Big Lie

The big lie is the propaganda method where an outrageous lie —like flat Earth— is said and repeated as if it is true, hoping people will assume it is true for granted rather than critically questioning it.

Even though anyone can easily verify that Earth is a sphere from simple personal observations, many still fall for the notion of a flat Earth. The reason is that it is such a big lie and does not fit their model of modest deception, so they think “it must be true.”

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Geostationary Satellites

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If a satellite is placed in an orbit 35786 km above the equator, it will be in motion at the same speed as the Earth’s rotation. As a result, the satellite will appear practically motionless from an observer on Earth’s surface. Many communication satellites are in this orbit so that a satellite receiver does not need to track the satellite continuously.

Flat-Earthers often take the fact that satellites are in motion, and most satellite dishes have a fixed direction as ‘proof’ the receivers cannot be pointing to satellites. In reality, it is possible to place a satellite in a geostationary orbit to make it appear in a fixed position in the sky relative to an observer on Earth.

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Fictitious Force

A fictitious force is a force that appears to act on every object when the frame of reference is accelerating. The term “fictitious” does not mean the force does not exist, but it is not an actual force that arises from an interaction between objects.

Flat-Earthers noticed gravity is considered a fictitious force and use the fact to “prove” gravity does not exist. In reality, we can feel a fictitious force. It is merely a term we use for forces that arise due to an accelerating frame of reference.

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Inferior Mirage

An inferior mirage is a phenomenon in which atmospheric refraction bends light rays to produce a mirrored image below a real object. It occurs when a hot surface heats the layer of air above it, placing it below a colder & denser layer of air.

Flat-Earthers like to use inferior mirages to “explain” how a distant object can appear partly obstructed if the Earth is flat. In reality, an inferior mirage cannot produce an appearance similar to an object partially obscured by Earth’s curvature.

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Proper Motion

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Proper motion is the apparent motion of stars, caused by the movement of the stars themselves, relative to the solar system. Stars will appear to shift over time, relative to other, more distant stars.

Flat-Earthers assume stars are only in motion around Polaris, or the north celestial pole. They are wrong. Stars have other apparent movements, one of which is proper motion.

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Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest major galaxy. It is visible to the naked eye on dark nights and the easiest deep-sky object to capture even without special equipment.

There are many images of Andromeda on the Internet because it is not that hard to capture it. Flat-Earthers assumed the pictures are the Milky Way and immediately claimed those pictures as fakes. In reality, the galaxy in the photographs is the Andromeda, and it is not hard for anyone to take a picture of it. The “you are here” sign on some pictures of the Andromeda Galaxy is silly and an obvious spoof. It was merely an attempt on a joke.

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Satellite Phones and Cellular Phones

Cellular phones communicate with cell base stations, and cannot work without cell base stations nearby. On the other hand, satellite phones communicate with satellites and will work in remote locations as long as there is a line of sight to the satellites.

Cellular phones do not function in a remote location, and flat-Earthers use the fact as “proof” that satellites do not exist. In reality, nobody claimed that cellular phones communicate with satellites. The phones that communicate with satellites are called satellite phones, and they still function in a remote location.

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Synodic Day vs Sidereal Day

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In 24 hours, the Earth makes slightly more than one full rotation due to its motion around the Sun. We call it one day or one synodic day. On the other hand, a sidereal day is the period of one rotation relative to distant stars.

Flat-Earthers claim that if the Earth is in orbit around the Sun, after six months, at the same hours, then the day would turn into night and night would turn into day. In reality, it would have been true if we are using sidereal day, not synodic day, or just “day” in our everyday language.

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Psychological Projection

One reason a person can believe in conspiracy theories is the psychological projection. They attempt to deny their negative attitudes by assuming that instead, others have them, even though it is not necessarily the case.

Some people believe others are in a conspiracy against them because of their moral problem: if they were in the same positions of the people they are accusing, they would do the same thing they are accusing others of doing.

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Cavendish Experiment

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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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Coriolis Effect in Sports

Many sports involve launching balls into the air. Launched balls are projectiles and will be deflected by a tiny amount due to the Coriolis effect from Earth’s rotation.

