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How To Prepare for Flat Earth Conference Coming to North Texas in November

This is Earth. It's a sphere. Well, technically it's an oblong spheroid but it is not flat. Stick that fact in your brain and keep it there.
This is Earth. It's a sphere. Well, technically it's an oblong spheroid but it is not flat. Stick that fact in your brain and keep it there. Pixabay
You know the saying, "Everyone knows that." The fact that Earth is a three-dimensional oblong spheroid no longer applies to that idiom.

There are people in this almost perfect sphere of a world who believe the earth is a flat surface surrounded by a wall of ice (and wait, that's not the best part) because "The world looks flat, the bottoms of clouds are flat, the movement of the sun; these are all examples of your senses telling you that we do not live on a spherical heliocentric world," according to the actual FAQ page of the totally serious Flat Earth Society.

The largest gathering of flat Earth believers, who are also called "flat earthers," "flat earth believers" and "no seriously, they believe the Earth is flat in the 21st century," are coming to our little corner of the globe (not "giant Frisbee"). The Flat Earth International Conference 2019 will hold their next gathering on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 14-15, at the Frisco Conference Center.

Why are we writing about an entity that promotes patently false and easily disprovable facts even in this age of widened enlightenment? Well, for starters, it's incredibly funny. We know it's not kosher and sometimes not fair to joke about someone else's beliefs, but believing something referred to as a "fact" while demonstrably opposite of true, then the fact cannot possibly be a belief. It's many other things: a wish, a hunch, a whim, a feeling in your gut, aka the place in your body that holds the poop.

The guest roster and schedule for the November conference have to be seen to be believed. Some of the guest speakers include the conference's founder Robbie Davidson who showed his IQ when he got fooled for a prank documentary by Logan Paul, the YouTuber who didn't possess enough intelligence to know that filming a dead human body while giggling and wearing a stupid hat isn't a great idea.

Other guests include a musician named Alex O the "Flat Earth Man" who's a mix of Toby Keith, Johnny Cash and severe mental strain and alt-right comedian Owen Benjamin, who's best known for posting anti-semitic and racist rants on YouTube and for questioning the authenticity of the moon landing and the Earth's roundness while sometimes playing a piano because, um, comedy?

The second reason is it's no longer a fringe idea. A survey conducted last year by the pollster YouGov found that 2% of American citizens believe Earth is a flat object in space. It's big enough to merit taking over a massive conference center to fill with people who believe the Earth is flat, are on the fence that the Earth is flat or believe the Earth isn't flat and need a good laugh on a boring afternoon.

In November, if you come across someone who believes in the flat Earth theory or you find yourself at the conference, you should treat them the way everyone would like to be treated by a stranger. You should be polite, courteous and maybe even a little affable because a sense of humor can bring all of humanity together.

However, if you should happen to get into a debate about a basic fucking fact of life that humanity figured out over 2,000 years ago, long before we all agreed that shoes should be a requirement for outdoor traversing, you should still be polite, courteous and a little affable if you can muster the strength. You can also arm yourself with the truth. You probably won't convince anyone who hold a flat earth theory as truth but you can walk away knowing you were polite, courteous and right.

Fact 1: The Goddamn Horizon
If the Earth was actually the universe's biggest drink coaster as the conspiracy theorists claim, then you wouldn't be able to see objects sink into the horizon. When a ship moves away from someone over a vast ocean landscape or if a person is on a ship moving away from a solid object, both will eventually sink out of view. Is the ship sinking or (gasp!) is the landmass sinking into the ocean? No, it's showing you that the Earth is friggin' curved, according to one of many NASA astronomers. If the world was flat, the object would just get fucking smaller and smaller. Then again, if it was, some self-proclaimed scientific "geniuses" would probably theorize that the objects are actually shrinking because we all have Ant-Man's superpower but the government doesn't want you to know about it. 

Fact 2: The Big F-ing Sun and the Goddamn Moon
Some believers in a flat world will tell you that those big bright spheres in the sky that appear every day and every night are proof that the Earth is flat. How? I have no idea. We've read about a dozen poorly designed web pages claiming these heavenly bodies as conclusive proof of a massive cover-up and now have a massive headache. As we all know, the Earth revolves around the sun ... and wait, that fact also can't apply to "everyone knows" since a quarter of Americans believe the opposite is true, according to a survey conducted by the National Science Foundation. In the words of Clark Griswold, "Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?"

Let's just go with the scientifically accepted fact that the Earth rotates in an orbit around the sun while spinning on its axis and is not the center of the universe. In this reality, the gravity from both keeps the planet from sling-shotting out of the solar system or crashing into the sun. The flat earth theory suggests the sun and the moon float around the outer edge of the Earth. However, the theory doesn't account for any force that keeps the sun and the Earth in orbit and can't explain phenomena like seasons and eclipses and why we have time zones other than it's a massive conspiracy by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, NASA and the U.S. Departments of Weights and Measures or something.

The sun's massive size is also more than 100 times Earth's diameter but it would have to be considerably smaller for a flat Earth or we'd either crash into the moon or fry like crispy human fritters on a hot skillet. So unless I slept through the great moon crash of 1989 or the deadly human fish fry of '92 and it's possible because I always slept in on Saturdays as a kid, there's no other way to account for them.

Fact 3: Shadows...Seriously! Fucking Shadows!
If the Earth was flat, sundials wouldn't work and we know some flat earther is out there saying something like, "We don't use sundials to tell time anymore. We use our phones, Apple Watches and clocks on our car radios, stupid!." The point is that people who lived before A-goddamn-D were able to figure out that Earth was curved just by studying the angle of shadows produced by straight objects.

Eratosthenes of Cyrene was able to figure out the circumference of Earth way back in 240 BCE just by measuring the angle of a shadow and using basic math, according to National Geographic. If the Earth was a flat plane, the shadow of an object sticking straight up perpendicular to the earth would cast the same shadow in the same direction and shape all over the world. The only explanation for the flat earth theory is some kind of LSD overdose or mistaking a hit of acid for a Flintstones chewable vitamin tablet.

Fact 4: They Will Never Admit to the Truth So, Hell, Just Give Up
If flat earthers need a fourth fact to disprove their theory, then they are just clinging to belief for some psychological reason that may seem bizarre but is more human than anyone might like to believe. Just make up an appointment, fake a communicable illness or start talking about your improv show that you'd like to invite them to so you can politely get the fuck away from them. Don't be like me, though. Just do it politely and courteously.
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.