Flat Earth (part 1). The phoenix of myths

Flat Earth (part 1). The phoenix of myths

There are beliefs that never die. They are indifferent to the blows of time, which are often mortal. They continue to be reborn from their ashes at the most unexpected moments. There are some as ancestral as the one we are going to expose in a series of articles. Because the belief that the Earth is flat is not typical of our times. The first civilizations already exposed very similar cosmogonies. It is strange, even mysterious, that this ideology prevails today, in the 21st century, when it seemed that scientific discoveries had completely discarded it. Now, however, it arises with more force, largely driven by the era of the Internet and social networks. Let’s see what is the flat Earth theory

Human tools and technology have always been doubled-edge swords. We could talk about “Schrödinger tools”, because they are both bad and good at the same time. Until someone uses them and chooses the moral use of them. This principle applies equally to the Internet. On the one hand, the network of networks has provided us with global contact, without having to physically cross any ocean or border. It has also offered us an immense library of information, which probably was not even dreamed of by ancient philosophers and literates.

However, the Internet has not only served to host all the information we can imagine. That information, in fact, did not come alone. Accompanying it, a great variety of false data, beliefs and information have been infiltrated. And they have already earned their place in society, as an increasing number of Internet users consume and share them more frequently. This is known as “post-truth”, an era in which has become very complicated to distinguish what is certain of what is not. There are many interests in maintaining this post-truth situation. Information, after all, is power, and whoever governs it will have in his hands a broad and manageable collective of individuals. And we are not referring only to the classical powers that are protagonists of all conspiracy theories, which obviously also have their influence. In this case, we allude to smaller collectives with a much more limited influence, although with enough to keep that post-truth alive.

The flat Earth movement, that is, the body of beliefs that has returned to the ancestral idea that our planet is not spherical but a plane, would be part of this polemic. And if we have spoken about Internet it is not by chance, because thanks to this tool the terraplanism today is feasible and real. In an era in which the Internet is used to denounce the scheming of socio-political elites, these ideas, which are presented as weapons against the establishment and the dogma, have found their ideal niche, since they not only take advantage of these social impulses, but they stimulate them in a certain way, inciting to believe the opposite of what the malicious elites believe. It is another way of opposing them, although it can perfectly serve those elites to sabotage these movements from within.

We begin this dossier with the aim of carrying out an as complete as posible analysis of the reborn flat Earth movement, to see what its objectives are, who is behind it and the reasons why it has reappeared in society. Let’s start…

Sociological issues

In February 2018, an extensive survey was conducted in the United States to 8215 adults between the ages of 18 and 55. The goal was to compile their beliefs about the shape of our planet to get a more global view of the magnitude of the influence of the flat Earth movement. Five options were offered to participants:

  • “I have always believed the world is round”.

  • “I always thought the world is round, but more recently I am skeptical/have doubts”.

  • “I always thought the world is flat, but more recently I am skeptical/have doubts”.

  • “I have always believed the world is flat”.

  • “Other/Not sure”.

A priori, the results coincide with what we would expect, that the majority belief the Earth is round. However, several very interesting details emerge. For example, belief in a flat world seems to be associated with a more or less intense spirituality. Fifty-two percent of flat earthers surveyed declared themselves “very religious,” and many of them actually find the evidence of their beliefs in the Holy Scriptures of the faith they profess. As we will see below, flat Earth theory and religion are closely associated. On the other hand, when we analyze how the percentages are distributed by age there seems to be a correlation between age and belief in flat Earth. The older the age, the more people surveyed believe for sure that our planet is round. But if we look at the youngest sector (18-24 years old), only 66% firmly believe that the Earth is round. The rest seem to have doubts and are divided between the other four options. We could speculate on the possible reasons for this result. One reason could be that this age group is the one who has best integrated into their lives the implosion of social networks and the improvement of the Internet, media which has undoubtedly nourished the flat Earth movement. Moreover, these advances have arisen when this age group was in the middle of the learning period, when critical thinking is still scarce and the mind is more permeable to accept anything. But it is also possible that another remarkable influential factor is mass idols and influencers.

These individuals, who have great influence in the media, may have helped make the flat Earth an increasingly frequent topic in conversations between friends and family. We could take as an example the Boston Celtics basketball player Kyrie Irving, who in 2017 expressed in an interview for the podcast Road Trippin’ with RJ & Channing his conviction that our planet was a plane and that this information is being vetoed by certain interests that prefer to keep us deceived and asleep, doubting also the space race. Of the same opinion are other basketball stars such as the Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green or Shaquille O’Neal. The latter and Irving eventually apologized and retracted their statements.

