Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Pancake Earth

You’ve probably heard that flat-Earthism is in the news:  flat-Earth-believing rapper B.o.B is having a Twi**er duel with Neil deGrasse Tyson about the shape of our planet. (Tyson also created a 3-minute rap, “Flat to Fact”.) I was also astounded to hear that there are still flat-Earthers around, and they have their own society. It’s not a joke!

Today’s Jesus and Mo, called “flat,” is a good one. Remember that 64% of Americans (according to a 2006 Time Magazine/Roper poll) would discard a scientific fact if it contradicted one of the tenets of their religious beliefs. The same goes for 41% of British Christians.

2016-01-27

As one commenter said, “Superb again Author, the last panel is the most concise description of religious belief I have ever read.”

55 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. eric
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    (Tyson also created a 3-minute rap, “Flat to Fact”.)

    FYI the artist Tyson who created the song is actually NDGT’s nephew, not NDGT himself.

  3. Sastra
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Ah, but they never admit they’re discarding reality, do they? Instead, they’re discerning (or discovering or recognizing or acknowledging) the True Reality which lies beneath what’s seen by those shallow and selfish folk who refuse to discern/discover/recognize/acknowledge God. They’re discarding the illusion.

    Sometimes the illusion is a false theory — and sometimes it’s a false appearance. Whatever works.

    Once someone has bought into the idea that a small child can know more on a topic than a recognized expert because God, I think a flat earth is just as reasonable as not. They’ve thrown out normal checks and balances so they can operate on magic knowledge.

    • eric
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Yeah the thing that struck me about the original BOB message was his reliance on photographs of the horizon. Because there are plenty of those showing the curvature of the Earth. So he appeared to be saying that he’ll accept photographs as legitimate evidence, except if they show curvature in which case they are fakes. Confirmation Bias to the rescue!

      • Vaal
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        Even more amazing, he ignores the great many videos, filling youtube and elsewhere, from satellites showing the curvature of the earth while doing full orbits around the earth!

        But a snapshot of a horizon looking flat disproves all other evidence.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 28, 2016 at 1:29 am | Permalink

          Of course it all depends on the focal length of the lens, too.

          If you go to Google Streetview and keep hitting the – button to widen the angle of view, at some point all perspective changes into bizarre curves.

          cr

    • Realist1953
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      “Reality of god”??? Really? Like the one that tortured, murdered, raped Mary, etc???

      THAT god??

      No thanks – if that is ‘reality’ I want no part of it. I will ACCEPT THE UNIVERSE AS IT IS, and do my best to UNDERSTAND IT as it is.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      I just wonder what would happen if Plato were dragged unwilling back into existence. Would he look at these misbegotten offspring of his metaphor of the cave and think “… I should re-write that.”

      • Sastra
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        Heh — read Plato At the Googleplex for philosopher Rebecca Goldstein’s take on what Plato would think today.

  4. Randy Schenck
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I don’t see that religion is excuse enough to be that ignorant. That is, until I see the next republican campaign commercial. Hopefully, the flat heads will be gone after Monday.

    • eric
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      I don’t see that religion is excuse enough to be that ignorant.

      It may not be, but BOB is certainly not unique. Have you seen the Sherri Shepherd videos? She’s a devout evangelical and a host on The View. She’s stated on TV that she doesn’t know and doesn’t need to know the shape of the Earth, and that there were no people who existed before Christians. Its pretty clear that her (particular take on) religion is the source of both her wrong beliefs and her complete lack of interest in correcting them.

      • Sastra
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        Faith is when a complete lack of interest in correcting mistakes is mistaken for a humble acknowledgment that we can’t know everything.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Nice.

          And from another perspective that humble acknowledgment that we can’t know everything looks very much like unwarranted assuredness that they know everything that is worth knowing. It is as if they make Dunning Kruger the foundation upon which to base their philosophies.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        Shepherd is virtually unique in claiming that the Greeks came after Jesus, as Ben Carson is unique in claiming that the pyramids were built to store grain.

        • eric
          Posted January 27, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          I would like to think that hers is a case of someone doubling down when caught in an embarrassing situation. I’d like to think that if she had been having a private conversation, she would not have been so dedicated to maintaining these idiotic ideas. But since it occurred on live, national TV, she wasn’t going to admit a mistake.

          Having said that, it seems to me that Christian theology is a practically necessary if not sufficient condition before someone could make the ‘Christians predated everyone’ historical mistake. Not all Christians will make it, but one needs to be Christian to have any real possibility of making it.

