In the spirit of National Science Week, I decided to surrender myself to a Google deep dive in the hope of uncovering a novel discovery or an influential school of thought. It brought me to the realm of flat earthers and alternative facts.
The flat earthers are a society of people who believe in and promote the conspiracy of a flat earth. They believe that the ‘round earth model’ is a lie perpetuated by NASA, otherwise known as a bunch of scammers in cahoots with a fraudulent government.
The Flat Earth Model may seem long disproven, but in April of this year, a three-day Flat Earth Convention UK held in Birmingham made the news for bringing in over 200 believers. 200 in person may not seem like much, but in Britain alone, the past five years have seen Flat Earth social media followings increase by of tens of thousands.
Flat Earth theorists are united only by the belief that the earth is not round. Its actual shape and physical laws are still widely debated. One theory proposes a circular disc constantly accelerating upwards through space at a rate of 9.8ms2 (known to round earthers as the G-force). Gravitational laws are problematic to the flat earth model, because gravitational force would increase with distance from the earth’s centre and pull the earth into a sphere. Hence it makes perfect sense that in a pancake world, gravity does not exist, and the attractive force we feel towards earth is the effect of a huge body of accelerating dark energy propelling it upwards from underneath. This principle of Universal Acceleration explains how when we land after jumping off the ground, we are not pulled back down by a force – rather, the earth catches up to us. Only things that touch the earth are affected by Universal Acceleration and therefore these laws are irrelevant to the orbit of the sun and moon, which circle above the disc-shaped earth, below a dome-shaped roof.
Many believe that historical explorers’ plans to sail to the edge were foiled by an impenetrable ice wall, widely accepted as Antarctica. However, this is but one of many alternate theories surrounding ‘circumnavigation’. Darren Nesbitt, a speaker at Birmingham’s Flat Earth convention, proposed his Pac-Man Theory which describes how bodies that approach the horizon are teleported from one side to the other, in the same way ghosts in the arcade game enter on the opposite edge of the screen from which they left.
Flat earthers place blame on the Freemasons, the Illuminati, Satan and most infuriatingly, the government, for perpetuating the lie of a round earth. Many believe the sole reason for NASA’s establishment was to hide the truth from the public, and that their success in infiltrating media and educational textbooks leave our species programmed to have a round earth worldview from birth. Camera tricks, studio setups and trapeze skills are the only things behind NASA’s multiple stunts (including the faked moon landing of 1969), which can be easily deduced by the sharp, skeptical eye of a flat earther.
The entirety of the flat earth argument is based on individual sensory perception. The childish mentality of it follows the ‘if I can’t feel it, it’s not real’ notion – ‘it’ being the curvature of the earth. Although flat earthers pose as a revolutionary community of intellects, their desire to believe in a deceitful governing body far outweighs their capacity to reason with the centuries of study in maths, physics and chemistry that intertwine to make space exploration possible.
If you’ve got a couple of hours to kill, I highly recommend taking a trip down this rabbit hole of twisted logic and backyard science. But don’t get your hopes up for an Australian conference anytime soon – plans for a Sydney event in March of this year fell… flat.
Catilin Owyong | @neester_