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We’re all bonkers and that’s flat

flat earth 1

Great Britain has its fair share of bonkers people. You don’t have to go far before you meet people who are, really, three stops from Dagenham. In the space of a few minutes I can think of that bloke who arrived at the Daily Express in Manchester in a full suit of armour. (He wasn’t publicising something, he wanted to complain to the editor about the cookery column). And then there was that scientist in Cambridge who walked around the town with a tube up his bum so he could record how much he farted. And then there’s the druids, and the Morris Dancers, and that woman I met who sewed herself into a greased vest every autumn. They’re not clinically insane, or dangerous, they’re just, well, nuts.

morris dancers

Still, I was slightly taken aback the other day when, on a whim, I Googled the Flat Earth Society and found it still exists. That is a society for people who believe the earth is flat. In fact Google returned 856,000 hits on the subject.

Truly, I say unto you. There are people alive who believe we are living on a disc, that below us are the fires of hell and that Antartica is a wall of ice surrounding us.

flat earth2

Their forum is well worth a look. Especially the Q&A for ‘newbies’. In it you learn that other planets may be round, but the Earth is different. When the sun isn’t overhead, it’s night-time. The Venerated Official of the High Zetetic Council (that’s the guy who edits the forum) asserts:

the Earth isn’t in the shape of a Mercator map. That would be silly. Magellan and many others simply made a circle around the disk of the Earth.

As for horizons,

apparently large waves will obscure apparently small objects. Therefore, looking out long distances over water you will of course be unable to see land on the other side. In addition, refraction has an effect. Some flat Earthers theorize an electromagnetic acceleration which appears to bend light upward.

The society was formed in Victorian times by an English inventor called Samuel Rowbotham, who wrote a book called Earth not a globe. His followers included the US Consul to China and the superintendent of Baltimore public schools (Because America has bonkers people too, let’s be fair).

After his death, Rowbotham’s work was carried on by Lady Elizabeth Blount, wife of explorer Sir Walter de Sodington Blount. Google does not reveal where Sir Walter went, or what he discovered but I think its worth noting, just for the extraordinary names, that his fellow Blount baronets lived in Tittenhanger, in Hertfordshire.

The Flat Earth website is a joy. I especially like the page on the dangers of moonlight, and the advice that if you are foolish enough to risk getting moonburn by going for a walk in the dark, you and your dog should wear all-over body coverings.

Here are some headlines from the society’s Flat Earth News:

“Whole World Deceived… Except the Very Elect” (Dec. 1977)

“Australia Not Down Under” (May 1978)

“Sun Is a Light 32 Miles Across” (Dec. 1978)

“The Earth Has No Motion” (Jun. 1979)

“Nikita Krushchev Father of NASA” (Mar. 1980)

“Galileo Was a Liar” (Dec. 1980)

“Science Insults Your Intelligence” (Sep. 1980)

“World IS Flat, and That’s That” (Sep. 1980)

“The Earth Is Not a Ball; Gravity Does Not Exist” (Mar. 1981)

So there you have it. Eccentric people are great. They make the world go round. Unless of course, you’re a flat earther.

(Apparently there are still people who believe the earth was created in seven days. Wonder how many hits I’d get on Google for that?)

Pictures via Creative Commons courtesy of



About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


37 thoughts on “We’re all bonkers and that’s flat

  1. I never thought the earth was flat, although I do believe some parts of it could do with a damn good ironing to get the creases out

    Posted by Peter Wells aka Countingducks | September 27, 2014, 6:24 pm
    • Yes… and they could use hair straighteners on the forests. We could start a ‘God got interrupted with the iron’ association

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 6:27 pm
    • I can see the beginnings of a fairly talented Landscape Grooming Committee being formed here. The Earth may not be flat, but let us not be defeatist. With a little work we may be able to pull it off and get all those awkward lumps out of the landscape. OK I’ll shut up now, but its your fault, because you always get my imagination into overdrive

      Posted by Peter Wells aka Countingducks | September 27, 2014, 6:34 pm
    • I think we should go for it. Bulldoze those Himalayas! After all we have an ageing population, who needs all this climbing?

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 8:26 pm
  2. You forgot the Shakespeare written by anyone else you can think of society….