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Boston Celtics player Kyrie Irving expressed his belief that our planet is flat. He finally had to retract. Daily Express

Perhaps the most significant case is that of rapper Bobby Ray Simmons (better known as B.o.B.), who has questioned the spherical Earth model on several occasions on his Twitter, even arguing with the astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. However, the last controversy has starred the former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who said convinced in his Twitter account that man has never stepped on the Moon (a belief held by most of flat earthers). In addition, the footballer decided to transfer the debate to his followers of Twitter by means of an improvised survey in which they had to answer if they believed or not in this historical event. The results showed that a staggering 42% of the participants did not believe in it.

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Rapper B.o.B. and footballer Iker Casillas also have conspiracy minds. The first denies that the Earth is round and the second denies man’s arrival on the Moon. El Español & Vanity Fair

How important are the statements of these influencers? Well, that’s exactly. They influence their staunch fans, who don’t doubt even a comma of what their idols say. The same was lamented by Nick Gurol, a high school teacher in Pennsylvania, when he found that his young students believed that the Earth was flat due to the statements of Kyrie Irving:

“Immediately, I start to panic. How have I failed these kids so badly they think the Earth is flat just because a basketball player says it? […] They think that I’m part of this larger conspiracy of being a round-Earther. That’s definitely hard for me because it feels like science isn’t real to them.”

As a result, Kyrie Irving had to apologize to science teachers for influencing her students. Indeed, the public statements of these well-known personalities have a forceful effect on the currents of opinion. This can be seen in the search trends of Internet. If we go to the Google Trends tool we will see how searches with the keywords “Flat Earth” increased sharply in the United States at the time when rapper B.o.B. and basketball player Kyrie Irving made their controversial statements. Possibly, this interest in the subject responds to the mere curiosity to consult these statements, however, it is certain that many have found two more pillars to support their beliefs.

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In the graph obtained from Google Trends, two peaks of interest in flat Earth can be observed, fed by the controversial statements of B.o.B. and Kyrie Irving. economist.com

The Flat Earth Society

Searching through social networks, anyone can find diverse groups or isolated subjects that defend the flat Earth model. However, we can establish a center of masses around which the flat Earth movement moves. That center is the Flat Earth Society. This organization is the starting point for the versions most accepted by flat earthers (as we will see later, there is no unanimity when it comes to choosing a specific model). Its history is more than interesting. We will only give a few brushstrokes, since we will dedicate an article related to the history of the modern flat Earth movement.

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Flat Earth Society logo. The Flat Earth Society

To put ourselves in context, the first thing we must indicate is that its beginnings must be traced back to the first half of the nineteenth century. In this period begins to attract attention a curious carácter, Samuel Birley Rowbotham, a supposed inventor who went against the scientists of his time. He was obsessed with the Holy Christian Scriptures whose content, according to him, had to be taken literally without complain. In order to understand his rejection of science, we have to situate ourselves in the historical context of the nineteenth century. Naturalist philosophy was suffering one of its great booms thanks to the avant-garde postulations that were emerging in the fields of geology, biology, astronomy and physics among others. In addition, it had already been fed in previous centuries by giants of science such as Newton. Naturalism was a current of thought that considered Nature as the principle of everything. That is to say, the reality, which we perceive and experience, has as its exclusive origin Nature and the forces that govern it. Therefore, the role of the Judeo-Christian God as maker of the world was relegated to the background, which the most fundamentalist believers did not like very much. This situation fueled the fire of the fierce dialectical war between creationists and naturalists. It is therefore logical that anyone who had the Bible as the supreme and exclusive truth to explain everything that has happened in the world (such as Rowbotham) should take the naturalism as a personal affront. It was unacceptable that scientists could explain everything with their heretical methods.

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Samuel Birley Rowbotham, the author of the renaissance of flat Earth movement and the zetetic astronomy. mindomo.com

Rowbotham was born in Manchester in 1816, and from a very young age he felt a deep interest in the Bible. So when he became aware of how naturalistic scientists constantly contradicted his passages, he decided to lead a war against them. In this way he developed his own geomorphic model through his own interpretations of biblical passages (somewhat forced, it must be said). He collected the biblical data necessary to finally conclude that the Earth is flat, motionless and it’s in the center of the Solar System, with the Sun and the rest of the planets  revolving around it (in the next section we will give all the details of this model). But he did not only use his own biblical exegesis to reach these conclusions. He also did his own experiment. To do this, in 1838 he went to the Old Belford River, near Cambridgeshire, an artificial drainage canal that presents a couple of curiosities: it is practically straight and flat along its 24 miles of distance. The experiment consisted of the following: he chose a stretch of about 6 miles delimited by two bridges and suggested that, if the Earth was round as astronomers claimed, a boat located at one end could not be seen from the other, as the earth’s curvature would hide it. Samuel placed himself at one end with a telescope 20 cm above the water to test this principle. We can imagine him with a supremely grimace when he put his eye on the lens and could see that the ship was still there even though it had exceeded the limit he had imposed. It was clear then: the Earth is flat, just as the Bible supposedly asserted and corroborated the senses. Here we see some of the distinctive features of the modern flat Earth movement: empiricism (reality is just as the senses show it) and a fervent belief in the sacred books.

