Flat Earth Theory

People who believe in the flat earth theory do not think the Earth is round. While on the planet’s surface, it feels and looks flat, so they believe they dismiss all evidence to the contrary. The flat earth society contains people from America and Europe and has been growing since 2009 (Wolchover 2017). Believing that the Earth is flat is one of the ultimate conspiracy theories. There is ample evidence that the Earth is round, but they believe since only what they can see from Earth’s surface is flat that that is the only conclusion.

They believe that the Earth is a disc with the Arctic Circle in the center and Antarctica, a 150-foot-tall wall of ice, around the rim. The society members claim that NASA employees guard this ice wall to stop people from climbing over, and in theory, falling off the disc of Earth. This can be argued by the people in NASA who have been to space and have taken multiple pictures from satellites showing that the Earth is round. The flat-earthers believe that these photos taken from space are photo shopped. They also say that Earth’s gravity is an illusion, and that objects do not fall downward. Instead, the disc of Earth accelerates them upwards by a mystical force called ‘dark energy.’ This can easily be disputed by Einstein’s theory of relativity. They have a belief that GPS devices are manipulated to make aircraft pilots think that they are flying in straight lines above a sphere, but they are actually flying in circles above the disc of Earth. The reason why the world’s most powerful people are trying to conceal the true flat shape of the Earth is not certain by the Flat Earth Society, but it could be financial. On the Flat Earth society FAQ page, they explain that it would be logically cheaper to fake a space program than to actually have one. On the Flat Earth’s Society’s website, they have a lot of evidence supporting that the Earth is flat, that they explain is derived from many different aspects of science and philosophy. Another argument they make is relying on one’s own senses, meaning just looking around at the surroundings around you and seeing how everything is laid out pretty much flat. The horizon is a flat line, the clouds are flat, and the movement of the sun is flat, so our senses are telling us that we are not on a spherical heliocentric world.

A belief is a cognitive representation of the nature of reality, including our inner experiences, the world around us, and the world beyond. Flat earthers believe in the earth being flat as if the evidence for the earth being round is lacking. It’s not that they do not believe the evidence of the spherical earth, they just deny them. The believers are misinformed and misinterpreting evidence. This theory has a lot to do with confirmation bias. They are so attached to the belief that the Earth is flat that they deny that that there is an alternative explanation, even if demonstrated by science. There overall stance has a major distrust of authority, which sort of binds them to a sort of anti-globalist agenda. Overall, they have a conviction not to trust multinational corporations with unregulated political power, such as NASA.

The belief of the flat Earth was common in ancient Greece, India, China, and a wide range of indigenous cultures. The ancient Greek conception had some similarities with that of early Egyptian thought that the Earth was a large disc surrounded a huge body of water. Today, many people still believe this theory and it is very much accredited to celebrities that believe in this. Rapper B.o.B went on a twitter crusade where he demanded to know why is could not see the earths curve. It was also streamlined on the news when Mike Hughes launched himself and a $20,000 steam powered rocket into the air to prove that the earth is flat. Also, basketball player Kyrie Irving did a podcast where he could not be convinced that the earth was round.

The human brain is sort of made to believe and find conspiracy theories, meaning it has an ability to find meaningful patterns in the world around it.. People are very evolved in the ability to draw conclusions and predict outcomes based on observations and sensory data. The three main things that contribute to the appeal of the Flat Earth Theory is confirmation bias, proportionality bias and illusory pattern perception. Confirmation bias is when people’s willingness to accept that fit what they already believe. This is true with flat earthers because they totally discredit any scientific explanation against their beliefs. Proportionality bias is the inclination to believe that big events must have big causes. This relates to the flat earthers because we fund so much into NASA that they believe that NASA must be doing something that is not right. Illusionary pattern perception is to see causal relations where there may not be any. And this can be explained when they say how the horizon and clouds are flat looking to us that the Earth has to be flat.


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25 thoughts on “Flat Earth Theory

  1. I find it really incredible that they think that the earth is flat, because they “believe only what they can see from the earth’s surface, which is flat.” If you apply that logic to everything in your life, you aren’t going to believe a lot. Would that then mean that you could say, “I don’t believe in air because I can’t physically see it.”

