In 1881, Albert A. Michelson experimented to prove the existence of aether. Aether was a hypothesized material that fills the region of the universe. Scientists knew light is a form of a wave, and because all other waves require a medium to propagate, they formulated the aether hypothesis, in which light can propagate. However, Michelson’s attempt produced a null result. Michelson concluded that the hypothesis of a stationary aether is erroneous.
In 1960, Bernard Jaffe wrote Michelson’s biography in the book “Michelson & the Speed of Light.” Unscrupulous flat-Earthers quoted a lone paragraph from the book out of the intended context and presented it as if Michelson proved the Earth is stationary.
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The following quote is often attributed to Mark Twain. But there is no evidence Mark Twain ever wrote this phrase, despite the fact his writings were very well-documented.
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled”
Flat-Earthers like to use the quote to ridicule & describe those who understand Earth is a sphere. In an ironic twist, by attributing the quote to Mark Twain, these flat-Earthers demonstrate that they are being easily fooled themselves.
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In 1922, Albert Einstein gave the speech “How I Created the Theory of Relativity” at Kyoto University. Flat-Earthers took a sentence fragment from his speech and quoted him out of context. It became a hoax as if Einstein believed a stationary Earth.
By reading the entire paragraph to understand the context, it is clear that Einstein did not mean Earth is stationary. He understands that Earth is in motion around the Sun.
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The “Earth is a realm” quote is often wrongly attributed to Nikola Tesla in flat-Earth communities and incorrectly regarded as “evidence” that Tesla believed Earth is flat.
Someone wrote pseudoscientific drivel and added an actual quote by Nikola Tesla. Flat-Earthers wrongly assume both statements are by Tesla & it became a hoax claiming Tesla was a flat-Earther.
The quote by Tesla was taken from “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy,” in which Tesla mentioned the word “globe” 12×, “gravity” 4×, “planet” 10×. It is clear Tesla was not a flat-Earther.
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Quote-mining is the fallacious tactic of taking quotes out of context to make them seemingly agree with one’s position.
Quote-mining is a common flat-Earthers’ tactic. They take statements from scientists, pick a small part, and remove the surrounding context. The information no longer resembles the initial meaning, but then it is attributed to the original author or speaker to exploit or discredit their names and reputations.
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In 1931, Auguste Piccard went up in a balloon to an altitude of 15781 m, not far above the cruising altitude of an airliner. At the altitude, Earth’s curvature is still very slight and difficult to see, especially through the small portholes in his chamber.
In a Popular Science interview, Piccard was reported to have said that Earth “seemed a flat disc with an upturned edge.” Flat-Earthers quickly interpreted his statement as if he was telling us Earth is flat. In reality, in another interview, it is clear that he is convinced that Earth is a sphere. In his writings about his expeditions, the word “globe” was also mentioned several times.
Continue reading “Auguste Piccard, A Scientist Falsely Claimed by Flat-Earthers”
Isaac Newton formulated the law of universal gravitation, which adequately explained the motion of all bodies in space known at his time. He also showed it is the same law that is causing everyday objects to fall on Earth.
In his famous phrase “hypothesis non fingo,” Newton stated that he did not know what causes gravity and refused to speculate. Flat-Earthers use it to discredit him. In reality, just because he did not know what causes gravity, it does not mean his law of universal gravitation is wrong.
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In the article “Radio Power will Revolutionize the World” in “Modern Mechanix and Inventions” magazine, July 1934 edition, Nikola Tesla stated:
“Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments and they wander off through equation after equation and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.”
Flat-Earthers like to use the quote to discredit science and scientists, unaware that in the article, Tesla mentioned that Earth is a sphere multiple times.
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The Saros is a period of 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours between related eclipses. The eclipses with the same Saros cycle are classified into a Saros series which is numbered for identification.
Flat-Earthers claim the usage of the Babylonian term Saros “proves” that eclipses are predicted using ancient Babylonian technology. In reality, the Saros is now used to classify related eclipses. For example, the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 is the 22nd member out of 77 in the Solar Saros 145.
The term Saros was first used in association with eclipse by Edmond Halley in 1691. The Babylonians never used the term Saros to describe eclipses. And the numbering system of the Saros series was created by G. van den Bergh in 1955.
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In a StarTalk episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson was given the question “what is gravity?” He quipped “we have no idea” before elaborating more. Flat-Earthers quoted it out of context to discredit Neil and gravity, completely disregarding what Neil explained afterward.
In reality, Neil did provide a very comprehensive answer to the question “what is gravity” but flat-Earthers only gave an emphasis to the “we have no idea” part of his answer, and skipped the rest of his answer.
