These days, it seems like more and more people are into insisting that the Earth is flat, and that we all believe it’s round because of a grand conspiracy. In fact, these people have their own “Flat Earth Society,” boasting members from all around the globe.
So this week, we’re going to try to understand where the Flat-Earthers are coming from so we can better make fun of them.
Do Flat-Earthers believe that all planets are flat, or just Earth?
Well, they have to believe that the celestial bodies that we see as round are actually round.
How could earth be flat? What about mountains?
OK, there are mountains.
Who could possibly want everyone to believe that the Earth is round?
The globe industry.
Well, maybe there’s a conspiracy by the map industry that the world is flat.
I don’t know if map-makers believe that the world is flat. I think they just believe that paper is flat.
Wait, how do we know Earth is round?
We’ve seen our shadow on the moon. Also, when you see a boat sailing off into the distance, it appears to be sinking into the ocean. The only way this can happen in a Flat-Earth model is if you were watching it falling off the edge. Or if it’s actually sinking. Yet you’re not calling Hatzalah.
That’s right. Isn’t there a ton of proof to dispute Flat Earth Theory?
Yes. But on the other hand, there was a guy in the 1800s named Samuel Rowbotham (Rowboat ham? Row both am? Robot ham?) who proved that the Earth is flat. He put two sticks in a river six miles apart, looked through a telescope at them, and said, “Yeah, they both look about the same height to me.”
But what about all our evidence?
There’s a lot of empirical evidence for a flat Earth. For example, the Earth looks flat, if you just look around and you’re in a flat area. Plus, if the world is round, how come no one has ever dug a hole to China?
What do they think is under the earth?
Theories range from rocks to a giant turtle.
What’s stopping people from sailing off the edge of the world?
The fact that we don’t really use boats anymore.
OK, smart guy. Why aren’t the oceans empty?
There’s an ice wall around the Earth, holding it all in.
Wait a minute. How could the earth be flat? If I start walking, I’d eventually get back to where I am, right?
Have you tried that?
If you’re lost in the woods and you keep walking, you’ll eventually find yourself back where you started too. Does that mean the woods are round?
Well, how does anyone circle the earth?
OK, so according to Flat Earth Theory, unlike the maps in your textbooks, the earth is not shaped like a two-page spread with a crease in the middle. It’s shaped like a pizza, with Antarctica being the crust — complete with an ice wall — and the North Pole being that little table-shaped thing that keeps the box from collapsing. So when you circumnavigate the earth, you’re actually traveling around the North Pole.
How do these people explain day and night?
The sun and moon move in a circle above us, and when the sun is directly over you, it’s noon.
What about seasons?
In the summer, the sun makes smaller circles within the equator. In the winter, it makes larger circles around the equator.
Wait. So if we have summer when the sun is making smaller circles, why aren’t the days shorter?
I’ll do you one better: What about that stretch of the summer when the whole Antarctica has 24 hours of sunlight? How is that possible?
Not that this would solve much, but why can’t they believe that even though the world is flat, the sun stays where it is and we keep spinning like a Frisbee?
Because if there’s no centralized gravity, we’d all end up in Antarctica by the end of the first day.
Wait. How does gravity work at all?
It doesn’t. In Flat Earth Theory, the earth is accelerating upward at a rate of 32 feet per second so that if you let go of something, the earth will rush up to meet it. It’s kind of like when you’re holding a plate from the bottom and something is falling off, and you chase it with the plate so it stays on.
So we’re constantly hurtling toward the sun?
Don’t worry. The sun is hurtling with us, as are the moon and stars. Also, these things are a lot smaller than you’ve been led to believe.
And what’s keeping them from drifting away?
What’s pushing us up?
The current theory is that it’s dark energy, which has 60% more cacao than regular energy.
Doesn’t this hurt the turtle?
He has a shell. This is why Hashem made it a turtle, and not something else, like a skunk.
And all this bending over backwards is still easier for them to believe than the Round Earth Theory?
One of their big proofs is that if the world were round, planes flying to Europe, for example, would have to keep adjusting downward so they don’t accidentally soar into space.
Yes, but in their theory, wouldn’t planes have to keep adjusting to the left?
And also upwards, because the Earth keeps rising. It’s a nightmare up there.
Um … The round Earth society has pictures.
Fake news. All fake news.
Are you saying that astronauts went up to space and didn’t notice that the earth was flat? How did they miss that? What about NASA?
They don’t believe NASA is real either.
NASA exists. I’ve seen it.
They believe it’s an agency, but not one that’s ever sent anyone to space. Sure, they tried. But it was really hard, so they started lying about it.
Why did they lie?
This was during the space race, when the U.S. and Russia were trying to beat each other to the moon. No one actually made it, but they wanted to pretend they did, so NASA said, “We did it!” and Russia said, “Um … So did we.” And this whole thing blew way out of proportion, and now it’s too awkward to say anything.
But they’re still launching rockets!
Not into space. We send rockets up, but they keep hitting the ceiling, or whatever it is up there.
How do they know they’re not going to land on anything important?
They calculate where the rockets are going to crash.
How are they controlling where it lands if they’re wrong about the shape of Earth?
They probably aim for the oceans. In Flat Earth Theory, the Indian Ocean is way bigger.
Why would they keep up this charade all these years?
To spur human progress. Ever since the space program, people have been saying, “They could put a man on the moon, but they can’t do this?” And then someone invents a way to do it.
But how do they get all the photos and videos?
It costs a lot less to doctor a photo than send someone to space. NASA keeps getting money from the government for “space travel,” and some of that goes toward Photoshop.
So the government doesn’t know?
If Trump knew there was a wall around the planet, what do you think he would do with that?
Where does the rest of NASA’s funding go?
To posting guards on the ice wall so idiots don’t try bungee-jumping over it.
But why are there no pictures of the flat Earth?
There can’t be. If we can’t get into space far enough to get a real picture of a round Earth, we definitely can’t get into space far enough to get a picture of a flat Earth, which would be bigger.
Unless we took it from the side.
The guards won’t let us.
How can we settle this argument?
Global warming would do it. If the ice caps melt, a round earth would be flooded, while a flat earth would lose its ice wall and have all the water leak off the sides and drown the turtle. We’d all have other problems, but that’s a small price to pay.
What if the Flat-Earthers build a rocket and send one of their own into space?
One guy recently did that — a 61-year-old limo driver from Arizona named “Mad Mike” Hughes. In his spare time, he builds steam-powered rockets. Single-use.
Do we trust a rocket built by someone with a skewed understanding of how space works?
I would not.
Shouldn’t he have gotten professionals to build the rocket?
According to him, there are no professionals. No one’s ever made it into space.
So what was his plan?
His ultimate plan is to fly up as high as he can into the atmoplane and maybe get a picture.
What’s an atmoplane?
I thought it was a kind of aircraft, but it turns out that it’s what you call the atmosphere when you’re trying really hard not to say “sphere.”
How high can he go?
He was hoping for 1,800 feet, at which point he’d presumably snap some pictures, instead of grabbing at the controls and trying not to die.
Um … The World Trade Center is 1,775 feet. He could just bring a ladder.
Plus, airplanes fly even higher. But OK, his plan was actually to use this stunt to raise money to build something called a rockoon, which is a rocket that launches a balloon, which will go even higher. (Raccoons are not involved.)
If he ever makes it back with a picture, will his friends finally believe him?
Not likely. They’ll think someone grabbed him up there and sucked him into the conspiracy.
So how do we convince all of them?
We have to put them all on a rocket and launch them into space.
That’s it. We don’t have to bring them back down.
Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of six books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com.