For centuries, a spherical Earth has been a scientifically accepted fact. Pythagoras first proposed a round Earth around 500 b.c. and since, most physicists, astronomers and philosophers have only expanded on this model.
Yet about 2500 years later, there are still many who believe Pythagoras was actually wrong. The Earth is undeniably flat, they argue, and the spherical model has been an attempt to mislead and take advantage of the general populace. “If anything, the typical Flat Earther is somebody that wants to account for their beliefs through evidence and really take responsibility for them,” said John Eric Davis, secretary of the Flat Earth Society.
“This is good as we’ve seen far too often the consequences of the opposite.”
So what do Flat Earthers believe?
There isn’t just one answer as the community is radically diverse.
Some see the Earth as a flat disc with the North Pole at it’s center and Antartica making up the entire perimeter, like an icy wall keeping the oceans contained. Some believe the stars are projected on a dome. That the sun is also flat. That there are no other planets. That everything past our blue sky is made up. So for some, a flat Earth is just the beginning of their theory.
But one common thread: they all believe that it’s not the only lie humanity has gobbled up.
Flat Earthers are also more likely to believe in conspiracy theories- especially government-based ones. They may be more likely to believe 9/11 was an inside job or that dr-ugs were brought into communities,but most commonly, they believe that the countless space advances the American government has accomplished over the past 60 years never even happened.
Neil Armstrong on the moon? Nope.
Satellites launched into orbit? Nuh-uh. And photos of the Earth are all faked. They allege that NASA is a cover-up to allow high-ranking officials an opportunity to embezzle millions of dollars while using a small portion to fake images and videos.
“When they say the son of God did they mean ‘sun?’” said Layne Wall, a local flat Earther. “The native man believed that the sun was the creator. The day brings light and life (and) the moon protects from the dangers of night, which means the sun and moon are the same size and both revolve around the Earth. The stars revolve around the Earth. The Earth is the center of the universe.”
Layne Wall said his views are largely based on the Bible, but not entirely and that he also believes the government benefits from the widespread acceptance of a spherical Earth.
Many others even doubt the reality of gravity. Some replace it with Tesla’s aether, another force like gravity, though much of his work on the topic has been destroyed.
“Our diversity acts as a strength,” said Davis. “With it, we get to see lots of different angles of the larger argument. We have atheists, the very religious, engineers, scientists, and conspiracy theorists all engaged in discussion about a number of flat models – and some staunch-minded roundists trying their best to prove us wrong.”
Behind the Flat Earth community is Samuel Rowbotham, an English writer, who reintroduced Flat Earth-ism on a large scale in the 1830s with a 16-page pamphlet called Zetetic Astronomy.
This was expanded into Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe, a 430-page book with models and sketches of experiments to test the planet’s curve. He argued his book would take a more scientific approach though he also ventured that the round earth ideology was an attempt to replace and undermine religion in society.
He ventured the Earth was a flat disc with the North Pole as it’s center and South America forming an icy perimeter (the model described earlier). This model is the most accepted, with many Flat Earthers drawing parallels between the model and the United Nations’ flag, stating most world leaders know the world is flat.
Rowbotham started the Zetetic Society, a group of early Flat Earthers. He ran the group until his de-ath, and it was then expanded into the Universal Zetetic Society. In 1956, Samuel Shenton, another English writers, created the International Flat Earth Society as a successor to the Universal Zetetic Society. He focused less on religion than Rowbotham, though the parallels with religion and Flat Earth-ism continue to this day. For many, the Bible is proof that there is a flat Earth. Wall describes the creation of the world as God creating land and water- not other planets and stars.
When Shenton di-ed in 1971, Charles Johnson took over the society and by the mid-70s there were a couple thousand members.
Johnson di-ed in 2001 and in 2004, Daniel Shenton (not related to Samuel) resurrected the Flat Earth Society and relaunched it five years later.
“I imagine we are fairly even with the populace as a whole as far as our intelligence goes” – Davis
Despite some high-profile members, flat Earthers are often ridiculed for their beliefs and many of their internet spaces are raided by “Ball Earthers” hoping to argue with them. And since a spherical Earth has been accepted for centuries, Flat Earthers seem especially crazy to many people.
“I just don’t get how people think the Earth is flat,” said Sheila Lankes, a physicist in D.C. She said she’s been working hard to keep this kind of thought contained to the internet and frequently argues with Flat Earthers on the Society’s forum and Reddit.
“I think it’s a good thing they’re questioning what’s going on but we have actual problems in the world they can be questioning- not the shape of it.”
“It’s definitely true we are brushed off as ‘dumb’ or anti-intellectual, but when you look into a lot of the literature there are some very interesting arguments even for non-believers,” said Davis.
“I’m a computer scientist myself and a mathematician. Some of our other members are engineers, pilots, and other trained professionals. I imagine we are fairly even with the populace as a whole as far as our intelligence goes.”
Yet, he said, Flat Earthers tend to have a better idea of why people believe in a round Earth because they are forced to regularly question and argue their beliefs, whereas most round Earthers internalized what they learned in grade school and rarely thought to question their beliefs thereafter, leading to a looser grasp.
Davis added that he’s not as concerned about dismissal from “Ball Earthers” because he sees it as a phenomenon that impacts all forms of discussion, not just flat Earthers.
“I don’t think this is a phenomena that really is restricted to just Flat Earthers,” said Davis. “As I get older, I realize more and more how easily we dismiss others with contrary views to our own. Many dismiss Republicans or Democrats as idiots, or the Religious or Atheists with similar action. Its a subtle bigotry – the flat Earth just happens to be a view that few agree with; this allows us to see this behavior very clearly.”
And while it’s unclear if the group is growing, Davis points to the number of celebrity and high-profile believers as proof that the Society isn’t going anywhere.
“It’s hard to put a number of the flat earth community as its spread out across quite a few venues,” he said.
“Our reach though perhaps is more interesting. While sometimes its nice to quantify something, far more often looking at it quantitatively is a bit odd – and misplaced. We’ve been mentioned on shows like Modern Family and the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and have gained a number of celebrity followers like rapper/producer B.o.B, a recent member, and Tila Tequila. I think something about the idea is a bit of a lightning rod of sorts that captures the imagination of a great many people and dares them to ask, ‘well, is it flat?’”
This Article Was First Published on “openmicroc.com“.