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.
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
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.*
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:
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.
The edge of the world as we know it…
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”.