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  • Writer's pictureJohn Dolan

It's Not Just Real Ale That's Flat

It’s a little-know fact that the Flat Earth Society has members all around the globe.

OK, it’s only January. Enough of the sarcasm.

I was recently inspired (by what, I know not) to do a little research around the phenomenon of Flat Earthers. Modern flat earth belief – let’s leave aside the pre-Copernicus stuff – has its origins in the writings of Englishman Samuel Rowbotham (1816-1884). Yes, it had to be an Englishman, didn’t it? Rowbotham based his arguments on his observations of a six-mile stretch of the Old Bedford River in the Cambridgeshire Fens, after which he published a pamphlet entitled Zetetic Astronomy, and followed this up with a book Earth Not a Globe.

Sam’s proposition was that the Earth is a flat disc centred at the North Pole and bounded along its edge by a wall of ice, namely Antarctica. (I’m now even more concerned about climate change: if Antarctica melts will we be flooded with space?) He went on to say that the Sun and the Moon were 3,000 miles above Earth and that the cosmos was 3,100 miles above us.

Since his death, Sam’s torch has been picked up by a variety of individuals, and the Flat Earth Society itself has been through various incarnations. Their most recent planet model holds that the Sun and the Moon are each 32 miles in diameter. One of the Italian Flat Earth groups asserts that the Moon landings were faked by NASA/Hollywood and that all astronauts/cosmonauts are actors. A common thread appears to be that science is attempting to take over the ground occupied by (Christian) religion through perpetrating a vast fraud on humankind.

Should you feel inclined to dig deeper – and I hope you don’t because apparently the Earth is not that thick, and you might let in the void – I suggest you visit the Flat Earth Society FAQs page:

Speaking for myself, I’m with the Round Earthers. If the Earth were flat, I think cats would have pushed everything off the edge by now. Q.E.D.

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