“Behind the Curve”: the Earth’s Curvature Experiment

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“Behind the Curve” is a documentary showing behind the scenes on what is happening in the flat-Earth community in the United States just before a flat-Earth conference. In a section, the film shows us how a flat-Earther tried to disprove curvature using a series of visual experiments. The result clearly indicates the surface curves, but he was unwilling to accept the fact.

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“Behind the Curve”: the Ring Laser Gyroscope Experiment

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“Behind the Curve” is a documentary showing behind the scenes on what is happening in the flat-Earth community in the United States just before a flat-Earth conference. In a section, the film shows us how a flat-Earther did an experiment involving a ring laser gyroscope, which proved the very thing he tried to disprove: Earth’s rotation; and that he was unwilling to accept the result.

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One Single Proof Fallacy

The fallacy of “one single proof” occurs when someone rejects overwhelming evidence because of the lack of specific evidence and declare the entire argument invalid.

A common trick of flat-Earthers is to demand unrealistic evidence of spherical Earth. After their demand is not met, they would proclaim Earth is not a sphere, and conveniently ignore all the other evidence of spherical Earth.

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Fiber-Optic vs Satellite Communication

Fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting data by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. These days, the majority of data communication involves a fiber-optic connection. However, other methods of transmitting data exist, including satellites.

Flat-Earthers use the prominence of fiber-optic communication as “proof” of the nonexistence of satellites. Such a line of thinking is a fallacy of hasty generalization. Using the same “logic,” we can “prove” trains don’t exist just by showing the existence of cars.

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Composite Photos of the Earth

NASA has published several pictures of the Earth that are composites. It means the pictures were the result of combining many images into a single picture. In most cases, the source pictures were taken from low-orbiting satellites to obtain higher resolution pictures of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers discovered the photos are composites and claimed to have exposed “yet another evidence” of wrongdoing. They would publish this “findings” everywhere to turn us emotional. They are wrong. Nobody is covering the fact the pictures are composites, and there is no intention to deceive. Information that the photos are composites can be readily found in NASA’s website, far before the claimed “discovery” by flat-Earthers.

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Theories of Gravity

Gravity is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass or energy are brought toward one another. Today, the phenomenon of gravity is explained by two theories: Newton’s law of universal gravitation and Einstein’s general relativity.

Flat-Earthers take the existence of the two explanations as inconsistency in science and use it as a “proof” of deliberate misconduct. Such allegation is obviously only a result of their prejudice. The two theories are the correct explanations of gravity, and can reliably predict the outcome of the phenomenon.

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Proofs of Spherical Earth Presented by Flat-Earthers

Many adherents of flat Earth have spent a lot of effort and money to perform various observations and experiments. They would buy expensive equipment, travel to the other side of the world, painstakingly designed the experiments in minute details, and performed large-scale experiments; all to prove the notion that Earth is flat. However, many of these experiments and observations have actually confirmed the Earth is a sphere beyond any doubt.

In most cases, they would not accept such conclusions, and instead, they misinterpret, refuse to accept, lie, and withhold information. Such behaviors are the results of confirmation bias. However, their results speak louder than their biased conclusions, and these are perfectly valid proofs that Earth is a sphere.

These are some of those observations and experiments, where flat-Earthers have painstakingly and extravagantly performed them, only to come up with the wrong conclusions and spectacularly demonstrating their confirmation biases to the entire world.

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Stellarium

Some flat-Earthers like to observe celestial phenomena and the positions of celestial objects. Sometimes, they insist such events cannot possibly happen if the Earth is a sphere orbiting the Sun, and took the wrong conclusion that the Earth must be flat.

We can try asking them the time of the occurrence and the position of the observer, then use Stellarium or similar applications to simulate it. If the result matches the observation, then they have nothing to complain about. Their confusion was only the result of their ignorance.

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How to “Prove” a Basketball (or any Spherical Object) is Flat

If we were to magnify the surface of any spherical object with large enough magnification, then at some point, it would appear flat. This can be easily demonstrated using a macro lens as the Redditor ‘Useless-Pickles’ did. He magnified the surface of a basketball using an extreme macro lens as a philosophical demonstration.

This shows that the surface of a spherical object can easily look flat if the object is large enough, or the observer is small enough.  And the basis of all flat-Earthers’ belief that the horizon appears flat is insufficient to determine the shape of the Earth. By applying the same “logic” as these flat-Earthers, we can actually “prove” a basketball is flat, which, as we all know, is clearly wrong.

