Reification Fallacy

We often abstract complicated things into simpler models by removing unimportant and superfluous details so that we can focus on the aspects of greater importance. The abstraction of real things into models makes it possible and easier to work with. But they are still models and do not possess every single attribute of the real things they represent.

Flat-Earthers often commit the reification fallacy, where they treat models as if they are the real things and attack the tiniest discrepancy to discredit science. However, a model is not reality; it can never perfectly represent an actual thing.

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Dizzib’s Earth Curve Calculator

Dizzib’s Earth Curve Calculator is one of the most popular Earth’s curvature calculator on the Internet. However, it does not account for atmospheric refraction and, therefore, unsuitable for determining the visibility of a distant object.

Many flat-Earthers used Dizzib’s calculator to analyze the observation of the visibility of a distant object and led them to an erroneous conclusion. If we can spot the calculator being used in their images, we can easily rule out their conclusion.

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Earth’s Shadow and the Belt of Venus

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Earth’s shadow is the shadow that Earth casts into its atmosphere, toward the opposite point from the sun. Above Earth’s shadow is the Belt of Venus, a pink band from the scattering of sunlight through the atmosphere.

Earth’s shadow lies at the antisolar point —the point opposite the sun. It rises when the sun sets and sets when the sun rises. The phenomenon shows us that the sun really goes below the horizon and disproves the flat Earth model.

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Special Coronavirus/COVID-19 Statement

Considering the following facts:

  • Those who believe in flat-Earth-related hoaxes are also prone to believe —and therefore spread— COVID-19 related hoaxes and conspiracy theories.
  • Those of us who like to observe and interact with flat-Earthers are likely to encounter many COVID-19 hoaxes and conspiracy theories.
  • And unlike flat Earth, COVID-19 hoaxes and conspiracy theories might directly affect our lives and even the future of the human race.

We feel it is important not to let our responses to backfire and fails to achieve the ideal outcome, which is the prevention of the circulation of COVID-19 related hoaxes and conspiracy theories.

Our recommendation:

  • Avoid directly addressing the COVID-19 hoaxes and conspiracy theories yourselves, which potentially makes them more popular.
  • Instead, report the hoaxes and conspiracy theories using the tools provided by the social media platform, or to an independent fact-checker in your country.

We wish everyone (including flat-Earthers) good health in these unfortunate times.

List of Some Independent Fact-Checkers

Atmospheric Pressure and the Vacuum in Space

Atmospheric pressure decreases as altitude increases. There is no visible boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space in terms of pressure. There is no abrupt drop in pressure where space begins.

Flat-Earthers assert that it is impossible for the pressurized atmosphere to meet the vacuum of space without any barrier. In reality, the pressure changes gradually. There is no sudden pressure drop between the atmosphere and space.

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Apollo 11 Post-Flight Press Conference

Flat-Earthers claim that the Apollo 11 astronauts were gloomy and uneasy at their press conference. They allege this was due to their guilt of faking the Moon landing. In reality, the press conference was full of jokes and laughter.

Unscrupulous conspiracy theorists cherry-picked a single photo from the press conference video in which the astronauts were serious. They abuse the picture to ignite our emotions and lead us to believe the hoax they created that the Moon landings did not occur.

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Spirit Level on an Airplane

During cruising, an airplane is practically level. It is flying perpendicular to the direction of gravity. The aircraft is still flying following Earth’s curvature and continuously changes its orientation. However, not only its orientation changing but also the direction of gravity, having the same amount of change. As a result, a spirit level on a flight will not show us the difference in orientation of the airplane due to its motion following the curvature of the Earth.

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Distance to the Horizon & the Black Swan Observation

The distance to the horizon depends on the height of the observer and atmospheric refraction. The variability in atmospheric refraction can make the horizon appear in front of a distant object sometimes, and behind it in other times.

Some flat-Earthers raised a case —dubbed the “black swan” case— in which the horizon appears to be behind a distant object which is farther than the distance to the horizon according to calculation, and they use the fact to “disprove” Earth’s curvature. In reality, they did not account for atmospheric refraction, and that the amount of refraction varies.

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Switching in Telecommunication Network

Switching is used to establish a telecommunication network between two non-adjacent communication nodes. The information is relayed by one or more intermediate nodes that might use very different means of data transmission.

In 1969, President Richard Nixon called the Apollo 11 astronauts from the White House using a landline phone. Flat-Earthers regard the fact as ridiculous. According to them, if we cannot reliably make a phone call to the next room, then it must have been impossible for President Nixon to make a phone call to a location 384000 km away using a corded phone. Such allegation only stems from their lack of understanding of telecommunication.

