In the past six years, the Flat Earth society has gotten some press coverage due to their claims that the Earth is actually flat. Daniel Shenton, the new president of the society started the steam in 2010 claiming that the Earth is flat. Shenton is an interesting character, as he believes in most mainstream issues, like that there is evidence for man-made global warning, and climate change is real, but he refuses to accept scientific facts that the Earth is round. And after all, all members of the Flat Earth society have become living metaphors for backward thinking and refusal of scientific facts. In 2012, the society again claimed that the Earth is flat, suggesting that NASA has fabricated photos and proofs. Now, being 2016, the society got another push, this time from a famous rapper, B.o.B, who released a track in January called “Flatline” in which he suggests the Earth is flat. So, with that being said, are the Flat Earth Society real, and what is all this fuss with them?
The history of the Flat Earth society can be traced back to the beginning of the 19th century, when Samuel Bowbotham published a book called “Zetetic Astronomy: Earth not a Globe”. The Zetetic society is the descendant of the flat earth society, with the Flat Earth society being created in 1956 by Samuel Shenton. The first International Flat Earth Society was organized in the home of Shenton in Dover England. Samuel was the first one to say that the satellite images showing Earth as a sphere were fooling the untrained eye and they can be illusions. The society also claimed that the Apollo landing on the moon was a hoax. Shenton died in 1971, and then came Charles K. Johnson, who managed to help the society grow to 3,500 members.
During the reign of Johnson, the society published Flat Earth News, including headlines like: “Whole World Deceived… Except the Very Elect”, “Sun is a Light 32 Miles Across”, “The Earth has no motion”, “Galileo was a Liear”, “Science insults your intelligence”, “The Earth is not a Ball; Gravity does not exist” and many others. The society paid for the publications through annual member dues. The members paid between $6 and $10 for annual membership to the society. He believed that scientists are trying to replace the Bible and religion with science.
The Flat Earth society declined and became synonym for people deliberately refusing to accept facts. That was, until 2004, when Daniel Shenton, who is not related to Samuel Shenton resurrected the society. He based the new, modern society on a web-based discussion forum which led to relaunch in October 2009.
The society created a new website which included the collection of Flat Earth literature through the years. Shenton also managed to attract new members to the club, and in 2014, his new, modern Flat Earth Society counted 500 members.
To understand the fuss surrounding the flat earth society, one must understand their beliefs and their proofs. So let’s start with some of the beliefs of the members of the society.
The leading theory among members of the club is that the Earth is a disc, where the Arctic circle presents the center of the disc, and the Antarctica is the wall of ice surrounding the rim. According to the society, NASA and its employees guard the ice wall in order to prevent people from climbing over the wall and fall off the disc.
To explain the day and night cycle, members of the Flat Earth Society explain that the positioning matters. According to them, both the sun and the moon are spheres, and they measure 32 miles moving in circle of 3,000 miles above the Earth. The stars, on the other hand, move in a plane of 3,100 miles above the Earth. And by that logic, the spheres illuminate different parts of our planet in a 24-hour cycle.
For members of the Flat Earth Society, gravity is an illusion and objects do not accelerate going down. They explain gravity by saying that the disc accelerates upward at 32feet per second squared (or 9.8 meters per second squared), and the acceleration is driven by a mysterious force which they call “dark energy”.
The beliefs go as far as suggesting that underneath the rocks is a composition of rocks. And as far as photos of Earth are regarded, Flat-earthers believe these are modified by photoshop.
Some people have classified Flat-earthers as modern day conspiracy theorists. But that is not entirely true. The difference is that conspiracy theorists usually adopt many fringe theories, not just one. They also fringe theories that contradict each other. On the other hand, the Flat Earth Society believes only in one theory, and that is the shape of the Earth. Some professors explain that if the Flat-earthers were conspiracy theorists, they would also show tendency in theories of UFO, ghosts, unseen forces and magical thinking.
The basis of all conspiracy theories is the same, people present an alternative theory to the issue or event, and then they construct a vague explanation about why would someone (usually the government) cover the true version.
One of the experiments Flat Earth Society wants to call for help in explaining their theory is the Bedford Level Experiment. In the experiment, a person observes a boat rowing away with a telescope. The founder of the society, Samuel Rowbotham, used a telescope to observe the boat, and found out the boat is visible even at distance of 6 miles. But the same theory can also be debunked using a good telescope. If the Earth were flat, one could see the UK and its coasts from Boston. But that is not the case, no matter how good of a telescope you have.
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