Here’s the Latest Flat Earth News

After the serious news we reported earlier today, it’s time to lighten things up a bit. The Week is the digital version of what used to be a British print magazine. They have this headline: Rapper BoB claims Earth is flat and a conspiracy is hiding the truth. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

US hip-hop artist Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, better known as BoB, has provoked amusement and ire on Twitter with his claim that the Earth is flat and that there is a conspiracy to deny the “truth”.

A hip-hop artist, flat Earth, conspiracy, Twitter — this is exactly what we’re in the mood for. Here’s more:

“A lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’ … but there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know… grow up,” he wrote.

Yeah — grow up! Let’s read on:

He has also posted a variety of “evidence” for his claims, ranging from spurious geometry to photos of horizons with no visible curvature.

Hey — he’s got evidence! We continue:

Asked why no edge of the Earth had ever been discovered, he replied: “Have u been to the edge? or is that what your science book told you?”

Good response! Now it gets serious:

Among those answering his claims is astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who corrected the rapper’s geometry. In his argument, BoB said the world must be flat because otherwise it would be impossible to see Manhattan from Bear Mountain, 60 miles away, as the curvature of the Earth’s surface “should” hide 170ft of the city, measuring from the ground up.

Wow! How could Tyson possibly refute that? We’re told:

In response, Tyson explained that the curvature, in fact, blocks 150ft of the view, not 170, but that most buildings in Manhattan were far taller than 170ft and hence visible from the hill.

But as you’ll see, Tyson was a gentleman about it:

However, he added some words of comfort for the rapper. “Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn’t mean we all can’t still like your music,” he wrote.

Nicely done! Then the story takes a swipe at the US:

BoB is not alone in his beliefs: according to The Guardian, he is “following in the footsteps of the recent flat-Earthers trend” which has “been gaining ground in the US as of late”, alongside creationism.

Egad! The flat-Earthers are gaining ground? They can’t gain too much, or they’ll fall off the edge. The article ends with another strange tale:

Last February, a Saudi Arabian cleric, Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari, also achieved notoriety on the internet after a video of him telling students the Earth was stationary and orbited by the sun went viral.

They give us a link to that story: Saudi cleric ‘proves’ the Earth does not rotate – video, but we can only handle one of these things at a time, so this is where we’ll end.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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25 responses to “Here’s the Latest Flat Earth News

  1. The Flat Earth Society started a Facebook page. It’s quite popular, but I doubt even a full percentage of the people on it are flat earthers.

  2. being five centuries regressed in your reasoning
    That should be more like twenty five centuries.

  3. The account in The Week reads astonishingly like a slightly abridged version of yesterday’s piece in The Guardian.

  4. @michaelfugate

    The latter of the two is pretty dire, though.

  5. @michaelfugate

    Oops: I meant to add that there’s another useful Grauniad piece here:
    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jan/20/flat-earth-believers-youtube-videos-conspiracy-theorists

  6. How absolutely, [edited out]ingly stupid! Why does anyone pay any attention whatsoever to what some rapper has to say about the shape of the earth? BoB must be really desperate for publicity to be willing to make himself look so stupid.

    His comment (“Have u been to the edge? or is that what your science book told you?”) is dumb beyond dumb. No one’s been to the edge, BoB, because there is no edge — the EARTH IS ROUND, Dude!

  7. When the daily news is indistinguishable from The Onion the species is in bad shape.

  8. If the earth is flat, maybe Sarah Palin really CAN see Russia from her house.

  9. Why does Tyson misrepresent historical knowledge about the earth’s curvature? As another commenter has alluded to, ancient Greeks knew this. You are a filthy deceptive liar, Tyson, no longer to be trusted.

  10. @Ed — In defense of Palin, she said “She could see Russia from her state” — as though that gave her foreign affairs cred. It was Tina Fey who said “She could see Russia from her house” in a skit spoofing Palin on Saturday Night Live a few days after Palin made her statement in the televised debates. Tina Fey looked more like Palin than Palin herself, and way more people saw Fey on SNL than saw Palin in the debate, so in so many people’s memory, they just know Palin made the stupid statement.

    Palin says some dumb things, but that wasn’t one of them. I got a chuckle out of your quip, though, Ed.

  11. Ah, well. In part, it may be that we can all understand what Tina says, while the word salads from Sarah require considerably more effort.

  12. Tina Fey’s flat Earth joke will soon be forgotten, but this is no joke:

    Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. (Matthew 4:8)

  13. @Melly Smuff

    Tyson says nothing about the ancient Greeks; his phrase is “five centuries regressed in your reasoning.” He’s still wrong, though, because at the time of Columbus, a little over five centuries ago, it was perfectly well known in Europe, at least among the educated, that the earth was a sphere.