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Above, the Old Belford river, where Rowbotham conducted the “definitive” experiment to demonstrate the shape of the Earth. Below, diagram of the experiment. If the Earth has curvature because it is round, a ship 5 miles away should not be seen through a telescope 20 cm above the water level. However, Rowbotham said he saw it. Wikipedia & The Flat Earth Wiki

This was the beginning of his personal crusade against science. Almost 10 years later he would publish his masterpiece, a small 16-page pamphlet (though it would grow to over 220 pages) entitled Zetetic Astronomy: A Description of Several Experiments Which Prove That The Surface Of The Sea Is A Perfect Plane And That The Earth Not a Globe under the pseudonym Parallax. In this work he compiled a series of experimental tests and biblical arguments that undoubtedly demonstrated his point of view. As he indicates, he attached the epithet “zetic” to his cosmogony because of its meaning. The term comes from the Greek Zητεω, which means “to search” or “to examine”, alluding to his method of investigation. Throughout his life he gave several lectures (he had to run away from some of them when he was asked to explain certain phenomena that did not match his theories), influenced many people, and published articles and texts about his beliefs in order to preach the truth of zetetic astronomy throughout the United Kingdom. He also spent some time selling a sort of anti-aging immortality serum based on free phosphorus. In 1884 he died, but having left a legacy whose echoes still resonate today.

In 1891, several acolytes of Rowbotham’s work founded the Universal Zetetic Society, evidently following the theses of his deceased mentor and self-proclaimed non-religious (although its founding members were believers and practicants). With their publications they managed to expand their frontiers from the United Kingdom and reach the rest of the continents, where the ideas were gladly accepted by the most fundamentalist creationists. This organization lived through several ups and downs until it began its decline at the beginning of the last century and ended up ceasing its activity around the 1930s.

In 1956, the International Flat Earth Research Society took over, founded by a professional signmaker, Samuel Shenton, and, secondarily, by William Mills. Regarding Shenton, it is striking that he was a member of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Geographical Society, eminently scientific institutions, of which he once boasted. Even so, all his life he was convinced that the Earth was flat. Shenton had to face several milestones that shook the foundations of the flat Earth model. Specifically, the Yuri Gagarin space walk, the launch of Sputnik and the Apollo missions. Shenton did not manage to reconcile these facts with his model, so he opted for the easiest way: to deny everything. All these milestones were frauds that never happened or were simulated in movie studios. An argument that, today, is on the lips of many followers of this and other conspiracies…

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Samuel Shenton, heir to zetetic astronomy and founder of the International Flat Earth Research Society, now known as the Flat Earth Society. The Flat Earth Wiki

Shenton passed away in 1972. He was relieved by Charles Kenneth Johnson, an airplane mechanic from San Francisco and a convinced flat earther since he was 16 (according to him, he voluntarily left the educational system to become a self-taught man, and it was then that he came across some flat earther texts). His mission and activities were basically the same as those of his predecessor: to spread the “truth” and to fight for the awakening of humanity. He defended that the occult powers were aware of the fact that the Earth is flat and that secrecy was therefore deliberate. The most palpable evidence was the symbols that were visible to all, such as the UN logo, which seems to represent a flat Earth.

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Samuel Kenneth Johnson, connoisseur of the “truth” since he was 16 and successor of Samuel Shenton as president of the Flat Earth Society. The Flat Earth Wiki

He also tried to take the Society away from its clearly religious roots and bring it closer to “science” (ironically, he wanted to abandon the path taken by the “father” of the flat Earth movement), although it is curious that Johnson himself thought that the Sun and the Moon were inventions of the Creator to dissipate the darkness of the world… Ironically, this distancing from religion is one of the facets most highlighted by the Society today (their plea can be seen in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of their website), from which it is assured that they are not officially or unofficially linked to any religion. However, we have already briefly seen their origins and the beliefs of their spokespersons. Even so, the great number of contradictions in this attempt to approach science are significant. According to Johnson:

