News Satire

News satire is a type of parody presented in a format typical of mainstream journalism. Some satirical news outlets use satirical commentary to comment on actual, real-world news; while others offer wholly fictionalized news stories.

Satirical news outlets have produced some “reports” mocking the flat Earth belief. Unfortunately, some flat-Earthers failed to realize the satirical nature of the “news,” and that the “news” was created to mock them. Because they think it was real news, the “news” spreads in flat-Earth communities as hoaxes.

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Railgun

A railgun is an experimental weapon that uses electromagnetic force to launch high-velocity projectiles. Some railguns are expected to have a range of more than 200 miles.

Flat-Earthers claim that a railgun round always travels straight. And because it can hit targets beyond 200 miles, they use it as “proof” Earth’s curvature does not exist. They are wrong. In reality, railgun rounds are projectiles. The same law of physics that applies to bullets, arrows, or thrown rocks also applies to them. The rounds are affected by air resistance and Earth’s gravity, and will not travel straight for very long. Railguns are capable of hitting targets obstructed by Earth’s curvature and are not proof that Earth’s curvature does not exist.

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Laser Guidance

Laser guidance is used by the military to guide a missile toward a target.  A laser designator marked a target by pointing a laser beam at it. The signals bounce off the target into the sky, where they are detected by laser-guided munition, which steers itself toward the center of the reflected signal.

A laser-guided missile can be launched toward a target behind Earth’s curvature. Flat-Earthers claim it proves a flat Earth as it would have been impossible for the launcher to point a laser beam at the target. They are wrong. The laser designator does not have to be the launcher itself. It can be another unit closer to the target, such as infantry or an aircraft.

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Ad Fidentia

The fallacy of ad-fidentia is committed when someone attacks the opponent’s self-confidence instead of the argument or the evidence.

Scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge, which is an iterative, cyclical process through which information is continually revised. Flat-Earthers would often question their opponents if they are 100% sure about their claims. If we admit there is a possibility we are wrong or that our claims might be revised in the future, flat-Earthers will use that to ‘prove’ us wrong.

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Measurement Error

Measurement error (also called observational error) is the difference between a measured quantity and its true value. A measurement error is not a mistake. Variability is an inherent part of the results of measurements and the measurement process.

Flat-Earthers often point out at ranges of quantities, errors in measurement results, varying results in different attempts of measurement, as well as highlighting the adjectives ‘about’ and ‘approximately’; then present them as ‘proof’ that science does not know it for certain. They are wrong. Any measurement has an error, and it can never be eliminated.

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The Ball and Water ‘Experiment’

Gravity is the attraction between objects with mass. The higher the mass, the greater is the gravitational attraction. Gravity is not the result of the shapes of the objects.

Flat-Earthers like to perform the ball-and-water ‘experiment.’ They spray water to a ball, then observe the water does not stick to the ball the same way the ocean water curves over the surface of the Earth. They would wrongly conclude that “gravity does not exist.” Gravity does not come from the spherical shape of objects, Continue reading “The Ball and Water ‘Experiment’”

Locations on a Similar Latitude and the Differences in their Conditions

Different locations on a comparable latitude can have some similarities. However, the latitude is not the only factor that decides seasonal changes, biodiversity, temperatures, and other conditions. The conditions can be vastly different even on places on the similar latitudes.

Flat-Earthers highlight the differences between locations on a similar latitude to the North and South of the Equator and conclude Earth must be flat. They are wrong. There are factors other than latitude that determine the differences.

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Richard Garriott’s “Pocket of Gravity” Magic Trick

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Richard Garriott is a video-game developer and entrepreneur who is also an avid magician. On October 2008, he flew to the ISS on board of a Soyuz rocket as a private astronaut. During his time on the ISS, he performed several magic tricks.

One of his magic tricks involves a hammer that floats and a card that seem to fall down as if it is pulled down by gravity. Flat-Earthers were unaware it was a mere magic trick and wrongly assume it demonstrates things are falling down in the ISS, despite other objects in the scene that float.

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How GPS and Other Satellite Navigation System Work

A satellite navigation or satnav system is a system that uses satellites to provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning. Several satellites continuously transmit signals containing their positions and the time when the signal was sent. Receiver units listen to the signals and use the information to calculate their positions.

Flat-Earthers assume that if GPS satellites are used to determine positions, then they should be able to pinpoint the position of a receiver. They are wrong. GPS satellites only transmit signals but never receive signals from the receivers. It is impossible for the satellites to determine the position of a receiver.

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Red Herring

Red herring is a fallacious argument style in which an irrelevant or false topic is presented in an attempt to divert attention from the original issue, with the intention of ‘winning’ an argument by leading attention away from the original argument and on to another, often unrelated topic.

Flat-Earthers often commit the fallacy of red herring —often repeatedly one after another— because their claims are indefensible. For example, they will try avoiding arguments involving direct observations and derail the discussion to other arguments that rely on statements from third parties. Then, they would discredit the third parties and add them to their list of “collaborators” to “win” the debate.

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Human Perception of Speed and Acceleration

When aboard an airplane flying at cruising speed, we will not be able to feel that the plane is, in fact, moving at speed of more than 900 km/h. But if the plane changes its speed, turns or changes its altitude, we can easily feel it.

