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Behold the firmament…or not. Probably not. March 25, 2023

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Came across a reference to a refinement, if that’s the correct term, of the Flat Earth theory. Now I’ve got to be honest, of all pseudo-scientific views I always thought that one one of the least compelling given it’s not difficult simply using ones powers of observation to see that the Earth is indeed curved. Add to that flights, any conversation with a pilot, and the evidence is so overwhelming, so pervasive, that pushing back against it is pointless. But we live in a time when any belief, literally near enough any belief, however absurd is reified by social media and amplified by those who engage with it. I often wonder how sincerely held are ‘beliefs’ in this, though that’s another matter. I’ve a glum feeling that quite a lot is the answer. Or people fool themselves into thinking they believe it. And it’s not that I don’t get the allure of counter-factual beliefs. After all I’ve had a lifelong fascination with this area – not born of a sense of superiority (ie ‘I know the truth and those who hold the beliefs are idiots’) but more in the sheer entertainment, the sort of ‘what if’ with regard to UFOs or what have you, and the capacity of humans as imaginative and imagining creatures to build these constructs of belief. Their power intrigues me. We talk a lot about nationalism on this site and I’d always point to Benedict Anderson as someone who provided a solid analysis of something that is both so immaterial and so powerful. And while a little different it’s reasonable to posit that pseudo-scientific beliefs have something not entirely dissimilar. And with the intersection with political activity and lamentably far-right and reactionary politics (not a novel development by the by, as any examination of how pseudo-science was effectively championed by fascism and Nazism in particular) there’s an unfortunate increasing similarity with regard to belief and how belief functions.

But back to the Flat Earth. Or across it I suppose.

Users on social media are saying people on Earth are living under a dome, also called a “firmament,” without providing evidence to support the claim. Experts told Reuters that the idea, which originates with proponents of the Flat Earth theory, is false and that there is ample evidence of rockets reaching space without hitting a dome.

One Instagram user shared a video that claims to offer “absolute proof that we do live under the dome or the firmament”, including footage of a rocket supposedly hitting a dome. The video also asserts that Admiral Richard Byrd, the American explorer who undertook multiple missions to the South Pole, found the edge of the dome in Antarctica, and that is the reason no one is allowed to visit that continent (here).

But the video’s examples offer no proof of humans living under a dome or firmament, while there is ample evidence that no dome exists.

The word firmament generally refers to the arc of the sky but is regarded in biblical cosmology as the dome created by God separating the earthly realm from the heavens (here).

It’s almost astounding that the rocket video is regarded as ‘proof’. The line being that aircraft fly at lower altitudes and presumably that spacecraft are fakes. But then the video argues as noted above that Antarctica is off limits to visitors. That level of lack knowledge of the area is something else. 

Good piece here on Scientific American with Michael Marsh of Merseyside Skeptics which covers some of the myriad beliefs of Flat Earthers. 

MM: yeah, it depends on who you talk. So it’s not just that there’s the disk version and the infinite plane version. There’s actually lots of, there’s a myriad of different versions of the, the flat earth and the universe beyond it. So some will believe that we’re flat. But the universe around it is pretty much as is, that’s quite a niche belief in the flat earth world. Um, some believe that, uh, many believe the sun isn’t very far away, so it’s very hard to, to uh, justify the solar system as conventional science would have it with a flat earth belief, especially a flat earth belief that may be rooted in creationism and therefore has this kind of earth as the center of everything kind of way.

And you know, the sun was created on, on one of the days after the earth, it was already created. And so some of that belief that instead of the sun being millions and millions of miles away, it’s actually quite nearby and much smaller. And that’s how they account for time differences across, uh, across the world. How you account for seasons, it’s just that you’re further away from the sun at that point. Um, others believe that the world is a disk, but it’s under a dome. Um, which again goes back to the biblical idea of the firmament from and being the roof on top of the world. Um, one of the, one of the, the, uh, piece of evidence I’ve heard brought, uh, for that, uh, firmament idea for that domed theory. A idea was from Mark Sargent who said, uh, if you look at the gravestone of Werner Von Braun, so Von Braun, obviously the, uh, the, the Nazi scientist smuggled out of Germany after the second world war by operation paperclip installed towards the head of the U S space program. Um, his V2 rocket technology is partly responsible for, for America getting into it, getting to the moon first. Um, but if you look on his gravestone, it references Psalms 19 one. And if you look up Psalms 19 one, it reads, the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork. So it says Mark Sargent, why would the father of space exploration have on his gravestone a reference to the biblical roof on top of the world, if not a post deathbed confessional? Here’s what of saying, there is a firmament and the only way to get me out of Germany was to go along with their hoax.

Now I would argue the reference is much more about the first bit of the heavens declare the glory of God for a man who saw his technology has been the key to the heavens. It was the, the way that men put mankind, unlocked the sky. Um, but if you’re a flat earther or you see that gravestone, and this is proof then that there is a roof on top of the world and if you believe there’s a roof on top of the world, then it starts to ask questions about what is space beyond it. 

Thought that piece notes a typical dynamic, where although belief in Flat Earth might be ‘harmless’ it is but a skip and a jump to anti-semitism, anti-vaccination sentiment and suchlike. Marsh has noted elsewhere how: “it is striking how many people who doubt the global model of the Earth also subscribe to all manner of other beliefs, from Biblical literalism to occultist paranoia, from anti-vaccination to quack cancer cures, from antisemitism to Aryanism. But it is also just as striking how many people whose journey into believing the Earth is flat included traumatic events or personal crises.”

And that’s a phenomenon that has been seen before during and after times of economic, social and other dislocation.

That said in the contemporary context Flat Earth ‘theories’ and similar feed into what on the Scientific American piece is termed an ‘ecosphere of conspiracy theory.’ 



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