() What a time to be alive, isn’t it? Over the past few years, the birth of social media gave way to an explosion of information. Sure, some of it may be fake, but a lot of this ‘fake news’ narrative was created by the government and corporations in order to attack several alternative media websites. The ‘fake news’ problem cannot be solved by more censorship, it can only be solved through more information.
Readers today need to start examining sources instead of just reading headlines. That being said, anything that goes against the narrative of the global elite, no matter how credible, is always demonized and ridiculed by mainstream media.
By suggesting the Earth is flat, one is saying that every single space agency from every single nation and all military pilots and astronauts are involved in some sort of cover-up. Those in support of the flat Earth theory believe that we’ve put no technology into space, that we’ve never received any pictures from space, and that all videos and photos from space agencies are fake. This is a significant issue within the flat Earth community. Instead of a proper rebuttal with factual evidence, many simply reply with, “It’s all fake.”
If you actually look at some of the points being made by the flat Earth community, there are some interesting arguments, and it’s been an ongoing debate for thousands of years. At the same time, there are some points that seem to be rather ghastly. For example, flat Earthers have argued that if you fly a helicopter 100 feet in the air, you should not land on the same spot because the globe is spinning. Believing that the Earth is flat implies that those who have claimed to voyage around the world are simply lying.
Then again, many of us still look to ancient wisdom for truths. If we look at different civilizations throughout history, including various indigenous cultures, they were said to have believed that the Earth was flat with a round dome around it … But did they really believe this? (We will cover that later on in the article.)
This interpretation is interesting because they seem to have depicted other celestial bodies and their movements quite accurately. And the ancients had many novel ideas about the shape of the Earth, in addition to it just being flat. The Babylonians thought the Earth was hollow to provide space for their underworld. The Egyptians thought the Earth was a square with mountains at the edge to support the vault of the sky.
I’m not going to go into the points made by the flat Earth community; instead, I’d like to present the perspective of Isaac Asimov, a writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. He was a legendary researcher within these fields, and had a large thirst for knowledge and information in all areas.
I came across an article written by him titled “The Relativity of Wrong,” published in The Skeptical Inquirer in fall of 1989. It was inspired by a handwritten letter he had received from an English literature major who, Asimov says, “felt he needed to teach me science.” What Asimov writes next shows you just how humble and ‘awake’ he was.
I sighed a bit, for I knew very few English Lit majors who are equipped to teach me science, but I am very aware of the vast state of my ignorance and I am prepared to learn as much as I can from anyone, so I read on….The young specialist in English Lit, having quoted me, went on to lecture me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern “knowledge” is that it is wrong. The young man then quoted with approval what Socrates had said on learning that the Delphic oracle had proclaimed him the wisest man in Greece. “If I am the wisest man,” said Socrates, “it is because I alone know that I know nothing.” the implication was that I was very foolish because I was under the impression I knew a great deal.
Asimov then brings up the flat Earth theory in response to the letter, stating that, “When people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”
I was very intrigued by that statement as well as the next where he emphasizes that people think “right” and “wrong” are absolute, and that everything that isn’t perfectly and completely right is totally and equally wrong.
In the early days, most people thought the Earth was flat. It wasn’t because they were stupid, Asimov explains, or because they wanted to believe in silly things. They were simply interpreting the world around them with the knowledge they had.
He mentions that today, we are taught that the flat Earth theory is entirely wrong, but he emphasizes how it actually isn’t.
Another way of looking at it is to ask what is the “curvature” of the earth’s surface. Over a considerable length, how much does the surface deviate (on the average) from perfect flatness. The flat-earth theory would make it seem that the surface doesn’t deviate from flatness at all, that its curvature is 0 to the mile. Nowadays, of course, we are taught that the flat-earth theory is wrong; that it is all wrong, terribly wrong, absolutely. But it isn’t. The curvature of the earth is nearly 0 per mile, so that although the flat-earth theory is wrong, it happens to be nearly right. That’s why the theory lasted so long.