“We maintain that what is called ‘Science’ today and ‘scientists’ consist of the same old gang of witch doctors, sorcerers, tellers of tales, the ‘Priest-Entertainers’ for the common people. ‘Science’ consists of a weird, way-out occult concoction of jibberish theory-theology…unrelated to the real world of facts, technology and inventions, tall buildings and fast cars, airplanes and other Real and Good things in life; technology is not in any way related to the web of idiotic scientific theory. ALL inventors have been anti-science. The Wright brothers said: “Science theory held us up for years. When we threw out all science, started from experiment and experience, then we invented the airplane.” By the way, airplanes all fly level on this Plane earth”.
“In the past Flat Earth in USA and England has been a kind of branch of “Christian religion”. In any case seeking to prove Earth flat by the “Bible”, I DO NOT do this! I AM NOT a religious fanatic, in fact Christians are my worst enemy! Tho being sane, I know creation had to have a creator, I do believe in LOGIC!”

Charles Johnson passed away in 2001 and, on this occasion, Daniel Shenton (who has no link with Samuel Shenton) took over. He is in charge of presenting and disseminating the aims and ideals of the Society on the Internet to this day.

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For former Flat Earth Society president Charles K. Johnson, the powerful know and deliberately hide the fact that the Earth is flat. The evidence is found in symbols that are visible to all, such as the UN logo, which clearly coincides with the flat Earth model. steemit.com

Flat earther models

Now it is time to describe how flat earthers think our planet and the Universe is. Here we run into a problem: there is no unified idea of what the flat Earth looks like. On the contrary, there is a great diversity of variants. So for the sake of simplicity, we will summarize the model most assumed by the most “authoritative” organism in this matter: the Flat Earth Society (hereinafter FES). They themselves admit this great variability of flat Earth schools of thought, although they also consider it a natural factor since they are a community formed by “free thinkers”.

Before beginning to describe this model, known as Flat Earth Theory, it is necessary to review on what the affirmations of flat earthers are based, although the reader will already intuit what they are. Since its Victorian origins, the flat Earth movement has been based on four fundamental bases:

  • The mere sensory perception of reality, that is, flat earthers are purely empiricist, but also inductivist. That is to say, from the observed phenomena we reach general principles, the opposite of the hypothetical-deductive method used by factual sciences.

  • The subjective exegesis of the Judeo-Christian Holy Scriptures.

  • The denial of anything that contradicts the Holy Scriptures or the defense of anything that opposes the claims of round earthers.

  • The act of cherry picking.

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One of the fundamental pillars of the modern flat Earth movement is the subjective exegesis of the Bible. sopitas.com

The flat Earth model most widely disseminated by FES members is a copy with a few modifications of the model proposed by Rowbotham in his zetetic astronomy, and it is as follows: the Earth is disc-shaped, with a diameter of about 40000 km. In the center of it is the North Pole, while the South Pole forms the periphery of the disk, forming an immense wall of ice 50 meters high above sea level. In the space between the two poles and surrounding the North Pole would obviously be the rest of the continents and oceans. The ice wall would prevent ocean water from being lost along the edges of the disk. The territory beyond the ice wall is terra incognita, a region still unexplored by man of which nothing is known, nor how it ends, nor how long it lasts, nor what lies beyond. Because there would have been attempts, but they all failed, because whoever stepped on those mysterious lands did not return. However, according to some flat earthers, such as Charles K. Johnson or the Spanish youtuber Óliver Ibáñez, beyond that ice wall would be located a sort of invisible dome that would isolate our atmosphere and cover the earth disc.

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This is the model generally accepted by the majority of flat earthers since the times of Rowbotham. The Earth would be a flattened disk, at the centre of which would be the North Pole, surrounded in turn by continents and oceans. The “end of the world” would be constituted by the South Pole, which would form a cyclopean ice barrier, thus closing the periphery of the disc and preventing the oceans from emptying. The Flat Earth Wiki

Although this is the best-known model today, it is not the only one. We could highlight the design imagined by the founder of the FES, Samuel Shenton, who considered our planet as an infinite plane without limits, although he reaffirmed that the most accepted version was that of the discoidal Earth. Another version is that of Orlando Ferguson, a self-proclaimed professor who elaborated a map of the Earth in 1893 based on several biblical verses that, according to him, demonstrated convincingly that our planet is flat. As can be seen, according to Ferguson, our planet consists of a sort of quadrilateral with a circular cleft from the center, from which emerges a protuberance. In that center is the North Pole. From that place arises an axis from which the Sun and the Moon hang. In each vertex of the quadrilateral there is a guardian angel and the periphery of the circumference seems to be delimited again by an icy wall.

