Flat Earth Society: Wait… Really?
I recently posted about a series of coronal mass ejections that occurred around Thanksgiving and was, according to some bloggers, the beginning of the end. I did that post as the beginning of a series of posts debunking the “Doomsday 2012” predictions. I have a couple more of those posts coming before December 21st, but I found this and wanted to post about it. While I was working on the research for this series of posts, I meandered into a YouTube video (shown below) that was a short audio interview with a representative of an organization known as the Flat Earth Society. This group is a long-standing organization that believes that the Earth is, actually, a flat disc, rather than the spherical globe that science has proven it is. As a huge proponent of science and a big fan of space exploration and the frontiers of scientific discovery, I was struck by the claims that this group makes on their website!
You may ask yourself how a person, alive in the year 2012, can possibly convince themselves that a flat Earth is even possible! I think you may be asking yourself this because I know I sure am! Well, the reason is revealed in the question that was asked, they convinced themselves. As I research more and more about the Flat Earth Society, I find myself realizing that this group is actually more like a religion or cult. I say that because the entire “movement” is based on the idea that when the theory of the Earth being spherical was first introduced (and later mathematically proven by Greek mathematician Eratosthenes) in the third century BCE (Before Common Era), the theory was widely accepted to be true, even though it wasn’t physically demonstrated until the 16th century CE (Common Era) by Magellan’s expedition to circumnavigate the globe. The Flat Earth Society came into existence in the 1800’s and adhered to the idea of Zetetic Astronomy which says that the Earth is actually a flat disc with the center being the North Pole and the Sun, Moon, other planets and all the stars being only a few hundred miles above the surface of the Earth’s disc. This system is based largely on the literal interpretations of an English inventor, Samuel Rowbotham, and is currently headed by Daniel Shenton and headquartered in London. The Flat Earth Society currently has just over 400 members, according to the membership register on their official website, but that may not be accurate.
The Flat Earth Society claims to have plenty mathematics backing their claim listed on their website. The fact of the matter is that they have the observations a few supporters of their claims doing experiments that support their claim. These experiments are repeatable, again, according to more of their supporters. I am willing to admit that I haven’t tried any of these experiments myself, because I don’t feel the need to. They claim to have definitive proof within these few experiments, but have no proof when asked to refute science on our Round Earther terms. Asking them questions about the Earth’s magnetosphere (which would not exist if the Earth were flat), Vulcanism, Gravity or even why the Earth seems to appear as a sphere in pictures taken from space, their response will be something to the effect of, “The entirety of the scientific community is lying as part of a conspiracy! So we shun that information. We have our own theories about those things.” The Flat Earth Perspective seems, to me, more like religion than science. They believe what they believe in the face of what science says, and all other ideas are considered to be lies, or based on lies, at the very least. They also believe that all people who believe in science do so because they are mindless sheep following science or just plain stupid… Ironic that I have nearly the same opinion of them that they have of me.
I was hoping to avoid repeating some of their ideologies, but I know that if I were reading this article, I would want some of their ideologies spelled out. We all know the effect of gravity, in that things that move through space have a gravitational pull on other things in space. Albert Einstein theorized (based on repeatable observations of ALL things in the universe that are observable) that space is a field that all things exist in and that, dependent on the mass of the object in question, that field is warped around that object. When other things drift into that effected field, their movement is altered by this warping. Sometimes this warping is so great that the effected object will go into orbit around the object warping space. That is, of course, gravity in action when concerning two large bodies in space. The same principle applies to the Earth as well. Things don’t go shooting off of the Earth as we spin and rotate through the universe, because Earth’s mass is so great compared to the things on it. Earth’s gravitational pull keeps us walking, cars driving
and buildings standing on the surface of it. This is based on science and is accepted to be true by everyone on the planet that is not a Flat Earther. They claim that the Earth’s disc is actually in a constant state of upward motion at the speed of 9.8 m/s (9.8 meters per second) which simulates gravity here on Earth. Which would make sense in a world which could not see tidal forces at work on stars and planets that aren’t even in the same solar system as us.
Perhaps you’re questioning whether or not the Earth is actually spherical. I have an experiment that you could do that would squash this argument once and for all. You see, the Flat Earthers believe that the rim of the world is an ice wall. Us Round Earthers believe this ice wall is actually the South Pole ice sheet. According to the Flat Earth perspective, if I were to go to that ice sheet and start walking in a straight line, I would, eventually, come to the end of the Earth. According to science, if I were to do the same, I would simply find myself standing on the adjacent “shore” of that ice sheet. I propose an experiment… Daniel Shenton and I will meet on the shore of the ice sheet and begin a straight line trajectory across this sheet. One of two things will happen:
1) We will find the edge of the Earth
2) We will wind up on the other shore of the ice sheet, in which Daniel (in my estimation) will try to convince everyone that we didn’t actually walk in a straight line, but circled back or that we passed through some magical and/or godly portal that brought us out on the other side of the Flat Earth.
Seriously. Daniel can fund his side of the trip by whatever means available to him and I will start a Kickstarter to fund my side of the trip. I know how it will end, I will not end up funding because who would contribute money to attempt to prove that the Earth is round to 400-ish crazy people? No one! Although, I’d like to think enough science minded people would contribute just to prove to those 400-ish people the Earth is round. Plenty of science supporters have argued for science against religious people in the past, and we all know that no amount of proof will convince most people of the error of their thinking. This probably wouldn’t be any different, as they would find a way to explain or discredit it enough (in their minds) to continue making their claims.
The funny thing is, I’m not even sure why it matters? The Flat Earthers are human beings and, therefore, entitled to their beliefs, whatever they may be. They have the right to be wrong. That is my general approach to most religion, and I don’t see why this is any different, really. Why do I feel the need to try to prove my beliefs are greater than theirs? This belief of theirs is just allowing a minuscule portion of the population to be anti-science. At least they’re not hurting or scaring people like the Zealots and Doomsday criers. Although, I suppose scientists don’t like being called liars. As a person that has the deepest respect for science and the people who are practicing it (Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye and Phil Plait to name a few) I don’t really appreciate this group calling these people liars. What do you think? Does the existence of the Flat Earth Perspective matter to you? Should we attempt to convince them they’re wrong? What would your angle on the argument be?
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Posted on December 13, 2012, in Geek, My Nerdography, Nerd, Science and tagged albany, alloy matt, blogger, corvallis, daniel shenton, flat earth, geek, lebanon, matt jacobs, meme, my nerdography, nerd, oregon, science, seems legit, space, theory, zetetic astronomy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.