Flat Earthers - how do they defend obvious flaws in their theory

I ignore ignore idiots 100% of the time, but I’m so curious I just have to make an exception and ask:

If the earth is flat, how do you explain:

  • the sun dipping below the horizon at different times for different places
  • planes flying great circle routes
  • why do oceans not spill off the edge*
  • same thing for air
  • why has no one ever seen or encountered or flew off the edge
    • if Antarctica is the edge, it’s coast would have to be about 25,000 miles long, but it’s not.
  • what’s under the earth, and what about satellite and manned space mission views

Your last question has an obvious answer. It’s a conspiracy and NASA is part of it.

[li]It’s an illusion[/li][li]God is testing your Faith[/li][li]The Devil did it[/li][li]Various gobbledeegook.[/li][li]You’re a Sheeple, for not seeing the Truth! (Various insults follow.)[/li][li]YOU’RE PART OF THE CONSPIRACY!!![/li][li]fnord, etc[/li][/ol]

I think the short answer is – some superficially plausible-sounding pseudoscience where it’s not completely trivial to refute; and where there is in-your-face evidence, it’s a conspiracy.

As near as I can tell, it’s a combination of “la-la-la, I can’t hear you”, claims of “you’re part of the conspiracy”, and flat refusal to look at contrary evidence.

I know the earth is round. I’ve had to do the math to calculate satellite look angles, then put it into practice. Me and a coupla other guys made it work in a way that can only be explained by a round planet. But a flat-earther would say I am lying and part of the conspiracy, or that I am telling the truth, and was duped by the conspiracy.

And I suspect that no small part of them are just trolling.

But… but… that guy took a level in the plane and the bubble stayed in the middle! Doesn’t that prove it??
Yeah, that had to be one of the stupidest arguments I ever heard.

There’s an ice wall all the way around the disc, doncha know, that holds the oceans in. I think the sun moves above the disc (I picture a swaying dining room lamp, but I’m sure that’s not what is intended), to cause the changing light. Most of the others come down to CONSPIRACY!!!

They have a handy-dandy website that answers all these questions and more.

Whenever I’ve gone down the flat earth rabbit hole I never hear them use the god reason. There may very well be some that believe because of god but those that argue on the internet think they have science behind them.

Well where did all the water from the great flood go if not over the edge?

If you believe the hollow-earthers, there’s a giant hole near the North Pole. It’s like a drain.

Wouldn’t you like to lock some flat-earthers and hollow-earthers in a room and Pay-Per-View the carnage?

Elephants and Turtle.


Or just turtles all the way down according to some.

I put a lot of it down to “crazed positivism”. A tenet of positivism is that if you have a theory that all swans are white, then seeing one more white swan adds very little strength to the theory, but seeing one black swan overturns the theory entirely. This “tiny little fact that turns everything you thought you knew upside down” approach to the world can be infatuating.

Of course, the tiny little fact must be true. You must be sure that your black swan is actually black (not just covered in mud) and that it is actually a swan, not some similar-looking species. In the real world, issues of onus and standard of proof lie behind “it only takes one black swan” thinking. Not all “facts” are of equal value. Sometimes, prior theories are so robustly established that it is far easier to believe the “fact” is untrue, or at least misinterpreted, than it is to believe that the prior theory is overturned. Remarkable claims require remarkable evidence.

Crazed positivism lies behind most conspiracy theories, from lens artefacts “proving” the moon landing is a hoax, to paint flecks that allegedly don’t contain enough Zyklon B that “prove” that the Holocaust never happened.

The emotional drivers that foster this distortion of logic run from simple contrarianism to a wish to create meaning in an otherwise dull life by Finding the Truth. And if you can surround yourself with similar converts so that external criticism only serves to reinforce the group’s world view that it is being oppressed, then you’ve got a little self-perpetuating wing-nut colony.“Persecution ideology” is a known glitch in thinking that has kept many a cult alive well past its use-by date.

Dammit, I was going to say that. BTW, do you adhere to the Big Bang or Steady Gait theory?

Blasphemers! There’s only one astrochelonian. And the Turtle moves!

What’s the crossover of flat-earthers and climate change deniers?

The sun seems to set because of refraction and such. Same thing with seeing the masts first on sailing ships, the horizon, and so on.

On the other hand, all you have to do is look around and you can see that the Earth is flat, because it looks flat. Things that look flat look flat because they are flat. Things that look curved are really flat and only look curved because refraction makes them look curved. But flat things don’t look flat because of refraction, that’s crazy talk.

While I can certainly appreciate the romanticism of the Big Bang, all available data only truly supports the Steady Gait school.


You may find this article interesting.

“The earth is surrounded on all sides by an ice wall that holds the oceans back. This ice wall is what explorers have named Antarctica,” reads the Flat Earth Society’s FAQ. “Beyond the ice wall is a topic of great interest to the Flat Earth Society. To our knowledge, no one has been very far past the ice wall and returned to tell of their journey. What we do know is that it encircles the earth and serves to hold in our oceans and helps protect us from whatever lies beyond.”

This is, apparently, only a very small step into the rabbit hole.

This. Therefore the answer to any of the questions we might pose them is: whatever infuriates you the most, whilst still sounding innocent and earnest.

When do the flat-earthers say the “round earth” lie was first created? And by whom? And why? What is the motivation for some secret powerful organization millennia ago to decide to convince everyone that the world was round long before it would be possible to disprove it?

I’m not very well versed in flat Earth ideology, but some of these seem like they might be explainable for a certain mentality and level of education/understanding.

For the most part, the “horizon” is just stuff getting in the way once the Sun gets too low. Like mountain ranges and such. If there are some places with mountain ranges between them and the Sun, the Sun will be visible to some places and not others.

Who said planes fly “great circle routes”? Why would anyone want to fly such routes? I never heard of anyone flying such routes, and there’s probably no such thing.

Earth curves up at the edges.

Air floats. You ever saw air spilling off anything?

The edge is a place that very few people are interested in traveling to - not much going on there, you know - so very few people go there. But there are some mysterious disappearances that are indeed the result of people flying over the edge.

More earth.

Probably all faked. They’re flying up there all right, but once they get up they just fly around a bit here and there and come back down.