    I recently saw in the news that there was a large flat earth convention out west. It would definitely be an interesting convention to listen to!

    • It also baffles me that people really think the government would be hiding the true shape of the earth. Like what purpose does that serve? Why would that need to be covered up? All of these astrologists would be then waisting all of their time learning about a fake globe. As we have discussed in class, flat earthers are mostly outcasts that finally have a group they can relate to so its easy to keep this theory going.

      • Yes I believe that I have a friend who does not socialise with anyone yet she spends all her waking moment on the internet trying to convince everyone of the flat earth theory.

  2. There is an extremely interesting documentary on Netflix that you should check out concerning the flat earth theory and its “creators”. I found myself fascinated by the fact that a lot of the people in the flat earth society cant even agree on what they believe and often fight with each other more than they fight with the scientists proving them wrong. It also brilliantly shows them performing an experiment that will finally prove the earth is flat and epically failing.
    But in terms of your post, I enjoyed how you took many of the ideas and arguments these people have and turned them around to show the reasoning behind why they believe them and also why their arguments are invalid. It dissects a lot of the information very well!

    • I thought ‘Behind the Curve’ was actually kind of funny as most if the flat earthers contradicted themselves throughout the film. You mentioned how they conducted the experiments that proved the earth was round but wouldn’t accept it. Also, how Mark Sergeant and the Math guy kind of battled on who was the ‘founder’ of flat earth. Honest do people who live at home with their moms really think they could make the discovery that the earth was flat and that astronauts who have traveled to outer space are wrong?

  3. I find it mind boggling that people believe the earth is flat and can just ignore all the science proving its not. Also, what do they get from believing the earth is flat?? There seems to be no benefit to believing in this. Maybe a feeling that you are outsmarting the government and you know the truth that they are hiding…

    • I really like this comment because it has some stark rationality in it… what exactly do proponents get from believing that the earth is flat? Perhaps it gives a feeling of being in greater control of one’s own environment or it follows the similar type of thinking where people like dispel old beliefs in favor of updated information??…However, some scientific information has reached its peak and does not need to be edited in order to fit some conspiracy narrative.

      • I think that a lot of these people are outcasts who are not really accepted by society and by joining this belief they have a more sense of belonging. Flat earthers have something to connect about and know they are the out cast group and just kind of accept it. I think this acceptance kind of proves that deep down they know that this is wrong but do it any way for the support.

  4. I think the flat earth theory, though ridiculous, is very thorough in its own way. They go very far to explain their views, bringing up very specific ideas like NASA employees guarding the edge of the earth and other things you cited, and i think that attempt to legitimize just makes it seem more humorous.

    • Thinking about how thorough the argument seems I think it’s important to remember that it seems this way because they try so hard to make real scientific claims even if there is nothing to back it up. Like that video we watched about flat earth on the first day of class, it was hilarious to listen to because when you truly pay attention they don’t make any sense at all!

    • Its funny how one point they are saying NASA is just a big lie and are just feeding us lies, and then the next NASA is guarding the ice wall. I just don’t understand how they would think NASA is lying at all about anything? Like what would be the point of it? Saying the earth is flat instead of round really doesn’t effect major things.

  5. I remember seeing a satirical argument for the flat earth theory saying that looking at a basketball with a macro lens and zooming in to the point where the image is flat, saying “Basketballs are not actually round, they are obviously flat when you look through the macro lens and zoom in to the point where the curvature flattens”. Though it is meant to be sarcasm, the person has a point, because from the perspective of a tiny figure on the basketball (like how small we are on the Earth), the horizon would be seemingly flat and is metaphorical to the horizon we see on Earth.

    • This analogy is perfect to fight the flat earth theory. Looks of things are not always as they seem. And I think just by saying the horizon is flat that must mean the earth is flat and ignoring all the scientific evidence and proof that back up the earth is round is kind of ignorant. Like in ‘Behind the Curve’ when the flat earthers conduct their own experiments and further prove the earth is round they just don’t accept their own finding because it doesn’t align with their beliefs

  6. You talked about the abundance of celebrities who believe that the earth is flat. I often wonder if they actually think the earth is flat, or if they’re just pretending to think so because it puts them in the spotlight. Like, with Kyrie, his popularity was kinda fading (it had been a while since his trade to the Celtics), and he got a TON of national attention for saying he’s a flat earther. Do you think these celebrities actually believe it?