The same thing happens with the motion of the Earth. Due to Earth’s rotation, the surface of the Earth is moving at 1656 km/h near the equator. We never feel it because the speed is constant, or in other words, the acceleration is zero.

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Humans Are Social Beings and Science is a Social Process

Humans are social beings. We depend on each other; not everything we need to do can be done by ourselves. We do not produce every food we eat every day, and the same applies to practically every other aspects of our lives.

We often hear flat-Earthers ask if we have researched by ourselves all the things we claim. If we have not researched it by ourselves but only rely on information from third-party, then —according to them— we should not accept the information. It is merely their way to undermine society, and disconnect us from the rest of society.

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Eight Inches Per Mile Squared

The “eight inches per mile squared” is a rule of thumb to determine the drop height due to the curvature of the Earth. It does not account for the observer’s height and atmospheric refraction. And therefore, the rule is unsuitable to determine the amount of obstruction of a distant object due to Earth’s curvature.

Many Flat-Earthers often use the “8 inches” rule to reach the conclusion similar to “X is visible, but at the distance of Y miles, X should be Z feet below the horizon, so the Earth is flat.” They are wrong. The “8 inches” rule is the wrong tool for the purpose as it does not account for the height of the observer and atmospheric refraction.

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Balloon Satellites

In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. A few of these satellites are balloon satellites. They are satellites that are inflated with gas after they have been put into orbit. There are also other human-made objects which are also called satellites, only placed in a much lower altitude, and with a very different operating method. These are actually regular high altitude balloon, but providing services traditionally provided by orbiting satellites.

Flat-Earthers deny the existence of satellites, and after they discovered the existence of balloon satellites, they started to use the fact as “proof” that orbiting satellites do not exist. It is the fallacy of hasty generalization. Using the same “logic” they are using, we can use the existence of trucks to “prove” buses don’t exist.

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Shill Gambit

The shill gambit is a fallacy where one party dismisses another party’s arguments by proclaiming them to be on the payroll of some conspiracy, without having any evidence other than the arguments themselves. The shill gambit is a type of ad hominem and poisoning-the-well fallacy. It shifts from addressing the substance of the argument to attacking the person and their credibility instead.

Flat-Earthers would usually commit the shill gambit when they feel cornered. They would accuse anyone outspoken against flat Earth to have been paid by the global conspiracy. We at FlatEarth.ws get these accusations a lot.

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The Variation of Earth’s Gravitational Acceleration

The gravity of Earth varies on the different location on Earth. The variation is caused by the difference in latitude, altitude or depth, and local geology & topography. In most cases, the centrifugal acceleration from Earth’s rotation is also already accounted for in the value of Earth’s gravitational acceleration.

Flat-Earthers claim that according to science, the Earth’s gravitational acceleration is always constant at 9.8 m/s² everywhere on Earth. And they are using the claim to prove Earth is not a rotating sphere. In reality, the magnitude of Earth’s gravitational acceleration varies on the different location on Earth.

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Humber Bridge and Earth’s Curvature

The Humber Bridge, near Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, is a 2.22-kilometer (1.38 mi) single-span road suspension bridge, which opened to traffic on 24 June 1981. When it opened, the bridge was the longest of its type in the world.

The towers, although both vertical, are 36 mm (1.4 inches) farther apart at the top than the bottom due to the curvature of the earth.

References

James Van Allen and the Van Allen Radiation Belts

In 1958, James Van Allen discovered the existence of the Van Allen radiation belts. Conspiracy theorists, including flat-Earthers, use it to “prove” the Apollo Moon landings were faked and never happened. To dispel the hoax, James Van Allen himself wrote letters clarifying the false allegation.

“The recent Fox TV show, which I saw, is an ingenious & entertaining assemblage of nonsense. The claim that radiation exposure during the Apollo missions would have been fatal to the astronauts is only one example of such nonsense.”

Both the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts and the statement that the radiation belts do not prevent space travel came from James Van Allen. Conspiracy theorists cannot merely quote one when it appears to support their belief and conveniently reject the other if it is against them. Continue reading “James Van Allen and the Van Allen Radiation Belts”

Flat-Earth “Perspective” is not Real-World Perspective

To an observer, the law of perspective will cause objects moving away in a straight line to:

  1. appear to approach the vanishing point but never quite reach it,
  2. never appear to go across the vanishing point,
  3. appear to shrink in size,
  4. never appear to be cut in half unless when it is obstructed by another object.

If the Earth were flat, sunsets, sunrises, and other general phenomena where objects are not visible due to Earth’s curvature should not occur. To “fix the problem,” flat-Earthers invented the explanation that the apparent obstruction of a distant object can occur on a flat Earth due to “perspective.” Their “perspective” is simply a baseless ad-hoc explanation that does not resemble how the real-world perspective works.

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Notable Effort Fallacy

The fallacy of notable effort is committed if one accepts good effort as a valid reason to accept the conclusion, even though the effort is not related to the truth.

Flat-Earthers would often over-emphasize their efforts in proving a flat earth and belittling that from ‘globe-earthers’. Then they take the purported noteworthiness of their efforts to conclude that the Earth is flat. This is the fallacy of notable effort. Putting in more effort does not mean the conclusion is more correct.

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