The earth is flat

Yes, the earth is flat and flat earthers have compelling proof of this.

I have a peculiar fascination with conspiracy theories. I have often wandered down the rabbit hole of YouTube watching videos about our reptilian overlords, aliens from dimension X, the New World Order, 9/11, and many more.

Conspiracies come in a number of flavours including:

  • Earthbound conspiracies. These are conspiracies relating to government, shadow government, the Illuminati, the Rothschilds, and 9/11 among many. They have a certain plausibility, they involve real people and organisations. A key element of these types of conspiracy is, in my mind, they’d all make a great Hollywood thriller. Another, interesting thing about these Earthbound conspiracies is that many have turned out to be true! Look up MKUltra, or Operation Northwoods as two of several ‘conspiracies’ later proven to be fact after a freedom of information request revealed the truth.
  • Reality denial conspiracies. This category is the flat earth theorist type. Flat earthers, in particular, are amazing to listen to. The way they twist facts and their willingness to ignore and discount vast volumes of evidence as simply fake is astonishing. They will concoct tales of the stars being lights in a glass dome and the Sun and Moon being powerful lamps suspended from the dome to support their fantasy.
  • Wild fantasy. The earth is hollow and has various civilisations living in hidden cities miles beneath the surface. These types of fantasy are similar to binge-watching Game of Thrones. As Game of Thrones develops more and more layers of Westeros lore are revealed. In the same way, this type of fantasist starts with a simple idea that the Earth is hollow. Then come underground cites, then reptilian or alien overlords living below and, of course, controlling events on the surface. Evidence is scant and mainly of the ‘I read on the internet’, ‘he said’, ‘I heard’ type that is generated by fevered minds living in clouds of psychoactive vapour.

The Flat Earth conspiracy

One of my favourite conspiracies is the Flat Earth conspiracy. I am not referring to the highly entertaining, brilliantly written Discworld series by Terry Pratchett but to a sincerely held belief by a small – but disturbingly growing and vociferous – group of flat earth believers. Their claim that the earth is a plane and not a globe is supported by their selective interpretation of science, the extrapolation of small scale observations into macro-scale conclusions, and the mass disposal of vast troves of evidence and scientific observation, that doesn’t fit their belief, as simply fake.

So, how did I get embroiled in the flat earth theory? Well, I was sat, sleepless in my little village, a few nights ago perusing a Facebook group focussing on the real issue of UFOs and reptilian overlords, I spotted a picture of a nighttime rocket launch claiming to show a rocket launch returning to the sea.

Flat earthers, Moon landing deniers, and assorted conspiracists posited that this photo proves that there’s no ‘space’ and that rockets launched by NASA and other space organisations are simply fired off into the ocean. From this, of course, it’s clear that the Moon landings didn’t happen. In the spirit of balance, quite a few people also argued for the reality of space, and moon landings and the like. Possibly people who, like me, find conspiracists fascinating.

A discussion started in which I and a few others pointed out that for a rocket, or its payload, to go into orbit it does need to fly parallel* to the surface at some point and that the reason this trail seems to be going back to the surface is that the earth is a ball and what you see is the rocket going around the ball.

*I know parallel is not the right term for flying in orbit. But I wanted to avoid saying orbit because that is the basis of the argument we are having.

Enter the flat earthers …

MeBasic maths. Also, even if the rocket went straight up the path would curve cos the Earth is rotating beneath it.
Flat eartherCan you prove that?
MeLet me qualify that. Relative to the moving surface of the earth, it would curve. Yes, I can prove it, but not to a flat earther without using a huge rocket.
Flat eartheroh so basically you can’t prove it lol
MeSo do you accept the evidence the earth is a sphere or are you wrong?
Flat eartherI can show that the surface of the earth is demonstrably flat. Yet you are unable to provide evidence of your claims
Flat eartherwhat is the empirical evidence that the earth rotates?
MePlease do (this is in response to his claim that he can show the earth is demonstrably flat)
Flat earther 2There IS no proof that it rotates or that it is a globe. Cannot be proven whatsoever. But you can prove there is no curve. It’s been done with lasers and the naked eye. How does water curve around a ball? I’ll wait….

