit around the Sun — but not that the earth was flat).
Mohammed Yusuf, founder of terrorist group Boko Haram, stated that the Theory of Evolution as well as spherical Earth teachings should be rejected because they are against Islam. In a 2007 TV debate, an Iraqi Astronomer, Fadil Al-Sa'd, tried hard to push the ideas that the earth is flat and Qur'anic verses also support that the Sun (also flat) is much smaller than Earth and revolves around it.
Appeals to the Qur'an
- And (remember) the Day We shall cause the mountains to pass away (like clouds of dust), and you will see the earth as a levelled plain, and we shall gather them all together so as to leave not one of them behind.
The Muhsin Khan and Shakir translation seem to use "levelled plain"; other translations, apart from Yusuf Ali, which says "level stretch" rather than "levelled plain", which clearly suggests that
God is f@#king punching mountains flat like the badass he is the Earth is a disc.
- Who has made earth for you like a bed (spread out); and has opened roads (ways and paths etc.) for you therein; and has sent down water (rain) from the sky. And We have brought forth with it various kinds of vegetation.
Translations again disagree on this. Like a "carpet" and like a "cradle" are also popular.
- Who has made for you the earth like a bed, and has made for you roads therein, in order that you may find your way.
Other translations of this "like a bed" indicate that it's metaphorical, with "resting place" being the most popular use. The Dr. Ghali translation still uses "cradle" in place of bed.
- Till, when (such a one) comes to Us, he says [to his Qarîn (Satan / devil companion)] "Would that between me and you were the distance of the two easts (or the east and west)" a worst (type of) companion (indeed)!
One presumes that this is a tacit admission that there is an absolute point marked "east" and a point marked "west" which isn't possible on a globe because it wraps around. It's not entirely possible on a flat Earth, either as there is no fixed reference. In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, set on a flat disc, they use radial co-ordinates of "hubward" (meaning toward the centre) "rimward" (towards the outside) and "turnwise" and "widdershins" for clockwise and counterclockwise respectively. Analogous with east and west on a globe, there are no fixed points on this reference frame.
- Have We not made the earth as a bed,
Only Muhsin Khan says "bed". The rest are "expanse" or variations of it. Dr Ghali continues with "cradle". One has to ask, if someone walked up to you and said that the Earth is like a bed, wouldn't one usually think they meant it was a small, warm, and comfortable thing you sleep in and which a parent lovingly prepares for their child? "Flat" is usually quite far down the list of words associated with beds, and indeed if one wanted to describe something as flat, they usually pick something much closer to two-dimensional, such as parchment.
- And after that He spread the earth;
Ironically, the flat Earthers would have been better off with Dr Ghali here, as he is less ambiguous about it: "And the earth, after that He flattened it (for life)."
The irony strikes back
Some Flat Earthers, who dismiss all photographs of space as fake ― without giving any criteria for what would constitute a genuine one, other than incredulity ― have been known to use deceptive means for making their case. Essentially, they have done the very same thing that they accuse others of doing. The image at the right is among the first that one finds upon searching for “flat earth” in Google Images.
Convincing, right? Not so fast. The alleged photo cannot be found in the NASA archives, because it was done by a YouTube user, Danny Wilten, and can be seen here, beginning at 3:17. It just showed how the Martian landscapes captured by spatial probes could be photoshopped from one taken in Ireland, not that such a thing actually had taken place. To date, no photo of Mars has been shown to correspond to one taken on Earth, which would be the relevant proof. But it also raises the question, what exactly do these space deniers expect to see on other worlds? Do they expect other rocky planets to be radically different from barren places on Earth? But more importantly, if these photos are so evidently fake, why bother lying? And even if they are fake, it dosen't necessarily mean that the earth is flat. Absence of evidence doesn't mean evidence of absence.
Views of Earth's curvature
In a nutshell
- Flat Earth International Conference 2017, 2018, 2019
- Canadian Police Had to Break Up a Fight Over Whether the Earth is Flat or Round
- The Flat-Earth Bible (archived copy)
- Flat Earth Lunacy — a Flat Earth debunking blog
- FlatEarth.ws — another Flat Earth debunking blog
- American Flat Earth Society
- The Flat Earth Society
- Flat Earth Society Forums
- The Flat Earth Wiki
- Flat Texas
- The International Square Earth Society (Note: This page is a deadpan parody)
- Is the Earth flat?
