The World is Flat and You Can Be Too

Posted by - May 1, 2011 | Category: Peculiarities


Flat Earth Sign at the Edge of the World

I had thought it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the earth was round. But that’s a pretty narrow world-view if you ask me.  Sure, when I say “flat earth”, most folks conjure up backward notions from yesteryear — like bloodletting, phrenology, or an infallible Obama.  But travel can open your eyes, and raise your eyebrows at the same time. Since I posted a while back on the Easternmost Point in North America, I thought I’d try my hand at another geographical oddity…

The Flat Earth Society


Any Movement Worth Its Salt Has Its Own Society (or two, or three…)

First to take up the challenge was the Flat Earth Society. Founded in 1951 by Charles K. Johnson, the non-profit society has been roundly ridiculed ever since. But what is a movement without its detractors? Need I remind you that it wasn’t so long ago that we believed socks were okay with sandals. Just think where we would be today without those few pioneering fashionistas who were willing to speak out.

Recovering “rounders” can join the society for free, but 9 bucks will get you a nifty certificate and a pewter medallion. Plus you will get the moniker “Friend of the Flat Earth”. Neat-o.


Next up was the squarely tongue-in-cheek International Square Earth Society. Roger Wilcox has answered some of the tougher questions to plague the flat-earth movement, such as ““Can I believe in the round Earth and still get into heaven?” and “How come no airline pilots have ever reported seeing the edges of the Earth?” If you have some time, check out the mailbag on his site and the inquiries from both outspoken round-earth nutbags and flat-earth devotees alike.  Looks like the mailbag is defunct nowadays though, but the archives are pure flat-earth gold.

Universum Flat Earth

Not to be outdone, the “other” Flat Earth Society has lovingly embraced imitation as the sincerest form of mockery.  The awesome animated .gif pictures on this page are from there.

Celebrities Can’t Be Wrong

“We are more gullible and superstitious today than we were in the Middle Ages, and an example of modern credulity is the widespread belief that the Earth is round. The average man can advance not a single reason for thinking that the Earth is round. He merely swallows this theory because there is something about it that appeals to the twentieth century mentality.”  — George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw Flat Earth Society Certificate

The esteemed playwright Shaw was not only a Nobel Prize and Oscar winner, but also a flat-earther.  And the Flat Earth Society lists member #1 as none other than a certain Mr. Thomas Dolby.  Yes, the “She Blinded Me With Science” guy.  He released an album in 1984 called “The Flat Earth” and the forum on his website is even called The Flat Earth Society.  No word on what that celebrity endorsement has done for the recruitment drive.

Buoyed with confidence after reading Don’t Fear the Impromptu Celebrity Interview by the fine folks over at Beers & Beans, I decided to reach out to Mr. Dolby via his site for a quick Q&A. Alas, he was unreachable. No doubt tending to a steady influx of other flat earth inquiries.


The Signs Are Everywhere

Well maybe not everywhere, but there is at least one sign in Fogo, Newfoundland, Canada.  It’s been touted as one of the Four Corners of the Flat Earth.*

Four Corners of the Flat Earth(*Click on any image to enlarge)

Rounding out the Four Corners of the World are:

  • The Bermuda Triangle
  • Hydra, Greece
  • Papua, New Guinea

Brimstone Head, Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada is the only one of the four corners I have visited (so far).  As you approach the stairs leading up to this fabled corner of the world, you are greeted with the following sign:

Flat Earth Sign, Fogo Island Newfoundland

It only takes about 15 minutes to get to the top of Brimstone Head.  The following photos give you a glimpse of what it looks like at the edge of the world.

Brinstone Head Fogo Newfoundlan Edge of the Earth

View from the trail…FOGO NEWFOUNDLAND

Looking back on Fogo Island Looking Back on Fogo Island from Brimstone Head

The edge of the world as we know it…

Looking at the Edge of the World, Fogo Newfoundland

An Inukshuk has been assembled at the peak.  It’s traditional Inuit meaning is “You are on the right path”.  Coincidence?Fogo Inukshuk

The Bible Says It’s Flat, and That’s That

The Bible, just like the internet, is a conduit of truth. If it’s in the Bible, then it must be so. Revelations 7:1 and Isaiah 11:12 both mention the “Four Corners of the Earth“.  Daniel, Job, and Jeremiah remark on the “Ends of the Earth“.

And if the Bible ain’t your thing, then maybe some Muslim musings will set you straight.  The uncomfortably (and unintentionally) funny folks over at Islam Watch have an entire page dedicated to Proof that the Quran thinks the Earth is Flat.

Buddhists believed that Mount Meru was the centre of the universe.  A layered, flat universe.  Tibetan Buddhist cosmology adhered to the Abhidharma (“super Dharma”) system which has much in common with the beliefs of current flat-earthers — flat earth, four corners, around which the sun and other planets revolve.  The current Dalai Lamahas said Tibetans should abandon this school of flat thought however, claiming modern knowledge has taught us otherwise. No one likes a quitter your Holiness.