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The curious map of our planet by Orlando Ferguson, based on 400 biblical passages according to the subtitle. The distribution of the terrestrial and oceanic masses are similar to those wielded by Rowbotham. Some curiosities stand out: on the right side there is an orb moving through the void and two men clinging to it with difficulty. A satirical message mocks the round earthers: “These men are flying on the globe at the rate of 65000 miles per hour around the sun, and 1042 miles per hour around the center of the earth (in their minds). Think of that speed!” In the lower left part are exposed the verses that demonstrate this model. In the lower right corner is an advertisement offering a book written by “professor” Ferguson for 25 cents. This book has the keys of the flat, squared and stationary Earth and definitively discredits the spherical model. It also helps to predict eclipses. Is a bargain! The Flat Earth Wiki

On the other hand, the Universal Zetetic Society was forced to modify the Rowbotham model at the beginning of the 20th century due to the discovery of magnetic poles. To integrate this discovery into the flat Earth model, they devised a bipolar model.

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Bipolar flat Earth model elaborated by the Universal Zetetic Society. Its members had to adapt to the findings regarding bipolar magnetism. The Flat Earth Wiki

Let’s go back to the FES model. Because although it is called Flat Earth Theory, in fact the model is not limited only to the shape of the Earth, but also to its movement and its place in the universe. Regarding these points, it can be said that the Earth neither revolves around the Sun nor on itself. Neither the Solar System nor the Milky Way. That is to say, the terraplanists (and zetetics) defend not only a flat Earth model but also a geostationary and geocentric one. So how are day, night and seasons possible? For them it is very simple: the Sun orbits around the North Pole, illuminating different regions of the planet during its journey. But shouldn’t it illuminate the entire surface of the disk because of its immense size? Let’s remember that terraplanistas are strictly radical empiricists and base their evidence on what they literally perceive through their senses. The Sun, seen from our planet, is a tiny incandescent ball compared to our home, as is the Moon (which would also have its own light), so those are its true sizes (they would be about 52 km in diameter and would be hung about 3000 km above our heads, according to former FES president Charles Johnson).

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The Moon and the Sun would be just as we see them: tiny spheres with their own light that move around the North Pole. The Flat Earth Wiki

And what about seasons? They depend on the distance between the Sun and the center of the planetary disk (or North Pole), which varies over time. When the Sun is far from the center, it is winter in the northern hemisphere (the central region of the disk) and summer in the southern hemisphere (the peripheral region of the disk), and when the Sun approaches the North Pole the opposite happens.

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Seasons are easily explained by flat earthers: when the Sun, which revolves around the center of the disk, moves away from that center, it is winter in the North Pole and summer in the south, and vice versa when it approaches. The Flat Earth Wiki

And if the Earth is flat, how is it possible that the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west? For flat earthers it’s just a matter of perspective. We can compare the Sun movement with a row of buildings that lost in the horizon: the last ones of the row will appear in an apparently lower position than the first ones until they disappear in the distance. The Sun would behave in the same way: as it moves away from the observer, it will seem to hide in the horizon, but it would never really hide, but would move away to continue its circular translation around the North Pole…

And what about the rest of the Solar System? Is Mars, for example, flat like Earth? This same question made the multimillionaire Elon Musk in his Twitter account not without a certain joke. And the Flat Earth Society replied. And he replied something that nobody expected: that the rest of the celestial bodies of the Solar System are spherical, because that is what has been observed. The reason for this difference lies in the very nature of the Earth. It cannot be considered a planet, since a planet is an astronomical body that orbits around something. On the other hand, the Earth is at the center of the Solar System and does not move. Therefore, due to its characteristics, the Earth is not a planet and cannot be round.

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Twitter users mocked the Flat Earth Society’s response to Elon Musk’s question. Twitter

They also have an altered view of physical laws, such as gravity, although many flat earthers directly deny its existence. Regarding the FES, its members would not deny gravity, but they argue that it is a phenomenon whose magnitude is several orders less than is normally assumed. Gravity would therefore be the product of a constant upward acceleration of the Earth caused by what they call a universal accelerator known as dark energy or aetheric wind.

Broadly speaking, this is the model defended by a large number of flat earthers, although we insist, there are many variants. Of course, this way of thinking is typical of its time, in which every source of information comes from the Internet, where everything is poured. This movement is one of the many conspiracies that have become viral on the Internet. And as such, it possesses the same traits as its fellows.