- The Skeptical Review
- Vsauce does a piece on the subject
- Zetetic Astronomy. Earth not a Globe by Samuel Rowbotham, full text at the Internet Sacred Text Archive
- If you really care, the declination from a height h above a circle with radius R is
- Look outside, dummy.
- This fails to explain the presence of the Aurora Australis before the technology required to project holograms existed
- Subtitles are 100% accurate and definitely weren't modified from Risitas Las Paelleras
- "Rapper B.o.B Is A Flat Earth Truther", DListed 1.15.16.
- A handy way of knowing when and where to look for them is Heavens Above or any other website or software supporting satellite tracking.
- Spherical trigonometry.
- P.E. Robinson (23 March 2003). "Introductory Astronomy: Parallax, the Parsec, and Distances". YouTube.
- Cox, J. (June 24, 2013) Ask the Captain: Why don't planes fly in a 'straight line?'. USA Today. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
- Geodetic Survey Work on High Intensity Proton Accelerator Facility TU004_PPT.PDF
- Geodetic Survey Work on High Intensity Proton Accelerator Facility 010.PDF
- "Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter". Twitter.
- Detailed gravity, magnetics successful in exploring Azerbaijan onshore areas. Oil and Gas Journal
- Charles Q. Choi (12 April 2007). "Strange but True: Earth Is Not Round". Scientific American.
- "If the earth is a oblate spheroid why isn't this evident in NASA images from space?". Quora.
- See the Wikipedia article on List of Antarctic expeditions.
- People Cross Antarctica All the Time. It's Still Crazy Hard by Sarah Fallon (02.01.16 11:00 am) Wired.
- Thongchai Winichakul, Siam mapped: a history of the geo-body of a nation (1995), pp. 20-43
- Stephen Jay Gould. The Late Birth of a Flat Earth. In Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History
- "Point of View" The Day the Universe Changed
- Flat Earth Society FAQ
- "John1992" (2011). "People still think the earth is flat?". Giant Bomb website.
- SF Hub — The Flat Earth Society Archive Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
- Garwood, Christine. "Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea". MacMillan (2007).
- See the discussion at MetaBunk.org Flat Earth Theory Debunked by Short Flights (QF27 & QF28) From Australia to South America.
- Natalie Wolchover, Ingenious 'Flat Earth' Theory Revealed In Old Map. LiveScience, 23 June 2011.
- They Think the Earth is Flat? Answers in Genesis, 9 August 2008.
Unlike young-earth creationism, flat-earthism is not scriptural and has no profound theological implications. There are (mostly poetic) passages that could be cited by flat-earthers, such as Revelation 7:1, which refers to the 'four corners of the earth'—but these are most clearly interpreted as figurative.
- For example, consider the apocalyptic end times World's Last Chance group, that provides a pile of steaming flat earth bullshit wrapped in weird evangelical terminology.
- Robert J. Schadewald, The Flat-out Truth: Earth Orbits? Moon Landings? A Fraud! Says This Prophet. Science Digest, July 1980. Archived from the original at lhup.edu.
Johnson's beliefs are firmly grounded in the Bible. Many verses of the Old Testament imply that the earth is flat, but there's more to it than that. According to the New Testament, Jesus ascended up into heaven.
- Watch Neil deGrasse Tyson Drop the Mic in His B.o.B Rap Battle
- How a Celebrity’s Silly Belief in Flat Earth Can Be Useful by Lawrence Krauss
- "So, apparently Shaquille O'Neal is a flat-Earther, too". http://sports.yahoo.com/news/so-apparently-shaquille-oneal-is-a-flat-earther-too-035813782.html.
- "Neil DeGrasse Tyson Gets Into A Rap Battle With B.o.B Over Flat Earth Theory". http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/26/464474518/neil-degrasse-tyson-gets-into-a-rap-battle-with-b-o-b-over-flat-earth-theory.
- "Yikes! Tila Tequila Was Removed From Celebrity Big Brother for Pro-Nazi Views". http://www.tvguide.com/news/tila-tequila-removed-celebrity-big-brother-pro-nazi-views/.
- Gardner, Martin (1957). "Flat and Hollow". Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Second Edition ed.).
- Carter slams Georgia's 'evolution' proposal
- In His Name by E. Christopher Reyes, p. 568
- Nigeria's 'Taliban' enigma
- Iraqi astronomer goes on TV to explain why Earth is flat
- 20 August 2017. "Images Show Mars Rover Photos Shot on Earth? No, Here’s Proof." True Strange Library website. Retrieved 23 August 2017.