A Flat Earther

I had a new experience tonight. A woman I went out with a few times a year or so back got in touch and we went out for dinner. Somewhere in the middle of the dinner she mentioned that she had looked into the flat Earth claims that some people are making. I waited for the punch line.

She said there are no pictures of the Earth from space as a round ball. The cameras take a bunch of pictures that are spliced together to make it look that way. Spacecraft couldn’t get through the Van Allen belts anyway so that is why there are no pictures of the whole Earth. The dozen or so pictures on my phone were obviously photo shopped because every picture was different and if they were real they would all be the same. I waited for the punch line.

We obviously didn’t go the the moon and it was all done on sound stages and such with CGI. Frank Bormans’ Earth rise picture  was made from a dozen pictures spliced together and wasn’t real. She knows because she saw an interview with the guy that made the picture and he told how he did it. And then there was the interview with three astronauts just back from the moon. They should have been pumped up but instead they were somber because they knew they were lying to everybody. I waited for the punch line.

The Earth couldn’t be rolling around like they said because at a thousand miles an hour the wind would destroy everything. The proof being that a helicopter that went straight up for an hour and came straight down would come down somewhere else because the Earth would have rotated out from under it if it was really rotating. I started doubting that there was a punch line.

Further proof that the Earth wasn’t round came from some photographers that took some pictures of the Chicago skyline from across Lake Michigan. If the Earth was round they wouldn’t have been able to see it. There was more evidence gathered by people with the same type special camera that could see ships that should have been hidden by the curvature. I realized that there wasn’t a punch line.

Gravity is an illusion because density and mass are the same thing. Several time she mentioned that she was intelligent and not gullible. At somewhere around this point I quit trying to answer seriously and got annoyed. It is possible that me calling her opinions stupid is not conducive to further interaction. I remember thinking that she made Gary Church sound rational. The punch line was me as I had forgotten why we quit going out a year ago.

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I do construction for a living and aerospace as an occasional hobby. I am an inventor and a bit of an entrepreneur. I've been self employed since the 1980s and working in concrete since the 1970s. When I grow up, I want to work with rockets and spacecraft. I did a stupid rocket trick a few decades back and decided not to try another hot fire without adult supervision. Haven't located much of that as we are all big kids when working with our passions.

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9 Responses to A Flat Earther

  1. Jim Davis says:

    John, I’m curious as to how the subject was raised. Did it seem like (in retrospect) that she was looking for a good opening to raise the subject? That maybe she got in touch with you with the express purpose of raising this subject?

    I had an experience with a former coworker who sent me a bunch of you tube links on the subject and had swallowed the whole thing hook, line, and sinker. I think I shook his faith just a little bit when I asked why navigators are taught spherical trigonometry if the earth is flat.

  2. john hare says:

    Though she initially contacted me, I don’t think it was for the express purpose of that subject. I can’t say as I handled it well. It’s tough on civil behavior when someone asks in apparent seriousness if anybody had actually gone completely around the world.

  3. James Walker says:

    It sounds like she’s be introduced to some of the (quite reasonable) objections that were raised to heliocentricism during the High Middle Ages:
    – the helicopter is a modern take on the medieval thought of “suppose a rock is dropped from a cliff; if the Earth is spinning, anything higher up will be travelling faster than it would at sea level, so should fall at a slight angle” (This happens, but i so minor it is undetectable).
    – the idea that if the world is rotating, the equator must be moving at 1000 miles per hour, so there should be 1000 mile an hour winds. Solving this was actually the first step in cracking relativity: the explanation at the time was that just as a passenger in a carriage is carrying air with them so doesn’t feel the breeze of movement, the planet can carry the air with it.

    Other problems raised was that if the Earth orbits the sun, then it should be possible to triangulate the distance to stars by waiting six months, yet there were no noticeable changes (this works, but we didn’t manage it until the 1830s) and that for stars to be as bright as planets, but far enough away that triangulation wasn’t easy, they’d all have to have circumferences larger than the orbits of Saturn (there’s a optical explanation for this that I don’t understand, that also wasn’t cracked until the 19thC).

    My guess is that she’s fallen foul of a well educated joke, and sadly didn’t realise that it was a nerd at play.

  4. Andrew Swallow says:

    – the helicopter is a modern take on the medieval thought of “suppose a rock is dropped from a cliff; if the Earth is spinning, anything higher up will be travelling faster than it would at sea level, so should fall at a slight angle” (This happens, but i so minor it is undetectable).

    This is how the space elevator works. At GEO the rock goes into a circular orbit.

  5. Paul451 says:

    Re: The equatorial wind.

    It kind of does, that’s how you end up with coriolis and trade winds.

    Which makes me wonder, how do Flat Earther’s explain hurricanes? Especially the northern/southern hemisphere differences in direction of spin. Is it all a hoax?

    (I prefer to agree that they are correct, but that it’s the south pole which is at the centre of the disk. After all, I’ve spent nights, and seasons, watching the stability of the south celestial pole. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Explain that if the southern “hemisphere” is out near the rim.)

  6. James Walker says:

    The handful I’ve met have all been in on the joke and are Flat Earthers to mock other conspiracy theorists (the most impressive I’ve met also insisted that the Americas don’t exist, and are a plot by the Templars – the argument being that you have to go to sleep to get to the US, which is when you are hypnotized to believe that you’ve been there; that all the US bases around the world are where they film the various ‘American’ locations; and that the age of discovery was the efforts of the now hidden Templars to find new secret locations to operate from. He argued it far better than my summary though).

  7. DougSpace says:

    If people want to believe a lie, I’m not sure that there’s much that can be done about it. I find it largely a waste of time trying to counter it. I suppose the exception is to try and keep more people from believing it.

  8. Paul451 says:


    “The handful I’ve met have all been in on the joke”

    It seems to be genuine amongst some evangelicals. It’s what happens when creationists level-up.

  9. Warren Platts says:

    It is possible to consistently maintain the truth of any proposition whatever, as long as you are willing to flip enough truth-values elsewhere in your linguistic framework system….

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