    Posted by Jools | September 27, 2014, 5:13 pm
  3. Excuse me, if I am allowed to interject, Morris dancers are not mad, just a bunch of big guys who have spotted the chance to seize an excuse for drinking a lot of beer. They dance to sweat off the beer, then go and drink some more. Whichever way you look at it, it is a victory for home industry, since it provides a spectacle for tourists, too. And I have to put in a word for those who sew themselves into goose-greased vests, since I come from a long line of them, ending only with my grandfather. It has to be goose-grease, by the way. As for the Flat Earth society, well………..no, they really are barking.

    Posted by Jools | September 27, 2014, 5:11 pm
  4. ” They’re not clinically insane, or dangerous, they’re just, well, nuts.”

    There just wouldn’t be the necessary room to house all the “special” people that exist today nor would you have a sufficient workforce to sustain a productive economy if all of those “special” people were institutionalized. 🙂

    Posted by lbwoodgate | September 27, 2014, 11:57 am
  5. I love the fact that the UK has long has such a reputation for eccentricity and that it’s not dead yet. All hail the Flat Earthers.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | September 27, 2014, 5:48 am
    • I do admire eccentrics, but its when you get the ones, like Creationists, who try to impose their views on other people, that I start getting a bit restive.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 12:43 pm
  6. Fantastic! One hopes it’s just a joke. Or no, maybe one hopes it isn’t. Thanks! 🙂

    Posted by olganm | September 27, 2014, 5:31 am
  7. Maybe in England crazies make the world go round, but in America they want a hand in politics.
    “I say everyone should see themselves into a vest every autumn. Make it law.”

    Posted by naptimethoughts | September 27, 2014, 1:55 am
    • I suppose it would keep the cold out…

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 12:40 pm
    • WHAT! You’re one of them. You must be ONE OF THEM!

      Posted by naptimethoughts | September 27, 2014, 3:07 pm
    • I’m just saying….Might be a rather practical solution, if its a bit parky, and the central heating’s packed in. Not sure I’d want it on all winter, mind.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 3:18 pm
    • These colors don’t run. Don’t tred on me, with that vest of yours. Round here, we take our vest liberties very seriously, and the liberty to freeze all winter with or without a vest sewn onto ourselves needs to be written into the constitution! I call amendment! (That’s how it’s done here, see, like calling jinx, or shotgun.)

      Posted by naptimethoughts | September 27, 2014, 3:25 pm
    • Yes, but if there was a law about wearing vests, then I wouldn’t wear one, on principle.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 3:41 pm
    • I’ve just thought… Vest in America is a waistcoat, isn’t it? A vest here is something you wear under a shirt, to keep yourself warm. A bit like T shirt only no arms and a scoop neck.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 3:43 pm
    • You are correct. You would call it a waistcoat, I hadn’t thought of that. Here, a vest is worn over clothing, usually. Way to go, Elaine. Flout that law. You show ’em. I’m ain’t wearing no vest neither. No matter what the man says.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | September 27, 2014, 3:56 pm
    • Or.. Or a waistcoat. Whatever. I’m not wearing it.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | September 27, 2014, 3:57 pm
    • A cat would look silly in a weskit, anyway…

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 4:55 pm
    • You all are so difficult. I think I have it down, and then you throw an entirely new and ridiculous word at me. Cats, under the law, would be required to wear weskits as well.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | September 27, 2014, 9:43 pm
    • You can require all you like, but a cat will only do what a cat wants to do. You ought to know, being one yourself. Weskits are just a way of pronouncing waistcoats, which now I’ve looked at it, seems an incredibly strange word.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 10:35 pm
    • That’s what I’m saying. Ya’ll talk weird. Weskit? Maybe you need to write a post on bizarre English synonyms.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | September 27, 2014, 10:49 pm
    • Any word looks weird if you stare at it long enough. But I don’t generally think these words are bizarre because they’re in my every day turn of phrase. I mean, I don’t know what you think is strange. I only know you don’t know counterpanes because of Bill Bryson. I can only hazard a guess that you think tea cosies are odd. Or possibly placcy bags, or leccy bills or dandelion and burdock.

      Posted by elainecanham | September 27, 2014, 11:02 pm
  8. Was the fart-tube guy really a scientist? What kind? This bonkers American would like to know more.

    Posted by David Pandolfe | September 27, 2014, 1:28 am
  9. Let’s get scientific: The earth once was a ball. Now it’s rolled out like a pancake, squashed flat by countless generations of stomping Morris Dancers.

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | September 27, 2014, 12:47 am
  10. Wow. I thought the scientist was going to be the weirdest thing in there.

    Posted by Charles Yallowitz | September 27, 2014, 12:44 am

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