The World Is Flat Again

Our dear and most beneficent government has lied to us before. It has exaggerated. It has abused its authority. Its crimes, negligence, improprieties, and its many others sins are brought readily to mind. They are present in daily life and on the increase. Gay “marriage”, anybody?

All this is so. But it does not follow that the government, staffed with souls supplied from its breeding grounds the universities, lie to us all the time about everything.

The government and universities are not lying to us about the earth not being flat.

Yet there is a growing contingent of people—fine people, driven to despair and distrust of all authority—who say the earth is flat. (It all started here, same some.)

Now I say “fine people”, but the nouveau flat-earthers also includes celebrities. Basketball behemoth Shaquille O’Neal was heard saying “It’s true. The Earth is flat…Listen, there are three ways to manipulate the mind — what you read, what you see, and what you hear…I drive from coast to coast, and this s— is flat to me…I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle, and all that stuff about gravity…”

After he was reproached, Shaq claimed he was joking. Either way, his comments set off a wave of nervous hand-wringing from our betters, fretting about “what is all means.”

It means little to nothing. Except for one key point, it is a belief almost completely harmless. It is an eccentricity. The original Flat Earth Society was, of course, a joke, a means by which to tease the over-confident and self-satisfied. Every time some over-earnest establishment-type railed against a Flat Earther, an angel got its wings. Or at least it had a good laugh.

Unlike the original Flat Earthers, the nouveau flat-earthers (NFEs) are in earnest. But since none of them can act on their eccentricity, nothing much will come of their insistence the earth is a pancake. Except, as I say, for one difficulty, about which more in a moment.

Now I do not here, nor anywhere else, propose to defend spherical geometry, physics, or basic astronomy. Arguing with somebody who believes the earth is flat is, in one sense, like disputing with somebody who claims two men can be married (to each other). It is futile.

That comparison will sting, because, almost completely, the NFEs are on the political right; indeed, the alt-right. And none of them would ever say two men could be married.

But they will say the earth is flat. Why?

Well, there are many resources for arguing the world is flat. Many rave about Under the Dome, a program that, if you knew no physics, is quite convincing. The theories presented there, and on dozens and dozens of other videos, are inventive and clever.

And they are always presented as if you were being lied to, and these folks are sick unto death of being lied to. The government, universities, and powers that be want you to believe the lie that the earth is round(ish). NASA is particularly blameworthy, routinely releasing photographs which purport to show a round earth, but which are shown, through the filter of NFE theory, to be purposeful frauds.

A logo favored by the UN shows—does it not?—a flat earth, a crepe of land and water surrounded by an impassible Antarctica. Everybody knows Antarctica is a forbidden land. Why? Because the UN does not want people wandering over the edge!

The UN is even more stuffed full of wild blueberry muffins (ten points to those who catch this reference) than is the United States government. They are surely willing to lie, and have lied. So, say the NFE crowd, they are lying about a round earth.

None of the NFE folks have been able to offer a good reason why the government or UN would lie about the shape our planet. Their serial mendacity and routine roughshod treatment of reality is proof enough they are lying now.

We finally reach the difficulty. The “alt-right” is not a homogeneous entity, despite the picture painted of it by the media. In reality, it is comprised of everything from nihilists to socialists to monarchists, people advocating anything from passive acceptance to armed resistance. In truth, not everybody in the alt-right is in the alt-right!

But in the elite’s eye, it is one undifferentiated mass. It is that common (and false) picture of the alt-right, reactionaries, and hardcore conservatives which is the difficulty.

The trend is to say everybody to the right of, say, John McCain is a member of the “alt-right”, and is therefore a bigot, is probably a white supremacist, or at least has sympathies with Nazis. And now we have a fringe of alt-righters, folks justly suspicious of modern authority, but who have come to a false but harmless view of geology.

It is thus obvious that the elites will begin calling everybody on the right flat-earthers in its literal sense. And we who hold to Reality and Tradition will have to waste our precious time quashing rumors about domes, alien control, lizard people, or whatever.

