Episode 203: Flat Earth: The Strangest Conspiracy

On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we look at the conspiracy theory that says the Earth is actually flat. Flat Earthers number in the thousands and grow every year, and in spite of what seems to be overwhelming scientific consensus from multiple fields of science, they deny the conclusions of a spherical earth. We have a pretty lively debate about this one with evidence on both sides. You might be surprised at where some of us fall on the Flat Earth proposal. So where did this all start? That’s a tricky question.

Various scientists from different societies in different eras have debated this question, but one by one, they all did the math and came out with Earth being a Sphere. Washington Irving famously said that nobody believed the earth was round until Christopher Columbus proved it, but this was all a lie that was part of his fictional History of New York According to Dietrich Knickerbocker. In fact, the Europeans all knew the world was a sphere long before Columbus.

Why is there an upsurge in Flat Earth believers? Well, it came from Samuel Rowbotham (aka “Parallax”). He did the infamous Bedford Level Experiment, which he claimed proved that the earth was flat. This was almost immediately disproved when Alfred Russel Wallace did the experiment correctly and accounted for atmospheric refraction. However, Parallax’s ideas lived on and kept the idea alive into the 20th century.

Enter Samuel Shenton in 1956. He set up the International Flat Earth Research Society (IFERS), better known as the Flat Earth Society. It came from beliefs held by the Universal Zetetic Society. The Zetetic Method is different than the Scientific Method because it insists on the predominance of direct experience (you can’t see a curve on the horizon, so one doesn’t exist) against abstract thinking.

So, how do Flat Earthers contend with NASA photos? What do they say about GPS systems? What does the Earth look like according to them, and how can gravity exist? Why are other planets spheres, but ours is not? What accounts for the sun and moon? Why do NBA stars and rappers keep going to war with Neal deGrasse Tyson about this? Listen, laugh, learn.

Nathan Thompson gets kicked out of Starbucks after insulting a NASA guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_qOhuyRaAY#action=share

No Forests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHkiZNT3cyE

Round Earth Proofs: http://www.popsci.com/10-ways-you-can-prove-earth-is-round#page-7


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