Flat Earth Society
Flat Earthism

the flat earth
The hollow Earth, Flat Earth @ BBC, The Plane Truth, Flat Earth documentary

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
Until the early 20th century, fringe groups believed in a flat earth. Most such groups were Biblical Christians who constructed Earth models to preserve biblical literalism. Samuel Birley Rowbotham (Parallax) was the major promoter of the flat Earth (Zetetic Astronomy) in the 19th century. He engaged in a notorious controversy with Alfred Russel Wallace. Flat Earthism temporarily disappeared when Charles Johnson, recent head of the Flat Earth Society, died in 2001, but has reappeared! Flat Earthism has an interesting history. I recently purchased A hundred proofs the Earth is not a Globe by William Carpenter (cover). Since it's out of print I've reproduced his original 100 Proofs at this site. For discussion of Flat Earthism in the curriculum, see Density Church..

Those new to the flat Earth should know that Zion, Illinois (on Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee) was in the first quarter of the 20th century headquarters of Christian Catholic Apostolic Church run by John Alexander Dowie and subsequently by Wilbur Glenn Voliva:
"I believe this Earth is a stationary plane; that it rests upon water; and that there is no such thing as the Earth moving, no such thing as the Earth's axis or the Earth's orbit. It is a lot of silly rot, born in the egotistical brains of infidels."
The pancake Earth model, with the North Pole at the center, is instructive. Can you visualize evidence for and against it? I find most people unable to consider the model; I agree with Charles Johnson that they've been indoctrinated by looking at globes, rather than educated in how to construct and compare models.

The major lesson from flat earth beliefs is how strongly preconceptions influence understanding and how easily they blind one to contrary evidence. Preconceptions are major obstacles to teaching science.

Following the death of Charles Johnson flat Earth promotion largely disappeared from the internet. Recently a whole flock of flat Earth videos have appeared on YouTube. These cater to current antiscience attitudes and are geared to those who understand physics and astronomy poorly.

Library of Congress bibliography

Library of Congress receives flat Earth map

Earth not a Globe - Samuel Birley Rowbotham

Flat Earth at wikipedia

Flat Earth Society at wikipedia

The modern
flat earth society

Interview with Daniel Shenton

Daniel Shenton in the Guardian