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Circular Reasoning

Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy in which the proposition is supported by the premises, which is supported by the proposition, creating a circle in reasoning where no useful information is being shared.

Flat-Earthers often commit the fallacy of circular reasoning to defend the notion that the Earth is flat. Such reasoning is never useful, and cannot be regarded as evidence of anything, despite what they are claiming.

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Real Photos of the Earth

The first photo showing the entire Earth was taken in 1966 from the spacecraft Lunar Orbiter 1. Since then, there are too many photos showing the whole earth taken from various missions to space.

The advent of computers in the 80s introduced a new technique of generating such pictures. A satellite can be used to take many photos of the Earth from a low orbit, and computers can be used to assemble those pictures into a single photo of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers ‘discovered’ such technique, then they concluded that all pictures of the Earth taken from space are all composites, the results of manipulation or assembled by computers. They are wrong. Just because there were pictures created using such technique, it doesn’t mean there is no genuine picture showing the entire Earth, not composites, not stitched, and were taken from a single shot.

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The False Dilemma of the Figure of the Earth

There are several models explaining the figure of the Earth. These models vary in the way they are used, in their complexity and in the accuracy with which they represent the size and shape of the Earth. These models are sphere, ellipsoid, and geoid.

Flat-Earthers often take the existence of these multiple models as evidence of disagreement among scientists, and that the shape of the Earth is still in contention. They are wrong. All these models are valid models, only with different complexity and accuracy.

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The so-called “Experiment” Done by Flat-Earthers

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We often see flat-Earthers create a ‘miniaturized physical model’ of a real object and present them as ‘proof’ in support of flat-Earth and against spherical Earth. Their M.O. is to observe if the model remotely resembles the actual object in a particular way. If it does, then it is enough for them to conclude the model describe how the real object works.

Conversely, if a real object cannot be miniaturized and still have the same behavior as the original object, they would conclude that the behavior of the original object doesn’t exist.

They would wrongly call creating such models “doing an experiment”.

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Quote Mining: How They Misrepresent Facts and Attempt to Incite Us

A favorite modus operandi of flat-Earth perpetrators is quote mining, or quoting out of context. They would read statements from scientists and watch their videos, then look for words they can use out of the intended context and spread them.

To some people, these scientists would appear contradicting each other and that there is never a consensus in science. They would even go as far as portraying the scientists as having some evil intentions to deceive us. In reality, the information no longer resembles what the scientists had in mind.

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Kettle Logic: Conflicting ‘Explanations’ in the Flat-Earth Model

Kettle logic is making multiple contradicting arguments in an attempt to support a single point or idea.

Kettle logic occurs very frequently in the flat-Earth community. If they meet a natural phenomenon cannot readily be explained using the flat-Earth model, they would often devise ‘experimental models’ to ‘explain’ how the said phenomenon can happen in a flat-Earth.

The problem? These models are in conflict with each other.

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Common Sense: Not a Reliable Indication of Truth

Something would ‘make sense’ if it appears to be correct according to our personal experience. But common sense can be deceiving.  Common sense relies on our own experience which has a very limited scope. For a lot of things, our common sense is not a reliable indicator of truth.

Perpetrators of flat-Earth often exploit the shortcoming of our common sense. They would say something like “It looks flat, so it must be flat!” Some of us fell victim to this scheme and would make the conclusion out of a mere hunch in place of more thorough and exhaustive observations.

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“Earth is a Sphere” Semantic Games

The Earth is spherical, but not perfectly spherical. Its diameter is longer across the equator than between both poles. The shape is called ‘oblate spheroid’. The difference between both diameters is tiny, only about 0.33%. It is perfectly fine to say that the Earth is round or spherical.

Some flat-Earthers take this issue very seriously. They think if that’s the case, then we can’t say the Earth is spherical. They are wrong. If we can’t say the Earth is a sphere, then we can’t describe every other spherical object as spherical, because nothing is perfectly spherical.

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The Fallacy of Statement of Conversion

The fallacy of statement of conversion is committed when someone is taking a statement of conversion as valid without actually hearing a reason for the conversion.

Flat-Earthers often tell others that they used to believe the Earth is a globe, but now they ‘know better’ and believe in a flat-Earth. All this only tells us they changed their mind. Accepting this as proof of a flat-Earth would be committing the fallacy of statement of conversion.

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