The Shape of Things
"Common sense is what tells us the Earth is flat." ~ Albert Einstein
When I was in grammar school, I was a very intelligent, introverted, studious kid. I was fortunate enough to be enrolled in a very strict and rigorous private school. I liked to learn. Math and science were my favorite subjects. I did well in all my classes throughout most of my academic career. Still, at least in middle school and well into high school, I hated history. In fact, it was the only class I'd ever outright failed until I got to college. Otherwise, I mostly gots A's and B's in every subject.
The reason was, I didn't find it particularly interesting.
It's not that I had bad teachers. Indeed, I had many great teachers and I had good relationships with them in nearly all cases. There was just something about the way in which history was being taught that didn't quite resonate with me.
Then, I discovered The History Channel and NatGeo and suddenly I became fascinated by it. This was back before the History Channel completely devolved into the "Secret Society of Nazi Alien Jesus" channel, though it was right around the turning point such that I got all the good stuff before it got too far out there. I'd watch stuff like UFOs in the Bible, which was a rather formative documentary for me.
That then led me to become interested in aliens and UFOs, such that the first conspiratorial documentary I ever watched was David Sereda's The Case For NASA's UFO in college. From there, I found Bill Cooper, Peter Joseph, Jordan Maxwell, and others. Maxwell turned me on to the legal history of the world, from which I stumbled into the history of secret societies, symbology, and also the Freeman Movement.
So before I was even really well-versed in economics or modern politics, I'd already been thrown into the deep end of the pool. Down the dark rabbit hole of alt-history.
While I was down there just swimming around, I came across a teacher by the name of Santos Bonacci, who had some excellent work on astrotheology, syncretism, and the history of Vatican canon law. You may have noticed him counted in and amongst my Portraits of Inspiration gallery (along with Bill, Peter, and Jordan). Santos was the first person on that list (as I write this) with whom I actually had something of a direct personal relationship - we were friends on Facebook and often chatted.
I was even friends with his niece there too.
Unfortunately, I soon became disillusioned by Santos. He'd drunken just a bit too much Kool-Aid and started going senile, buying into the whole Flat Earth conspiracy. So sad.
Out of respect and admiration for him, I gave him a chance to make his case and watched his videos with an open mind, thinking there might be something to all this, but alas there wasn't. It wasn't the usual caliber of his work that I'd come to respect. Not at all!
The whole thing was really just tragic actually. That's not the worst part, though. He and I talked about Flat Earth for a while on Facebook, going back and forth for hours, and I really tried to understand his arguments, even knowing that NASA likely hid other things about aliens and UFOs, but this was a bridge too far for me.
It was a place he'd gone unto which I couldn't follow.
No matter what I said, whether to him or other Flat Earthers, there was always some explanation to brush aside real evidence. I know many FE'ers are just shit-posting trolls, doing it for keks, but Santos actually appeared to buy into this for real. During our talks, I tried to pace and lead him, even crafting objective ways of measuring the shape of the Earth that could satisfy both sides. Last I'd heard, he told me he was working on crowdfunding such experiments, but some part of me feels pity that he's just out to confirm his own bias rather than seek the objective truth, and how horrible it will be to watch when he ultimately faces that disappointment.
I say that because he was also the first person from my "Portraits of Inspiration" gallery to get into a fight with me and block me on social media. Towards the end of our relationship, he seemed to completely abandon reason and just started shouting me down. Ultimately, he broke our friendship because I wouldn't go along with his crazy idea, even though I was really nice about it and trying to understand and be helpful to him.
So very sad. 38'(
Even still, I am willing to keep his portrait up there for now because of all the other great and inspirational lessons he's taught me over the years, and to serve as a reminder to myself and others that you don't have to agree with someone completely to find value in what they do. For better or worse, Mr. Astrotheology played a net positive role in shaping who I am. I feel that that lesson, and that example, is needed even more these days as people tear down public figures and relics of the past all because they don't conform to their purist, utopian absolutism.
"The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little ways past them into the impossible." ~ Clarke's Second Law
Any good scientist or philosopher will tell you that old theories and ideas must conform to the data provided by empirical reality. That's how we stopped believing in superstitious, regressive notions such as the idea that the Earth was the center of the universe, or that the Earth revolved around the sun in perfect circular orbits.