  14. Hey! Melly! The Greeks never shows the earth is a sphere. They showed it was curved, and by inference that it was a sphere. Not the same as PROVING it is a sphere.
    In fact it was Megellan that PROVES it by sailing around the sphere. Because even with Columbus it still could have been flat and bigger then believed and curved…think of the top of a sphere cut off, flat on the bottom and curved on the top and support on the pillars on the backs of turtles.

  15. @SC
    Isn’t it interesting that whoever came up with the idea of seeing all the kingdoms from a high mountain, altough he mistakenly thought that one could see all that way, correctly knew that one can see farther by being higher (which means that the Earth is curved)? The most charitable interpretation is that the author didn’t think through the image he was using.

  16. TomS, you can see further by being higher even if you’re on a flat plain.

    By the time of the New Testament, it was more or less acknowledged that the Earth is curved, though. Well, when it was talked about at all. When you’re engaged in subsistence-level farming and fishing that’s then taxed by a violent government, you don’t really have a lot of leisure time.

  17. @L.Long
    Magellan’s voyage didn’t show that the Earth was a globe. One can make a circuit around a flat Earth. Today’s flat-Earther’s make that rebuttal against circumnavigations demonstrating the shape of the Earth.

    The ancients knew that only a globe can make a round shadow on the Moon no matter what the position of the Moon at an eclipse – on the eastern or western horizon, at the zenith, and no matter how far north or south the Moon.

    The ancients also knew that one reveals new stars when one travels to the south. Somewhat later, but still before Columbus, determining latitude by observing the stars with the astrolabe was well developed. I believe that it was noticed that astronomical events occurred at different local times at different longitudes, not in ancient times, but well before Columbus.

  18. How far can one see across a flat surface if one is X meters above the flat surface? I cannot see that the solution can depend on the variable X.

    The standard argument that the way that one sees a distant ship disappearing over the horizon: the top of the ship is the last to disappear – that can be inverted: the sailors can see you last when they climb to the top of the ship.

  19. @Tom S

    How far can one see across a flat surface if one is X meters above the flat surface?

    It depends on what else is in the way — houses, hills, etc. The Biblical reference to seeing farther from a high place may simply imply that you could see over intervening obstacles.

  20. Has anyone done this observation:

    Climb a mountain just before sunrise (or sunset), and watch way that the lowlands change as they experience sunrise. The lands to the east change before the lands to the west. But there is not the same difference between north and south. The higher lands are illuminated longer than the lower lands.

    This last I have seen when the peaks of mountains experience sunrise before the lower elevations – and are sunlit later after sunset. And similarly with clouds – one can see sunlit high clouds when the land and sea are dark.

    I suspect that this might even work with highrise buildings. Can one time the observation of sunset at an observation tower and compare that with the almanac’s time? How about in an airplane?

  21. I can look out of my front window and see proof the world is round. I live on Lake Michigan and even though I am near the narrow end of it, it is too wide to see across. No matter the magnification, all I can see is a straight edged horizon line … because the stuff on the other side is below the horizon line due to the earth’s curvature.

    People noticed this before Columbus’s time, that they would lose sight of the hull of a ship sailing out on a big expanse of water while still being able to see the masts.

    Why are ignoramuses so confident they are right? Ah… Internet! The greatest disinformation spreading mechanism since churches were founded. The Internet is giving us back overt racism (people would not dare say in public what they will say behind an Internet moniker) and dark ages science among all of its “benefits.” ,sigh>

  22. Steve Ruis:
    “Ah… Internet! The greatest disinformation spreading mechanism since churches were founded.

    True… but of course it works both ways. It’s also the best information spreading mechanism since, well, forever. Way better than libraries, schools, universities, anything. The problem is, it’s not vetted, so one needs to sort the truth from the [edited out]. Cynicism is a useful tool. Way too many people are way too credulous.

    And yes, you are correct about the spread of hate and racism. But again, that works both ways as well. one can just as easily spread kindness and pats on the back (praise, if you will) as spread hate.

    For instance, I’ll spread some praise right now — I truly appreciate the intelligence and thoughtfulness of the vast majority of the regular commenters here on Curmy’s blog. Most of us are probably drawn here by Our Curmudgeon’s intelligence and thoughtfulness. Like minds tend to flock together.

  23. Don’t forget the entertainment value, RSG. Our dear SC is also the funniest creacrap-watcher!