How to refute a claim of evidence for a conspiracy theory. Case study: a perspective on flat earth

in #flatearth7 years ago

If you're still stuck with the riddle from the last post, here comes the solution.

But first the riddle again:

View 1

Earthrise, Apollo 8, Dec. 24, 1968.

LM approaches CSM for docking / earthrise in b.g., AS11-44-6642 (Apollo 11).

Earthrise viewed from lunar orbit prior to landing, AS11-44-6550 (Apollo 11).

Crescent Earth, Apollo 17,

View 2

From a Million Miles Away, NASA Camera Shows Moon Crossing Face of Earth

Flat earthers and NASA skeptics have often complained about View 1. According to Thales, as Earth has a diameter of ~12,756 km and Moon ~ 3,474 km, and the moon is as distant from the earth as the earth is from the moon (~384,403 km), the angular diameter of the earth seen from the moon should be ~3.67x that of the moon seen from the earth.

And then this! First, the earth is a tiny marble in comparison with the moon, and now it is supposed to look gigantic like that in comparison!

Well, if NASA can make us believe this fairy tale, they'll tell us they have a manned space station in orbit too.

But we're smart and know photography and lenses and stuff and most of all, we're skeptics, which means we believe everything our teachers, newspapers, experts and government representatives tell us, especially the narrative on the rotundity of the earth! Can't afford people to put our home planet back into the middle of the observable universe.

So this is how to go about to politely, analytically and factually refute a claim in support of the flat earth theory despite us liking it better, on principle, than a few other ones.

Let us open up blender and create two spheres, one with diameter 12.756, one with diameter 3.474, set them 384.403 apart, make sure the camera doesn't clip before 2000, leave the focal length at 35, move it to the surface of the big blue sphere and look at the white sphere.

Then we move out, look at both spheres,

then move the camera to the surface of the small white sphere to look at the big blue sphere.

Then let us move the camera away from both to show how much faster the small white sphere shrinks in comparison with the big blue sphere, which is already in a much greater distance.

From a distance of 1000, the white sphere finally looks smaller than the blue sphere again.

Zooming in by setting the focal length to 600 gives the "photobomb" perspective.

Brain de-knotted?

Notice how we managed to refute the claim without calling anyone using it in support of flat earth a crackfoil tinpot or bring the peculiarities of their conception into play or suggested they are torturing little puppies in their free time too.

This way, everyone learns something new.

PS: It's just a weak claim, dear flatearth theorists and NASA critics, so I think it's one of those you shouldn't use, especially if you have so many better ones on your side :)

Because I know that I don't know.


I missed the point of the flat earth conspiracy: any conspiracy theory has a machiavelic hidden goal... What is the point to try to lie about the shape of the Earth? To hide the other side of the "flat earth" where it's all milk and honey for the 1% ?


I've seen a couple rappers talk about the flat earth theory. I always wondered why they won't just rent their own jet (or buy one) and fly around the world to prove/disprove their theory? Seems easy enough when you have enough money..

Dedicated "flat earthers" have already transcended that argument.

Firstly, they will point out the curvature still won't be visible from the jet.

Secondly, they will point out that the horizon always remains level with the eyes. If the earth truly were a sphere, the horizon should sink below your feet eventually.

Some even point to the private experiments done with weather balloons and GoPros, in which clearly no curvature is observable (besides that of the fisheye lens) even from > 30 km up.

And of course it is possible to go "around" the planet in a jet, but that would not be a convincing argument - how to discern whether the flight went around a globe, or in a circle on a flat earth?

A little background maybe: flat earth is supposed to look more or less exactly like the Azimuthal equidistant map projection of earth so well known from the banner of the NATO:

Antarctica is a wall of ice surrounding the waters and continents; the sun is an object only a few thousand kilometers away that draws circles more or less above the "equator" circle, which is why the middle and the outer rim are so cold.

I'm telling you, they have a few interesting arguments and it is a wonderful exercise for the brain to go back and wonder why exactly it is that we want to laugh them out of the room instead of addressing their arguments factually and calmly countering them with insight, knowledge and facts. I value flat earthers greatly, because they force me to read up on stuff I always took for granted, and they challenge me to re-evaluate my lazy "received wisdom" worldview.

Do any of those NASA photographs convince you of their achievement, or would seeing the images in a photo editor tool be more convincing?

Hi @ehall!

Do any of those NASA photographs convince you of their achievement,

No, none of the NASA photographs convince me, but that is besides the point. Please note that I was not making any statement about the theory as a whole!

I took a single, specific, concrete claim of evidence in its support and tested its veracity.

Please consider also the PS, which contains a link that (seemingly) supports the theory, to provide balance.

Thank you for the video. Two claims are easily refuted here.

The first claim is that the moon should appear to become bigger as it crosses the face of the planet, as its orbit is circular. But the segment of the circle is so short (~5h/~28d = 0.0149 ≙ 5.36°) that it would be unreasonable to expect any huge effect due to the curvature.

The second claim is that the relation of the sizes is not right. I shortly mentioned it but didn't go more in-depth in my post. The point is this: side-by side, the ratio should be ~3.67. BUT in the picture, the satellite is allegedly 1,500,000 km away from earth, but the moon is ~384,403 km away from earth, which means only 1,115,597 km away from the camera - ~25% closer! That easily explains why the moon "looks too big". Without doubt, from a hundred and a thousand miles out, the ratio would get closer and closer to 3.67, as the objects in the foreground "shrink faster" when moving the camera away than those in the background.

From a standpoint of intellectual honesty, these are not claims that should be made in support of flat earth or NASA fakery, they are too weak.

hi @akareyon

I appreciate that you do math to solve a problem, but this problem of the "Earthrise" photographic data, and other aerospace data not verified, is it could be manipulated. What images are you claiming are really taken from space? I'm asking also because it seems that it is philosophically impossible to render the Earth as an object of knowledge, and it seems physically impossible something like outer space exists.

What images are you claiming are really taken from space?

I don't claim any pictures are taken from outer space :) It seems to be possible to make many photos from the distance of a few dozen kilometers from the surface and stitch them together with photoshop and layer them onto a sphere in a raytrace renderer, as the last link in the post demonstrates has been done for the most famous "Blue Marble" "'"photo"'".

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