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How interesting is that? I did not know that the curvature of the Earth is nearly 0 per mile. That explains a lot, including why we cannot perceive Earth as a round figure from the ground nor from a plane. To see that kind of curvature, you would have to be higher than any commercial air-liner is capable of going. Given the size of the Earth, you would have to be very high up in our atmosphere to see any curvature.
In ancient Greece, there were flat Earth supporters, but it became an unsatisfactory theory at approximately 350 B.C.. Aristotle shared his belief that the Earth is not flat by noticing certain stars disappearing beyond the Southern Hemisphere when travelling north, and beyond the Northern Hemisphere when travelling south. He also used the Earth’s shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse as a reference, given the fact that it’s always shaped in the arc of a circle. Furthermore, ships disappearing beyond the horizon hull in any direction they travel.
All three observations could not be reasonably explained if the Earth’s surface is flat, but could be explained by assuming the Earth is a sphere.
It’s also interesting to note that many philosophers, like Socrates, a pupil of Aristotle, opposed the aristocracy and the religion they were ushering in. As a result, they formed secret societies to study and gain knowledge and information. Those who were caught were vilified by the aristocracy, which is why Socrates was put do death, for questioning the authority, their view of the world and for “corrupting the youth.”
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A century later, a Greek philosopher used the sun as an example to argue the spherical perception, pointing to the fact that the sun casts a shadow of different lengths at different latitudes. Asimov states that “all the shadows would be the same length if the Earth’s surface were flat. Eratosthenes calculated the size of the Earthly sphere from the difference in shadow length, and his calculations turned out to be 25,000 in circumference — exactly what it is today. How astonishing is that?
The curvature of such a sphere is about 0.000126 per mile, a quantity very close to 0 per mile, as you can see, and one not easily measured by the techniques at the disposal of the ancients. The tiny difference between 0 and 0.000126 accounts for the fact that it took so long to pass from the flat earth to the spherical earth. Mind you, even a tiny difference, such as that between 0 and 0.000126, can be extremely important. That difference mounts up. The earth cannot be mapped over large areas with any accuracy at all if the difference isn’t taken into account and if the earth isn’t considered a sphere rather than a flat surface. Long ocean voyages can’t be undertaken with any reasonable way of locating one’s own position in the ocean unless the earth is considered spherical rather than flat. Furthermore, the flat earth presupposes the possibility of an infinite earth, or of the existence of an “end” to the surface. The spherical earth, however, postulates an earth that is both endless and yet finite, and it is the latter postulate that is consistent with all later findings.
“Although the flat Earth theory holds some truths within it, all things considered, it should still be discarded in favor of the spherical-earth theory. But is the Earth really a sphere?”
It turns out, the Earth is not a sphere because it does not have the mathematical properties of a sphere. Several diameters differ in length. If it were a sphere, the Earth would require the following:
No, it is not a sphere; not in the strict mathematical sense. A sphere has certain mathematical properties – for instance, all diameters (that is, all straight lines that pass from one point on its surface, through the center, to another point on its surface) have the same length. It definitely looks like one to the naked eye, as do all of the other planets.
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I’m going to post the rest of Asimov’s article below. What’s really interesting is that he notes the Earth is flattened in some areas.
What gave people the notion the earth wasn’t a true sphere? To begin with, the sun and the moon have outlines that are perfect circles within the limits of measurement in the early days of the telescope. This is consistent with the supposition that the sun and the moon are perfectly spherical in shape.
However, when Jupiter and Saturn were observed by the first telescopic observers, it became quickly apparent that the outlines of those planets were not circles, but distinct ellipses. That meant that Jupiter and Saturn were not true spheres.
Isaac Newton, toward the end of the seventeenth century, showed that a massive body would form a sphere under the pull of gravitational forces (exactly as Aristotle had argued), but only if it were not rotating. If it were rotating, a centrifugal effect would be set up that would lift the body’s substance against gravity, and this effect would be greater the closer to the equator you progressed. The effect would also be greater the more rapidly a spherical object rotated, and Jupiter and Saturn rotated very rapidly indeed.