The data handled by flat earthers are only available to a very select group of people who, like them, are able to have an open mind to accept heterodox and groundbreaking versions and to challenge the established powers. This information would be censored by hidden powers whose plan is to establish a unified New World Order based on the ignorance of the population, who live in the vilest of deceptions. These evil characters would be part of secret, occultist and satanic organizations (and consequently anticlerical), such as the so hackneyed Masons or illuminatis, that are able to pull the strings of the world as they please. They put their agenda into practice through deception, which they disseminate everywhere through all kinds of scientific, political, educational and journalistic institutions. The spherical Earth would be part of that deception. Everything around this model is false and a fraud, it is part of the Mátrix, and all those who have promoted it, starting with Copernicus, Galileo or Newton, are part of those malicious organizations.

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Flat earthers believe that the spherical model of our planet is part of a worldwide and millenary conspiracy sponsored by dark powers. Phylosophy Talk

All the photographs taken by satellites, space telescopes and astronauts are, of course, lies made up of CGI (computer-generated images), basically because the space race never existed, which implies that man has not set foot on the Moon or sent any robot to Mars or to any other corner of our Solar System. The objective of these shadow elites is assumed to be preventing the population from evolving intellectually and spiritually, a potential danger that threatens to overthrow their power. As we see, these are traits that shared with other conspiracies, such as the reptilian theory.

The round earthers’ model

Once we have seen the most generalized flat Earth model, let us now turn to science to see what it tells us.

Contrary to the previous case, the scientific model does have the unanimity of the scientific community. What is accepted by science and the majority of the population (presumed victims of the conspiracy) is as follows: with respect to its distance from the Sun, the Earth is the third planet in the Solar System. It is a massive rocky body that formed approximately 4600 million years ago, some 500 million years after the birth of our incandescent star.

The Earth, like the rest of its Solar System companions, is spherical and arises from the expulsion into outer space of the heaviest atoms formed during the violent convulsions and collisions of particles inside the Sun during its initial period of life. These elements ended up acquiring relative positions around the Sun, forming a sort of rings. Gravity, which exists, played a fundamental role in this process. Gravity is the natural phenomenon by which objects with mass attract each other.

Of those primary elements spit out by the Sun, the lighter ones were fired farther away to end up forming the giant and less dense planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune), and the heavier ones were closer to the star, forming smaller and denser planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars). Thanks to gravity and the freezing temperatures of space, these incandescent elements cooled down and uniteed with each other in the great embrace that would end up giving rise to these errant stellar concretions. In this way, we live in a heliocentric system formed by the Sun, located in the center of the whole, and by its eight planetary stems (in addition to other stellar bodies), which move around its progenitor and also rotate on themselves.

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Our Solar System originated from the remains of a previous star. Pixabay

In the case of our planet, as is well known, its journey around the Sun takes 365 days and 6 hours approximately. A journey that does not keep a uniform distance regarding the Sun, since it is elliptical. The average distance to the star during its translation is 150 million kilometers, a figure that in astronomy is equivalent to one astronomical unit (U.A). This phenomenon, together with the well-known inclination of 23.5º of the axis of our planet with respect to its orbit, is what causes the existence of the four seasons or the astronomical phenomena known as solstices and equinoxes. The inclination of the terrestrial axis has as a consequence that along the journey of translation, the solar rays impact in a different way on the surface of our planet. This same fact is what causes the seasons to be inverted in both hemispheres, that is, the southern and northern halves of our planet divided by the equator, the imaginary plane perpendicular to the axis of the Earth that crosses it through its center.

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The translation and obliquity of the Earth’s axis allow the existence of seasons. As can be seen, if the axis is inclined towards the “right” and the Earth is situated to the “left” of the Sun, the northern hemisphere will receive more intensely the solar rays than its counterpart, and vice versa. Geoenciclopedia

Why planets rotate is directly related to the formation of the Solar System and the principle of the moment of inertia. Our Sun and its descendants were born from a cloud of gas and stellar dust which, poetically speaking, constituted the corpse of a previous star. Through the omnipresent gravity, that stellar cadaveric mass contracted and flattened until forming an enormous disk, while, at the same time, the angular velocity of the components of that disk increased. And here comes the moment of inertia. According to this phenomenon, the distribution of the mass in a system influences its rotation. The concentration of the mass with respect to a point entails an increase in the rotation speed and this is precisely what has happened with the components of our Solar System. The time it takes for the Earth to rotate on itself is 24 hours. This principle can be corroborated with a simple experiment: just sit in a swivel chair with your arms outstretched, holding an object in each hand and turning on yourself. When we bring the objects closer to our body, we will see how our rotation accelerates.

Geomorphologically speaking, our planet is a sphere, although we should speak of an oblate spheroid, that is, a sort of flattened sphere at its poles because of gravity and the centrifugal force resulting from rotation, or in other words, with a polar axis smaller than the equatorial axis. Although if we take into account the reliefs and the superficial depressions, our planet would be a somewhat deformed sphere, whose form is known as geoid.

