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 from 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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Contextualism and Flat Earth

Contextualism is treating what we know as context-sensitive. We can use the epistemic contextualism as a philosophical tool to explain the Earth is spherical, and bypass all the scientific explanations.

Flat-Earthers love to shift the context to where we would no longer function as a normal human being because only in this context, most of us cannot possibly know the shape of the Earth.

But in the context where we all act like normal human beings, there’s no problem to know the Earth is spherical, even if we don’t know all the scientific details.

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