I really can’t believe that after 500 years we are having to debate this.
I’m not going to point at the utter mountain of evidence to prove that the Earth is round.
There are billions of photographic images of the earth’s curvature as a sphere.
Every single one of those pictures shows earth and its curvature with 100% consistency to the way a round, spherical earth would look.
Same size. Same roundness. Same atmosphere. Same color variations. Same cloud structures.
It’s almost like they were actual unaltered photographs of an actual globe we call Earth. It’s scary how perfectly they all seem to have been produced by the same hand, from the same source, using every kind of imaging media available – film snapshots, film movies, video recordings of every resolution, digital cameras, infrared cameras, magnetic field detectors….
If the Earth was really flat, then every single one of those pictures had to have been altered, or made up originally.
There is no amount of computing power available that can take decades worth of satellite images, photos from spy airplanes like the U-2, even photos from high-altitude balloons, altering the images so that they distort the earth part of the picture so that it appears genuine, and round, and consistent with every other picture.
Someone would screw it up, somewhere.
There would be at least a small collection of very good, very detailed, high-fidelity pictures that somehow didn’t get altered.
There would be many pictures that would have been altered badly. The earth is too big in this one, too small in another, or not really “round” so much as “warped”. People make photoshopping errors all the time. You’d see a ton of those errors in these “round earth” altered images.
Some of the photographs are old, have been printed, and hang on museum walls around the country.
Every single one of those pictures shows the earth with consistent roundness, perfectly coherent with the rest of the picture. There are no digital artifacts of photoshopping or airbrushing. They’re just … well, perfect.
Before computers were altering pictures (and I’m old enough to remember when they could not), film experts had to paint the backgrounds that they wanted if the real background wasn’t right. Could they have actually put in all the details, accurately, of a made-up “round” earth when the actual photo showed a flat earth? On every single printed picture available?
But, I just said that I would not rely on the mountain of evidence.
Here’s what I do know.
There are some fabulously wealthy people in the world. Like, insanely wealthy. Bill Gates. Jeff Bezos. Billionaires. But, I’m sure people will accuse them of being biased.
So, what about other insanely wealthy people? Arab princes? Russian oligarchs? Drug cartel lords.
How much do those people have to be paid to keep secret their houses at the edge of the world?
How much would it cost to pay hush money to the secret agencies that build those houses, or fly super-wealthy people out to the edge for sightseeing?
Don’t you think that at least one of their kids, or spouses, or personal assistants, or bodyguards, or pilots, or ship crew, or construction workers, or guests they were trying to impress for some reason, would have come back with a shitload of actual photographs and video recording of the edge of the planet, and shared it with some tabloid?
Don’t you think that Wikileaks would have obtained those photos from a hacker who stole them from some rich trust-fund kid’s phone or email account?
Don’t you think there would be super-extravagant travel agencies that would set up trips to the edge of the world? We have all heard about regular people being able to buy tickets to a trip to space. Why aren’t there tickets for a trip to the edge of the world?
But, okay, let’s just say that the super-wealthy have somehow, against all possible odds, succeeded in suppressing even the tiniest fragment of evidence that the earth is flat.
Why would they have done that? What’s in it for them? The world’s biggest joke?
Wouldn’t they also have to make sure that Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos didn’t ruin their little joke on the world?
How much money does it take to force Bill and Jeff to claim, with a straight face, that the world is round when they are lying because they know good and well it is actually flat?
It’s clear that Flat Earthers simply are not interested in actually trying to prove the world is flat. They have nothing except a poor understanding of math and physics, and a passion for fighting against overwhelming odds.
I believe it’s that passion for fighting against overwhelming odds that I think fuels much of the turmoil in the world lately, especially in politics. But that’s a blog post for another time.
I suppose that some people need to find meaning in their lives by identifying with a passionate group of people who will never surrender their cause. Period. They just won’t.
Here’s my real dilemma. I know we can’t change their minds. But we also can’t have them running amok, pulling new people into their cause, without a chance for those new people to hear the opposing (correct) view and hopefully choose fact over fiction.
This is the role of education. We know that children have to learn how to rely on their own ability to work things out logically and rationally. There are two positions about the shape of the Earth; one is correct, the other is a lie. Which is which?
I never want to tell children to believe that the Earth is round only because everybody says so.
In fact, I want to make sure that children reject that kind of argument. You should never believe anything only because most people say it’s true.
That might sound like I’m making a case for the Flat Earthers. I’m not, but I can see why it sounds like that.
What you should do, instead, is learn how to use reason and logic.
And how and why you should do that is definitely another blog post. Or several posts. I’ll start working on those now.