Why do People Think the Earth is Flat?

One of the first lessons we learn in school is that the earth is a globe and that it rotates on an axis, and orbits around the Sun. But there is an increasingly large community of people who reject this and instead believe that the earth is flat.

We have tried to track down the real people behind this emerging internet conspiracy. We have looked to LA and discussed these ideas with flat earther Nathan Thompson.

A closed facebook group

We started with a group called the Official Flat Earth and Globe Discussion closed group. Nathan runs the Flat Earth and Globe Discussion Facebook group, which now boasts close to 40,000 members.

Some people belive the Earth is flat

At first we were extremely skeptical, it just sounds like it is the craziest idea we’d ever heard. It was going to be so easy to debunk it in five minutes. Then, after about a month of not sleeping and really just digging around and digging through the information, we started to get to the bottom of it all.

The idea of a flat Earth started out with 9/11. It is the same people who started out with vaccines, they started out with chemtrails, or something happened that made people believe that they’re lying to us about a lot of stuff. It’s more than just the shape of the Earth.

We’re not dealing with normal people that run the world here, these people believe that it is Psychopaths. It is actually very difficult to believe how popular the group is.

Time with Nathan

We accompanied Nathan while he went out canvassing the streets of Orange County, trying to recruit some new members.

“I would say that somewhere around fifty per cent of the time someone will leave the conversation with me saying ‘I did not know any of that information you gave me, and I’m going to look into it’, and then the other half of the people that I talk to, they just reject everything that you are trying to say, regardless of anything that you are showing them. It’s flat man; you can test it! Water is always stationary, airplanes when they go to the the altitude they fly stationary! Everyone’s coming out about it!

“All of the celebrities – Shaq, Felix, b.o.b, Kyrie Irving, they’re all talking about it. And it’s kind of funny, they just make it seem like a bit of a joke. But I don’t think it’s a joke.” Nathan explains all of this to use, quite seriously.

NASA

“That NASA steal 50 million dollars a day, 19 billion a year? Oh that’s crazy, that’s a lot of money, Now, go on and tell it your ways.”

So, if the Earth is flat, then why are they lying? Why are they hiding it from us?

The group has made claims that space exploration is fake and that NASA is a fraudulent organisation. Much of their beliefs are based on religious ideologies.

The Earth as seen from the Moon

Back to Nathan – “the whole Globe Earth model, in my opinion, it wasn’t devised by men and it was devised by the devil, who wants to deceive everyone. But NASA tells you that stars are billions of light years away. NASA in Hebrew means to deceive.

“Now who speaks Hebrew? There’s your answer right there. So you ask me who was behind it, and I think it’s pretty obvious once you do the research.”

Conspiracy theorists

This understanding of NASA is popular among flat-earthers and other conspiracy theorists. However, when we approached a professor of Hebrew at the University of Cambridge, we were given the following translation. While the root of the verb ‘to deceive’ is similar to the frequently used translation, it is in fact incorrect. NASA in Hebrew actually means to lift.

We went to a place where we knew that the Flat Earth Society on Facebook was going to meet. We wanted to meet with some of them and hear from their mouths what their thoughts on the way the Earth is shaped, and how the solar system works.

Spencer Marx of the independent investigations group was invited to come and challenge some of Nathan’s views. The independent investigations group is a rational, scientifically based skeptics organization, that investigates claims of the paranormal and false science claims.

An interview

“Well I’m pretty sure that the earth is a globe. I believe through research, you believe the Antarctica is an ice walls?” he asks to one of the attendees. “True, yeah. I haven’t personally been to the ice wall, I have even heard that there are people who have been turned around for trying to investigate the ice wall independently, at gunpoint. I know water doesn’t fall off because there’s an ice wall in our theory,” was the reply.

“I mean, how about you know…? How does water stick to a ball that spins a thousand miles an hour? Gravity. But gravity is nothing more than a theory, because there’s got to be some force that keeps us on the ground,right?” asks the falt earther.

An artist’s impression of the inner planets

“Well yeah there is, it’s called density. So if Earth’s moving a thousand miles an hour around the equator, but you’re moving with it, so there’s no correlation. No one would think about being on a train going like 60 miles an hour, do you  feel slammed against the back? Or you do just move with the train? It just doesn’t even really feel like it’s moving. But now jump on top of the train, yeah?” is the logical response given.

Crazy concept

The flat earther continues, “I’m open to evidence, and for the first month all I wanted was Earth to be a globe. The more research I did, the more I found out, you know, it’s just a crazy concept. Do you think we went to the moon?” he challenges, “I’m just curious.”

The expert replies, “Yes, I know for a fact we went the Moon. I know for a fact, yes. 100% of the evidence tells us we went to the moon.”

Flat earther does not agree – “Those astronauts are liars! You could tell! Before they went to the moon, and after  their demeanor had completely changed. From someone who’s a rock star celebrity to someone who’s thinking ‘I’m being told to lie and basically my life’s in danger’. If they would have came out about it – and I think they killed some of the astronauts – if you look at the number of people who died trying to get into the space program or be an astronaut, it’s astronomical.”

The solar system

Another challenge, “How does the Sun move? If it was a flat Earth the Sun wouldn’t rise and fall in the east to the west as it does. It would literally go out and reappear.”

angry man

Anger at the world makes people believe conspiracies

If there was actual evidence to support the flat earth model of how the earth the solar system work, it could be believeable. Maybe they cling to it because it feels to them like they have special knowledge that other people aren’t aware of.

Maybe that that gives them a sense of purpose; a sense of meaning. If you’re looking to determine whether the earth is flat or round, you don’t figure out in your mind that the earth is a square, or a other shape and then find confirming evidence. Rather, you look at the evidence around you and go in the direction that evidence takes you.

In this case, for thousands of years we have known that the earth is round because that’s where all of the evidence points.

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