Conspiracy Theory Column: Flat Earth

A globe in the traditional fashion of a sphere. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Over 2,000 years ago, Greek philosopher Aristotle had a revelation. He realized that the image of the night sky changes depending on when we look up at it and from where we look. Through continuously testing his theory and observing the night sky over time he recognized “not only that the Earth is circular, but also that it is a circle of no great size. For quite a small change of position to south or north causes a manifest alteration of the horizon.”

Thus was borne the knowledge that the Earth is spherical. And yet, Flat Earthers believe that Aristotle was wrong.

“Flat Earthers” is the colloquial term for subscribers to Flat Earth Theory, an areligious system of beliefs that centers on the idea that Earth, though circular, is flat – like a disk. Proponents of the movement pride themselves on “questioning the Round Earth Doctrine and challenging authorities.”

Supporters of the Flat Earth movement believe that the Earth is circular with the North Pole at the Center and Antarctica as a wall around the edge. The ice of Antarctica is said to form a wall which holds the oceans back and protects us from whatever lies beyond.

It is said that no one who has crossed the Antarctic wall has ever returned.

The most widely accepted model of Flat Earth. Courtesy of Flat Earther, PeteSvarrior.

This theory suggests that earth is not a planet by definition, rather it sits at the center of the solar system around which the sun and planets revolve.

The Flat Earth Society argues that “The earth’s uniqueness, fundamental differences and centrality makes any comparison to other nearby celestial bodies insufficient – like comparing basketballs to the court on which they bounce.”

The Sun is said to move in circles around the North Pole, and its light is considered to project only over limited areas, much like a spotlight. Hence, when the Sun is above you it is day. When the Sun is not above you, it is night.

Proponents of Flat Earth Theory maintain that the United Nations’ logo is eerily similar to The Societies’ and suggest that this is indicative of high ranking supporters in the organization.

In a widely publicized display of support for the Flat Earth Societies’ agenda, rapper B.o.B tweeted an image of himself on top of a hill questioning the apparent absence of a curve on the horizon.

Responders were quick to explain that the distance between the two cities of question was only 16 miles, approximately 0.06 percent of the earth’s surface and not enough distance to realistically expect to see a curve.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson joined the frenzy, directly refuting the rapper’s claims. B.o.B responded to Tyson’s statements with the single “Flatline” within which he accused the astrophysicist of pedalling the Round Earth Doctrine because he is paid to do so.

Globalists see me as a threat
Free thinking, got a world at my neck
Hah, am I paranoid? Picture Malcolm X
In a room full of pigs, trying not to bust a sweat
Aye, Neil Tyson need to loosen up his vest
They probably write that man one hell of a check

Excerpt from B.o.B’s “Flatline”

The album “Elements” was released by B.o.B shortly after the exchange gained widespread attention and contains many of the rapper’s opinions on the topic.

Flat Earthers frequently receive pushback from the public – many of whom cite images of the globe released by NASA as proof that Earth is round. The Society claims that these images have been falsified and are part of a web of lies fed to the public.

The Flat Earth Society has published a series of calculations based on the pythagorean theorem intended to disprove the claims of “Round Earthers.”  

Officials within the Flat Earth Society encourage individuals to perform experiments to test their beliefs and staunchly advocate that any apparent curvature visible to people in airplanes or at elevated heights is the result of distortion and tricks of the mind. The Society’s website even contains a section titled “Experimental Evidence” about Flat Earth Theory.

It is unknown how many people subscribe to Flat Earth Theory, but results of a 2018 survey suggest that approximately one third of Americans 18-24 years old are at least partially convinced by the theory. The youth would join the ranks of celebrities including NBA star Kyle Irving and online influencer Tila Tequila, who are both alleged to be members of The Society.

Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe

Sofia is a senior chemistry and communication major at William Jewell College. Currently she serves as the Editor in Chief of the Hilltop Monitor.

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