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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Flat Earth Society Bothered by the discrepancies between biblical versions of geography and modern knowledge, some folks simply refuse to accept very well established facts. The spherical Earth was a concept accepted (but quietly) by scholars long before it was officially stated by Copernicus. As early as A.D. 548, an Egyptian monk named Cosmas Indicopleustes began the battle against belief in a spherical Earth that rather lost steam until 1849, when Samuel Birley Rowbotham resurrected the idea and advanced his Zetetic [skeptical] Astronomy theory that had the north pole at the center of a great flat circle and the south pole as an infinite ring of ice at the edge. That is still the accepted version of this strange geography. (In Mohammedan cosmology, a mountain chain named Caf surrounds the flat earth.)
      For a short time, there was in England a journal called The Zetetic, devoted to the idea of a flat Earth, but it did not last long, strangely. Another regular journal, Earth——Not a Globe——Review followed, then Earth. Both went out of business. In America, the movement began with a 100,000-watt radio station owned by Wilbur Glen Voliva, then the U.S. interest passed into the hands of Charles Johnson, who inherited the leadership of the Flat Earth Society from the Englishman Samuel Shelton, founder of the British society. Johnson is presently the reigning head of the organization, now known as the International Flat Earth Research Society.
      Johnson publishes The Flat Earth News from headquarters at P.O. Box 2533, Lancaster, California 93539-2533. A stamped, self-addressed envelope will bring information.
      Science writers Martin Gardner and Robert Schadewald have devoted much time to chronicling (but not supporting!) the theory that we live on a flat disk. They are dedicated men indeed.

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