The Amount of Curvature that Appears in Photographs of the Horizon

The amount of horizon curvature that appears in a photograph of the horizon depends on several factors:

  1. The altitude of the observer.
  2. The field of view of the camera.
  3. Lens distortions of the camera.

Some flat-Earthers assume that we should see the same amount of Earth’s curvature everywhere. And when they see the different amount of curvature in the different picture of Earth’s curvature, they wrongly took it as “proof” of some sort of misconduct.

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Climbing Higher Reveals Distant Objects

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Because the Earth is a sphere, the surface of Earth obstructs distant enough objects. Climbing to a higher altitude allows us to see farther and more of the previously obstructed objects will become visible, starting from the tops first.

This phenomenon would not occur if the Earth were flat. In a flat Earth, it would not be possible for Earth’s surface to obstruct more of an object —starting from the bottom portions first— if the observer is closer to the surface.

The same thing also happens for objects nearby a large body of water. The surface of the water —which is obviously lower than the object— can obscure the object if the viewer is far enough. Flat-Earthers often invent the “explanation” that Earth’s contour causes the obstruction. This phenomenon can easily prove them wrong.

Specular Reflection and Diffuse Reflection

An object is visible if it is either reflecting light or a light source itself. Furthermore, a reflecting object can have specular reflection (glossy finish, mirror-like), diffuse reflection (matte), or the combination of both.

Some flat-Earthers like to compare the appearance of the Moon to a glossy, metallic ball. Then, the difference in how the two objects look is taken as “proof” that the Moon is not reflecting light. They are wrong. A shiny metallic ball reflects almost all incoming light in mirror-like fashion, or that it has predominantly specular reflection. On the other hand, the Moon reflects incoming light to every direction, or that it has only the diffuse reflection.

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“Behind the Curve”: the Earth’s Curvature Experiment

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“Behind the Curve” is a documentary showing behind the scenes on what is happening in the flat-Earth community in the United States just before a flat-Earth conference. In a section, the film shows us how a flat-Earther tried to disprove curvature using a series of visual experiments. The result clearly indicates the surface curves, but he was unwilling to accept the fact.

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“Behind the Curve”: the Ring Laser Gyroscope Experiment

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“Behind the Curve” is a documentary showing behind the scenes on what is happening in the flat-Earth community in the United States just before a flat-Earth conference. In a section, the film shows us how a flat-Earther did an experiment involving a ring laser gyroscope, which proved the very thing he tried to disprove: Earth’s rotation; and that he was unwilling to accept the result.

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Lunar Phase: Earth’s Shadow has Nothing to do with It

It can be surprising that many people believe that the lunar phase is caused by the Earth casting its shadow on the surface of the Moon. Flat-Earthers are no exception. But they take it one step further and use the misconception do “disprove” the fact that Earth is a sphere. They are wrong. The lunar phase is the shape of the sunlit part of the Moon seen from the observer.

On the other hand, the phenomenon where the Earth casting its shadow on the surface of the Moon is called the lunar eclipse. Moon phase occurs all the time and undergoes a monthly cycle, while a lunar eclipse happens only a couple times in a year.

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Priming: How Flat-Earthers Lead Their Victims to Believe Things That are not There

Priming is a manner in which exposure to early information influences the behavior of an individual later on, without them being aware of it. Flat Earth personalities employ this technique to instill specific biases and opinions in the mind of their targets, and for example, to lead them to believe all footage taken in space were faked.

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Cavendish Experiment

The Cavendish experiment was the first experiment to measure the force of gravity between masses in the laboratory and the first to yield accurate values for the gravitational constant.

Flat-Earthers are in a constant effort to discredit the Cavendish experiment. They would invent various “explanations” to “explain” the result of the experiments. However, the experiment was not only done once by Henry Cavendish in 1797-1798, and has been replicated numerous times by multiple independent parties for centuries, all yielding consistent results.

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Bottled Water: A Simple Device for Observing the Dip of the Horizon

On many flights, they would give away leveling devices to all passengers for free, so that everyone would be able to observe the dip of the horizon and proves Earth is a sphere. And as a nice side effect, to quench our thirsts, too!

Such devices are called ‘bottled water’. Using these simple ‘instruments’ on a flight, we can demonstrate that Earth is a sphere.

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Bokeh

In photography, bokeh is the way a camera lens renders out-of-focus points of lights. The shape of bokeh depends on the camera lens more than the out-of-focus objects themselves.

Some flat-Earthers do not know how to take correctly focused pictures of distant planets and stars due to their lack of knowledge and the unsuitability of their camera for the purpose. All they are getting are bokeh, which does not tell us much about the intended objects.