The earth rotated much more slowly than Jupiter or Saturn so the effect should be smaller, but it should still be there. Actual measurements of the curvature of the earth were carried out in the eighteenth century and Newton was proved correct.
The earth has an equatorial bulge, in other words. It is flattened at the poles. It is an “oblate spheroid” rather than a sphere. This means that the various diameters of the earth differ in length. The longest diameters are any of those that stretch from one point on the equator to an opposite point on the equator. This “equatorial diameter” is 12,755 kilometers (7,927 miles). The shortest diameter is from the North Pole to the South Pole and this “polar diameter” is 12,711 kilometers (7,900 miles).
The difference between the longest and shortest diameters is 44 kilometers (27 miles), and that means that the “oblateness” of the earth (its departure from true sphericity) is 44/12755, or 0.0034. This amounts to l/3 of 1 percent.
To put it another way, on a flat surface, curvature is 0 per mile everywhere. On the earth’s spherical surface, curvature is 0.000126 per mile everywhere (or 8 inches per mile). On the earth’s oblate spheroidal surface, the curvature varies from 7.973 inches to the mile to 8.027 inches to the mile.
The correction in going from spherical to oblate spheroidal is much smaller than going from flat to spherical. Therefore, although the notion of the earth as a sphere is wrong, strictly speaking, it is not as wrong as the notion of the earth as flat.
Even the oblate-spheroidal notion of the earth is wrong, strictly speaking. In 1958, when the satellite Vanguard I was put into orbit about the earth, it was able to measure the local gravitational pull of the earth–and therefore its shape–with unprecedented precision. It turned out that the equatorial bulge south of the equator was slightly bulgier than the bulge north of the equator, and that the South Pole sea level was slightly nearer the center of the earth than the North Pole sea level was.
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There seemed no other way of describing this than by saying the earth was pear-shaped, and at once many people decided that the earth was nothing like a sphere but was shaped like a Bartlett pear dangling in space. Actually, the pear-like deviation from oblate-spheroid perfect was a matter of yards rather than miles, and the adjustment of curvature was in the millionths of an inch per mile.
In short, my English Lit friend, living in a mental world of absolute rights and wrongs, may be imagining that because all theories are wrong, the earth may be thought spherical now, but cubical next century, and a hollow icosahedron the next, and a doughnut shape the one after.
What actually happens is that once scientists get hold of a good concept they gradually refine and extend it with greater and greater subtlety as their instruments of measurement improve. Theories are not so much wrong as incomplete.
This can be pointed out in many cases other than just the shape of the earth. Even when a new theory seems to represent a revolution, it usually arises out of small refinements. If something more than a small refinement were needed, then the old theory would never have endured.
Copernicus switched from an earth-centered planetary system to a sun-centered one. In doing so, he switched from something that was obvious to something that was apparently ridiculous. However, it was a matter of finding better ways of calculating the motion of the planets in the sky, and eventually the geocentric theory was just left behind. It was precisely because the old theory gave results that were fairly good by the measurement standards of the time that kept it in being so long.
Again, it is because the geological formations of the earth change so slowly and the living things upon it evolve so slowly that it seemed reasonable at first to suppose that there was no change and that the earth and life always existed as they do today. If that were so, it would make no difference whether the earth and life were billions of years old or thousands. Thousands were easier to grasp.
But when careful observation showed that the earth and life were changing at a rate that was very tiny but not zero, then it became clear that the earth and life had to be very old. Modern geology came into being, and so did the notion of biological evolution.
If the rate of change were more rapid, geology and evolution would have reached their modern state in ancient times. It is only because the difference between the rate of change in a static universe and the rate of change in an evolutionary one is that between zero and very nearly zero that the creationists can continue propagating their folly.
Since the refinements in theory grow smaller and smaller, even quite ancient theories must have been sufficiently right to allow advances to be made; advances that were not wiped out by subsequent refinements.
The Greeks introduced the notion of latitude and longitude, for instance, and made reasonable maps of the Mediterranean basin even without taking sphericity into account, and we still use latitude and longitude today.
