Flat Earth Theory

Flat Earth Theory

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Updated Oct 31, 2020 at 05:04PM EDT by Synge.

Added Feb 22, 2016 at 05:46PM EST by Ari Spool.

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Flat Earth Theory is a hypothesis that states that there is no true evidence that the earth is a globe. While the hypothesis is often dismissed as a weak, easily disprovable theory, several different online groups and organizations boast adherents to the hypothesis. These groups typically include those who genuinely believe in the theory, as well as non-believers who troll for their own amusement.


People have believed that the Earth is flat since the beginning of humanity, but the modern Flat Earth hypothesis stemmed from an experiment called the Bedford Level Experiment, conducted in the mid-1800s by a man named Samuel Rowbotham.[1] Rowbowtham, who wrote a book named Earth Not a Globe, started the modern movement by debating scientists publicly and accumulating followers. In the experiment, Rowbowtham attempted to measure the curvature of the earth by observing the curvatures at a local river. He took his results as disproving the theory of a round earth, but future scientists have said that the results he obtained could be accounted for by the parallax effect.[2]

A drawing from Rowbowtham's experiment

In 1956, Samuel Shenton created a more modern version of the Flat Earth Society, to collect a variety of followers of Rowbowtham's experiments. When the first images of the earth taken from space were released, Shenton claimed that they were false. In the 1970s and 1980s, they released a newsletter called the Flat Earth News, which often debated NASA and other space agencies.


In 2004, the society was resurrected by a man named Daniel Shenton (no relation to Samuel), who created the Flat Earth Society forum, which as of February 2016 has over 8,200 members and 1.4 million posts.[3] In addition, the forum runs a Facebook page with over 14,000 likes,[4] Twitter,[5] Instagram,[6] and Tumblr profiles with several thousand followers each, and a Flickr profile[7] where they advertise a variety of different posters with proofs for why the world is flat. In addition, a variety of independent researchers have attempted to prove that the earth is flat, documenting their work in YouTube videos.[8] The most popular of these videos (shown below) has over 4 million views.

B.o.B. vs. Neil DeGrasse Tyson

On January 25th, 2016 Atlanta rapper B.o.B., who has self-identified as a member of the Flat Earth Society, tweeted a photograph of himself against a skyline, then tweeted a screenshot from Flat Earth Movement literature that proclaimed that Polaris (the North Star) can be seen 20° south of the Equator. Neil DeGrasse Tyson answered the rapper's question, writing "Polaris is gone by 1.5 deg S. Latitude. You’ve never been south of Earth’s Equator, or if so, you've never looked up."

B.o.B bobat . Follow The cities in the background are approx 16miles apart... where is the curve? please explain this RETWEETS LIKES 2,942 2,401 7:05 PM-24 Jan 2016 B.o.B Obobatl Jan 25 Polaris 99) Viewed from a ball-Earth, Polaris, situated directly over the North Pole, should not be visible anywhere in the Southern hemisphere. For Polaris to be seen from the Southern hemisphere of a globular Earth, the observer would have to be somehow looking "through the globe," and miles of land and sea would have to be transparent. Polaris can be seen. however, up to over 20 degrees South latitude 583 1.2K Follow aneiltyson @bobatl Polaris is gone by 1.5 deg S. Latitude. You've never been south of Earth's Equator, or if so, you've never looked up. RETWEETS LIKES 3,273 5,724 10:54 AM-25 Jan 2016

Later that day, B.o.B. posted the track "Flatline" to his Soundcloud account dissing the physicist and reinforcing his belief in a flat earth.

Other Celebrity Followers

In January 2016, Tila Tequila posted a series of tweets claiming to believe the Earth is flat. The following month, on February 16th, 2016, NBA super star Kyrie Irving expressed his belief that the Earth is flat on the podcast Road Trippin (shown below, left). The next year in 2017, famed Jiu-Jitsu instructor and former UFC analyst, Eddie Bravo came forward with his belief in a flat Earth numerous times, most notably on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast (shown below, right).

Behind the Curve

On November 9th, 2018, the official Trailer for the documentary Behind the Curve was released (shown below). The trailer received 83,000 views in four months.

On February 15th, 2019, Behind the Curve was released on Netflix (shown below).

The documentary starred YouTubers Mark Sargent, Patricia Steere and other flat earthers who perform experiments to disprove the fact that the earth is a sphere. The end of the documentary features a laser experiment in which the flat-earthers accidentally prove that the earth is curved.[12][13]

On February 24th, YouTubers GlobeBusters (featured in the documentary) uploaded a video entitled "Behind The Curve Documentary Reveals Globe Earth Desperation!" The video explains that the documentary was misleading. It gained 41,000 views in a couple weeks (shown below, left). On February 25th, Jeranism (also featured in the documentary) responded negatively to the film (shown below, right).

After the movie was released on Netflix, Twitter users seemed to conclude that the best scene of the documentary was when YouTuber Mark Sargent said an exhibit at a NASA museum doesn't work when really he just didn't notice a large start button (shown below).

Twitter users Ludelife22 and GearCavalier also posted pictures of the star button to Twitter. [10][11]

Graham Kilfoyl @ludelife22 You NEED to watch "Behind the Curve" on Netflix. It's a documentary about flat earthers. Pure comedy. They prove themselves wrong but refuse to accept it and they still think its flat anyways. #BehindTheCurve #FiatEarth Best part is this. You'll laugh when you get it. 5:47 PM-3 Mar 2019 GearCavalier @GearCavalier Thank you 'Behind the Curve' for thi:s absolute gem of a moment. I'm thoroughly enjoying this documentary. 8:11 PM 4 Mar 2019

Search Interest

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Modern Flat Earth Societies

[2] Wikipedia – The Bedford Level Experiment

[3] The Flat Earth Society

[4] Facebook – Flat Earth Today

[5] Twitter – @FlatEarthToday

[6] Instagram – @FlatEarthToday

[7] Flickr – FlatEarthToday

[8] YouTube -Search: flat earth

[9] Twitter – BehindtheCurve

[10] Twitter – Ludlife22

[11] Twitter – Gear Cavalier

[12] Newsweek – Behind The Curve

[13] Psychology Today –
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