The Flat Out Truth

So what does this all mean?  Haven’t we been down this round road before?  What’s all the flat fuss about?  The truth is, it’s just human nature.  As long as there is one scientifically “proven” viewpoint, you will always find some sub-group who will think otherwise.  Remember our example earlier about socks and sandals?  Well there are still folks out there who still think that’s okay.  I know.  Weird.

So I’d like to hear from you.  Got any flat earth photos to share? Tall takes on this ball shape we call home? You know I love good comment…

In the meantime, check out this excellent video from the Newfoundland & Labrador tourism board called ‘The Edge”.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: The folks over @FlatEarthToday — the official Twitter page of The Flat Earth Society — have been really good sports.  They believe that the Four Corners of the Earth locations sprang out of the mind of Iris Taylor, the alter-ego of performance artist Kay Burns.  Kay has graciously responded to my hounding,  and I will have a follow-up post in the coming weeks as I hear back from the “Four Corners”.  Stay tuned….

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54 comments - add one
  1. This is really interesting. I honestly never even knew about the flat earth society. Thank you so much for including us – glad we inspired you – maybe you’ll hear from him randomly one day. :)

  2. What an enjoyable post. I just love oddities and with this one you have hit the jackpot. i’ve spread the word everywhere, it’s so great.

    1. Glad you like it! You can just send them a postcard to join for free, or pay the $9 US and get the royal treatment. Here are the details for both:

      Flat Earth Society Membership

  3. Ha! This was a really funny post! I guess there’s a society for everything in this world, er, flat world. That edge in Brimstone Head looks pretty neat, though… I still can’t see the edge! :)

  4. Awesome and hilarious post! Who knew, and I agree with Norton. There’s a society for everything these days!

  5. This tickled my geeky side Raymond. So amazed that there is a Flat Earth Society founded in 1951?! Not even close to the middle ages. Ha! Columbus must be turning in his grave. Oh and the Inukshuk- I’ve been trying to find out what those pile of rocks mean. Now I know thanks to you!

  6. Wow. Who knew! BTW, much to my dismay, 85% of the population of Portland still believe it is okay to wear socks with sandels.

  7. A hilarious post which should make anyone think twice, like me. I never thought anything was wrong with socks and sandals. But then again, all my photos appear to be of a flat earth, too. Weird.

  8. I’m sure that the Flat Earth Society is delighted to be getting some recognition. Somebody needed to do it — can’t think of anyone better suited to do so. Fun post! You always put a smile on my face, Raymond. Great stuff!

    1. Yes indeed! Let’s just hope that one day people don’t look back and think, “Wow, and I actually thought Raymond’s blog was funny. What a fool I was back then.” :)

  9. this cracked me up.
    who needs science?
    nothing was ever right about socks and sandals. nothing ever will be. that is both scientfically correct and in the bible.

  10. in high school debate, we used some info from the Flat Earth Society in some argument or another. It was classic stuff. We also argued “nuclear war was good” because it would bring the Second Coming of Christ, using some wack job religious magazines also 😉

  11. What a fab post! And thanks to you I now know what Inukshuk means.

    As for the sandals…
    “Need I remind you that it wasn’t so long ago that we believed socks were okay with sandals.”
    Well, just visit Germany, and you’ll come up with a few nice photo essays on that topic!

  12. Hey Raymond, great post! I actually got the flat earth society symbol tattooed on my elbow ><. I didn't do it on purpose though lol. It's actually the UN logo without the olive branches. Only after did one of my friends tell me about the flat earth society.

  13. I find it a great article, and I have some coments about what you said Quran mention or muslims believes that earth is flat.
    It was a wrong knowledge as all we copy science from each others, muslims maybe was not able to know that earth is rounded or prouve it, but they found it later.
    you can read about the work of “Mohammed Al Khwarizmi”, “Al-Farghani”, “Abu Raihan Al-bairuni” and many others..
    There is no mention of flat earth in Quran, but the meaning of words are explained or translted to other languages wrong way.

    There is the mention of rounded sun.
    [81:1]When the sun is wrapped up [in darkness]

    The spining day and night and both are in half spherecal form (falak in arabic). means that earth is rounded.
    [36:40]It is not allowable for the sun to reach the moon, nor does the night overtake the day, but each, in an orbit, is swimming.

    The risings, as many cities have different risings, means that earth is not flat.
    4 corners of earth, are the north-south and rising-setting, as the egyptian architectures based on north pole etc.
    [70:40]So I swear by the Lord of [all] risings and settings that indeed We are able.

    Sorry for my english, and welcome for your coments.

    1. Thanks for the info. I was going by what was mentioned on a (questionable) website. I bought a copy of the Quran about 7 years ago when I was in Al Ain in the UAE, but never got around to finishing it. Maybe one day, enshallah… :)

      Thanks for stopping by!