View of the Earth from the ISS

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The International Space Station (ISS) is only about 400 km above the Earth’s surface, only 6% farther from the center of the Earth than the Earth’s surface. Therefore, only a very small part of Earth’s surface is visible from the ISS at any time.

Flat-Earthers like to examine photos of the Earth from the ISS and compare them to those taken from a much farther location. They would take any difference as an inconsistency. In reality, the ISS can only observe a very small part of the Earth, unlike spacecraft much farther away.

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Misleading “Debunking” of the Lake Pontchartrain Power Lines Images

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The various images of the Lake Pontchartrain power lines taken by Soundly and others easily demonstrate the curvature of the Earth. In a desperate attempt to “debunk” the images, a group of flat-Earthers made an “analysis”, but failed to locate the correct power lines. They incorrectly “analyzed” another power lines on the same lake, just not the ones being presented as a demonstration of Earth’s curvature.

The erroneous “analysis” spread in flat-Earth communities as a hoax, as though it “debunks” the actual power lines in the demonstration.

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Jumping to Conclusions

Jumping to conclusions (also called the JTC bias or inference-observation confusion) is a psychological term referring to the failure to distinguish between observation and inference. In other words, “when I fail to distinguish between what I observed first hand from what I have only inferred or assumed.”

Many flat Earth “facts” are simply the results of jumping to conclusions. They judged something without having all the facts, to reach unwarranted conclusions.

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Antipodal Flight: Shanghai–Buenos Aires

Shanghai, China and Buenos Aires, Argentina are a near antipodal pair. Both are located at the diametrically opposite points to each other on Earth’s surface. Therefore, we can fly from Buenos Aires in any direction and arrive in Shanghai after traveling a roughly similar distance, regardless of the course taken.

Any flight between an antipodal pair has a similar duration even though the different flights have different directions. This fact is only consistent with spherical Earth and cannot possibly be explained if Earth is flat.

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Bill Nye and the “Closed System” Quote

In a Big Think Q&A, Bill Nye gave his opinion on why we cannot throw our trash into space. Flat-Earthers took Bill’s words out of context and used it to “disprove” space flight.

“Why we don’t throw trash into space? Because it’s too expensive. Lifting a ton of material into space takes an extraordinary amount of rocket fuel. And, by the way, when people want to send this much plutonium-238 which is not even the weapon’s plutonium, a baseball size, a grapefruit size, people freak out because the rockets sometimes blow up.”

“Now, one thing I really want your generation to embrace is that the Earth is a closed system. We cannot leave the Earth. There’s no place to go. There’s no place to throw your trash. And I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe not you but your kids develop ways to mine our landfills.”

Unscrupulous flat-Earthers took the specific part “Earth is a closed system. We cannot leave the Earth. There’s no place to go,” and presented it as if Bill was telling us we cannot go to space. From the complete video, it is clear that it is not what Bill meant.

Bill Nye is a space colonization skeptic. He does not believe space colonization is realistic. It does not mean Bill thinks we cannot go to space. In another Q&A, he said we need to have a presence on Mars for research purposes.

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Perth–Johannesburg Flight Route

Some flat-Earthers noticed some flights from Perth to Johannesburg have a flight change in Dubai. They use the fact to ‘prove’ a flat Earth. In reality, there are non-stop flights of the same route that are impossible to explain if the Earth is flat.

With a flight change in Dubai, the flight takes more than twice as long, as Dubai is nowhere near the non-stop flight path. In fact, Perth–Dubai is a longer hop than the direct Johannesburg–Perth route. These are consistent only with a spherical Earth and can never be explained if the Earth is flat.

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Big Dipper

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The Big Dipper is a bright asterism in the northern celestial sphere. It is always visible north of 41°N and hidden south of 41°S. Flat-Earthers noticed that the Big Dipper is visible all year and use the fact to ‘prove’ a flat Earth. In reality, the visibility of Big Dipper depends on the latitude of the observer.

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Flight Dynamics: Simplification by Assuming Flat & Non-Rotating Earth

In making mathematical models, physicists often remove real-world details that have little influence over the final results for simplifications. In flight-dynamics, it is often perfectly adequate to assume Earth is flat & non-rotating, even if the aircraft is flying over spherical & rotating Earth.

Some flat-Earthers claimed to have exposed ‘a secret document’ from NASA saying that Earth is flat & non-rotating. They are wrong. The document is simply a derivation of a flight dynamics problem, assuming flat and non-rotating Earth, which is a common assumption made to simplify flight models. It does not imply the Earth is flat and non-rotating.

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Proportions

The Sun is 1,391,016 km (864337 mi) in diameter and 146,600,000 km (93,000,000 mi) from us. These facts are consistent with everyday observations.

Flat-Earthers have a different idea about the distance and the size of the Sun. However, on careful examinations, the numbers are inconsistent with everyday observations.

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New York JFK – Moscow SVO Flight Time-Lapse Videos

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There are several time-lapse videos taken on board of a New York – Moscow flight, looking northward through a window on the left side. In the videos, the sky never looked fully dark, and the sun was visible most of the time on the flight.

