Airy’s Failure

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Airy’s Failure was an experiment performed in 1871 in which Sir George Biddell Airy failed to confirm the aether theory by measuring stellar aberration. The phenomenon of stellar aberration, in itself, was the first direct evidence of Earth’s motion around the sun.

Flat-Earthers claim that the “failure” in “Airy’s Failure” is the failure of proving the motion of Earth. In reality, the experiment aimed to confirm the aether theory. The “failure” was in proving the aether theory. The experiment relied on the already accepted knowledge that Earth is in orbit around the sun.

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Telescope Making

It is not impossible to build our own telescopes instead of buying off-the-shelf ones from a manufacturer. Amateur telescope making is a sub-group in the field of amateur astronomy where people build telescopes for personal enjoyment.

Some flat-Earthers claim that telescopes are programmed by the manufacturer to display fabricated images to the user. The possibility of making our own telescopes tells us that such a claim is false and ridiculous.

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Coin on a Table “Experiment”

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Flat-Earthers performed the coin on a table “experiment” to “explain” how a sunset can occur on a flat Earth. Instead, it tells us more about their confirmation bias.

This is probably one of the most ridiculous flat-Earth arguments. It is so obviously wrong that many of us are having trouble explaining it and cannot accept that a member of the human race can fall for it.

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Solar Eclipse: Length of the Umbra & Earth-Moon Distance

The distances to the Sun and the Moon are 149,600,000 km and 384,400 km. These figures are average values, and the actual values are around these averages. In a solar eclipse, the actual distances determine whether a total or annular solar eclipse occurs.

Flat-Earthers calculated the geometry of a solar eclipse using these average distances and discovered the umbra does not reach Earth’s surface. They wrongly concluded that an eclipse should not occur. In reality, the numbers are only averages, not the real values. And if the umbra does not reach Earth’s surface, it will still produce an annular solar eclipse.

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Earth’s Axial Precession

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Axial precession is the change in Earth’s rotational axis. It is a slow change with a cycle of 25772 years. As a result, the role of pole star will pass from one star to another.

Contrary to flat-Earthers’ assertions, due to Earth’s axial precession, Polaris has not always been the North Star and will not remain as the North Star. The star Gamma Cephei will replace Polaris’ place in 2000 years as the North Star.

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Mirosław Hermaszewski

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General Mirosław Hermaszewski is a former Polish cosmonaut. He gave an interview in late 2019 that flat-Earthers misrepresented and quoted his statements out of context as if he admitted in the interview that Earth is flat.

In the interview, he received some ridiculous questions, and he answered them with equally ridiculous answers in a joking tone, including the question at the end of the interview where he was asked if Earth is flat. The General was surprised by the question, but he decided to play along and answered “it is flat” for a hilarious ending.

Unfortunately, as with many other cases, flat-Earthers are not aware they are being ridiculed in the interview, and take the General’s statement as serious. That small part at the end of the interview is often seen in flat-Earth circles as a hoax that claims it as an endorsement of flat Earth by the General.

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Blue Marble and the Visible Area of Earth’s Surface

The Blue Marble is an image of Earth taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft on its way to the Moon. It was taken from a distance of 29000 km from Earth’s surface.

Flat-Earthers dismiss it by incorrectly asserting that the image covers a too-small area of Earth’s surface, due to their failure to account for the maps’ distortion.

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Antarctic Circle vs Antartica’s Ice Perimeter

The circumference of the Antarctic Circle is 15909 km, while one measurement of the perimeter of Antarctica’s ice is 53610 km. The numbers are different because the Antarctic Circle is circular, while the perimeter of Antarctica’s ice has a complex shape.

The circumference of the Equator is 40075 km and the 53610 km figure exceeds it. Flat-Earthers use it as “evidence” of a flat Earth. In reality, the 53610 figure is a measurement of the irregularly shaped Antarctica’s ice perimeter, not the circular Antarctic Circle.

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Anthropocentrism

Anthropocentrism is the belief that human beings are the most important entity in the universe. Real-world evidence does not support many of the anthropocentric notions.

Anthropocentrism can be very emotional. Proponents of pseudoscience —like Flat-Earthers— exploit it to emotionally discredit science. However, scientific knowledge is gained from real-world evidence, not from what we prefer to be true. Science remains true whether or not we believe in it.

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Earth Seen From the Moon vs the Moon Seen From Earth

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Earth seen from the Moon will appear 3.7× larger than the Moon seen from Earth. However, if a photograph of Earth is compared to that of the Moon, the sizes of both objects also depend on the field of view of the cameras that were used to capture them.

Flat-Earthers discovered the size of the Earth in a photograph is not 3.7× the Moon in another picture. They used the fact as “evidence” of wrongdoing. In reality, the two photos were not taken with the same field of view, and cannot be compared directly.

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Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance occurs when a person holds multiple contradictory beliefs or ideas; and is typically experienced as psychological stress when they participate in an action that goes against any of them. Flat-Earthers often experience cognitive dissonance when they are exposed to evidence that disproves a flat Earth.