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Our planet is an oblate spheroid due to gravity and the centrifugal force of rotation. To the right, the geoid form. Wikipedia & Blog IDEE

The Earth is like an onion, because it is formed by several layers that envelop each other. Broadly speaking, we can distinguish three layers, ordered in the following way from outside to inside: the crust, the mantle and the core. The last two form practically the 100% of the planet, although the mantle is much thicker than the core. The cortex is only 1% of the total volume. A great diversity of methods have been used to study the internal geological and chemical composition of our planet, but perhaps the most outstanding is the study of the speed of seismic waves which, as happens with the velocity of light waves, it varies depending on the material it passes through. This method has served not only to determine the thickness and limits of each layer but also its composition. The core is of a metallic nature and the mantle and crust of a lithic or rocky nature. A consequence of the fact that the nucleus is metallic (formed mainly by iron and nickel) is the existence of a magnetic field or magnetosphere that surrounds our planet. This layer originates from the friction of the inner metal, solid core with a molten outer layer known as the outer core. The most obvious evidence of the existence of a magnetic field is that iron is oriented towards it.

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The chemical and geological composition of the interior of our planet has been verified by means of diverse methods, emphasizing the measurement of the speed of the seismic waves. In this way, we can distinguish the crust, the mantle, the outer core and the inner core. To the right, representation of the shape of our magnetic field, originated by the friction between the internal metallic, solid core and the external molten core. SlideShare & T13

Thus, very broadly speaking, it would be our beautiful blue planet, an itinerant sphere that forms part of a Solar System that is also wandering and submerged in the immensity of the Milky Way. This model has been achieved after wise minds such as Eratosthenes, Aristarchus of Samos, Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Galileo or Newton have poured their efforts into unveiling this great enigma. However, it seems that their efforts have fallen on deaf ears because, as we have already seen, all this model is useless and impossible for flat earthers, who affirm that all these evidences are nothing but well orchestrated illusions and deceptions.

The attempts to demonstrate the flat Earth

Although for many of you this belief may be a joke flagged by some crazy looking for notoriety on social networks or sell their propaganda, the truth is that flat earthers have taken their ideals very seriously and are willing to do everything to demonstrate them. At first, flat earthers have already organized two editions of the Flat Earth International Conference (2017 and 2018), in which a group of “experts” expose their ideas in various lectures. The organising committee of this event has even organized a cruise for 2020 with the exclusive aim of reaching the Antarctic ice wall that surrounds the disc, with the investment that this will require. But they will run into a big problem: the ships’ navigation systems are programmed on the basis that the Earth is spherical. We will see how events evolve…

The aforementioned rapper B.o.B. is also trying to demonstrate this model. For this, he has asked for help to finance through crowdfunding the launch of a satellite with a cost of $200000 to check definitively if our planet is round or not. However, all these attempts remain mere anecdotes if we compare them with the adventures of Mike “Mad” Hughes. This sexagenarian limousine driver has proposed to fly in a rocket built by himself to check the shape of the Earth. And he has already done it… on two occasions, both with a disastrous ending.

The first attempt was made in late 2017 in the middle of nowhere, in the desert area of Amboy, California, in the middle of the Mojave Desert. For two years he was assembling the $20000 vermillion rocket with which he was going to demonstrate his conviction about the discoidal Earth. It seemed at first glance to be a modern and effective device, although it had previously had technical problems and breakdowns with the rocket launch platform. However, his dreams were cut short on that occasion by the impediment imposed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to use public lands for that purpose.

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“Mad” Mike with his invention about to prove that the Earth is flat. Unfortunately, the hidden power that manipulates the U.S. Bureau of Land Management prevented him from doing so. Magonia

This was no obstacle for the daredevil Mike who for the next time made sure to carry out his experiment on private lands. In February 2018 and facing the official organisms (like a good flat earther), he tried to take off in that manned flight. To demonstrate his courage, he sent a live broadcast of the experiment, but to his misfortune the rocket was not even activated, so he had to delay it again. Eventually, on March 25, he succeeded in his mission: to shoot himself into the skies, although we don’t know if he reached the desired height and verified his suspicions. The fact is that it reached almost 600 meters of height and the test almost ends in tragedy, because as can be seen in the video that we left next, the landing is somewhat abrupt.

As can be deduced from his most recent Facebook posts, it seems that this year he is preparing another test. Will it be the definitive one for this mediatic and peculiar character? If successful, Hughes will aim directly at his ultimate goal: to take a walk in space. All this without using science, as the mad Hughes does not believe in it. According to him, the basic principles of physics, aeronautics and engineering are only formulas, nothing to do with science…

But what is a flat earther?