Flat-Earthers erroneously assumed that the phenomenon is not possible if Earth is a sphere and that it is “evidence” the Earth is flat. In reality, everything in the videos can be easily explained and is fully consistent with the spherical Earth model.

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The Appearance of Sunset and Atmospheric Refraction

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The appearance of sunset depends on atmospheric conditions. Thermal inversion can irregularly refract light coming from the sun and distort the image of the Sun seen from an observer.

Some flat-Earthers observed a specific appearance of sunset and presented the fact as if it “proves” a receding sun in the flat-Earth model. They are wrong. The appearances of the sunsets are the results of atmospheric refraction.

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Line of Sight: Determining if an Object is Straight or Flat

Light travels in a practically straight line over a short distance. We often use this property of light to determine if an object is flat or straight from visual observation.

Some flat-Earthers start with the wrong assumption that a specific object is flat, then attempt to redefine how our vision works from that. They are wrong. From visual observation, we can determine if an object is flat, not the other way around.

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Canceling Hypotheses Fallacy

The canceling hypotheses fallacy occurs when someone defends their hypothesis by proposing a second hypothesis to explain the lack of evidence in support of the first hypothesis. In effect, the second hypothesis cancels or undermines the prediction made by the first hypothesis.

Flat-Earthers like to demonstrate what they regard as ‘evidence’ of a flat Earth. However, when it is demonstrated that the evidence is wrong, they would invent a second hypothesis to defend the original hypothesis against the evidence of the contrary. They do it without attempting to bring sufficient proof of the second hypothesis.

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Lighthouses and the Loom of the Light

Lighthouses are equipped with powerful lights. In a dark night, even if Earth’s curvature obscures the entire structure of the lighthouse, the phenomenon of the loom of the light allows their lights to be visible beyond the horizon; not unlike how the beam of a green laser is visible to our eyes.

Flat-Earthers like to point out the cases where the light from a lighthouse is visible even if the lighthouse should be completely obscured by Earth’s curvature. They would claim it as “proof” that the Earth is flat. They are wrong. The loom of the light lets us see the light even when the lighthouse itself is below the horizon.

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Zooming In On Distant Boats Does Not Disprove Earth’s Curvature

If a distant boat is not visible, then it is because of at least one of these reasons:

  • Our eyes have limited angular resolution and are unable to resolve the ship at that distance.
  • The atmospheric condition is limiting our visibility.
  • The curvature of the Earth obscures the ship.

Flat-Earthers like to demonstrate that a previously invisible ship at a distance can be made visible by zooming in. They would use it to disprove Earth’s curvature. They are wrong. There are reasons other than Earth’s curvature that can obscure a distant boat.

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Nikon P900 & P1000: Correctly Focus & Expose Stars & Planets

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The Nikon P900 and Nikon P1000 are cameras with a very high zoom factor. However, like most other cameras, they have difficulties focusing and exposing bright & small objects against dark backgrounds. They will require special tricks to get proper images of stars and planets.

Some flat-Earthers pointed their Nikon P900 or P1000 to stars and planets, took out of focus images of them and believed the photos are the “real images of stars and planets.” In reality, the photos are simply the results of their failures to operate their cameras.

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Polaris Altitude from Multiple Locations on Earth

The angle (or altitude) to Polaris approximately corresponds to the latitude of the observer. This fact is observed on every location on Earth where Polaris is visible.

By tracing the path to Polaris from multiple locations on the flat Earth model, the lines will not point to a consistent position of Polaris. The reason is that the Earth is a sphere and the flat Earth model does not represent reality.

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‘Flat’ vs ‘Level’

‘Flat’ and ‘Level can mean approximately the same thing in everyday conversation. But in the context of science and engineering, they have different meanings. ‘Flat’ describes a planar surface. ‘Level’ means at the same height or perpendicular to the direction of Earth’s gravity.

Flat-Earthers interpret the word ‘level’ as if it always has the same meaning as ‘flat.’ However, in the scientific context, the two words have different meanings. Insisting that both words to have the same meaning is the fallacy of appeal to definition.

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Sunset with a Solar Filter

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The apparent size of the Sun is constant throughout the day, from sunrise to sunset, seen from anywhere on Earth. This fact disproves the flat Earth model and is only consistent with the spherical Earth model.

Flat-Earthers like to show us videos of the Sun that appears shrinking during a sunset. They merely failed to control the exposure. Using a solar filter or the in-camera exposure settings, the size of the Sun will appear constant during a sunset.

The apparent size of the Sun is constant throughout the day, seen from anywhere on Earth, from sunrise to sunset. This fact is only possible if the Sun is very far compared to the distance between any two observers on Earth.

Visibility of the Moon from Two Opposing Locations on Earth

Some flat-Earthers are confused that two observers on the opposing locations on Earth can observe the Moon at the same time, and they would use it as ‘proof’ that the Earth is not a sphere. It is merely a spatial cognition problem by the flat-Earthers.

Any observer on Earth’s surface has 180° vertical field of view over the entire sky. They can observe objects low on the horizon, not just objects above them. Observers on the opposing sides of the Earth would have no problem seeing the Moon at the same time.

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