There is a growing number of people that believe the Earth is flat. As inequality, poverty and misery increase in the world due to failed economic policies and impact of technological innovation, more people are compelled to question science and accepted paradigms as a way of revolt.
I will not go into the details of the arguments for or against round or flat Earth because they are known and to a degree, very boring.
All scientific theories are underdetermined by data, observations and measurements. This is the well-known underdetermination problem.
But is round Earth a theory or an empirical fact?
Well, the flat Earth society believes that Earth is a disk and many also believe that it is covered by a dome beyond which nothing can travel. Essentially, they believe that Earth is an intelligent creation and possibly nothing exists beyond that but everything else, including galaxies, are illusions projected on the dome.
On the other side, many try to debunk these ideas offering explanation ranging from Aristotle’s observations to NASA photos and also simple experiments with sticks and pendulums.
The problem is that for someone who believes that we are being fooled by observations that the Earth is round there is really no proof.
This is because, there can be an intelligent function F, which transforms all measurements and actions on a flat Earth to those that correspond to a round Earth so that the latter appears to be the case.
Let O(r) be observations on a round Earth and O(f) be those due to flat Earth. Then
O(r) = F(O(f))
For example, a plane traveling from Rome to Sydney on flat Earth will actually move on some curved path but any observations made will correspond to those of a plane moving around a spherical object.
Same thing when measuring the shadows of sticks under the Sun; Although they are the same according to flat Earth, they are transformed so that a curvature is introduced corresponding to round Earth.
Now, talking about round objects and specifically a round Earth, let as remember that in the past the Atomists thought that particles are round spheres. Even nowadays, many people not familiar with advanced physics think that the proton and the electron are some geometric objects that are spherical.
However, no one has seen a particle, ever. What we see are the interactions of the particles of the standard model with detectors. We have no idea how these particles look like. In the best case, these particles are waves of energy transferred from one point to another. How? We have no idea but we know that the model is pretty much accurate in the sense that things we call “protons” and “electrons” exist.
But what does exist mean? It means in the sense of some measurement because “exist” in absolute sense is metaphysics and refers to the ontology of the world, i.e., to what is true in a metaphysical sense. Obviously we have no idea in that domain.
But we also know from quantum physics that the observer affects the observation. Is it maybe possible that we perceive a round Earth because we are programmed to conceive it that way but in reality there is an intelligent function F that transforms our conceptions to reality and vice versa?
I do not know the answers. I do not care if the Earth is round or flat. I see a lot of pain, misery, inequality and suffering in the world and none of this can change anything. One thing I know is that the educational system has failed. It is dogmatic, archaic and ineffective. Pupils are still being taught about forces and particles like these things exist when in fact they are parts of links between some nomological variables and an assumed ontology.
In fact, the educational system is so archaic and ineffective that it is the cause of many problems of this world. Wrong perceptions about the world develop as part of a belief and value system in young people. When people grow up, some of them discover the ambiguity and revolt. This is what is happening with Flat Earthers now. They go from the extreme they were taught to the other extreme of total denial. This should be expected when people are deceived by the system.
The whole educational system should be revised and quantum mechanics, general relativity and advanced math should be taught in some form from the elementary school level. People are smarter than what the failed educational system wants them to be. Old theories should be taught as part of history of science. Instead, they are taught still as foundations. Why this is happening is a long story and may take a whole book but I frankly do not care to get involved in explaining a rotten system where there is an eternal fight between creationists and evolutionists. A modern educational system should teach all alternatives and the intelligent function F mentioned above. Otherwise, the Flat Earth Society will grow and the ramification will be significant. People are not stupid, the system is. Parmenides disputed in about 450 B. C. the common sense ontology of the world by insisting that there is no void, motion and all that exists is one, immutable and indivisible. Science spent 2500 years trying to rebut Parmenides only to reach a point that the universe of Einstein was called “Parmenidean”.
I understand the anger of Flat Earthers. I spent five years in isolation trying to condense, understand and reconcile what I have learned in prestigious universities. I do not take anything for granted and despise dogma. People should be exposed to all alternatives starting from elementary school and let to make a choice. Only then, real progress will occur. Otherwise, conspiracy theories will keep growing thanks to social media and the internet. The educational system should stop treating young pupils like monkeys who undergo evolution. It’s time to move to the next level.