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A Flat Pathway To Spherical Thinking.
On logic, deductive reasoning, the scientific method, and other tools for helping to determine what's actually real, and what's made up bullshit designed to make us all look stupid.
I’m a bit concerned by a recent trend. There is so much disinformation these days, that it has become fashionable to “question everything”. While this in itself isn’t a bad idea, it is also very important to have a clear understanding of how to determine if something is real or fake. Otherwise you leave yourself open to sneaky PsyOps, designed to undermine rational thought, and sow unnecessary division. There are too many legitimately questionable things going on that we actually need to be investigating, to be wasting our time bickering about the ones that can be conclusively proven.
I type slow, so this is an epic for me, but I think it's very important.
I tend to be logical to a fault. While other people are debating whether the glass is half full or half empty, I point out that the receptacle is larger than required to contain the current amount of fluid. I feel at home here in the "truther" community. Show me the sauce! Is it verifiable? Can we cross refence it? Can we prove, for sure, that it's true? Or prove, for sure, that it’s fake? Or is there an area of legitimate contention?
In recent times, the scientific method has been all but lost, and intentionally I think. Part of the dumbing down of society agenda, not wanting people to know how to think and reason. Because of "political science" and "medical science" and "climate science" etc., people now think all science is bunk, and therefore the scientific method itself is bunk, and we should just debate all opinions as being of equal value, regardless of the amount of hard evidence and verifiable data that they have to support them. Most people don't even understand what the scientific method is, let alone how to apply it. Or just simple deductive reasoning for that matter. Trust the science? The whole point of science is that you don't have to trust it, you can fuck around and find out for yourself.
The really frustrating thing about people abandoning logical reasoning, is that they can't be debated with on the basis of logic and reason and hard evidence. Working through factual evidence, in a systematic and logical way, is really all we have to try and determine what's real in this world.
The basic idea of logical/scientific/deductive reasoning, is to create a hypothesis/theory/"working model" of something, and then see if it matches up with real world observations. If it does, great, it's a functioning model/theory. If not, back to the drawing board.
Let's start really simple, for the people in the back. Stick with me here.
Hypothesis: 2 apples plus 2 apples, equals 4 apples.
If I have 2 apples, and someone hands me 2 more apples, I now have 4 apples. Anyone can try this, it works every time. You don't have to "take my word for it", you can actually try it, and prove it for yourself. It's a working model. If you want claim that 2 apples plus 2 apples equals 5 apples, well that's a fun thought experiment. But unless you can present an actual demonstration of it (a working model), that I can try for myself, then it's just that. A thought experiment, not a valid theory.
Let's take it up a notch. The Pythagorean theorem. The sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle, is equal to the square of the hypotenuse. (Yes I wrote that from memory.) A^2 + B^2 = C^2 It's a formula I have used many times over the last 30+ years.
If you understand basic math/geometry/algebra, then you can prove this formula to be correct for yourself with a ruler and a piece of graph paper, or a straight edge and a framing square. You can make a working model. You don't have to "take my word for it", you can try it, and prove it for yourself.
**This is where it get's fun.**
If however, someone doesn't understand the basics of math well enough to work out the formula for themselves, then they might claim that it's bunk. "That's just some formula you learned in school, you don't know if it's true!" When you try to explain to them that you do know it's true, because you worked it out for yourself, they may say "Nope, you're just trusting what you were taught!" They don't understand it, so they don't believe that you understand it either. They don’t have a legitimate argument against the formula itself, they just don’t understand it, so they can’t prove it for themselves, and so they don’t trust it.
This is an sometimes called an argument from ignorance. "I don't understand it, therefore, it is not understandable!" So now everyone is on equal footing to debate it, ignoring of course, that only one side of the debate actually understands the subject matter well enough to formulate an educated opinion about it.
Why do I bring all this up? Flat earth. Yep, flat earth. I haven't wanted to address it, because addressing it lends it credence, and it doesn't deserve any. But now it actually seems to be gaining a foothold in our movement, and I think it needs calling out. It's insidious and divisive, and it's just plain wrong.
The start of the recent resurgence of this "theory" happened around 2015. I laughed when I first saw it, but then it kept coming up, so I figured what the heck and actually looked into it. I quickly realized that it doesn't hold up to even the most basic of scrutiny. As far as it being an actual, legitimate, working theory, there really is no "there" there.
However, I also understand that a lot of people haven’t taken the time to look into it, so they don't have enough of a basic understanding of the principles involved to "work out the formula", and know for themselves what form our world takes. For those people, this "debate" isn't so cut and dried. It may seem like two opposing theories, each of which has good points and bad. Rather than what it actually is, a solid understanding of our physical reality, vs. some made up crap that isn't even supported by the simplest of real world observations.
