I recently blogged about a well-known flat-earther who inadvertently proved that the earth is a globe and not flat. I’ve discussed the method he used before, such as in another blog about the so-called “black swan” photo. These arguments involve a proof of the earth’s sphericity written about by Pliny the Elder in the first century AD. Pliny noted that as ships sail away, they disappear hull first, with progressively more of the ships disappearing from their bottoms. Conversely, the mast of an approaching ship appears first, with the deck, and finally the hull appearing last. In one of my earliest articles about the flat-earth movement, I presented some photographs that I took of a ship disappearing hull first as it sailed away. Unfortunately, I live far from a large body of water, so it isn’t very often that I can take these kinds of photographs.
In late April, I had an opportunity to take these sorts of photos once again when I visited my sister in south Florida for a few days. Early one afternoon, I went to Hollywood Beach, where I observed several ships and boats as they sailed toward or away from me. I share photographs of two here. As before, I attached my digital Nikon D3200 SLR to a 3.5-inch Questar telescope having a focal length of 1,300 mm. The photographs are unedited jpg files downloaded from my camera, reproduced at the same scale. On this day, the air temperature was slightly warmer than water temperature, so there was no significant temperature inversion. As I explained in an earlier blog, temperature inversions cause refraction, which allows us to see objects that normally would be hidden by the earth’s curvature. Furthermore, unlike my earlier experiment with ships in which the water temperature was much warmer than air temperature, there were no inferior mirages. Thus, the conditions this day were ideal for testing for the earth’s curvature.
Figures 1–4 show a sequence of four photographs of a ship as it approached and turned slightly starboard. In Figure 1, all that can be seen of the ship is the upper parts of three structures (left to right) on the ship’s bow, midsection, and stern. In Figure 2, the ship has turned, and much more of the three structures can be seen, though none of the deck between the bow, midsection, and stern is visible. In Figure 3, the ship has turned more, and more of the three sections can be seen. Finally, in Figure 4, the entire deck and much of the hull are visible.
Figures 5–8 are photographs of a red boat as it moved away. In Figure 5, much of the boat is visible, which gives a good idea of the size and shape of the boat. In Figure 6, the hull has disappeared. In Figure 7, only the superstructure of the boat is visible, including the windows that the pilot looks out of. Finally, in Figure 8, even the windows have disappeared, with only the mast atop the boat still visible.
As I said, I rarely can make these observations, but when I do, I always get results that are consistent with the earth being a globe. Why do flat-earthers always seem to find contrary results? Temperature inversions are common enough on warm spring and summer days when going to the beach is most comfortable, so at least some of videos and photographs they show were obtained honestly. However, I find it difficult to believe flat-earthers never get results consistent with the earth being a globe. Indeed, as I showed in my blog about the “black swan” photo, the man who took that photograph admitted that normally he finds results that show the earth is a globe, yet he chose to believe and promote the relatively rare evidence for a flat earth. Cherry-picking data this way is dishonest.
But even when flat-earthers find evidence that the earth is a globe, in their bias they often fail to see the evidence. I explained an example of this on pp. 64–68 of my book, Falling Flat: A Refutation of Flat Earth Claims. Those heavily invested in the belief that the earth is flat will not entertain evidence that contradicts their belief. Flat-earthers parrot Samuel Rowbotham’s (the man who unleashed the flat-earth movement on the world in the 19th century) zetetic philosophy, trusting only what one can test for oneself. However, most flat-earthers fail to carry out most experiments themselves. Instead, they rely upon the testimony of other flat-earthers who claim to have carried out experiments while simultaneously refusing to accept the testimony of many other people, such as me. Such blindness to the truth makes it difficult to carry on intelligent conversations with flat-earthers, which is why I have never debated a flat-earther and probably never will.