Flat-Earth faithful flock to Edmonton for international conference
'You go up, you realize it's not a globe. You really going to tell the public? Nah, not a chance.'
A few hundred people have gathered in Edmonton this week to dispute centuries of research and scientific evidence and discuss the idea that the Earth is flat.
YouTuber Mark Sargent is one of several people without scientific backgrounds featured at the Flat Earth International Conference at West Edmonton Mall, which runs Thursday and Friday.
He said he and many others at the conference didn't believe in the flat-Earth theory, at first.
"I tried to debunk it for nine months," said Sargent, who wrote a flat-Earth guide for beginners. "That's how I got started."
"Nobody wants to be a flat-Earther. Everybody gets into it because they try to disprove it. And when they're doing it, as they're doing it, there are more and more loose ends ... and after awhile, it's just a question of when you're going to give up."
Many of the theories surrounding those "loose ends" are convoluted (and difficult to comprehend), but Sargent made note of a variety of ideas, highlighting the flat horizon and what he called lies from NASA about space missions.
"When I see a globe now, I just see conditioning," he said.
"When you're showing that to anybody, you're just reinforcing some thing that they were told as a child."
What Sargent called the first full photo of the globe was taken in 1972, centuries after the Earth's shape had been established and taught to kids in school.
"Too convenient," he said. "You go up, you realize it's not a globe. You really going to tell the public? Nah, not a chance."
Can you fall off a flat Earth?
Sargent's conception of the Earth features the same familiar continents, aside from Antarctica, which is a giant wall of ice that surrounds the plate-shaped planet.
But have no fear — the chances of falling off the edge of the flat world are incredibly slim.
"You're never going to find [the edge]. It's locked down forever. The 1959 Antarctic Treaty is no joke," Sargent said, claiming that only members of the government are allowed on the perimeter of the Arctic ring.
Alan Nursall, the president and CEO of Edmonton's Telus World of Science, said there are many reasons why the flat-Earth model is bogus:
- Different stars can be seen in the northern and southern hemispheres.
- The Earth's curved shadow can be seen on the moon.
- Tides are caused by the gravitational fields between a spherical Earth, moon and sun.
- Photographic evidence.
"There are people who will contend that every single picture ever taken is fake," Nursall told CBC's Edmonton AM. "But that's just sad. We have real photographs taken by real people that look back at our beautiful Earth, and it's a big round globe."
'We are the centre of everything'
Self-proclaimed professional flat-Earther Patricia Steere, who is from Texas, said unknown people who are "higher than governments" pull the puppet strings.
She said the round-Earth "lie" is a money-making operation — though how it makes agencies like NASA more money than a flat Earth would is unclear.
"I believe that we are the centre of everything, and we live in a protected, enclosed, most likely, system," said Steere, who made sure to mention the fact that she isn't crazy. "I don't know how big it is, I don't know if there's more land or not. But this place is made for us and we're not a function of a big bang."
Not only do you have to ignore all the evidence, but you have to be willing to believe that everybody's in on it- Alan Nursall, Telus World of Science CEO and president
Nursall said it's ridiculous the topic is even up for debate.
"You have to live in a parallel universe," he said. "Not only do you have to ignore all the evidence, but you have to be willing to believe that everybody's in on it.
"It's not just astronauts and NASA who have to be in on it. Every engineer, every meteorologist ... surveyors and cartographers and geologists. Basically every scientist would have to be in on it."