Lifting stuff out of context

Flat Earth “proofs” concentrate on little individual things on the fringes of our daily lives. At their purest, they are as zetetic as it gets: decide the outcome, then keep on finding the needles in the haystack of globe Earth proofs that at least superficially match the desired outcome.

The play with zoom while videoing nearby ships is a good example of such activity.

Another favorite activity is finding snippets of information from reliable sources, lifting them out of context and building a convincing-sounding story around it.

Good example of this was a speech given by world-famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson: at one of his talks, he explained how the Earth is practically round, but it is a little wider just down from the equator. To summarize this, he used the word “pear-shaped”, and the expression “oblong spheroid”.

The number of quotes of “Neil says the Earth is not round” exploded around the Flat Earth discussions, although what he actually said above did not claim any kind of major deviance from round form.

Gravity is another favorite in this category: as it is a weak force, you need to have a huge mass to really experience the effects of it, and hence it is one of the pet issues that are used to show how a proof that something in a small scale does not happen, it could not happen in a larger scale either: the fact that any celestial object past a certain size turns into a ball due to the forces caused by its own gravity would mean that flat Earth of the size of our planet would also inevitably have collapsed into a ball, as per all the scientific knowledge we have. So the counterargument of this is naturally to claim how there are no such examples of small, flat things turning spontaneously into balls in our daily environment, and hence the claim that it would have happened to a flat Earth is false as well.

One of the pet cases was created when an engineer at NASA said that many of NASAs images from space are actually composites. Again, if you are taking pictures of our planet from low orbits, there is no way you can fit the whole planet into a single image, and for some special cases, like creating the famous “Blue Marble” image sets, in which there are no clouds covering any location on Earth, you had to stitch together hundreds, if not thousands of pictures, all taken at different times.

But having somebody at NASA saying that they “manipulate images” has become a meme amongst Flat Earthers. Statements like this are easily turned into headlines stating that “NASA fakes their space images”, and yet another good hook for new recruits has been created.

See the image from NASA's Blue Marble set on this page.

But if you stop and think about it for a moment, why would someone who is tasked to fake the globe Earth images at NASA deliberately set up a web page explaining this activity, as well as go on video to “reveal” it?

Pulling sentences out of context is another apparently very powerful way to generate “proof” that “persons in the know” are willingly hiding something. Several statements from current and former astronauts and scientists fall in this category, providing fodder for YouTube videos. And they are often effective, as finding the original interview material of which these “snippets of truth” were lifted from is just a little bit harder than clicking the next “you might also like” link right next to the flat Earth video.

People tend to take the road of least resistance, and going for the actual source of information is always just that little bit harder to do.

Knowing how the history is full of examples where statements are taken out of context, I'm anxiously waiting to see which parts from this book will find such a new life amongst the Flat Earthers: it is pretty certain that I have at least one experiment that can be interpreted in a “novel” way, and thus every observation in this book will be doomed fake, ergo the Earth must be flat.

It's just a matter of time.

blue marble

This is a composite image of hundreds of cloud-free shots. It is still as real as they come.
Click image for a truly hi-res version.

Next: The well in Egypt.

"Flat Out Wrong: The Overwhelming Evidence Against Flat Earth" is available from Amazon US, CA, UK, BR, DE, ES, FR, NL, IT, AU, IN, JP.