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Remedy Drive’s “Commodity” Album Cover Image Confusion

In 2014, the Christian rock band Remedy Drive released the album “Commodity”. Its cover image is a small hole from NASA’s Solar Max Satellite that was caused by space debris. NASA first published the original photos in 2006.

In 2018, astronaut Chris Hadfield showed the picture to illustrate how space debris can do to a spacecraft. Flat-Earthers were happy to accuse Hadfield of stealing the cover image from the “Commodity” album. They were simply looking for any reason do discredit space flight and did not realize NASA published the image first before anyone else, including Remedy Drive.

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Rayleigh Scattering

Earth’s atmosphere glows in blue because of Rayleigh scattering. It scatters sunlight to every direction. Bluish colors are scattered more than reddish colors. This results in the bright blue color of the sky in the daytime.

There are many misconceptions in the flat Earth community that arise from the lack of understanding of Rayleigh scattering.

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Direct and Indirect Measurements

Measurement can be direct measurement, like measuring length using a measuring tape; or indirect measurement, which is measuring something by measuring another.

Flat-Earthers love to discredit results of measurement which they deem ‘impossible’ or not supporting their beliefs; for example the distance to the Sun, the distance to stars, Sun’s temperature, the orbital and rotational velocity of the Earth, etc. Their usual excuse is that such measurements were not done directly, but indirectly. In reality, most measurement instruments we use every day do their measurements indirectly.

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Sun Glitter

Sun glitter is a bright, sparkling light formed when sunlight reflects from water waves. A rippled by a locally smooth surface such as water with waves will reflect the sun at different angles at each point on the surface of the waves. As a result, a viewer in the right position will see many small images of the sun, formed by portions of waves that are oriented correctly to reflect the sun’s light to the viewer.

Flat-Earthers take the long shape of the reflection of a sunset on an ocean surface as ‘proof’ that Earth is flat. They are wrong. Sun glitter is the result of rippling water. The difference in curvature between the flat and spherical Earth model is not that far to cause the difference in the shape of sun glitter.

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One Single Proof Fallacy

The fallacy of “one single proof” occurs when someone rejects overwhelming evidence because of the lack of specific evidence and declare the entire argument invalid.

A common trick of flat-Earthers is to demand unrealistic evidence of spherical Earth. After their demand is not met, they would proclaim Earth is not a sphere, and conveniently ignore all the other evidence of spherical Earth.

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Crossing the Continent of Antarctica

Crossing the continent of Antarctica is a feat that has been achieved multiple times. And it is only possible if Earth is a sphere. If Earth were flat, the expeditions would have to travel impossibly far, all the way to the other side of Earth.

Flat-Earthers claim that no such expedition has been attempted before. They are wrong. Crossing Antarctica has been done numerous times by multiple independent parties and using different methods.

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The ‘Destroyed Technology’ to go to the Moon

In an interview, Donald Pettit —a NASA astronaut— mentioned that he’d go the moon, but they no longer have the technology to do that. All the technology from the Apollo mission has been destroyed, and it is a painful process to build it back again.

Flat-Earthers interpreted the statement rather too freely and took that as “proof” we never had the technology in the first place. In reality, the word “technology” is polyseme. It has two different related meanings. Flat-Earthers misinterpreted Don’s statement as one meaning, while Don’s intention was another.

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The Varying Earth-Moon Proportions in Different Pictures

How an object appears in a photograph depends on perspective —the position of the camera relative to the object—, and field of view of the camera. The farther the object, the smaller the object will appear in the resulting image; and conversely, the closer the object, the larger it will appear. The narrower the field of view, the larger the object will appear in the image; and conversely the wider the field of view, the smaller the object will appear.

Flat-Earthers take the varying proportions of the Earth & Moon in different pictures as a glaring inconsistency. They are wrong. The pictures were simply taken from a different perspective and field of view.

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The Antarctic Treaty Conspiracy Theory

According to flat-Earthers, the shape of Earth is a flat circle. In the center is the north pole in the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica is not a continent, but instead an ice perimeter surrounding the ‘flat Earth.’

The problem is that there are people who visited Antarctica, and their information about Antarctica does not fit the flat Earth narration. To ‘deal with the problem,’ they invented conspiracy theory and assumed every person who claimed to have visited Antarctica is a part of the grand conspiracy; and they spread the information to deceive us. This way, flat-Earthers’ narration about Antarctica is no longer falsifiable. If something stands against them, their ‘solution’ is merely to add more people to the list of persons that are part of the grand conspiracy.

The existence of the Antarctic Treaty System is convenient. Flat-Earthers use it to support their narration.

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