Flat Earth Denominations and the Lack of Agreement Among Them

Flat-Earth communities around the globe are separated by country borders, language barriers, prominent religions, the leading figures, etc. As a result, they form several loosely-knitted but distinct denominations. Because flat-Earth is believed, not based on facts, each of the different factions invents and endorses different sets of “explanations” and talking points. All of them only agree on a single thing, that Earth is flat, but they cannot agree on practically everything else.

Many flat-Earthers would incorrectly dismiss our explanations as a strawman. In reality, we address flat-Earth misinformation from all denominations, and we might address ones that do not exist in their specific denomination. These are, however, still flat-Earth misinformation that people might fall for and worth debunking.

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Tools We Use

As this is turning into a frequently asked question, the following lists the various tools we use to create our illustrations.

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Eastward Direction of the Path of a Solar Eclipse

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The path of a solar eclipse moves eastward because the Moon moves in its orbit faster than the motion of the observer due to Earth’s rotation. The path is influenced more by the Moon’s linear speed, not its angular speed.

The Moon rises from the east and moves westward. Flat-Earthers incorrectly claim if the Moon moves westward, then its shadow should also move westward. In reality, the Moon’s shadow moves across the Earth, not around it. The path is influenced more by the Moon’s linear speed, not angular speed, as in the case of the Moon’s motion across the sky.

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Communication Delays in Apollo Missions

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Radio waves travel at the speed of light; it takes 1¼ seconds to cover Earth-Moon distance. It is the reason in the Apollo missions after Houston says something, the response from the astronauts on the Moon will arrive only after 2½ seconds.

Some presentations of the Apollo missions are edited to cut out the gaps created by the delay, and flat-Earthers use them to dismiss the Apollo missions as fake. However, in the actual audio recordings and the transcripts, the delays are there.

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Planets vs Stars

Planets are not stars. On casual observation, both planets and stars appear as bright dots in the night sky. But with careful observation, we know planets are different from the stars.

Flat-Earthers insist that planets are just stars. In reality, we can easily observe many of the planets’ attributes that set them apart from the stars —using minimal efforts and equipment.

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Objects Obscured by Earth’s Curvature and Zoom Factor

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From an observer on a shore, the distance to the horizon is 5 km (3 miles), or more if the observer is higher. Therefore, Earth’s curvature obscures objects starting from that distance. If the objects are not large enough, we need an optical aid, like zooming in using a camera, to see them in the first place.

Flat-Earthers often show us wide-angle photos to demonstrate that objects are not obscured by Earth’s curvature. In reality, in such photos, objects far enough to be obscured by Earth’s curvature cannot be resolved. It is hard to see objects obscured by Earth’s curvature if the objects themselves are not visible in the picture.

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Magnetic Dip

A magnetic compass is less usable near the poles partly due to magnetic dip. One of the Earth’s poles is much closer and affects the needle more strongly than the other pole. As a result, Earth’s magnetic field pulls the needle toward the ground.

Flat-Earthers claim that a compass is unusable only near Antarctica. In reality, the same also occurs near the North Pole. Magnetic dip, as observed on various locations on Earth, can only happen if the Earth is spherical.

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Moonlight and the Cooling Effect Myth

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Flat-Earthers claim that moonlight is cold and cools down objects exposed to it. It is merely a myth from the 19th-century flat-Earthers, reinforced by confirmation bias in various so-called “experiments” performed by today’s flat-Earthers.

Flat-Earthers experimented and insisted that moonlight has a cooling effect because they failed to control other factors affecting the experiment and maybe even deliberately introduced them to influence the results. They also did not account for measurement errors —the variation between several measurements— and cherry-picked the results that fit their desired outcome while ignoring the rest.

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“Stuff is Flat”: Incorrect Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Claim About the Observation of Earth’s Curvature

Neil deGrasse Tyson once incorrectly stated that it is still too close to the surface to see Earth’s curvature from the height of Felix Baumgartner’s jump. In reality, we should be able to see it using our eyes.

Flat-Earthers believe people take Neil’s remarks as gospel and use Neil’s incorrect statement to dismiss any observation of Earth’s curvature. However, we have no problem saying that Neil was wrong. It is OK to be wrong as long as we are willing to revise our views when faced with new facts, and we are certain Neil will.

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Education vs. Propaganda

In our education, we are taught that the Earth is a sphere because it is really a sphere. It would be wrong if our educational system were to teach us that the Earth is flat.

Flat-Earthers claim we know Earth is a sphere from years of propaganda in our educational system. In reality, it is precisely how they themselves can believe something that can be easily shown wrong, like a flat Earth, except that it did not need years to deceive them.

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Photoshop Trolling

Photoshop trolling is prevalent in flat-Earth communities. The most common form involves finding a suitable landscape photo and using Photoshop or a similar app to turn it reddish as though it was taken on Mars. Then, the result is placed next to the original with a caption added to imply that the “Mars photo” was from NASA, and they faked it from the original.

Flat-Earthers will not bother confirming if the image was really from NASA. They cannot realize that they are being trolled —many memes containing such images spread in flat Earth communities as hoaxes.

Refraction and Water

Refraction is the change in the direction of light due to the change in the medium’s refractive index traveled by the light. It is convenient to use water in a demonstration of refraction. But water alone is not the cause of refraction.

Flat-Earthers falsely claim that just because our atmosphere has water vapor in it, it will produce the same effect as any demonstration of refraction involving water. In reality, it requires far more reasoning than just that water is involved.

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Sealioning

Sealioning is a type of trolling or harassment which consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions while maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity. The sealion feigns ignorance and politeness so that if the target is provoked into making an angry response, they can then act as the aggrieved party. Flat-Earthers and adherents of other pseudoscience often employ sealioning to harass others.

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Repulsive Force

Gravity does not possess repulsive force like magnetism. These are two different phenomena with different characteristics.

Flat-Earthers use the lack of a repulsive force in gravity to deny its existence. In reality, there is no requirement for an attractive force to have a repulsive force. Gravity does not act like magnetism, and the fact does not disprove gravity.

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Pilots Are Taught to Work With the Fact Earth is a Sphere

Pilots are taught to work with the fact that Earth is a sphere. It is part of the education to become a pilot. Their job depends on the knowledge that Earth is a sphere.

Flat-Earthers wrongly claim that pilots are taught to fly based on a flat Earth. We can easily disprove these claims by reading some of the books these pilots use in their education.

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Earth’s Rotation in Videos Taken From Space

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The Earth rotates only once every 24 hours. To notice the rotation of Earth in a video taken from space, we need to speed up the video so that it appears fast enough for us to notice it. We also need to make sure the video was taken from a spacecraft where its motion does not dominate over the movement of Earth itself.

Flat-Earthers claim that videos taken from space were faked because the Earth does not appear rotating. In reality, Earth rotates far too slowly to be casually seen without increasing the speed.

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Incitement: How People Can Believe Scientific Hoaxes, Even a Blatantly Wrong Ones, Like Flat Earth

People can believe scientific hoaxes —like flat Earth— not because of their sheer stupidity, despite the appearances; but because they are being misled into believing it emotionally. In another matter, these people can still function just like normal human beings.

If the concept being presented requires us to accuse others of malice before we can accept the concept, there must be something wrong with it, and we must be careful. Real science does not depend on such accusations to be true. And thus, we can rule out many of the things being presented as science, but actually not, without having to delve deep into them.

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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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