    • I really dont think they believe it. I totally agree with you that many of them probaby do it for more attention as they would be seen as different from society and it would just further give them attention. Like for example in ‘Behind the Curve’ when Mark Sergeant even said he was too deep into being known as one of the starters of flat earth and couldn’t get out of it even if he wanted to. He really thrived on all the attention from it and I think that fueled his belief even more.

  7. I was actually very interested in the documentary we saw today in class. We spoke about most of it in the lectures. The most shocking thing about this theory is that people who advocate for it, have made it a big business deal for themselves. They have started making models and shirts to promote the cause. They are so deep into this belief that now they try to disregard theories even if they fail in experiments.

    • I totally agree with you. In the documentary they also were getting fame from believing in Flat Earth, like Mark Sergeant and Patricia. They were looked at as leaders of the flat earth movement which I think that drove them to disregard all the evidence that earth was round. For example, when they went to the NASA museum and they were making fun of all of the things there and kept saying how at of it was fake.

  8. This is a very interesting conspiracy, so I read some other interesting facts that the map of the Flat Earth is the same as the logo of United Nation, which they believe that all the governments in the world know that the earth is flat. In their mind, the flat earth could be easily demonstrated in Minecraft. In addition, as long as you pay $12 to the flat earth society, you can get a written certificate from the leader…

    • I think a lot of these believers are doing it for benefits and making money. Like in the documentary we watched, people were selling shirts and different kinds of swag. One man was even building replicas of the flat earth and selling them for lots of money. All of the flat earthers will do anything to reject evidence that the earth is round but take any information that support their flat earth ideology. I think this goes with your comment on how they believe the united nations know the earth is flat because it goes with their belief.

  9. Hello!
    Great topic! I remember when we first talked about this theory in class and before then I had never heard of it! I have always thought the earth was round and that everyone else thinks so too. I think for the earths shape to be such a secret would be a huge mission to accomplish. I feel like there are so many regulations already in the world so why would it be a secret if the world is flat? Why isn’t there just laws not to fall off the ends? To me things dont add up and Im going to stick to what the globe tells me!!

    • Yeah I do not think any of their ‘evidence’ that support the flat earth theory make much sense. Especially the belief that NASA was only made to cover up that the earth was flat. It baffles me. Why would the government fund a company worth $21.5 billion just to cover up the shape of the earth?

  10. The Flat Earth Theory has always been one of the most controversial conspiracies I have heard of. I am an open minded person and it is for sure interesting to listen to what those believing in it have to say, but the fact that they are so convinced of this theory is fascinating. It goes to the point where they even claim the round earth to be the conspiracy theory and discredit all the evidence that prove them wrong which astonish me . I do hope that one day there will be some evidence that is good enough for Flat Earth Theorists that can open their eyes as well.

    • Yeah I thought this was an interesting theory when we discussed it in class. When doing research the most surprising thing to me was the celebrities who believe and indorse this theory. In one of the comments above, cash.117, talked about how celebrities may only want to be in the spotlight and get more fame from being a flat earther. Cash.117 said “with Kyrie, his popularity was kinda fading (it had been a while since his trade to the Celtics), and he got a TON of national attention for saying he’s a flat earther.”

  11. After seeing so much media, interviews, documentaries, and literature on Flat Earthers, i’m entirely convinced that I STILL believe that the Earth is a globe. A lot of what fuels this extraordinary belief is the countless confirmation biases that these people hold AND the fact that they all have directional goals which leads them to “finding evidence” for a belief that is already found to be conclusive or debunked. Overall I find these people to be very interesting, but at the same time I am always astonished when I hear new interviews and firsthand evidence from these people about Flat Earth Theory.

    • I will always believe the earth is a globe because that is what all of the legitimate evidence tells us. I think people who believe in the flat earth just really surprise me in the fact that they will not believe any evidence that proves the earth is round. That it is all a major set up by the government and NASA, and they made it all up to cover up the earth is flat. Like why? Why would the government need to work so hard with an insane double agenda to cover up the shape of the earth?

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