Come on, fellas. There are bigger battles to be fought, and we haven’t the energy to fight losing ones. Believe the earth if flat if you wish, but please, for the sake of our cause, keep quiet about it in public.


  1. The only “socialists” in the alt-right are National Socialists. You’re making this too complicated. The term “alt-right” is generally thought to have been coined by Richard Spencer; he and his pitiful band of followers are neo-Nazis.

    Unlike Briggs, I oppose violence, except in defense of self and others. Please don’t punch the Nazis. Just laugh at them – it’s more effective.

  2. Michael Dowd

    Now, what are we supposed to substitute for humanity’s last stand?

  3. I’m leaning toward thinking it’s mostly still a troll. Some lower IQ folks will get caught up into it, but it fits the meme of “don’t trust the people in power”. If it is for memes, it’s too aggressive and will lose the required amount of truth needed for effective rhetoric.

  4. DG

    Oh but Briggs, the earth is flat of course! If it appears to be flat then it is flat! Of course, all the governments and scientists are conspiring just to deceive us about the real shape of the earth! 😉

    I think I agree with James, I think that much of the so-called flat-earthers are just trolls on the internet trying get attention for pretending to believe in a bogus theory

  5. Anon

    I disagree. If the sincerity of the NFEs were matched by the DNC, then Hillary would be president.

  6. Jim Fedako

    Lee —

    Karl Marx coined “capitalism” and “classical economics.” Is everyone who espouses those views a Marxist (keep in mind Marx was, and considered himself to be, a classical economist)?

    The coiner, so to speak, and the current usage of a term need need not be the same.

  7. Sander van der Wal

    Apparently this Flat Earth theory is proposed by a Muslim, from Tunesia, using religious arguments.

    Current Culture War politics should therefore result in the AltRight becoming Round Earthers, and American Liberals becomimg Flat Earthers, because AltRighters are racists, and bigots and whatnot.

    I woul love to see that happening.

  8. Sander van der Wal

    Forgot to mention the proponent is a woman. Which will make AltRight Round Earthers sexist as well.

  9. Franz Dullaart

    Ever since Galileo we have known that the world is ROUND – like a pancake.


  10. Michael 2

    North Dakota is flat. The Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota is really, really flat! If that is where you were born and raised I suspect you’d think the entire Earth is similarly flat.

    It is fairly easy to demonstrate the ball-shapeness of Earth, but proving it requires accepting several kinds of science but even then…

  11. Ray

    Of course the earth is flat. Last year I drove from Virginia to New Mexico to visit my sister. All the maps I used are flat and I ended up in Albuquerque, NM. If the earth were actually round I would obviously have ended up in Denver or maybe El Paso, depending on the curvature of the earth and the speed I was driving. I was going fast so there may have been some relativistic effects.

  12. Right off the bat, do have any idea how just crazy obsessive you sound here?…

    “Our dear and most beneficent government has lied to us before. It has exaggerated. It has abused its authority. Its crimes, negligence, improprieties, and its many others sins are brought readily to mind. They are present in daily life and on the increase. Gay “marriage”, anybody?”

    Gay marriage? Of all the alleged lies and exaggerations, and abuses, and crimes, and negligence, and improprieties, and sins, and growing presence in our lives, your example, off the rop of your head, your prima facie proof of your allegations against our constitutionally created and run government that has represented the greatest nation on Earth for 230 years, is Gay f’n marriage. Wow.

    And that line about “presence.” How the heck does Gay marriage has any presence in your life? I just have no idea how that’s possible. Someone gay in the family sign a bad prenup? Is it because you consume a lot of garbage TV and internet sensationalist “news” programs? Read better stuff! It’s not that hard to look another way. That’s why God gave you Free Will and fingers and eyeballs that move and a neck, right?

    But the entire premise here, that the federal government is some ever-growing malignant presence in our lives is complete and utter nonsense. Over the course of the average person’s life, until they turn 65 and get a meager retirement, they will pay more in taxes, have far more to do with the police, education, transportation, utilities, and healthcare systems, you-name-it, fill in the blank, ______, government service or other interaction, at the LOCAL and STATE levels than they ever will with the federal government. Most of the government in most of our lives is at the state and local levels, not the federal. Most of what the federal government spends on is SS, Medicare, and the Military. Workers are mostly in those arenas, with the IRS, the VA, the federal prison system, and other jobs. Overall, they’re pretty efficient, with the exception of the military. But that’s what happens when you make a Golden Calf out of the military. Jingoism trumps accountability.


