The Flat Earth Society

Firstly a hat tip to the Flat Earth Society, their website is:  also for Wikipedia, see here:

I thought it about time that we all knew something about The Flat Earth Society, (TFES).  I write this article not in jest, you can make your own mind up.  Those that have not blocked a regular poster, Behold a Pale Horse (BaPH), will have seen his oft quoted “Ain’t no such thing as space bro”.  I asked him to write an article, but I suspect this will not happen, so I thought I would do some research and lay out for you what their basic beliefs are and a little bit about them.

Modern flat Earth societies consist of individuals who promote the idea that the Earth is flat rather than an oblate spheroid.  Such groups date from the middle of the 20th century, although some adherents are serious and some are not.  Those who are serious are often motivated by pseudoscience or religious literalism.

Modern flat Earth hypotheses originated with the English writer Samuel Rowbotham (1816–1884).  Based on conclusions derived from the Bedford Level experiment,  Rowbotham published a pamphlet Zetetic Astronomy.  He later expanded into a book Earth Not a Globe, proposing the Earth is a flat disc centred at the North Pole and bounded along its southern edge by a wall of ice, Antarctica.  Rowbotham further held that  the Sun and Moon were 3,000 miles (4,800 km) above Earth and that the Flat earth theory is neither officially nor unofficially associated with any religion.

TFES says that throughout the ages various religious institutions have championed a flat earth model for the world*.   They go on to say that: “Unfortunately this leaves us with the vestigial thought that flat earth theory and religions are symbiotic. They are not, even though many religions today, both mainstream and otherwise, still teach its followers that the world is flat.  While they are not incorrect, believing in a flat earth isn’t contingent upon believing in a deity or being a part of any religion.”

*I can find no evidence of any religion preaching this though.

What does the earth look like? How is circumnavigation possible?

Pttm, Going Postal

As seen in the picture above, again from TFES, the earth is in the form of a disk with the North Pole in the centre and Antarctica as a wall around the edge.  This is the generally accepted model among members of the society.  In this model, circumnavigation is performed by moving in a great circle around the North Pole.  The earth is surrounded on all sides by an ice wall that holds the oceans back.  This ice wall is what explorers have named Antarctica.   Beyond the ice wall is a topic of great interest to the Flat Earth Society. To their knowledge, no one has been very far past the ice wall and returned to tell of their journey.  They say that what we do know is that it encircles the earth and serves to hold in our oceans and helps protect us from whatever lies beyond.

It is not clear how deep they think the Earth is, one report has it at about 9,000 metres.  It will need to be deepeer than that though as the deepest hole drilled on Earth so far is just over 12 km.

How do you explain day/night cycles and seasons?

Day and night cycles are easily explained on a flat earth. The sun moves in circles around the North Pole. When it is over your head, it’s day.  When it’s not, it’s night.  The light of the sun is confined to a limited area and its light acts like a spotlight upon the earth.  The picture below illustrates how the sun moves and also how seasons work on a flat earth. The apparent effect of the sun rising and setting is usually explained as a perspective effect.

Pttm, Going Postal

So as can be seen by the above GIF, the Sun is revolving around the Earth.  How far away is the sun?  Believers say it is approximately 2400 miles and 3900 miles away.  This I think will explain “Ain’t no such thing as space bro”.

Now, some people believe the Earth is round, like all the other planets and stars and many moons, gravity makes them round, or roundish.  Indeed this is one of the definitions of a planet, from the IAU The definition of planet  made  by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in August 2006 states that, in the Solar System, a planet is a celestial body which:

  1. is in orbit around the Sun,
  2. has sufficient mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium (a nearly round shape), and
  3. has “cleared the neighbourhood” around its orbit.

So why do TFES not believe that gravity  pulls the Earth into a spherical shape?

Their answer is that the earth isn’t pulled into a sphere because the force known as gravity exists in a greatly diminished form compared to what is commonly taught.  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.

Probably the main two arguments non-believers of a flat Earth have are:

People have been into space.  How have they not discovered that the earth is flat?

TFES say that the most commonly accepted explanation of this is that the space agencies of the world are involved in a conspiracy faking space travel and exploration.  This likely began during the Cold War’s ‘Space Race’, in which the USSR and USA were obsessed with beating each other into space to the point that each faked their accomplishments in an attempt to keep pace with the other’s supposed achievements.  Since the end of the Cold War, however, the conspiracy is most likely motivated by greed rather than political gains, and using only some of their funding to continue to fake space travel saves a lot of money to embezzle for themselves.

There are many pictures on the internet and in other media depicting the earth as being round. Why do these not disprove flat earth theory?

In general, the Flat Earth Society do not lend much credibility to photographic evidence.  It is too easily manipulated and altered.  Many of the videos posted here to “prove a round earth” by showing curvature will show no curvature or even concave curvature at parts.  The sources are so inaccurate it’s difficult to build an argument on them in either case.  Furthermore, barrel distortion and other quirks of modern cameras will cause a picture to distort in ways which may not be immediately obvious or apparent, especially without references within the picture.  Photographs are also prone to distortion when taken through the bent glass of a pressurized cabin as well as atmospheric conditions on the outside.  With this litany of problems, it’s easy to see why photographic evidence is not to be trusted.  It’s also worth noting that if a person were to look down at the earth from high above, they would expect to see a circular shape where the sun’s spotlight was shining.  This explains why high altitude photographs are generally curved to produce the illusion of a round horizon.

So basically dear readers, it is no good showing a photograph or video that pertains the Earth is not flat, as believers of a flat Earth will claim CGI or other trickery.  For some, I suspect that even if we took them on a trip around the moon and back, they would still claim some trickery afoot!

So now you know what they think.  A word of warning though, TFES claim that many of their members came to their website so as to be able to disprove the Flat Earth, but failed, saw the light, and joined TFES.  You have been warned!

© Phil the test manager 2018