It was at this point at the start of the conversation I had the first hint at the main problem when trying to argue with a flat earther. They simply deny all reality that doesn’t fit with their belief. They also will take a small piece of evidence and extrapolate that out to prove their point.

Any evidence a spherical earther, or globist, presents is simply dismissed as fake or illusionary.

So let’s look at a few points of ‘evidence’ from the fevered minds of the flat earthers.

Taking a small piece of evidence and extrapolating it out to prove the Flat Earth Theory

You cannot see any curvature of the Earth

Later in the conversation, the evidence that can be seen with the naked eye was rolled out. Cleary, they say, if you look at a body of water like a lake it looks flat and serene. Even the ocean looks flat. It’s an answer derived from limited reasoning and willingness to ignore reality. It’s kind of like looking at an elephant really close up and concluding it’s a snake because all you can see is its trunk!

They also state the fact, which is true, that when you look at the horizon you cannot see any curvature. Now there’s a good reason for this. What you are looking at, when you observe the horizon from sea level is a small section of a sphere, the edges of which are the point which the curvature slopes below what you can observe.

Please see my highly accurate sketch.

Imagine our little man is standing on a very small island in the middle of the Pacific. All he can see is the ocean. As he spins around on his little island his eye sees as far as it can before the curve of the Earth drops so far as to form the horizon. The edge, from his point of view, is perfectly straight and there is no curve. But as we see above, this is a perfectly normal thing to happen when on a globe.

The horizon at sea level is a mere 5km away (give or take a small allowance for your height) which means you can only observe a tiny 75 sq. kilometres of the earth’s 510,100,000 sq. kilometres. This is not going to look curved on the scale of a planet. To help, imagine a small coin glued to the surface of a 1km wide ball. Your point of view is from the middle of that coin, what do you think you will see?

Additionally, the earth is not uniformly round. Some parts will indeed be flat, some even concave – blame geology. But overall, the earth is a globe and any flat earth effects are merely due to scale.

An experiment to prove to yourself that the Earth is a sphere.

For us globists (for that is our derogatory name among flat earthers), there is an experiment that can be done to show the Earth is a sphere and that anyone with two equal-length sticks, a friend, two tape measures, and two cell phones (optional) can do.

Take one stick, one person, one tape measure, and one cell phone to somewhere like Lands End and send the other person, tape measure, stick and cell phone and travel to the east, somewhere like Dover. Pick your own local spots of course. There’s no need to do this in the southern counties of England.

At a predetermined time, or coordinated by cell phone, place the sticks vertically on the ground and simply measure the length of the shadows. If the Earth is flat then the shadows will be the same length*. If it is spherical then they will be different because of the different angles of the stick relative to the Sun.

* Of course, the flat earther will argue that the Sun is a point source of light below a crystal sphere a few thousand miles up and the shadows will differ due to the angle of the light hitting the sticks. A bit of basic trigonometry will show if the angle is due to the point source or the curvature of the Earth. I will place a bet on the results.

Gravity doesn’t exist

The other demonstrable ‘fact’ they quote is that water will not stick to a ball. I checked and sure enough, if you pour water onto a football (a British spherical football) it falls off and your feet get wet. One point to the flat earther?

Not really. What they ignore is the football is on a rather large object (the Earth) with a substantial gravitational force acting on the ball, water, and wet feet. The larger Earth does hold water to its surface due to gravity. The distortion of space-time caused by the mass of our planet which forces all the water on the Earth to ‘fall’ down the gravity well towards the Earth’s centre – stopped only by thousands of miles of rock and magma.

So, I have now confounded the flat earther?

No. Apparently I cannot prove gravity because there is no gravity – duhhh! Only something that feels like gravity. Their theory for why we feel something we ignorant globists call gravity is interesting and we’d definitely fail the water sticking to a ball test if this were true.

This, from the Wiki of the Flat Earth Society, should make things clear:

The earth is constantly accelerating up at a rate of 32 feet per second squared (or 9.8 meters per second squared*). This constant acceleration causes what you think of as gravity. Imagine sitting in a car that never stops speeding up. You will be forever pushed into your seat. The earth works much the same way. It is constantly accelerating upwards being pushed by a universal accelerator (UA) known as dark energy or aetheric wind.