Today’s flat Earth theses were born in social networks and the Internet and the fakes and conspiracies that swarm and feed on them. They are certainly more complex than the theses of a few centuries ago. A cursory analysis of them denotes their nature. They are a totum revolutum formed by fragments of diverse social and scientific conspiracies: powers in the shadows that conspire against humanity, the denial of the space race, masons and Illuminatis that govern the evolution of the human being. However, the most conspicuous of all of them is the deliberate concealment of Truth by institutions and power in the shadows. A whole group of individuals and elitist governmental institutions fight to prevent us from “waking up” and knowing that Truth which, according to the defenders of these theories, will set us free. Because this fundamental information is a “Truth” with capital letters capable of modifying the destiny of humanity.

Another general belief of flat earthers is that of being the guardians of Truth, those who are awake. This messianic trait has led them to carry out a vital mission: to purge the ignorance of society, to rebel against the established and cajoler powers, and to spread the Truth so that humanity may awaken. Because those who are in possession of this Truth are a minority surrounded by an indoctrinated population. Actually, this characteristic is not typical of flat earthers, but in general it is displayed by those who defend demolishing “truths” totally opposed to those held by the majority. This type of beliefs are not trivial. In fact, they are therapeutic and satisfactory for the believer. Believing to be in possession of a hidden truth means standing out from the ignorant and blind mass, makes you feel unique, which feels good. And if, in addition, that truth can explain everything at a stroke (flat Earth theses also reveal who the owners of the world are, what their plans and weaknesses are), it makes the bearer of these thoughts feel important, even though this ego is often hidden behind humility and disinterest. And, even more importantly, it alleviates the anguish caused by having too many questions about the issues of an increasingly complex, globalized, intertwined and, sometimes, dark world. A world that is evolving towards complexity. Blaming all this mess on a mare magnum of individuals, institutions and secret organizations gives the answer to this complex world. Finding a common link between everything, something very common in conspiracies, helps to build stability. But this does not mean that this synthesis is true.

Normally, and in order to give more credibility to their arguments, flat earthers say that they rely on rigorous and scientific observations and research. However, we have already detailed that the whole thesis is based on sensitive perception and exegesis of biblical texts fundamentally. The research is conspicuous by its absence. The basis of this theory is, therefore, the vision of a series of phenomena which, completely naked and without having subjected them to scientific controls, are offered to the observer apparently as such. Unfortunately our senses are reliable to a certain extent. Although we see the horizon as a straight line, it is no less true that when we put a stick in a glass of water it seems to bend instantly and yet the stick has not undergone any modification, it continues to maintain its structure intact. Thanks to scientific research we know that this optical illusion is due to the refraction of light by the modification of its speed when it passes from a less dense medium (air) to a denser one (water in this case).

Now, why do these ideas reach and convince so many people? We have already mentioned some related questions in this regard, but we could add others: Today’s terraplanism explains several enigmas quickly and simply, eliminating at a stroke the anguish of ignorance and bewilderment; it allows inclusion in a closed group of people who support and self-convince each other and are misunderstood by society, which, however, possess the certainties and truth to transform the world and which, moreover, claim free thinking and going against the tide; it allows to consider oneself different from the rest of the world because one’s opinions are diametrically different from those of ordinary mortals; the arguments used are simple and easily understandable, supposedly based on a contrasted base of evidence that can be corroborated with personal experience, without having to resort to tedious formulations or excessively technical scientific work, although it is true that some premises, the most difficult to demonstrate through experience, do require certain skills and intellectual baggage to understand them, so that people who do not meet these conditions will not be able to refute them and will have no choice but to believe.

The latter can be seen on social networks. When a flat earther states his sentences, the answers he receives from the skeptics are always the same: ad hominem fallacies, insults and more questions to try to surprise him with low defenses. But there are very few people who are really able to refute these statements with arguments. In the end, this factor feeds them and makes them rejoice even more. It has never happened before that, having as much information as we have now, we are more uninformed than ever.

We have tried to give a series of brushstrokes on this social phenomenon and to elaborate a sort of psychological profile of the typical flat earther. In order not to make it more extensive we finish here. We will publish three more parts to go deeper into this matter. In the following two parts we analyze the arguments flat earthers use mostly and we confront them with the scientific facts that sustain the model of spherical Earth:

Flat Earth (part 2): Round Earth VS flat Earth. The “Flat Earth Theory”, under examination

Flat Earth (part 3): Round Earth VS flat Earth. Latest analysis of the “Flat Earth Theory” and conclusions

REFERENCES

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