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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.
Continue reading ““Stuff is Flat”: Incorrect Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Claim About the Observation of Earth’s Curvature”
General Mirosław Hermaszewski is a former Polish cosmonaut. He gave an interview in late 2019 that flat-Earthers misrepresented and quoted his statements out of context as if he admitted in the interview that Earth is flat.
In the interview, he received some ridiculous questions, and he answered them with equally ridiculous answers in a joking tone, including the question at the end of the interview where he was asked if Earth is flat. The General was surprised by the question, but he decided to play along and answered “it is flat” for a hilarious ending.
Unfortunately, as with many other cases, flat-Earthers are not aware they are being ridiculed in the interview, and take the General’s statement as serious. That small part at the end of the interview is often seen in flat-Earth circles as a hoax that claims it as an endorsement of flat Earth by the General.
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In a Big Think Q&A, Bill Nye gave his opinion on why we cannot throw our trash into space. Flat-Earthers took Bill’s words out of context and used it to “disprove” space flight.
“Why we don’t throw trash into space? Because it’s too expensive. Lifting a ton of material into space takes an extraordinary amount of rocket fuel. And, by the way, when people want to send this much plutonium-238 which is not even the weapon’s plutonium, a baseball size, a grapefruit size, people freak out because the rockets sometimes blow up.”
“Now, one thing I really want your generation to embrace is that the Earth is a closed system. We cannot leave the Earth. There’s no place to go. There’s no place to throw your trash. And I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe not you but your kids develop ways to mine our landfills.”
Unscrupulous flat-Earthers took the specific part “Earth is a closed system. We cannot leave the Earth. There’s no place to go,” and presented it as if Bill was telling us we cannot go to space. From the complete video, it is clear that it is not what Bill meant.
Bill Nye is a space colonization skeptic. He does not believe space colonization is realistic. It does not mean Bill thinks we cannot go to space. In another Q&A, he said we need to have a presence on Mars for research purposes.
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In September 2015, Buzz Aldrin gave an interview at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Flat-Earthers misrepresented and quoted it out of context as if Buzz was admitting that the Apollo Moon landings never happened.
The original interview was 17 minutes long, and there were other occasions Buzz clearly said the Moon landings happened, without any possibility of misinterpretation.
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In a talk show, Neil deGrasse Tyson explained the figure of the Earth. He told the audience that the Earth is practically round, but it is a little farther from the center near the equator compared to the poles. And that in the southern parts, it is a bit farther from the center than in its northern regions. To illustrate the fact, Neil used the analogy ‘pear-shaped.’
Flat-Earthers really love to ridicule the ‘pear-shaped’ analogy. But they are mistaken. If they watch the entire unaltered video, they will find Neil explained the fact very clearly.
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On December 3, 2014, NASA published a video describing the Orion EFT-1 mission, narrated by a NASA scientist, Kelly Smith. The mission was the first unmanned flight of the Orion spacecraft.
Some unscrupulous flat-Earthers decided to turn the video into ‘evidence’ that NASA never went to the moon. They cut down the video to the ‘important’ parts and added in prejudicial narration and subtitles. There are countless of such videos on YouTube, and at some point, it was nearly impossible to search for anything educational about the Van Allen radiation belts on YouTube.
They are wrong. There are, in fact, two Van Allen radiation belts. Apollo traversed the outer belt that has lower radiation level in a hurry, while Orion was deliberately sent into the far more dangerous inner belt. They are named ‘belts’ precisely because they are like the real belts. It is possible to bypass the most dangerous parts of the belt, just like Apollo did.
Orion EFT-1 is not ‘evidence’ that the Apollo mission didn’t happen.
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‘The Principle’ is a pseudoscientific documentary that promotes geocentrism, that the Earth is stationary and the center of the universe. Despite the fact that the film has almost nothing to do with flat-Earth, some flat-Earthers decide to use this film to bolster their beliefs. Because after all, in the flat-Earth model, the Earth is stationary and the center of the universe, right?
This actually gets more complicated than that. We are dealing with two forms of pseudoscience, that sometimes even goes against each other.
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According most flat earthers, there’s no such thing as the continent of Antarctica. In their imagination, Antarctica is not a continent, but a long ice wall enclosing the Earth. Without having anything to prove that assumption, they look anywhere for any quote they can mine and stumbled into this quote by Admiral Byrd:
“Strangely enough, there is left in the world today, an area as big as the United States, that’s never been seen by a human being. And that’s beyond the pole, on the other side of the south pole from Little America.”
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