Flat Earth Society WIKI

Clearly, if this were true, then only flat earth would be able to maintain water on its surface. On a globe it would slide right off into space, leaving a glistening trail of ice and frozen fish behind it.

Using Newton’s formula for calculating speed (V = U + AT) under constant acceleration we would find it would take just less than 1 year to exceed the speed of light. Impossible says Einstein and remarkably flat earthers agree. In fact, on this point, Einstein, flat earthers, and I are in accordance.

If you want, to look at their explanation of this using the Lorentz Transformation. It’s a real equation that demonstrates how an object cannot exceed the speed of light in a stationary frame of reference. So basically, if I understand their argument, the Earth is approaching the speed of light but will never reach it. It’s interesting how this sliver of science is accepted as gospel while Einstein’s related theory of gravity is dismissed out of hand.

*I should correct their notation. It is not 9.8 metres per second squared, it is in fact 9.8 metres per second per second – which is not the same. Science is not a strong point.

Why do flat earthers think NASA, ESA, science in general is hiding the ‘fact’ the Earth is Flat?

OK so actually the Flat Earth Society wiki states that there is, in fact, no conspiracy. NASA and those advised by NASA and, indeed, the world’s space agencies are not trying to hide the fact the Earth is flat or pretend it is a sphere. They are simply militaristic organisations hell-bent on the use of space (which apparently doesn’t exist) for world domination.

You can see their explanation here

Again we stumble across the selective use of ‘evidence’ to support their claims. In their explanation, the Flat Earth Society say that the US Army’s Ballistic Missile Arsenal was renamed as the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA). This is a falsehood both in the exclusion of other organisations that were merged into the newly formed NASA and in the scope in which the ballistic missile program was merged into NASA.

In fact, the following organisations or parts were merged to form NASA and the main constituent of NASA was actually the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics:

  • National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics which was totally adsorbed into NASA along with 8000 employees and its $100m budget
  • Langley Aeronautical Laboratory
  • Ames Aeronautical Laboratory
  • Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory
  • Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Laboratory including the work from Werner von Braun (German and Nazi rocket scientist)
  • Elements of the United States Naval Research Laboratory
  • Research efforts from the US Airforce
  • Non-military research projects from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)
  • Slightly later NASA gained control of the Jet propulsion Laboratory (JPL) from the California Institute of Technology.

Looking at this list, surely it makes sense to incorporate research and technologies from agencies that know a bit about firing objects up into space – be it military or otherwise.

And no, I do not accept that Wikipedia is the font of all truth but this is an accurate account of the formation of NASA and shows the flat earther’s willingness to selectively present information to support their belief.

Why do flat earthers believe the Earth is flat and not a globe?

It seems to boil down to their desire to be special or rather that the Human race is special. They do not believe they are descended from Apes*. Nor do they accept the theory of evolution. They want to feel special, that a creator or higher power made mankind and has made a special place for us in the universe. I find it kind of sad that all the wonders we have discovered in the cosmos, the achievements of men and women as they fly into space or land on the Moon (YES THEY DID), the travels of the Voyager spacecraft as they leave the Solar System. All these amazing feats and wonders are dismissed and ignored as fake, as conspiracies and coverups by flat earthers so that they can feel special. So they can feel safe and secure in this little bubble of existence. What a limited outlook.

* We’re not descended from Apes, we’re related to Apes.

You can watch this documentary made by a flat earth sceptic for National Geographic.

Cynically, I also suspect that apart from feeling special a few of the flat earth leadership enjoy the adoration of their fans and the swelling of their bank account as they sell books, videos, tee shirts, speaking engagements, and models of the flat Earth to their followers.

Still, it’s nice to feel special, It’s great to have fans and who are we to judge them for their view of the universe or indeed making a few dollars from that view. I only hope that the current upsurge in flat earth campaigning doesn’t infect our or their children and sully their future outlook. I also hope this theory doesn’t get onto the school curriculum in states like Texas where it’s already compulsory to teach creationism as fact. (I can hear the knives being sharpened!)

Finally, I consider flat earth to be a theory put forward by lunatics. I am an atheist so talk of creationism, a creator, biblical texts, or science is fake just do not cut it for me. I am planning a range of articles to debunk the flat earth conspiracy and other mindless theories in the coming weeks.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.