The Sumerians were probably the first to establish the principle that planetary movements in the sky exhibit regularity and can be predicted, and they proceeded to work out ways of doing so even though they assumed the earth to be the center of the universe. Their measurements have been enormously refined but the principle remains.
Naturally, the theories we now have might be considered wrong in the simplistic sense of my English Lit correspondent, but in a much truer and subtler sense, they need only be considered incomplete.
Were the ancients who believed the Earth is flat speaking from a spiritual/dimensional perspective?
A lot of flat Earth supporters point to the fact that many ancient cultures believed the Earth was flat, and they’re correct. But not all cultures agreed on this, and those who believed it was flat may have been speaking about the spiritual realms. Take the Maya, for example, they had a flat depiction of the Earth with a circular dome around it. Perhaps looking at it from another dimension, one would see it as flat?
A study published in the Journal of Social Archaeology makes my point more clear.
The (super) natural world of the ancient Maya was complex and multi-dimensional. It included three layers: a heaven with 13 levels, the surface or earth, and the underworld with nine levels (Schele and Freidel, 1990: 67). The world in which the Maya lived floated on a primordial sea, often represented as the back of a crocodile or turtle. Also important in orientating their daily lives were the cardinal directions; each direction has its own suite of representative and asssociated elements – birds, trees, colors, and deities. (source)
This is a huge problem with the modern interpretation of ancient depictions of the Earth. If we look at the Anishinaabe, who make up multiple indigenous groups in Canada, their creation legends tell a story of Earth on a turtle’s back who is floating in a sea of water. This interpretation has been taken by flat Earthers and used as such. You will find multiple pictures around the internet like the one below, but they are not a true representation, and they don’t come from any credible sources.
What does the creation legend really say? And how is it really depicted? Well, the legends clearly suggest that the Earth is a ball. You can read their entire creation story here. The ball is being carried on the turtles back.
This story is known as the creation of Turtle Island (Earth), and below is a real depiction of the creation myths. See source. As you can see, Earth is enclosed within the back as a ball, along with the cosmos kept inside another outer shell. This is our physical domain.
It’s interesting to note that the Anishinaabe have models of creation that’ve been depicted elsewhere. As you can see below, this could easily be interpreted as a flat Earth model, despite the fact that the story of creation clearly states a round ball. This is why I believe these are spiritual realms. The model below is also seen throughout many cultures, and has been interpreted as a flat Earth model. Again, as we can see from above, that’s not true. The picture below is also from the same indigenous group. Now, look at the next picture.
Here is another depiction from the Mohawk, another indigenous group found in Canada. As you can see, spheres are used still in the realm of the flat surface with the dome around it. Again, this is a common depiction by flat Earthers, who believe the Earth is flat with a dome around it that encompasses the sun, moon and stars. This is why I believe this model is a depiction of the spiritual realms, not our physical realm. The dome is perhaps covering all of physical reality as we know it, not the Earth.
This type of model is also similar to other artworks depicting some sort of dome around the Earth. Below is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, a Dutch/Netherlandish draughtsman and painter from Brabant. He is one of the most notable representatives of the Early Netherlandish painting school. It was a picture presented to the Pope by Leonardo DiCaprio, stating that when he was younger he did not know what it meant, but does now. I found that interesting and still don’t know what that means. (source)
Is this also a metaphorical painting, like the depictions above, taken as physically literal?
American analytic philosopher and Christian theologian Dr. William Lane Craig was asked:
Recently, I have noticed, is the huge amount of Christians who are popping up along the Internet, claiming the Bible supports the flat earth theory. They theorize that the world is flat, with a dome, or firmament above it, supported by pillars. They also say the stars reside in the “dome”. They use verses such as Job 37:18, 38:13, Psalm 96, 1 Chronicles 16:30, Genesis 1 and 2, and 1 Samuel 2:8. I have searched for answers, and I have found some, but I would like to hear some answers from you, as well. Thank you in advance.
