Flat Earthers: Who are they and why do they exist?

For over 2,000 years, we have known that the Earth is not the two-dimensional disc the ancients believe it to be, so why are there still people who fight against this idea, and do they have any basis in fact?

Over 2,000 years ago, the ancient civilisations believed the world to be flat. They never had satellite images, planes or even drones to view the world from above, and even the tallest pyramid, the Great Pyramid of Giza stood at a meagre 139m, not anywhere near enough to observe the curvature of the Earth, all they had was the flat lands that spread before them, so they could be forgiven for theorising the two-dimensional shape of our planet.

However, even as early as 350 BC, Aristotle disputed the flat earth theory, and by studying the position of the sun in different Egyptian cities at midday, with a little basic trigonometry, he was able to calculate that the Earth, in fact, had a more spherical shape. Once the Church gained power, though, anyone who spoke out against the idea that the world was flat was killed or outcast, as it went against the theory of a geocentric universe, with Heaven above and Hell below. But, with the inevitable rise of Science, and the further exploration of the lands and seas, the world slowly came to the obvious realisation that the Earth is indeed a globe.

Aristotle disputed the flat earth theory, and by studying the position of the sun in different Egyptian cities at midday, with a little basic trigonometry, he was able to calculate that the Earth, in fact, had a more spherical shape

In the modern day, we have more than enough evidence of this. In 1905, the Wright Brothers developed the first fixed-wing aircraft, allowing man to take to the skies. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first satellite to successfully orbit the Earth. In 1969, man first walked on the moon, able to look back and see our small planet from a unique view. All of this has allowed us to have irrefutable proof that the Earth is indeed round. So who are Flat Earthers and what evidence do they have to support their theories?

The Flat Earth Society is a small collective of people who still believe the Earth to be a two-dimensional plane. In their ideology, all land is surrounded by oceans, which is all encompassed by a giant ice wall, behind which is just the vast expanse of space. According to them, this wall is guarded by the military, who block access to the average person, and create a widespread conspiracy that the Earth is a sphere. Footage of the moon landing, satellite pictures of the planet and any other piece of evidence against them, is said to be a hoax in order for the government to better control people and allay fears.

After research into their society, it becomes evident that the Flat Earthers have no basis in fact, and are relying solely on belief and a cult following to exist. Despite the fact that thousands of people have tried to reason with them, they hang on to the rock hard stubbornness which has allowed them to continue. But who knows how long they will manage to hold on to their ideology, or if what they say will turn out to be true. Maybe the Earth is a flat disc carried on the back of four Elephants which are stood upon a Turtle floating through space, like in Terry Pratchett’s book series Discworld. Until the day where an alternate theory is provided that fits all the facts available to us, we shall have to continue knowing that the Earth is a globe, and do all we can to advance the learning of science.