  13. Ye Olde Statistician

    A sphere, be it noted, is locally flat at every point.

  14. Oldavid

    Of course the Earth is flat! Everyone can see the Sun come up over one edge every morning and go down over another edge every evening.

    YOS, any talk about tangents to curves and all that malarkey will not be tolerated.

    J Mc J, your comments are duly noted. We at Briggs Blog entirely agree that reality is a fantasy that only “becomes” effective if it is an ideology proclaimed and endorsed by “the people”.

  15. Bert

    Briggs, certainly you know the Prophet Mohamud (Peace Be Upon Him) dictated the Qur’an (Sura 71:19), direct from Allah’s eternal word “The Earth is laid out as a carpet.” This great Islamic scientific fact is repeated at least ten times in the Completely scientifically accurate and revealing Qur’an.

    Every Muslim knowing that Mohamud’s word, teachings, and example are to have the goal of the emulation of the Prophet himself, in all actions and beliefs, according to Allah’s himself. There are no exceptions for the truly faithful, and all others are to be put to death (according to the Prophet Mohamud’s teachings)
    So is there still any doubt as to where this idea of a flat earth started? Of course not! After all, Allah created the earth flat. If one doesn’t believe that then one is not a true Muslim and deserves to die.
    Is there any doubt why Islamic scholars, faithful Muslim scientists, and all true Muslims claim there is a flat earth?
    No, I am not a Muslim, nor a believer in a flat earth (Well of course except for Oklahoma, and Kansas), and I don’t believe anyone deserves to die just because a 7th-century self-obsessed illiterate pederast said so.

  16. “A sphere, be it noted, is locally flat at every point.”

    There’s certainly nothing remarkable in YOS being wrong yet again, but, just in case some freshman mathematics student wanders in here and is led to doubt his understanding of the elements of the subject, let me reassure him.

    The term “locally flat” has a technical definition that depends on the embedding of a manifold within another manifold of higher dimension. Since YOS doesn’t specify what embedding he has in mind, his comment has no meaning.

    To be as generous as possible, YOS might just be referring to the first-semester calculus concept of curvature, and borrowed the “locally flat” term to try to sound impressive. Here, he’s just wrong. The curvature at any point on the surface of the sphere is 1/r^2, which is the same everywhere and nowhere is zero.

  17. An omission: in case it’s not obvious, “r” in my previous comment is the radius of the sphere.

  18. John B()

    Re: Antarctica forbidden

    Arthur C Clarke posited a Mobius “Sphere”, where a man started walking from the “antarctic”, and without changing directions, walked back to where he started. He was institutionalized.

  19. Andrew Mackinnon

    I finished high school in the top 1% at the age of 18. Twenty-five years later in 2015, I accepted the overwhelming evidence that earth is indeed flat like a coin with Antarctica around its perimeter.

  20. grodrigues

    @Lee Phillips:

    “The term “locally flat” has a technical definition that depends on the embedding of a manifold within another manifold of higher dimension. Since YOS doesn’t specify what embedding he has in mind, his comment has no meaning.”

    There is nothing wrong with what YOS said.

    The typical meaning of “locally flat” is not tied to curvature but rather means that every point of the topological space has a neighborhood diffeomorphic to R^n (there are equivalent characterizations, e.g. in sheaf theoretic terms). This *just* is the abstract definition of n-dimensional manifold, which the sphere certainly is, and does not depend on any embedding — which is the whole point of the definition of abstract manifold by the way.

    Furthermore, there are intrinsic definitions of curvature that do not depend on an embedding but on the metric (or more generally of the connection).

    But it is hilarious reading an arrogant ignoramus pretending to lecture others on things he quite obviously knows nothing about.

  21. Certainly “hilarious” is an exaggeration. But I did get a chuckle out of it.

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