Few things in life are as unassailable as the ground under our feet. The Earth, NASA’s blue marble, has been shown by a mountain of scientific evidence to be round, held in place by gravity and orbiting the Sun.

Or is it? This is 2018 and nothing is irrefutable. Some call it post-truth.

Flat Earthers hold to a 14th Century understanding of our home world. Picture the Earth as a flat plate sitting in a snow globe and that encapsulates their beliefs; sort of.

If you thought flat Earthism was gone, think again. The growing droves of believers in a flat world convene chiefly online, their message often spread through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Not even the biggest names in science can dissuade them. When they do venture past the World Wide Web it’s by and large among their like-minded brethren.

That was the case when hundreds of flat Earthers gaggled in Denver in mid-November for the second annual Flat Earth International Conference. Founder Robbie Davidson and Canada-based Kryptoz Media hosted the two-day conference which featured debates, workshops and presentations in veneration of their community’s theory.

For most people, being described as a flat Earther would be an insult. But conference emcee Rick Hummer summed up attendees feelings on being mocked and ridiculed in one simple statement.

“I am not ashamed,” Hummer chanted to a crowd who repeated the mantra with vigor. Many in the crowd said they are demeaned daily by friend and foe.

Conference attendees gladly dispensed their knowledge when asked. Honestly, the experience ran between discomfort, entertainment and credulity depending on who was speaking. So why hold their water? The resurgence of the belief is fascinating and compels attention, like a car wreck. Join us through the looking glass armed with a skeptical eye and some of the most pervasive postulations about this puzzling movement.

How do you get by in a world that doesn’t accept or mocks your beliefs?

A lion’s share of flat Earth believers have experienced some type of criticism for it. On one end of the spectrum there is mockery and ridicule, on the other end is the loss of relationships with family and friends — or job loss.

The general consensus was that anyone or anything you lose on your flat Earth journey is collateral damage.

Nate Thompson, who manages NASAlies.org and moderates Facebook group Official Flat Earth & Globe Discussion, lost his last job due to flat Earth.

“I was working for a company called Legal Shield and the company not only fired me, they asked me to abandon all my beliefs and it’s something I wasn’t willing to do. But the truth is the truth, you know, and I’m going to stand up for it. If I lose my job or if I lose friends or if I lose family.”

For him, true friends would “never de-friend you because of your opinion on the shape of the Earth. So in my opinion, it’s a great litmus test to find out who really likes you and who really doesn’t.”

One common thread among flat Earthers was a willingness or lack thereof to admit their beliefs to outsiders based on how “out” of the flat Earth closet they were. While Thompson is very vocal, he does not represent the typical flat Earther. Many closely mirrored Mia Asher-Shee who traveled from Roswell, New Mexico for her first conference. She hopes to gain a stronger backbone when she speaks about her beliefs.

Her husband and father-in-law are both pastors. While Asher-Shee said her husband has come to believe what she does, her father-in-law is furious with his son and that is why she came alone. Criticism didn’t roll off her back as it did Thompson’s.

“I needed to hear and see from the people that are doing it, how to do it because I’m actually really shy. So, it’s been hard for me to talk about it,” Asher-Shee said.

“It is a struggle because so many people are programmed we’re all programmed from the day we’re born — to believe one thing. So, to be so completely opposite of that program is a struggle and there’s ridicule, you get made fun of. You know what? I look at it like this. The world hated Jesus first.”

What is the flat Earth model?

No theory was tabled at the conference as long as it wasn’t round. The Bible-based snow globe model seemed to be the most popular sentiment. The plane of our existence is stationary floating in an ocean, but we have a considerable amount of earth below this plane as we do above. The plane is surrounded by a firmament (the snow globe) which protects us from another body of water above, which then separates us from the celestial plane.

Miguel Angel, a former sergeant in the U.S. Marines as an infantry weapons platoon and a long range shooter, wasn’t quite ready to go that route. As a former self-described “Bible thumper” he hasn’t yet come back around to Christianity or the snow globe view, but rather calls himself an observational scientist.

“When I look at the oceans, a ball is not a container. If I chop this in half and make it a bowl, that’s a container. The water pours into the bowl and it rises to the level. So optically, visually I see a flat Earth. The argument for the globe is you’re just too small to see it, you just have to be out in space. Well, then I can’t test that,” Angel said.

However, when pushed about flat Earth having been disproven millennia ago, Angel wasn’t ready to commit to a flat Earth either. He likened the puzzle to the quote about “He who wins the wars, writes the history books,” and the globalists won.

“Here’s a perspective that you might not have heard of,” he said. “A ball has an ending, right? A ball, you go around the ball and you come back and you’re done. There’s nothing more to explore. With flat Earth it could be an infinite plane, it could go forever. We don’t know. There could be other land beyond Antarctica. We haven’t found out and they might be hiding that from us.”

How do you explain the edge?

Antarctica is seen as a 100-foot-tall ice wall that surrounds the outer edge of our disc, at least that’s part of the theory. It’s never been proven because, “Antarctica is unchartable.” That’s the reason, Nate Thompson pointed to, for the edge existing as an assumption in models. He’s quick to turn the argument on doubters.

“So if you ask them where the edge of space is? I dunno? But they asked us where the edge of flat earth is and they expect us to have an answer.”

The 1961 Antarctic Treaty is a piece of the evidence Thompson offered to bolster the assumption of an edge.

So once all these countries agreed, ‘hey, no one can own an Antarctica,’ because you can’t surround Antarctica according to the maritime law, you gotta be able to surround something to own it.”

Who benefits from the “conspiracy” that the Earth is spherical?

Darryle Marble, a YouTuber and a speaker at the flat Earth conference, believes NASA is the biggest benefactor of the globular planet because they enjoy a budget of $52 million a day.

When pressed about belief in a spherical Earth that predates the space administration to the 15th century, Marble moves to a conspiracy of Jesuits, Freemasons and “the ones running Hollywood and all that.”

“I mean, it’s hard to tell. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly who’s benefiting from this, but there’s a few, there’s somebody, there’s somebody getting something from this,” he said.

What kind of evidence would lead you to believe the Earth is round?

Nate Thompson said he’s conducted too many experiments that disprove our world as a “spinning ball.”

“It’s so obviously like a malicious lie,” he said. “I know it’s not a ball. So, I mean, I’m always open. Show me whatever evidence you got, especially if you did it firsthand. I’m open, but it’s not a ball.”

Most flat Earthers say they have done their own experiments, which they call observational science. While they may not firmly agree that the Earth is flat or what that flat model looks like, they are firm that the world is not a globe.

In fact, people who believe in flat Earth love calling non-believers “globe heads.” Another popular phrase? “Once you go flat, you never globe back.” Others have firmly placed their belief in the flat Earth as part of their Christian faith.

“Psalm says the Earth’s on foundations and will never move,” Mia Asher-Shee said. “I put my faith in God and the Bible.”


This article originally published at https://www.cpr.org/news/story/5-questions-about-believing-in-a-flat-earth-that-you-were-afraid-to-ask