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Star’s Annual Motion

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On each day, we can observe stars to drift about 1° in their motion around the celestial pole. In a month, they will appear to have moved about 30° when observed at the same time in the night. In a year, they will be back to their original positions as the same day in the previous year. The observation is the basis of the solar calendar system we are using today.

Some flat-Earthers claimed that the stars appear the same every night, and they would erroneously conclude that the Earth is stationary. In reality, stars are shifting about 1° every day.

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Slander & Extreme Prejudice are Necessary to Believe a Flat Earth

To believe a flat Earth, it is necessary to accuse impossibly large amount of people from all over the world, spanning more than 20 centuries, to conspire together to deceive the rest of the human population.

On the other hand, to understand that the Earth is a sphere only requires simple observations that anyone can do themselves. In accepting that the Earth is a sphere, there is no need to throw a single baseless accusation to another person.

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Telephoto Lenses and the Appearance of Earth’s Curvature

A telephoto lens is a type of lens in which the physical length is shorter than the focal length. A telephoto lens has a narrow field of view, and as a result, the curvature of the Earth is less pronounced if taken using a telephoto lens compared to another lens with a wider field of view.

Flat-Earthers like to bring up pictures taken from the ISS that show a practically flat horizon, and use them as evidence of inconsistency. In reality, the images were taken using a telephoto lens with a narrow field of view.

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Zooming in on a Partially Obscured Ship

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Zooming in makes the camera’s field of view narrower, and in effect, it magnifies the center portion of the image. Zooming in using the optical zoom can improve angular resolution, but will never reveal a distant object that is obscured by another object.

Flat-Earthers claim that zooming in will fully reveal a ship that is partially obscured. In reality, the proportion of the ship which is hidden compared to that which is visible stays the same in the entire zoom range.

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Flerspective

Many natural phenomena cannot be explained if Earth were flat, including the observation that the bottom part of a distant object appears clipped. To “explain” it as if it can occur on a flat Earth, flat-Earthers invented the “explanation” that it is due to what they call “perspective.”

This supposed “perspective” that flat Earthers invented is different from the actual law of perspective. To distinguish it from the actual, real-world law of perspective, many people call it “flerspective,” a combination of the words flerf and perspective.

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Electromagnetism

The electromagnetic force is a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. Electromagnetism is different from gravity. Both phenomena are real but have different characteristics.

Flat-Earthers refuse to accept gravity, and some of them use electromagnetism in place of gravity to explain the various phenomena that are explained by gravity. In reality, electromagnetism has different characteristic from gravity, and cannot explain the various phenomena that are explained by gravity.

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Infinity Focus

To an optical device, like a camera, there is little difference between an airplane at 20000 ft and the Moon at 384400 km (238855 mi). The aperture of the lens is far too small compared to the distance of either object. Focusing on either object will make the other object in focus, too.

Flat-Earthers claim that because both objects appear in focus in a photograph, then the Moon must be close to the airplane. In reality, both can be considered at infinity. And it will be easy to make both objects to be in focus simultaneously.

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7 Reasons Why These Uncritical Flat-Earthers Cannot Recognize a Clickbait Headline

Clickbait is a form of false advertisement which uses hyperlink that is designed to attract attention and entice users to follow that link and read to the linked article, with a defining characteristic of being deceptive, typically sensationalized or misleading.

Flat-Earthers fall into clickbait headlines rather too easily. They rarely bother reading the article contents, let alone verifying the primary sources — many clickbait headlines spread in flat Earth communities as hoaxes.

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Google Maps Live Traffic and Simon Weckert’s Virtual Traffic Jam

Google Maps live traffic works by crowdsourcing. It determines the current traffic by aggregating information sent by many phones carried by many different traveling users.

In February 2020, artist Simon Weckert successfully gamed the system and faked a traffic jam in Google Maps. He did that by pulling a cart full of active phones and walking in the middle of roads. Google Maps system thought there were many slow-moving cars on the road and regarded that as a traffic jam. As a result, during Simon’s operation, an empty road appeared as dark red in Google Maps, as if a traffic jam was ongoing.

Flat-Earthers claimed that it proves that satellites do not exist; possibly because they did not know how the system works. It might be that they previously thought the traffic data was obtained directly from satellite imagery. In reality, satellite navigation systems, like the GPS, is very much involved in the system.

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Toronto

The skyline of Toronto, Canada, is visible from across Lake Ontario, including from the cities of Hamilton and Niagara-on-the-Lake, as well as the Fort Niagara National Park. However, only its upper part is clearly visible, consistent with the spherical Earth model.

The upper parts of the skyline are affected less by atmospheric refraction, and more clearly visible. And the nearer to the horizon, the higher is the effect of atmospheric refraction. There are a few brighter colored buildings that appear above where they should be. These are the phenomenon of looming if they look upright, or superior mirage if they are upside down.

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