So my hope in typing all this up, is to shed a bit of light on the subject in such a way that people who are unsure, can understand it for themselves, just using simple logic. And not feel that they either have to do a bunch of research, and learn a bunch of stuff, or else just "take someones word for it".
Why is this so important? Because the truth is important, and understanding things for yourself is important. If people can't even work out for themselves the shape of the planet that they're standing on, they're not going to be much help in sorting through the truly complicated questions that we actually need to be dealing with. Heck, the Ancient Greeks knew the shape AND THE SIZE of it 2500 years ago! And now people want to argue that it's some sort of a NASA grift? WTF? Eratosthenes took measurements of the angle of the shadows in 2 cities a few hundred miles apart, did some maths, and calculated the circumference of the earth to within about 2% accuracy. In 240 BC. You can do this exact same experiment right now for yourself. This really isn't rocket science.
Plus, it makes the whole movement look stupid. Anyone who has any basic understanding of how the physical world around us functions, has probably bailed out by now, or their head is hurting. It really is painful to listen to people try and present this as an actual theory. It's like listening to someone explaining to a car mechanic why internal combustion engines can't possibly work.
There are a plethora of very well done websites, YouTube channels, and Substacks debunking the flat earth "theory". (See link below!) They talk about HAM radios tracking satellites, watching a Starlink launch and then seeing the satellites come back over 90 minutes later from the other side. Listening in on the Russian space station. Observing the way that the stars track, and which constellations are visible in the southern hemisphere vs. the northern hemisphere. Watching ships sail over the horizon. Explaining the tides. Not being able to see England from New York with a telescope. Etc. etc. etc.
Now these may all be valid and provable reasons why the flat earth model doesn't work. But they also take a bit of a working knowledge of those subjects to actually be considered proof, otherwise you are just taking someone’s word for it. So let’s go back to the start. Deductive reasoning, logic, the scientific method. A working model. Knowing for yourself.
I can literally make a working model of the sun, the earth, and the moon, with a couple of balls and a flashlight. What do I mean by "working model"? I mean that if, on this little miniature model of our world, I set the time to let's say 12:00 noon EST on June 1st, everything in the model will be the same as what's observed in reality on that same time and date, at every point on earth. In the model it will be 9:00 am on the West Coast, 5:00 pm in Europe, and dark in Australia. The location of the sun and moon in the sky will be optically correct from any spot on earth, shadows will point in the correct directions in every location. The phase of the moon will be correct. It will be summer in the northern hemisphere, and winter in the southern hemisphere. A working miniature model of our world.
There is no flat equivalent of this. Let me say that again, there is no flat model of our world that functions correctly. No flat model in which the observations made in the model, match the observations made in real life.
But, I can even take it one step simpler. Forget about the sun and moon, and just look at earth itself. If the earth is flat, it stands to reason that there should be a map of it that is accurate. Why wouldn't there be? But there isn't. There is no flat map of the world that is accurate. Not even close. What do I mean by accurate? Dimensionally correct. Everything on the map is the right size, the right shape, and in the right location. That's the basic function of a working map. If it's not dimensionally accurate, it might look cool as art, but it is not much use as a functional map. You wouldn't want to use it to plan out a trip.
Now, there are local flat maps that are accurate, sure. And given the size of the planet, a "local" map, could be a map of the United States. The Earth is big, really big. I think this is one of the things that people have trouble grasping. The Earth is so big, that even an area the size of the United States doesn't really have much of a curve to it. Not enough to significantly distort it when flattened out. But try to draw an accurate flat map of an area as big as say, North America, and now you will have problems. Think of peeling an orange in one piece, and flattening the peel out on the table. It doesn't work so well. There are gaps between the pieces.
Some of you may remember learning about different types of map projections in school. Does "Mercator projection" ring any bells? There are many different versions of the flat world map, but none of them are accurate, because they are all a spherical map that has been "unrolled" (peeled) and squashed flat in one of a few different ways. The Mercator projection is the standard rectangular world map that you would probably think of hanging on a wall. See the right hand example here:
On a Mercator projection map, Greenland appears much larger than the USA, when in fact, it's actually only about 1/3 the size of it. This is due to the way the globe is "unrolled" and flattened out, areas closer to the equator remain more accurate, while areas near the poles get stretched out much larger than they really are. Think of the orange peel, the areas closer to the polls are stretched out to fill in the gaps, so that the map looks nice. Some maps leave the gaps, so that the land masses are closer to their actual size and shape. Like this:
The size and shape of continents being wrong, is a minor issue though. The big issue, as far as this being an accurate "working model" map of the world, is the whole "edge of the map" thing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Makes airline travel between say California and Japan a bit tricky.