Most of us are content to accept that we killed off Flat Earth this way too, and yet it continues to rear its ugly head in the current year.
Hollow Earth, on the other hand, makes a lot more sense.
Still, as tempting as it would be to just tell these FE'ers to shut up and go away, I've been in the darkest depths long enough to have seen some shit and developed the humility to realize I am but one mere mortal on this oblate spheroid and I know very little about stuff, so I always try to remain open-minded.
To do otherwise, would be anti-science and anti-philosophy.
So, I mentioned several tests I'd crafted that could help objectively determine, to the satisfaction of either side, what the actual shape of the Earth is. I'm not going to get into all the details of the Flat Earth arguments. To me, that's just playing around in the weeds. Instead, what I have to offer is something much more nuanced and elegant.
The problem with dealing with conspiracy theorists - and it's rare that I ever invoke that term as a pejorative - is that no matter what evidence or explanation you give them, they will always come up with some sort of counterargument that affirms their worldview. So what you need to do is a proof by contradiction. To effectively embrace their side and take it to its logical conclusion.
Towards that end, I have three tests that I believe to be foolproof. If implemented properly, then it won't matter which side is correct or which side you start from, you will ultimately get the correct answer.
Test #1 - The Circle
So I'm sure you've probably seen the proposed models of the Earth put out by FE'ers. Sort of a top-down view, like the flag of the United Nations, with the North Pole in the center and Antarctica forming a giant ring around the edge.
Again, I won't get into all the details of how such a world might or might not work, because frankly, all that is irrelevant. What's ultimately important is to first determine categorically, one way or another, whether the Earth is round or flat. If it's round, none of that stuff matters anymore than trying to figure out what invisible pink Wakandan dragon farts smell like. Whereas, if it's flat, well then we have to scrap everything we know about physics and start from scratch with that new information.
A lot of people argue about visibility and curvature and gravity, and all this other stuff.
Like I said, the FE'ers have an answer to all of that, so I'm going to put forward a very simple test that uses very simple logic and very simple math. For a small travel cost, literally anyone can do it. It won't be subject to interpretation or conspiracy either.
I call this the circle test.
The way this test works is, you pick two lines of latitude on the Earth - one above, one below the equator. It doesn't matter which two, though it'd help if they are a fair distance apart. Ideally, you want them to be the same distance from the equator, so something like the Arctic and Antarctic circles or the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, as depicted in the image above. All you have to do is make a straight trip east-to-west (or west-to-east) along this line of latitude and measure the distance traveled.
How exactly you do that is difficult, since the FE'ers will tell you that compasses and convex lenses are unreliable. So you have to find a method of navigation that will satisfy both camps, such as star-plotting or something along those lines. To avoid jump-cuts and fudging through editing, it might also be a good idea to record raw footage of the entire journey, posting it to a livestream on YouTube or Periscope or something so no one can accuse you of tampering with the raw footage as part of some secret government plot.
Once you have that data, though, all you do is compare the distance between the two lines.
If the Earth is flat, then the southern line should be larger than than northern line by an order of several thousand miles. Conversely, if the Earth is roundish, they'll be a lot closer, even being about the same distance to within a few miles to a few hundred miles at most if you account for errors. Such clear evidence should confirm one way or the other the objective shape of the world and is perfectly replicable. You don't need to launch any weather balloons or use special lenses.
Pretty much everyone can agree on these results. It's so easy a child could understand it.
For best results, you could travel around the edges of the North and South Poles, even, since that would produce the maximum possible distance on a flat earth, but relatively little on a round one. There's also an actual clear edge to the landmass, so you just plant a flag as your marker and walk or sail along the coast until you find it again. Easy as the pie-shaped world on which we may or may not live!
Test #2 - The Dome
Given how much Flat Earthers seem to love their home-made balloons so much, this next test actually capitalizes on that same adventurous spirit.
Thing is, I don't think they're going far enough.
See, in the Flat Earth worldview, the entire space program is a fraud and all their footage is garbage and fake, doctored with computers or airbrushed or otherwise slapped together in Photoshop. I happen to agree with that assessment, at least to some extent, though I disagree with why it is.