Athletes never account for the Coriolis effect, and flat-Earthers use it to “disprove” Earth’s rotation. In reality, the deflection from the Coriolis effect in sports is very tiny. It does not mean the Coriolis effect does not exist.

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Direction of the Qibla Proves Earth is a Sphere

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Muslims perform their prayers by facing the Qibla —or the direction to the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The direction of the Qibla is traditionally determined from the direction to the Sun when the Sun is directly overhead the Kaaba. If the Sun is visible during that time, it will indicate the direction of the Qibla.

If the results of the observation are drawn on the so-called ‘flat-Earth map,’ the Qibla will not consistently point to the Kaaba. Only the calculation using the spherical Earth model will give us consistent results that conform to centuries of observation, from various locations on Earth. The reason is that the Earth is a sphere.

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Sunlight Creates Umbral Shadow Smaller than the Object Casting the Shadow

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The sun is a huge light source. It is larger than anything on Earth. As a result, the umbral part of a shadow formed by sunlight will always be smaller than the object casting the shadow.

Flat-Earthers assert that a shadow cannot be smaller than the object casting the shadow. They would use that to “disprove” the scientific explanation about the occurrence of a solar eclipse. In reality, it is not difficult to demonstrate that the umbral part of a shadow can be smaller than the object casting the shadow, especially if the light source is the sun.

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In 2019, scientists discovered that Earth’s atmosphere consists of a hydrogen cloud called the geocorona that extends to the Moon and beyond. Its density is minuscule, practically vacuum, and does not affect space travel.

Flat-Earthers claim this is an “admission” as the Moon has always been “inside the dome” in their flat Earth model. In reality, the discovery does not change much about what we already know.

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Observing Geostationary Satellites

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Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth with the same rate as Earth’s rotation, 35786 km (22236 miles) above the equator. They are too far and too dim for the naked eye. However, we can observe them using a mounted telescope and a camera.

We can observe many of them by:

  • using an equatorial mount,
  • aiming the telescope at a star that lies in the orbit’s path, and
  • use a camera with a long exposure setting.

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Teaching Aid

Teaching aids are used by teachers to help students learn a subject more easily. A scale model of an eclipse is a teaching aid. It is not presented as evidence about how an eclipse can occur, but to help students to understand the mechanism of an eclipse.

Flat-Earthers often incorrectly consider a teaching aid is presented as if it is evidence of a phenomenon, then demand a similar thing as “evidence” of another phenomenon. In reality, a natural phenomenon is studied from the observation of the phenomenon itself. A teaching aid is there merely to help students learn.

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Visibility of the Himalayas from India Due to COVID-19 Lockdowns

The lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic reduces air pollution in India. As a result, the Himalayas have become visible from 200 km (125 miles) away, consistent with the expectation if the Earth is a sphere 6371 km (3959 miles) in radius.

Flat-Earthers assert that the visibility of the Himalayas cannot possibly occur if Earth is a sphere as the distance is too far away. In reality, while the range is very far, the peaks are also very high, reaching more than 4400 m above sea level.

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Distortions of the Azimuthal Equidistant Map

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The azimuthal equidistant projection is a projection of the spherical Earth. As a result, a map using this projection has distortions in distances, shapes, directions, and areas. Just like the azimuthal equidistant map, all other types of maps have their distortion characteristics.

In the illustration, the eight yellow dots indicate a location 5000 km from the red dot, toward all the cardinal directions and the intermediate directions. We can see that the distances, shapes, directions, and areas are distorted in some way depending on the location on the map.

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Marine Radar

Marine radars can only detect objects above the horizon. The curvature of the Earth limits their detection range.

Some marine radars are marketed using their maximum ranges, which far exceed the typical over-the-horizon distances to another vessel. Flat-Earthers noticed the fact and used it as “evidence” against Earth’s curvature. In reality, the specified ranges are radar signal ranges. Earth’s curvature still limits the actual detection range.

While a marine radar with an advertised range of 50 nm will not detect vessels at that range, it is still useful and can identify higher-ground inland areas.

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