Why the Earth Cannot Be Flat

As time progresses one can only hope that human knowledge progresses with it. Through the years we have seen tremendous strides in technology and our understanding of how this crazy world works. Yet even in 2018 people still believe the earth is flat. 

Some time ago it was a common belief that the earth was flat. We however have known the earth was round for over 2000 years. The first time the earth was proposed to be round was in ancient Greece. Around the year 500 B.C. a man by the name of Pythagoras who high school students have to thank for Pythagorean Theorem, postulated that the  earth was round due to the shape of the terminator of the moon.

No, I am not saying that he assessed the shape of a robot sent from the future as a means of showing the earth was round. The terminator is the line between the areas of the moon that are in the light and those that are in the dark. He noticed that the shadow or terminator is curved at particular times of the moons cycle. As a result of his observation he suggested the earth must also be round.

Then around 350 B.C. the well known Aristotle gave very strong evidence that the earth must be flat. He observed the night sky and noted that only some constellations were visible the further away you got from the equator. Some parts of constellations would be cut off while others would not be visible at all.

What do people believe when they believe in a flat earth?

There are many different communities that believe the earth is flat. You can actually participate and go to a convention that is dedicated to the prospect of a flat earth. Much like religious conventions people gather from all around the world come to attend. However what exactly do these people believe?

This is a less grand version of what people believe the earth look like. A flat disk with Antarctica encompassing the world. This concept of Antarctica encompassing the world reminds me of the World Serpent in Norse mythology. Credit: Creative Commons 1.0

We will begin with what they believe about earth itself. It is obvious that they must believe in a ‘flat’ earth. For starters they believe that the earth is flat with some relative thickness. Of course to allow us to dig and have mines because otherwise that wouldn’t make sense.

 We can extract a quote from the Flat Earth Society’s website. “The earth is surrounded on all sides by an ice wall that holds the oceans back. This ice wall is what explorers have named Antarctica, beyond the ice wall is a topic of great interest to the Flat Earth Society. To our knowledge, no one has been very far past the ice wall and returned to tell of their journey. What we do know is that it encircles the earth and serves to hold in our oceans and helps protect us from whatever lies beyond.”

Yes ladies and gentlemen they think that Antarctica is a wall that blocks the earth off from an infinite plane.

A representation of how they think the sun and moon behave around Earth.

They also believe that gravity doesn’t exist and the moon landing was faked and all the astronauts are lying. It is deeply deeply pitiful. Their thought process has a name and it is called the Zetetic Method. Unlike the scientific method where we gather evidence before making jumpy conclusions the Zetetic Method does the opposite. It is all based on perception. Thus since we perceive the earth as being flat as we traverse it, it must be flat.

The Horrible Forums

You can happen into the forums on their website and have a gander at the oh so interesting defenses the flat earth society members put up. I will pulls some quotes from the website and post them as a sort of discussion or script. The names will be changed for courtesy. If you want to see for yourself hop on over.

Conversation 1

MichaelSo I was asking around and was asked the question, Are other objects in the solar system, like the moon, flat like the earth?

Tommy: No.

Michael: Why Though?

Jack: Because other objects are observably non-flat due to a variety of factors, most notably things like the movement of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter.

Harold: If basketballs are round does that mean the basketball court must be round as well?

Break of conversation

As you can see there are some keen experts on this topic explaining why the earth cannot be flat. As Jack had said other bodies in the universe are not flat because they are observably flat hmmmm kind of like the earth.

Conversation 2

Susan: I think the problem is people wrongly classify the earth as a planet. So, many assume that if the earth is a planet, it must be the shape of other celestial bodies.

Break of conversation

I don’t think I need to continue with Susan. Susan suggests that the earth is not a planet and has been classified incorrectly. We look out an observe a pattern of innate spherical shape to many things in the universe and some how some way the laws of the universe are different for the earth. There isn’t a fundamental law of the universe that holds us to the surface of the planet or anything like that. Things just fall because of magic.

Who believes this garbage?

You might not be entirely surprised who believes in a flat earth. Here is a list of famous people who believe the earth is flat.

  • B.o.B.
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Shaq
  • Tila Tequila

Not surprised by some of these myself.

What would it mean if the earth was flat?

Well if the earth was flat we would have a couple of problems on our hands. Gravity for one would be a pain not to mention some technology.


gravity effects

A illustration of how gravity would behave if the earth was flat. Credit: Brandon Cox

Gravity would be a serious thing wrong with the flat earth idea. As they state on their forums they do not believe in gravity. I guess because you can touch it or taste it. However if the earth were flat the above picture illustrates how the pull of gravity would change the further away from the centre you get. The blue dot represents the center of mass which is where gravity pulls objects to. The red arrows represents the direction in which gravity pulls objects.

As you can see the farther away you go from the center of the disc the angle at which gravity pulls you increases. We do not observe such phenomenon. Why is that? Not only would this happen but all of the water on the planet, the oceans, lakes and streams would make a  gigantic ball at the center of the disc.

Satellites and Communication

We use satellite communications everyday. Without gravity or without a spherical earth telecommunications would be virtually impossible with satellites. The Flat Earth Society ditches everything about gravity which does not allow for orbital mechanics.

We use geostationary satellites for communication and GPS along with an assortment of others. Making the earth a flat disc would not allow for such an orbit.

The Seasons

The earth would not have its seasonal cycle from winter to spring then summer to fall. A flat earth does not allow for the necessary angles the earth must be positioned at in order to get the four seasons.

The seasons.png

How the earth has seasons

There would not be seasons if the earth was flat. There would not be any hemisphere with more direct sunlight resulting in summer. Unless the Flat Earth Society says that the seasons are fake to and made by the government with giant heaters and air conditioners.

Where does this put us?

One can only hope that the Flat Earth Society and its members are only here to entice people to madness. Believing in a flat earth is to have a disregard for every piece of evidence that shows otherwise. It is a blatant denial of fundamental laws and phenomenon of the scientific world.

To make up horribly wrong ideas that explain how the earth is flat which ultimately wouldn’t work by any stretch of the imagination is the only thing they have going for them, their ability to come up with fecal matter ejected from a bull.

It goes without saying that the Flat Earth Society do not care at all what evidence you put in front of them. Being part of the Flat Earth Society may just be a trend like the latest clothing. Eventually it will go away. One can only hope.




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