Based on testimonies given by groups like The Disclosure Project, and various declassified data such as the official files released by the French government, I think that it probably has to do with the governments of the world coming together to cover up the existence of human contact with extraterrestrials. That there may be some form of Prime Directive at play here instructing aliens to stay away until we get our shit together as a species.
Still, the FE's go a step further and say it's because God and/or aliens put us here on a Flat Earth for whatever purpose. In that cosmology, the sun and moon aren't actually several million miles away, but are in fact only several thousand miles away, usually contained within some sort of giant clear dome that they say is what the Bible referred to as the firmament in Genesis.
Exactly how far away these astral bodies are doesn't really matter for our purposes here, nor does it matter whether they're inside the dome or outside of it. The same basic principle applies for my test.
We'll just run on the assumption that their model is correct in some form for now.
In that conception, the sun and moon cycle around the face of the disc Earth much like you see depicted here in the accompanying gif. Forget about your standard arguments concerning gravity or how light would actually behave under those conditions. That approach hasn't worked to convince anyone.
Again, we're just gonna take their model as read here.
What the FE'ers typically try to do with their amateur balloons is capture the curvature of the Earth and show that the horizon is actually flat. Problem is, circles have curves too and depending on the distance and what type of lens you're using, that could all be subject to interpretation. No, I think a far better use of those balloons would be to send as many of them up into space as you can and actually try to crash them into the sun and moon.
That would certainly be impressive if you could manage it. That would be convincing!
Or it doesn't even have to hit it exactly. If you could just get within a short distance of them, I think that would be enough, but definitely pour all your efforts into aiming to actually hit the damned things. That may require some engineering and advanced calculus, but if you're committed, you could definitely time it and maybe attach some propellers to steer it on ascent.
If you did that, that would change some minds.
Now, there are two major problems with this approach. The first is that it could be the case that the sun and moon actually reside outside the dome and so you'd never be able to hit them. Ok, well if that's the case, we can just move the goalpost. You don't have to hit them, just hit the dome instead. You shouldn't have to worry about the effects of the vacuum of space or atmospheric pressure deflating your balloon since the dome would contain it.
Maybe there is no actual dome, like in the Gods of Egypt movie.
That seems like information worth knowing, right? At least we could eliminate that as a possibility. In such case, you could use the balloons in conjunction with the third test that I'll outline shortly.
The other problem is that you run the risk of people saying you just faked all the footage and used CGI to manipulate it and make it look like you hit the sun or moon, sort of like what you accuse NASA of doing with all their footage. Here again, I think if you just livestreamed the entire thing in real time, that would go a long way towards lending credibility to your experiment.
Sort of like what Elon Musk does with his SpaceX launches.
Of course, by the time you actually get around to hitting the mark, Elon will probably already be taking people up on passenger flights to Mars and you can just look out the window of your Enceladus and see that the Earth is globular with your own eyes instead of from a balloon. Of course, I'm sure you'll come up with excuses for that too, since you think airplane windows play clever tricks because of their convex curvature. Even standing on the Moon or Mars, looking up at the Earth in the sky won't be enough for you. You'll just say you were shanghaied and whisked away to some secret government facility with fully-lifelike simulations crafted just for people like you.
Come to think of it, maybe that's a better use of government funding.
Test #3 - The Wall
Ok, since we're fully committed to governmental conspiracies at this point, allow me to present the third and final way in which the Flat Earthers could categorically prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and to the satisfaction of their detractors, that the Earth is indeed flat.
Forget shooting for the moon. That's really hard to pull off and is really expensive for an individual.
Likewise, forget going to the beach and capturing footage of boats on the ocean as they drift over the horizon out of sight. Forget about all these complex contraptions that act as glorified levels. Forget math and science and computer models, even. Forget going to Mars. None of that is gonna work. All your complicated arguments about the effects of mass and gravity making the trek to the edge of the world seem like walking up a hill? Well, that just shows you're ignorant and lack imagination, because that's not how mass and gravity work on a Flat Earth, obviously! You have to throw away everything you know about all that - which is really just what the government wants you to know, you see?
Indeed, seeing is truly believing, and in this case, a picture's worth the world.
That's the only way to get through to people is with real hard, solid, photographic and video evidence. I mean, for all the shit he gets for being a conspiracy theorist, we have to keep in mind that it was Alex Jones who first exposed the mock human sacrifice cults of Bohemian Grove with that undercover video footage he obtained.