I suspect what’s going on here is internet infidels masquerading as Christians in a misguided attempt to make the Bible look silly. These people have no understanding of literary interpretation or literary genre. I have seen one person even claim that when the Bible uses such figures of speech as “the four corners of the Earth” it asserts that the Earth is a square! Imposing such wooden literalism on even modern parlance would make all of us Flat Earthers as well!
I suggest you listen to or read my Defenders lectures (Series 2, Section 9) on Creation and Evolution, parts 9-12. There I discuss ancient creation stories such as ancient Egyptian creation myths and ask whether ancient peoples understood these literally. I think it’s evident that they did not. These accounts are often metaphorical or symbolic, and ancient people would have been quite surprised if one of these modern literalists were to confront them with the claim.
The list of examples go on, but those who use indigenous examples portraying that the earth is flat should look deeper into the subject, especially if they believe most of the proof for round Earth today is completely fake.
We can see this with the indigenous examples above as well.
A lot of flat Earth lore gets into religion, especially Christianity. It is said that as Christianity became more popular, all of the ancient teachings were taken and stored by the church, which are now allegedly in the Vatican. It’s crucial that we do not confuse scientific texts with religious texts, especially when it comes to trying to further understand this planet.
It’s important to note that many flat Earth supporters believe the Earth is at the center of the universe. Those who challenged this view were killed and condemned by the church, like Galileo Galilei.
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When it comes to this topic, the truth is that you cannot prove the Earth is flat. Though many flat Earth supporters refuse to accept it, there is substantial evidence in support of the Earth being round including photos, the technology we’ve sent into space, and the points listed above.
Please note that I have not presented many of the points in support of the flat Earth theory, this is simply a discussion and a presentation of other works and beliefs that support a spherical model. I do believe we’ve travelled amongst the stars for several reasons, and given all of the information I’ve reviewed on quantum mechanics, the flat Earth theory does not seem plausible. Furthermore, we can see out into space with the technology we’ve developed, and we can see the other planets with a telescope, which are all round.
At the end of the day, there are so many more important issues surrounding the planet than arguing over what the shape of the Earth is. We need to clean up our planet, introduce clean energy technology, and provide everyone with their basic needs. And although we have made some progress, we still have a lot to do and a lot to fix. If anything, the flat Earth theory seems like a distraction from what matters most.
At the end of the day, if you really want to know. Travel to the end of flat Earth and see for yourself, or simply take a telescope and view the ice wall that supposedly surrounds it, as well as every other major city in the world. You should be able to see it.
I believe it’s also important to mention Pic Gaspard, a 443 Km landscape photograph and a world record of Earth. Given the curvature per mile, that pic also posits a round Earth, in my opinion.
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Stillness in the Storm Editor: Why did we post this?
The preceding article discusses the controversial topic of flat-earth, speaking to the likelihood the earth is not flat but spherical. This is important to comprehend because much of the flat-earth justification is founded on scientifically and philosophically fallacious arguments, such as employing deconstructionist methods to invalidate spherical models without providing a more robust theory that better explains all available phenomena. However, in order for a theory to be philosophically valid, it must logically and coherently explain all observed data within a single theory. Flat-earth theorists get around this requirement by asserting observations made by NASA, for instance, are all “bogus,” declaring the basis of refutation is that NASA sometimes tells lies. But this is logically and epistemically fallacious, in that even if an information source was found to be inaccurate in one instance that fact alone doesn’t materially refute the validity of other observations made. And even more critiques of flat earth logic can be made. The reason we’re sharing this information is to alert the public to the fact you must develop proper thinking skills (philosophy) in order to guard against the acquisition of false knowledge. Science, in this sense, is not the process of understanding information, it is the process of consistently gathering information in a reliable objective fashion. What that information means is the job of philosophy. Hence fields like meta-analysis have emerged that primarily fulfill the role of secondary interpreters and analysts for studies conducted in the past. With an active and well practiced mind, one can avoid the pitfalls of false knowledge, propaganda, and mind influence.
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