Is the World Flat?

It may be time to throw out that globe you have in your study. That multi-colored sphere might not be an accurate representation of our planet. Perhaps the Earth isn’t round at all. It may actually be flat. That’s what a group called the Flat Earth Society has concluded. People who believe in a flat Earth think that the world around them can’t be as it seems. (I’ve had I similar feeling since the 2016 election). The first sentence of their website’s general information page is, “This site is not a joke”. You would think that any website that says that upfront MUST be a joke. But no, the Society, which claims to have over 3,000 members, truly believes that the world is shaped like a frisbee, albeit with mountains and valleys. Their website features forums, articles and blogs about the shape of our world. They also discuss other subjects such as the moon and the stars.

Flat Earther view. Wait what’s Australia doing in the picture?

On the website’s discussion page I posted a question regarding the composition of the moon. I say it’s made of rock while my wife claims it’s made of cheese. She is sure that Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap onto a huge cheeseball for mankind and it’s delicious.” I am looking forward to getting this issue resolved but they haven’t responded yet. It seems a lot of people (like me) log on to their website to make fun or hurl abuse.

Houston we have a problem. This cheeseball is rancid.

Despite the fact that the Flat Earth Society’s theories have been debunked by rational thinkers, interest in the Society’s beliefs have been increasing as evidenced by the recent surge in Google searches on the subject. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson blames this growing belief on free speech and a failing education system. But it may be that there are just a lot of morons in the world. Interestingly, the Earth being shaped like a pancake isn’t even their wackiest notion. Many Flat-Earthers also believe that Australia doesn’t exist and that Australians are computer generated or are actors playing the part of Australians. There is some proof of this as it turns out that Crocodile Dundee is really an actor named Paul Hogan.

According to the Flat Earth Society’s doctrine, what we Round Earthers typically call the North Pole they argue is actually in the center of our disc with the oceans and continents scattered around it (except for Australia, as noted above). And what most of us call Antarctica, flat earth advocates have concluded is really a giant ice wall which encircles the planet keeping the oceans hemmed in and keeping cats from knocking everything off the planet. So, we need to be concerned about global warming because, if it’s true, the ice caps (or wall) will melt and the oceans, instead of rising as many scientists think, will begin to spill off our planet into space. And kids, you may want to rethink that idea of digging a hole to China because it will end badly if the Earth truly is flat.

But wait you say. What about all of the photos of Earth taken during space flights? What about sunrises and sunsets? What about eclipses? What about SCIENCE?

In their minds this is all fake news. Flat-Earthers contend that it is all part of a conspiracy to keep the truth about our planet hidden. They believe that the government space agencies are taking creative liberties with our tax dollars and producing misleading materials to hide the truth. The photos from space have been altered to make Earth appear round. They claim the entire space program is a hoax and the astronauts and cosmonauts were, like the Australians, just actors. Sunrises and sunsets are optical illusions and eclipses, well they don’t like to talk about them. The Society encourages people to distrust science altogether and to rely on their own senses to understand the true nature of the world around us. Reading the Flat Earth Society’s dogma makes you feel like you have slipped and fallen into a tub of crazy-sauce.

Surprisingly, their theory has been endorsed by many professional athletes. Basketball players in particular have taken up the “cause”. And they are tall enough that, if there was a curvature of the earth, they would be able to see it better than we height challenged folks. They also know a lot about spheres. Cleveland Cavalier’s point guard, Kyrie Irving was the first basketball player to reveal that he was a Flat Earther. Wilson Chandler, who plays basketball for the Denver Nuggets also believes that if you just walk around and observe using your five senses you will realize that you are not living on a gyrating globe. As an experiment I tried using my five senses to determine if I was indeed on a huge rotating orb. I started with smell then moved on to taste then hearing. I got nothing so I jumped to my sixth sense which told me that, YES, I was spinning on a ball. But by that time I was on my second (third) scotch which may have had something to do with the spinning.

The things one must do for science.

Flat Earthers hold that, since the world appears flat, the burden of proof should be with the Round Earth camp. So the scientific debate continues. But the problem with conspiracy theories is that their followers claim that any evidence that contradicts their ideas have been fabricated in an effort to hide the truth. You just can’t convince people that they are living in Stupidville. In the meantime, I’m keeping my globe until this controversy gets resolved.

John Wade, a frequent contributor to Unhinged Magazine, is a retired Chief Financial Officer who lives in Wildwood, Missouri.