Are Flat-Earthers Being Serious? Exploring the Flat Earth Theory

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Human beings have always been intrigued by the Earth. Since the days of the ancient Egyptians, humanity has known the Earth was a spherical body (more or less). Yet today, many people no longer subscribe to this point of view, but what do they actually think, and why?

What Is The Flat Earth Theory?

Source: Wikimedia/The History Blog

In its simplest form, the Flat Earth theory states that the Earth isn’t a sphere but a flat disc. Proponents of the theory believe that pictures taken from space that show the Earth as round are part of a massive government cover-up.

However, Flat Earth proponents don’t have a singular, unifying theory of why the planet is flat. Some believers concoct strange theories that defy physics and logic to make their worldview work. Since the rise of social media, the Flat Earth theory has taken off.

How Many People Believe In This Theory?

Source: Universe Today

It’s hard to say how many people in the world think the Earth is flat. Some estimates from conventions put the number at several thousand, although the Flat Earth Society claims as many as 500 people on its membership list.

The society itself was founded in 1956 and claims to represent the “scientific” idea that the Earth is flat. At one point in time, their registration numbers swelled to 3,500 people. However, they have faced a lot of controversy, not just from the established scientific community but also from their followers.

No End to Government Conspiracies

Source: Flickr/Harald Groven

Based on what Flat Earth believers claim, a shadowy organization that multiple world governments support created the idea that the Earth is round. Things that are accepted scientific facts were actually placed there by this organization to confuse ordinary people.

However, part of the reason the Flat Earth Society doesn’t have as many members as it once did is because people believe that it’s been taken over by that same shadowy organization. They think that the Flat Earth Society is intentionally made to look stupid to discount their beliefs further.

Not a Single Monolithic Organization

Source: Flickr/Wen Nag (aliasgrace)

While it might be tempting to think that the Flat Earth Society and its related organization, the Flat Earth International Conference, believe the same thing, there are distinct differences. Part of the schism between these organizations had to do with the previously mentioned conspiracy theory, but there’s a lot more.

The Flat Earth Society is convinced that they can present “scientific” evidence to the public to prove that the Earth is flat despite facing problems with that approach. The FEIC, on the other hand, espouses a Biblical worldview and condemns anything they deem “scientism” or the worship of science.

How Many People Actually Believe in a Flat Earth, Though?

Source: Tang Hongbo/China Manned Space Engineering Office

Aside from the hardcore supporters of the FES and the FEIC, are there any real people who think the Earth is flat? One debunked study claims that one-third of all Millennials think the Earth is a flat plane, but the truth is slightly more believable.

According to a 2017 poll, 1% of people believed that the Earth was flat, with another 6% being unsure about the Earth’s shape. While some might think politics would affect these statistics, the Flat Earth Believers spanned the political spectrum.

Celebrities Weigh In

Source: Flickr/John Roling

In 2016, rapper Bobby-Ray Simmons, known by his stage moniker “B.o.B,” went on social media to state that the Earth was flat, using “evidence” he collected himself. He was taken to task for spreading misinformation by famous science educator Neil deGrasse Tyson. Yet the seed was sown.

Since then, several high-profile celebrities have come out stating their belief that the Earth is flat. Many present and former sports stars have made their support of the theory known. Even Shaquille O’Neill has said that he doubts the Earth’s shape, further cementing the theory’s place in popular culture.

What’s The Truth?

Source: Flickr/Bill Dimmick

How do we really know that the Earth is round? Aside from the thousands of photographs taken from spacecraft that orbit the Earth, several things support this idea. For one thing, GPS would never work on a flat earth, so once your GPS systems are working, it’s proof the Earth is round.

The first people to determine the Earth was round were the Egyptians. The first person to prove this was a Greek philosopher named Eratosthenes of Cyrene. He calculated the circumference of the Earth given the shadows at water wells in different parts of the world and was only off by a few thousand kilometers.

Need More Evidence For a Round Earth?

Source: Flickr/mark6mauno

The Greek philosophers who first figured out the Earth was round based their conclusions on observing the night sky. Some constellations were visible in the Northern Hemisphere but invisible in the Southern, suggesting the Earth was round and got between the observer and those “invisible” constellations.

Looking at the Earth’s shadow during a lunar eclipse is another way to get evidence that the Earth is round. The Earth’s shadow casts a spherical shadow on the face of the moon. It’s also slightly absurd to think that the Earth is the only flat planet in the Solar System since the rest are round.

Why Do Flat Earthers Deny Scientific Evidence?

Source: Flickr/Leo Reynolds

Flat Earthers don’t believe in the scientific method and use a system known as the Zetetic Method. Zetetics puts a lot of emphasis on personal observation and then uses logic to rationalize the observations they see. Thanks to this method, they come up with the idea of a Flat Earth, with a government conspiracy to support it.

To anyone with a passing knowledge of astronomy, the ideas they present are absurd. Yet they can logically trace their steps from observation to conclusion, making it “irrefutable” from their point of view. Anyone believing differently is thought to be a member of the conspiracy or a “useful pawn.”

Will Flat Earth Theories Continue to be Popular?

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Many people still believe in a Flat Earth. Some of them do so because their methodology for “evidence” is questionable. Others do so because they’ve been raised to believe something, and they are comfortable with that worldview. Celebrity support of the idea has made it very visible.

Yet, despite this, the evidence proves the opposite. And yet, whether someone believes the Earth is flat or not doesn’t change anything. Once the engineers and scientists understand the truth, the work of science and technology will continue. Satellites will continue to circle the globe, giving us the internet for Flat Earthers to tell others about their worldview.

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Charlotte Clad

Written by Charlotte Clad

Charlotte Clad is a brilliant writer who possesses the remarkable ability to craft content that goes viral and leaves an indelible mark on readers. With an innate passion for storytelling and an unwavering commitment to her craft, Charlotte has consistently pushed the boundaries of creativity to captivate audiences worldwide.

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