If the flat-Earthers are unable to accept the reality that Earth is not flat, some will attempt to reduce the mental discomfort by expressing negative emotions, like anger or ridicule. Others would accomplish the same by restricting the source of information, like blocking or banning the third party, to allow them to retreat to their echo chambers, and suppress the uncomfortable evidence. Continue reading “Cognitive Dissonance”

Space Tourism

It is possible to fly to space as a tourist as long as we are willing to pay a lot of money. There have been seven persons who went to space and paid the trip from their own pockets.

Flat-Earthers claim if the first human spaceflight was more than half a century ago, there should be space tourism by now. In reality, there were already several cases of space tourism, even if it is still beyond the reach of most people today.

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Avoiding Challenges and Ignoring Offers of Compensation

Flat-Earthers like to dismiss evidence of spherical Earth as fake. But if we challenge them to witness it themselves, they will avoid it. They will even turn a blind eye to offers to compensate them if their claim of fake evidence is right.

It is a form of willful ignorance. Deep inside, flat-Earthers are not even sure Earth is flat, or even subconsciously understand Earth is a sphere, but they emotionally believe a flat Earth anyway. Unwilling to let go of their belief, they purposefully ignore any evidence against flat Earth.

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The Polar Azimuthal Equidistant Map is NOT the Flat Earth Map

The azimuthal equidistant map is a valid map. The map is a projection of the spherical Earth. Like every other map, it has distortions. It is not the “flat-Earth map,” and the usage of the azimuthal equidistant map does not endorse a flat Earth.

Flat-Earthers claim the shape of the polar azimuthal equidistant map as their own “flat-Earth map.” It is identical with the azimuthal equidistant map only in shape, but not in everything else. Unlike the azimuthal equidistant map, the so-called “flat-Earth map” does not represent reality.

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Sun Compass and Richard E. Byrd’s Flight Toward the North Pole

In 1926, Richard E. Byrd flew near the North Pole and used a sun compass for navigation. A regular magnetic compass is less usable near the poles because it points toward the magnetic pole, which is different from the geographic pole, and that the needle will point toward the ground due to the magnetic dip.

Flat-Earthers are too fixated on the stories about Richard E. Byrd’s compass being unusable in Antarctica and use it as “evidence” of flat Earth, as if it only happens in Antarctica. They failed to realize that the same thing also occurs near the North Pole, and Richard E. Byrd himself also prepared for it.

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Conspiracy Theory Spectrum and Demarcation Line

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Conspiracy theories — like flat Earth — exists on a spectrum, from the fringe to the mainstream.  Each of us has a different demarcation line where we divide the spectrum into the reasonable and the ridiculous.

Flat Earth lies on the extreme end of the spectrum. Anybody who believes in a flat Earth also has its demarcation line on the far extreme, too, and as a result, tends to believe all sorts of other conspiracy theories. However, less extreme conspiracy theorists might find flat Earth ridiculous. By learning how people can believe in a flat Earth, we can avoid believing other, baseless conspiracy theories.

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Ursa Minor

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Ursa Minor is a constellation in the Northern Sky. It is traditionally important for navigation because of one of its member stars, Polaris, being the north star. Ursa Minor is always visible north of the 18°N and hidden south of 18°S. Polaris is located very close to the North Celestial Pole, and only visible north of the Equator. The visibility of Ursa Minor and Polaris is only consistent if Earth is a sphere.

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Wikileaks Video Hoax

Someone created a fake video showing the “fabrication” of the Apollo moon landings. It claims to be from Wikileaks, complete with its logo, a photo of Julian Assange, and various video effects for a semblance of authenticity. In reality, the video was taken from behind the scenes clips of the movie Capricorn One.

Wikileaks’ official website does not have the video, and the video is only available from dubious sources. It is not difficult to know the video is a blatant fake. However, flat-Earthers failed to recognize it is a fake, and the fake video spread in their communities as a hoax.

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Weightlessness, Free Fall, and Microgravity

In orbit, objects are weightless because both the objects and the spacecraft have the same speed and direction, and both are affected by the same gravitational influence. We use the spacecraft as the frame of reference. Because the objects are not in motion relative to the spacecraft, they appear to float.

In Earth orbit, the objects are still affected by Earth’s gravity, but yet they float. Flat-Earthers use it to disprove spaceflight. In reality, the objects float because we are using the spacecraft as the frame of reference, which is also moving by the same amount and is affected by the same gravity as the objects themselves.

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Regress Argument and Infinite Regress

Flat-Earthers like to invoke the regress argument. They would keep asking “what is causing it?” on every statement in an attempt to turn the argument into an infinite regress. If they meet a question that gets unanswered, they would incorrectly declare the initial statement wrong.

In reality, we can know something exists even if we do not know what is causing it. Keep asking “what is causing it?” on pretty much anything will eventually give us an unanswerable question. But it does not mean we do not know it exists.

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