The Windmills of the Mind
Jarrah White has noted that it is the defenders of the Apollo record who are suggesting that Flat Earthers and Apollo hoax proponents are equally crazy in their belief that the Moon landings were faked. Having been on the sharp end of their robust discussions, here he examines some of the Flat Earther’s claims specifically related to space travel and Apollo. Jarrah White then explains why they are wrong and should be ignored. But to put his article in context, Mary Bennett has been digging into the background of the Flat Earth supporters.
A movement promoting the notion that ‘the Earth is NOT a globe’ was founded in Britain in the mid 19th century. Gradually becoming virtually moribund, the Flat Earth Society (tFES) was resuscitated from 1956 through to 1971 – the fifteen years that saw the genesis of crewed space exploration by the US and the Russians. Then, from 1972, it was run from the US until 2001. After which nothing much happened until 2009, when the Brits turned a long-running Internet forum group into the online Flat Earth Society.
Not to be outdone, back in the US a strongly-religious creationist group set up Flat Earth International (FEI) which they insist, has nothing at all to do with the Brits Flat Earth Society! The British ‘flatists’ generally hold the view of their 1956 founder Samuel Shenton, that NASA found out that Earth was not a globe in the 1950s and thus had to fake their imagery from space. The US group asserts that the Earth resides under a dome, the firmament of heaven.
Ostensibly all the Flat Earthers state that space does not exist. Orbiting satellites, the ISS, probes to other planets, crewed spacecraft to the ISS are all illusions, and the Moon is just a light in the sky 32 miles in diameter orbiting the North Pole some 2,550 miles distant from Earth. Where these two groups find common ground is in their allegations that all scientists are hiding the basic truth that the Earth is a flat plane; they also agree that the agency most responsible for taking them all for fools is NASA. It is notable that both groups barely mention any other country’s space agency. This is because their focus is almost entirely on the Apollo missions. And on those who criticise these missions.
While requesting that the ‘globalists’ be kind and tolerant towards their flatist world view, on the internet forums the flatists apparently enjoy taunting, insulting and arguing rudely with those Apollo hoax proponents who take the time to attempt a dialogue about the science of space travel. Confusingly, they also seek to attach their movement to the Apollo critics, so that to the sensible outsider, it looks as if both groups are indeed equally irrational when nothing could be further from the truth. And as the truth is what Flat Earthers demand, along with believing only what they see with their own eyes, here is what their behavior sounds and looks like.
Those at the forefront of the Flat Earth Society openly admit that most Flat Earthers do not seriously believe the premise. [M. Marshall, 2013] Alleging that they simply enjoy provoking established scientists in general, astronomers and NASA in particular. And in its alleged dislike of NASA, the Flat Earth movement adopts the Apollo critics’ research as corroboration for their own injudicious claims: such as ‘all space travel is impossible’; ‘space itself is fake’ and so on. Although both groups agree that the Moon landings were faked, the reasons behind that are completely different. The Apollo hoax proponents, as Jarrah White and other have frequently stated, look at the Apollo record as promoted by NASA, follow the science and go where the evidence takes them.
The flatists paraphrase the research by critics of Apollo and completely distort their findings by selectively quoting from books and papers to suit to their own non-scientific statements about the physical universe. They also feature Aulis videos and papers on their websites without permission, thereby inferring cooperation between the two groups.
When it comes to visual imagery, they tell their flatists to look at the Moon landing images and all the faked images of Earth from space for proof that NASA fakes space. While simultaneously stating that as the images produced by NASA and its attendant agencies such as the USGS (the US Geological Survey, mapmakers of the Earth and of the planets) are all manipulated in some way, they cannot constitute proof of anything.
Such contradictions allied to the fact that they don’t even believe their own Flat Earth nonsense, suggests that this movement has other agendas. One of which is to place the Apollo hoax proponents in the same ‘barmy army’ as Flat Earthers. This approach ensures the ostracizing of both groups by mainstream science and removes the problems these critics raise for NASA.
Counterintuitively, the flatist movement is not against NASA, it is pro-NASA. And if attaching the Apollo critics to their movement looks like a deliberate ploy it is also a profitable enterprise.
As the prominent US FEI speaker, broadcaster, writer and prepper Mark Sargent puts it: “Most of our ire is pointed towards NASA. That's our bread and butter," [M. Sargent (2016)] Sargent’s choice of words leaving the distinct impression that there is money to be made or they are being paid-to focus their attention on NASA.
The author Jarrah White considers that his analysis falls under the ‘fair use’ laws of the USA and the United Kingdom, and any copyrighted material is included on a not-for-profit basis for research, discussion and educational purposes only.
M. Marshall, H. Stevens (2013) Be Reasonable: Episode #002 – Michael Wilmore, The Merseyside Skeptic Society, http://www.merseysideskeptics.org.uk/2013/02/be-reasonable-episode-002-michael-wilmore
M. Sargent (2016) Flat Earth Clues: The Sky's The Limit, Booglez Limited, Kindle edition. The rift between Sargent and the UK FES occurred in November 2017, after Sargent had appeared on Good Morning Britain, interview by ITV’s Piers Morgan et al. Three years later, in February 2020, Sargent repeated the same nonsense to Philip Schofield et al, when he appeared on This Morning hosted by Philip Schofield et al. and www.worldsciencefestival.com/2015/07/blue-marble-shot-history
Aulis Online, September 2020
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