So flat earth proponents will usually point to a map projection that features the north pole in the center of the map, with the rest of the world spread out around it. Like this:
This map solves the problem of the "edge of the map" in the middle of the pacific, but adds a few other minor issues. One is that the small round continent of Antarctica, now stretches for 75,000 miles all the way around the entire map. The other easy to see issue, is that South America, Africa, and Australia, all appear many times larger than they actually are. South America appears to be at least twice as big as North America, Africa appears considerably bigger than the entire European/Asian land mass, and Australia appears bigger than Asia. So how, you may ask, do I know that South America isn't actually twice as big as North America? Well because people live there, and they drive around. Truckers log their shipping routes. Crazy motorcyclists do "Iron Butt" rides from coast to coast in North America, and in South America. They log every gas stop and verify how many miles they traveled. How far apart places are is very well documented. Plus, you can always go there and try it for yourself.
Remember with the Mercator projection map, the globe is unrolled like a tube, with the equator being the centerline. So, while in the vicinity of the equator, things are pretty much the right size and shape. But there is more and more deformation(stretching) of the map, the farther away you get from the equator, and the closer you get to the north and south poles.
With this round (flat earth) map, the globe is unrolled/flattened out, more like a cone, using the North Pole as the center point. (See the center example in the first picture above.) So, while in the vicinity of the North Pole, things are pretty much the right size and shape. But there is more and more deformation(stretching) of the map, the farther away you get from the North pole, and the closer you get to the "South Pole" (South Ring?). Since the Mercator map starts in the middle and goes north and south, it's splitting the amount of deformation in half compared to this map. On this map, everything from around the equator outward ("south"), is massively stretched out, and appears much larger than it actually is. Things are also not in the right locations, or the right distance apart. If you fly from Argentina to New Zealand, you don't fly north to Alaska to refuel, before continuing on your epic 20,000 mile journey.
There is however, a map of the world that is perfectly accurate. All the continents are the correct shapes and sizes, and located in the correct places. It's called a globe. Anywhere on it that you measure, will measure the same as it does in real life. You don't have to take my word for it, you can actually try it for yourself. Take a flight, go on a cruise, go for a road trip. It's a working scale model of the planet we live on. A dimensionally correct map of the world.
So until someone comes up with an actual, accurate, functionally correct, flat map of the world, there really is no debate here. We don't even have to get into a working model that takes into account the sun and moon. Just present a flat map in which the continents are the correct shapes and sizes, and in the correct locations to one another. Simple. Until then, the "Flat Earth" concept is silly, illogical nonsense, and should be treated as such.
Thanks for reading.
(Addendum added below)
This is a great Substack I found while writing mine. It goes into the technical aspects I mentioned briefly above. Very nicely done. 👍
Someone pointed to another version of the “Flat Earth” map, very similar to the one that I used, claiming it to be an accurate map. This one here:
So let’s take a look at Australia on this map:
That’s not how Australia is shaped, it’s shaped like this:
Yes I know it’s rotated differently. It’s still not the same shape. I have been to Australia, I have friends in Australia. If it wasn’t shaped like this map, they would have noticed by now.
Now let’s compare it to the United States, like so:
Those red circles are both the same size. That’s not right. Australia is not that size when compared to the United States. Australia is this size when compared to the United States:
Australia is about 3000 miles across, not 6000 miles across. I know people who have driven it.
So on this map, Australia is not only badly misshapen, but also appears basically twice as big as it should be, when compared to another similarly sized area of the same map. That doesn’t seem like a very accurate map to me. On an accurate map, every part of the map should be accurate.
Now let's check a flight path. Here is one from Santiago Chile, to Sydney Australia. I pulled this off of a real time flight tracker. There are several of these, I used ADS-B Exchange. This is one of those flights across the “bottom of the globe” that supposedly never happen:
Note that ADS-B Exchange displays the flights on a Mercator projection map. This is why the flight path appears to be a big curve.
If you lay that flight path out on a globe, it's a bit shorter, and (surprise surprise) it's actually a straight shot (other than the curve of the earth itself). Like this:
They took the shortest path.
Now, lets lay that same flight path out on the flat earth map:
As you can see it ends up much longer, and also majorly curved for no readily apparent reason. Clearly this isn't right. Why wouldn't they just fly straight there? Why do a huge loop-around? Not to mention that a Boeing 787-9, with a maximum range of 7635 miles, wouldn't even be able to make that trip without needing to refuel at least once. Probably twice. This is not an accurate map.
One more, just for fun. Another flight that supposedly never happens, but I was able to track live. Nonstop from Johannesburg South Africa to Sydney Australia:
Someone sent me ticket details for one of these flights:
And here is back the other way, Sydney to Johannesburg on a different tracker, still using a Mercator projection:
Let’s plot that flight path on a globe:
Looks pretty reasonable.
Now plot it on the flat earth map:
Try it yourself. Track some planes, especially flights south of the equator, then try to plot them on the flat earth map, and have it make sense. Good luck!