Now, we all know who they are and what they do, and it's become normalized to the point where they even have them parodied on House of Cards as a major plot point:
I'm not quite sure that's what artists mean when they talk about living the Bohemian Life.
So clearly, some conspiracies are in fact very real and it just takes some intrepid reporting to bring back evidence of collusion. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. And this isn't some elusive Bigfoot or Loch Ness monster we're chasing, either. The Earth isn't radically shifting form (that we know of). It's right where it's always been. That ring around the southern border is there for all to see and go visit and take photos of and bring back footage.
Why then has no one gone and taken pictures of this fabled ice wall?
I would think that'd be pretty compelling evidence to suddenly find out that we live in the world of Westeros and yet thus far no one's documented it, despite the clear presence of Antarctic bases for many decades. Why not?
Or to trek across the frozen wasteland and take a photo of the edge. That'd be pretty compelling too, like seeing photos of Niagara Falls. People would wanna go there as tourists and make pilgrimages and set up religions in praise and worship of the abyss. You'd have whole industries created for the sole purpose of just figuring out how to make all that happen.
There's lots of money to be made, apart from just knowing the truth.
Why has no one been to the edge? Is there some magic bubble that keeps people from escaping like in the TV show The Prisoner? If so, why not record that instead? Send some drones out to capture it if it's too dangerous for humans to traverse.
Flat Earthers will tell you that the governments of the world have colluded to set up a perimeter of armed guards to protect against it. Ok, cool. Show me footage of that instead then!
We have people who expose the truth about the Vatican, about the Jesuits, about the Bilderbergers, about Bohemian Grove, Area 51, S4, various assassinations, the legal status of the City of London, Israel-occupation of Palestine, Operation Northwoods, 9-11, blood diamonds, child sex rings, and so forth. We have all this documentary evidence of stuff that's far more slippery, yet no one can seem to get a team of reporters livestreaming on Periscope down to Antarctica - a place that isn't going anywhere - and just stand at the border and broadcast footage of the jackboots guarding the South Pole.
Hmm ... Could it be they don't actually exist?
I've heard plenty of plausible theories related to military bases in Antarctica having to do with aliens or Hollow Earth or Agartha or just secret global conquest, and while those still have problems, they at least show the bases there and it's enough to raise reasonable suspicion. Of course, they're dispersed and/or guarding the southern pole of a globular Earth, not a wall of ice or an abyss.
I have not seen any Flat Earther do the same level of research.
Instead, you get some chuckle-fuck talking in abstractions about some secret cryptic message hidden in Pink Floyd and ancient wood carvings when they could just show pictures.
You'd think FE'ers would have an easier time of it, since all the troops would be standing more or less in a line and you have a lot more ground to cover. If people can hop the U.S. border wall, I'm sure you can find a way in, and this is something far more important, right?
Take those balloons and fly over the wall, attaching a prop to one end so it can move. Show us footage of the military shooting them down. Maybe there exists an endless expanse of ice at world's end? Ok, we can rig a drone to fly across in a straight line and calculate the maximum possible distance it might travel from one end of Antarctica to the other and then compare it to the realtime footage of a livestreaming drone that's still traveling four years out with no end in sight.
Sort of a variant of the circle test running longitudinally. Again, seeing is believing.
If you showed people footage of the edge, of the wall of ice, of the guards, if you turned up recent documents instead of medieval alchemy paintings, if you did the math in sailing around the arctic rim, if you sent up a balloon and it got stuck on the great glass ceiling ... if you did any of this stuff, people would readily side with you and you'd go down in history as the undisputed legendary discoverer of all time.
So what are you waiting for?!
I'm not gonna hold my breath until you do, though. I think you know deep down this is all bullshit and the people that continue to support it are either crazy or merely shitposting for the lols. I've been to the darkest depths, but this is one place I can't follow you lot. Still, I remain committed to open-mindedness just on the off-chance I'm wrong. Again, though, I'm not gonna hold my breath.
But the gauntlet has at least been thrown.
"The Earth is round. Change my mind," as Steve Crowder would say. Until then, I'm gonna enjoy some dank ass Earth-chan memes.
And a Tide-Pod-chan meme for good measure, to serve as a warning for you Flat Earthers of what NOT to do: