Flat-Earthers use the phenomenon of refraction as a catch-all “explanation” every time they observe something not appearing in the expected position if the Earth is flat. They use the term “refraction” as mere technobabble without any underlying explanation.
The following are how we can distinguish real-world, scientific refraction from the technobabble used by flat-Earthers:
With the real-world refraction:
- It must be possible to know the path the light takes, and it must be possible to draw a diagram about it.
- The cause needs to be identified and follows Snell’s law. Refraction occurs because the light traverses over mediums with a different refractive index.
- The direction and strength of the refraction must be correct and realistic. Atmospheric refraction will never bend light in such a way that an object physically behind us appears in front of us.
- The effect on the different light rays must be consistent. It is impossible that two objects next to each other are affected by refraction very differently.
On the other hand, flat-Earthers can only go as far as showing us that refraction can make an object appear not in the expected position. They cannot provide the underlying explanation of how the object appears that way; not unlike magic. They use the term “refraction” as technobabble, to give an impression as if it is real science, and to explain away many inconsistencies in the flat Earth model.