This is not an April Fool’s joke. It’s genuine. An expedition to the South Pole is planned for early next year in order to find proof that the earth is flat.
By Guy Walters
The Daily Mail
Abridged by Lasha Darkmoon
with added commentary, pictures, and a 4-minute video
THE EARTH AS A FLAT DISC
LD: Sailing over the ‘Edge of the World’ into the black Abyss of the Unknown has always been a high-risk strategy for Flat Earth navigators, with millions of Ancient Mariners having apparently disappeared into the void since earliest antiquity. According to some modern proponents of flat earth theory, many missing persons each year meet their end in this watery way. But their disappearances are either covered up by NASA or falsely attributed to other causes. [LD]
For most people, a trip to Antarctica would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a chance to see one of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet.
But early next year, there could be a journey to the bottom of the Earth with a very different purpose. Its mission could not be more startling: to prove the Earth is flat.
Forget those millennia of geographical research and those millions of photos from space of our globe-shaped planet.
There really are people who think the world is shaped more like a disc than a ball — encircled by a massive perimeter of ice that’s 150ft thick, and 165ft high.
“Beyond the Ice Wall is anyone’s guess,” says the website of the Flat Earth Society. “How far the ice extends; how it terminates; and what exists beyond it, are questions to which no present human experience can reply.”
LD: No photographs exist of the towering Ice Wall. Nevertheless, some claim to have seen it, as they have of the Yeti or the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas. (See picture). I am intrigued to read a recent report that “a 68-year old man from California (pictured here) has gone missing in the Southern Indian ocean while attempting to reach ‘the End of the World’, hoping to demonstrate that Earth is flat.”
With their trip down South, the Flat Earthers hope to obtain proof of the Ice Wall and unveil other mysteries. What’s extraordinary about flat-earth theorists is that they maintain their belief despite the testimony of more than 550 humans who have gone into space.
Without access to modern technology, ancient man could be forgiven for thinking the Earth was flat. But even in the 4th and 5th centuries BC, Greek philosophers such as Plato believed the world was a globe.
Fast forward to the 17th century, and the only people who really believed the Earth was flat were Christian zealots.
Artist’s impression (right) : sailing over the Edge of the World.
“They are a whole mix of people,” says Michael Marshall, project director of the Good Thinking Society, a charity that promotes rational, scientific thinking, and who visited the Flat Earth UK Convention in Birmingham last year. “A lot are people who want to do proper science, but don’t necessarily possess the right tools, or lack the right knowledge.”
It’s hard to determine exactly how many people are dedicated flat-earth theorists — though a YouGov survey last year suggested only two-thirds of American 18 to 24-year-olds “have always believed the world is round”.
At last year’s Flat Earth International Conference, about 650 people attended sessions ranging from one “debunking” the theory of gravity to another titled “Talking to your family and friends about flat earth’”.
What becomes apparent when perusing flat-earthers’ numerous websites and YouTube videos is that many are, indeed, motivated by the Bible, in which they claim ‘evidence’ for the world’s flatness can be found.
Scriptural references to the ‘four corners’ of the Earth are highlighted, as are passages in Psalms, Chronicles and Isaiah that claim the Earth is ‘fixed’ and ‘immovable’ — as if the quality of being static necessitates flatness.
But “evidence” for a flat earth also comes from observations gleaned by performing pseudo-scientific experiments.
Of these, perhaps the most cited is the Bedford Level Experiment carried out in 1838 by inventor Samuel Rowbotham. It was set up on a straight, six-mile stretch of the Old Bedford River in the Cambridgeshire Fens — some of the flattest areas of England.
Rowbotham stood in the river as a colleague rowed a boat away from him to which was fitted a flag raised three feet above the water.
The inventor, who wrote Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not A Globe, then observed the boat through a telescope, and noticed he could still see the flag after it had travelled for six miles.
According to his calculations based on the curvature of the Earth, the top of the flag should have dropped 11ft below his line of sight, and be invisible through his telescope. But it was still visible.
There could only be one reason: the world was flat. Unfortunately, he failed to account for refraction, whereby light rays shift direction when passing through an atmosphere. As any surveyor will tell you, near the surface of the Earth, light rays often bend down, with the curve of the rays nearly matching the curvature of the Earth. This means we can sometimes see over the horizon, and explains why Rowbotham could still see the flag six miles away.
Flat-earthers are most persistent when it comes to dismissing hard science.
Challenged with millions of pictures of a spherical Earth, for example, they have a simple response: they are fakes. “We believe that government space agencies are taking creative liberties with your taxes and producing misleading materials,” says the website for last year’s Flat Earth International Conference in Denver in the United States.
“Did you know that all images of Earth which show a curved horizon or a spherical shape are computer generated images (proven with Photoshop programs and analysis), artistic renderings (acknowledged by Nasa), or captured via fisheye/wide-angle curved lens (producing a curved appearance)?”
It is this obsession that is behind the planned trip to the Antarctic.
Flat-earthers are divided as to whether it is possible to drop off the edge of the world, or whether you simply scroll across to the other side in some weird vortex, just as Pac-Man can go from one side of the screen to the other.
Neither prospect is enough to scare off Jay Decasby, a prominent flat-earther who is sure of the trip’s success.
He told Forbes magazine: “All we have to do to shut this debate down once and for all is get the distance of the coast of Antarctica. If we can sail all the way around it, we will . . . prove it’s the outer edges of flat earth and refute entirely every single argument anyone can possibly try to pitch for the sun-worshipping cult of heliocentrism [a belief that the Sun is at the centre of the universe].”
The Flat Earth Cruise, according to the programme of this year’s Flat Earth International Conference programme, is due to set sail next year.
If the mission is to explore beyond the “ice wall” and risk falling off or simply venturing into the unknown, then we can say one thing — they must be very brave.
For all their wacky and ridiculous claims, it seems that flat-earthers will not be convinced that they are wrong. They thrive on social media and in online forums which create a sense of community and comfort that encourage them to think that many others share their beliefs.
Unsurprisingly, as Mr Marshall found, nearly all flat-earthers subscribe to the infamous conspiracy theories: for example that the Moon landings were faked, the FBI tried to cover up the assassination of President John Kennedy, 9/11 was an inside job, and most offensively, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — an anti-Semitic forgery that claims Jews have a secret plan to take over the world.
(This paragraph is unlikely to impress our readers. LD)
Many have tried to ‘re-educate’ them. But there will always be those for whom the world is not enough.
Artist’s impression of houses built at edge of world
LD: As I post this admittedly weird article for the reader’s amusement, I am nevertheless mindful of J.B.S. Haldane’s famous observation: “The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”
It is sobering to reflect that, however bizarre the Flat Earth theory might seem to most people, it is unlikely to be even one-millionth as bizarre as the actual universe in all its magical splendor.
Finally, a brief video below. This will take you into the exciting geocentric universe and mindset of the average Flat Earth enthusiast. Bon voyage!