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The theory has been around for thousands of years, with early Egyptians and Mesopotamians picturing Earth as a disk floating through space. That was supported by philosophers like Homer and Thales hundreds of years later, despite the idea that Earth was spherical also gaining traction because of Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle.
The flat Earth theory faded as other societies, cultures and empires adopted the belief that the earth was round. But that hasn't stopped the flat-earthers from sparking a revival every few decades and gaining new members.
English writer Samuel Rowbotham released a book titled Earth Not a Globe in the 19th century which stated that the earth was indeed flat and circular, with the North Pole at the centre.
Artwork depicted in Camille Flammarion's L'Atmosphère: Météorologie Populaire 1888. Credit: Creative Commons
But how does water not fall off the 'edge'? He explained that Antarctica is a massive wall of ice the wraps right around the edge. Rowbotham also made suggestions that the sun and moon is much closer to earth than previous calculations.
It wasn't until 1956 when the Flat Earth Society was started in Dover, England, by Samuel Shenton. Since then, interest in the theory has waxed and waned, but it now has more than 100,000 followers on social media. As a collective, the FES doesn't believe gravity exists, that our magnetic poles actually rest on a ring and that you definitely can't see the curvature of the earth from an aeroplane window. They also think that the United Nations logo is virtually the exact same as their flat earth model - and somehow that makes it true.
LADbible spoke to a flat-earther, Pete Svarrior, to look into exactly what he believes.
LADbible: When did you first start to question the idea of a spherical Earth and was there any 'ah-ha' moment that convinced you it was flat?
Pete Svarrior: I discovered the Flat Earth Society some six or seven years ago. At the time, I had no intention of questioning anything - it just piqued my curiosity.
At first, I could not believe they could be serious about this, but as time went on, I became more and more convinced that they were in the right. Reconciling this newfound knowledge with everything I've been taught throughout my life has been a lengthy process, but I'd say it was well worth it.
LADbible: The first thing that popped into my head when I started reading about this theory is: why would NASA and all governments conspire to continue the idea of a spherical Earth? What is their incentive?
PS: We get that one a lot. People think that we believe NASA is 'lying about the Earth being round' or 'covering up the shape of the Earth', or something like that. We don't actually think they're doing any of that. We do believe in a 'space travel' conspiracy.
The purpose of NASA is to fake the concept of space travel to further America's militaristic dominance of space. This was especially important during the Cold War - if we can successfully pretend to be so much more technologically advanced than the rest of the world, why would anyone try to challenge us? But trying to fabricate a space programme means fabricating photographs and videos.
Because the belief in a round Earth was mainstream and unquestioned at the time, they assumed it to be true and used it in their imagery. Nowadays, their motive is mostly financial, but if you look at how NASA's funding has been deteriorating over time, it does look like they're trying to slowly remove themselves from existence.
LADbible: How was our earth formed under the flat Earth theory?
PS: I don't know, and I'm not even going to try guessing. I'd rather be honest about this stuff.
LADbible: What is your or FES's concept of space and what is actually in the sky if they aren't stars or planets?
PS: They are stars and planets. The major difference from the Round Earth Model is that many of these celestial bodies are much smaller and much closer to the Earth. The sun and moon circle around the Earth, creating day and night.
LADbible: Are these other celestial bodies flat as well or spherical?
PS: Observation suggests that they're spherical.
LADbible: I'm curious to know why our planet would be flat compared to the other spherical celestial bodies?
PS: I never understood why people ask that. 'If all other celestial bodies are round, how come the Earth is different?' It's so bizarre. If I told you that I have five pieces of furniture in my room, and four of them are chairs, would you suggest that the fifth item must also be a chair? The Earth is already unique in many ways. It's the only (known) celestial body to harbour intelligent life. Why can't it be the only known body with a flat surface?
LADbible: Do you think that all photos ever taken from space have been faked?
PS: No, not all pictures ever, but some have been very clearly manipulated or distorted.
LADbible: In terms of the photos and videos that I've seen posted on the site, there still haven't been any that are completely zoomed out to show the Earth is flat. Why is that?
PS: When most Round Earthers ask this question, they expect us to present a picture of the entire Earth taken from space. Given that we haven't been to space (or at least not high up enough to make this feasible), all we can offer is composite images. Fun fact: this is not much different from NASA's famous Blue Marble - it's been composed from a number of photographs supposedly taken from space. One could simply take these and realign them so that they represent a flat Earth instead.
LADbible: Is the flat earth stationary in space, or is it travelling through space?
PS: It is travelling through space, accelerating upwards at 9.81ms^-2.
LADbible: On a personal note, do you get into heated arguments with mates who don't understand your view?
PS: I used to, but not anymore. When I first discovered that the Earth was flat, I was fairly vocal about it, both with friends and with strangers online. It's got bad enough that I started receiving threats of violence from some more 'passionate' roundies. Over time, I started approaching the subject much more calmly. At the end of the day, the Earth being round or flat doesn't affect our day-to-day lives, so there's no need to get worked up about it.
Flat earthers regularly note that the United Nations flag 'believes' in their theory. Credit: UN
LADbible: What would it take for you to be convinced that the Earth is spherical?
PS: That's a difficult question to answer. I try to re-evaluate my beliefs whenever I stumble across new evidence. The Flat Earth movement is now booming because we were able to put forward convincing arguments. I guess anyone trying to revert it would have to do the same.
Credit: Flat Earth Society Facebook
The flat Earth theory has become more and more popular after several athletes, artists and celebrities added their names to the cause. Rapper B.o.B, who has released tracks like 'Nothing on You' and 'Airplanes' got into a heated discussion with award-winning astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about the theory, saying in a series of tweets: "No matter how high in elevation you are...the horizon is always eye level...sorry cadets...I didn't wanna believe it either.
"Don't believe what I say, research what I say. I'm going up against the greatest liars in history... you've been tremendously deceived."
The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart... where is the curve ? please explain this pic.twitter.com/YCJVBdOWX7
- B.o.B (@bobatl) January 25, 2016
NBA star Kyrie Irving added: "This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat... I'm telling you, it's right in front of our faces. They lie to us."
Kyrie was semi-backed up by Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green: "I can make a round picture with my iPhone today on the panorama camera and make it look round. So, I don't know. I'm not saying I think it's flat or round. I don't know but it could be."
That form of earth-shape agnosticism is shared by WWE wrestler A.J. Styles, who says: "I don't think the world is flat, I'm just saying there's some stuff about it. That's all. I'm not a flat earther. I'm just saying there's some things about it that make sense."
Are you convinced yet?
Note: LADbible does not believe the Earth is flat.
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