by Carissa Zurbrugg
For this blog post I am going to write about the theory that the Earth is flat. Here is a description of the belief: the Flat Earth Theory was formed from the ancient flat earth model that presents earth as a disc. Flat Earth believers think earth is a disc with the Arctic Circle in the center, and that Antartica is a 150 foot-tall wall of ice around the rim (Wolchover 2017). They believe that the idea of the world being round is a conspiracy or cover-up arranged by NASA and other government agencies. This theory is believed by various people, some well known and famous such as B.o.B and Kyrie Irving, as well as many ordinary people, many of which belong to a supposedly growing “Flat Earth Society.” The Flat Earth Society is well known and criticized among other scientific groups. Becoming an associate member is free, and becoming a “friend” costs 12 dollars; they even have their own website that includes information and history of the society, a blog, and featured articles. As for popularity, the Flat Earth theory was most attractive during ancient times, especially in ancient Greece until the classical period and China until the 17th century. It is still popular to this day, just not as popular as it was in ancient times. Information for this belief can be found all over the internet, books, and especially from www.theflatearthsociety.org. This belief is important because it is an ancient notion about the way Earth is constructed and interacts with the Sun, Moon, and other planets, and because we live on Earth, this affects all of us. This belief is extraordinary because believers go against concrete evidence, such a satellite images of Earth from space, to stake their claim.
The facts of the matter: Evidence for the Flat Earth Theory is presented in a couple different ways. One bit of evidence provided by the society’s website uses Lunar Eclipses to explain a flat earth, using their own sources to basically say that during a lunar eclipse, the shadow of the Earth on the Moon is not actually the shadow of Earth. They basically think that the Earth, Sun, and Moon do not fall into a direct line, so it cannot be the shadow of Earth that is showing on the Moon. This “evidence” is described in a couple of different books such as Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe by Samuel Rowbotham, and One Hundred Proofs That The Earth Is Not A Globe. Another lunar eclipse inconsistency by Rowbotham is that the moon’s entire surface has been distinctly seen during the whole time of a total lunar eclipse (Davis 2016). Flat earthers also try to provide proof for their belief using Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. In another article by Davis (the president of the American Flat Earth Society), this is explained. As I am not able to explain it briefly in my blog post because I don’t really understand it myself, I will provide a link to it at the end of my post, and encourage you all to take a look; maybe someone will be able to explain it to me in the comments. As for evidence against this belief, well, it is staggering. First and foremost, the spherical Earth is the post popular idea when it comes to the structure of our planet. The hardest evidence we have are the thousands of images and videos of Earth from space, and a live stream of a continually changing globe from the International Space Station. Also, word from all astronauts who have been to space and seen Earth from orbit (of course flat Earthers say these images are false and deny anything astronauts say). People who believe in a spherical Earth claim that there is no evidence for the “globularist conspiracy” which is the idea that basically all hard evidence of a round Earth is fabricated and a cover up by NASA and the government. By the time of Socrates and Plato, Greeks already knew that the Earth had to be spherical. Sailors also noticed that the surface of the sea is slightly curved, like the surface of a ball. Aristotle furthered evidence of a spherical Earth with the phenomenon of the Lunar Eclipse as well, claiming that when the Moon passes through the shadow of Earth, the shadow is always the circular shadow of a sphere. Most people who believe in the round Earth truly believe the debate about the shape of Earth has been settled for over 2,000 years (Loxton 2018).
Those who believe in the Flat Earth Theory are clearly misinformed, in my opinion. They are very severely misinterpreting the evidence for a round Earth, saying pictures and videos are fake and made up by the government, when there is no evidence of that! These people may have become mistaken for their distrust of the government.
There isn’t a specific community that these believers come from; like I said, a lot are ordinary people and some are high profile people like B.o.B., Kyrie Irving, and Shaq. Many belong to the American Flat Earth Society, which I suppose could be one community of Flat Earthers. Some don’t belong to any specific club or organization, and this is just what they believe to be true. The American Flat Earth Society and it’s website is a good example of a social influence that helps them to sustain their belief. Also, people like Shaq and B.o.B. are social influences they help these people sustain their belief by putting their messages out into the media.
In conclusion, psychological explanations for these believers are probably just that these people have are free thinkers, and a strong distrust in our government. To think that our government officials fake evidence for something as important as the shape of the planet we live on, there has to be a little bit of paranoia there. I’m a believer in hard evidence, and the pictures and videos don’t lie. Try as hard as they may, they will never prove their theory of a flat Earth.