  5. Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    B.o.B.’s “Flatline” was a self-referential disclosure of his electroencephalogram results.

  6. EvolvedDutchie
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Ramadan is either very hard or very easy if you live in the polar regions. The poles prove either that God is completely ignorant of his own creation or that the injunction to fast from dawn till dusk was man-made and reflects 7th century Arabian ignorance.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 28, 2016 at 4:16 am | Permalink

      Fun point! 😀

  7. Michael Day
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Wait…what??

  8. SA Gould
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Looked at some of the Flat’s stuff: their world is like the 1998 sci-fi class Dark City. Except that Dark City was an alien construct and some of the inhabitants were able to figure it out.

  9. Stephen
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Flat?!!? Pshaaaw!!

    All enlightened beings know the earth is a concave sphere and WE ALL LIVE ON THE INSIDE!!! As Prophet Teed told us before the storm took him.

    http://www.amazon.com/Allure-Immortality-American-Florida-Renegade/dp/0813061237/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453909838&sr=1-1&keywords=cyrus+teed

    Seriously folks one of the best books I read all last year.

  10. Another Josh
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    On the plausibility scale, how does Flat Earth theory compare with Creationism?

    • eric
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Far less plausible. One was roundly disproven thousands of years ago, with nothing more than two people using sticks and eyeballs to measure shadows. The other was a seemingly viable theory until evolution came along in the 1850s.

      To paraphrase Asimov: flat earthism is wrong. Creationism is also wrong. But if you think the two ideas are equally wrong, then you are wronger than both of them put together.

      • Another Josh
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        Good point. How about bigfoot vs alien abductions?

        Sorry, this is a game I play instead of attending to more important matters.

  11. zytigon
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    There is a brilliantly crazy website ‘geocentricity’ where a computer scientist, Gerardus D- Bouw PhD attempts to prove that the Sun orbits Earth. His paper is called “A geocentricity primer, Introduction to Biblical cosmology” by a Biblical astronomer, Cleveland 2004. He was teaching at Baldwin-Wallace college, Berea, Ohio.

    He thinks he shows that the Bible definitely claims a geocentric model so he thinks either the Bible is largely fictitious bunk or if it is to be considered “The Word of God” then the geocentric model has to be correct. Then he chooses the geocentric model because he is so emotionally attached to the Jesus /heaven/ hell story
    Sigh.

    He has some ingenious ideas about 2 Kings 20v11: Hezekiah’s sign~ an optical illusion by the shadow or some other trick.

    His chapter 6 & 7 from page 67 onwards claim that since the Bible uses the same word for the rising of the Sun and the rising of Christ then if the Sun only rises figuratively then how can you claim Christ really rose from the dead.

    Part of his argument in support of Joshua 10v13 ‘s long day was similar alleged accounts around the world, though he admits they are not in the same century or even millennium. However he failed to consider the possibility that it was just a story that various tribes liked to make up in order to impress their subjects about the ability of their gods to control the heavenly bodies.

    • eric
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Ah, but is his stuff as fun as Velikovsky?

      • zytigon
        Posted January 28, 2016 at 12:44 am | Permalink

        I looked up Velikovsky on Wikipedia which has under criticism: Stephen Jay Gould offered a synopsis of the mainstream response to Velikovsky, writing, “Velikovsky is neither crank nor charlatan—although, to state my opinion and to quote one of my colleagues, he is at least gloriously wrong… Velikovsky would rebuild the science of celestial mechanics to save the literal accuracy of ancient legends”

        Also, David Rohl rejected Velikovsky’s Egyptian Chronology in favour of his own dodgy one.
        I noticed the name Rohl because Dr Hector Avalos had written a critique of the film “Patterns of evidence: Exodus” which is based on a book by Rohl ( See Debunking Christianity). One good thing about the film being an appearance by archaeologist Israel Finkelstein who offers some reality.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 28, 2016 at 4:55 am | Permalink

          “Velikovsky is neither crank nor charlatan….
          Velikovsky would rebuild the science of celestial mechanics to save the literal accuracy of ancient legends”

          Which would make him the quintessential crank and charlatan in my view.

          That’s just Gould being gratuitously contrarian as usual IMO – a bit like his emphasis that punc-eq was different from evolution, which gave so much solace to the Creationists.

          cr

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 28, 2016 at 4:59 am | Permalink

          “Velikovsky is neither crank nor charlatan …..Velikovsky would rebuild the science of celestial mechanics to save the literal accuracy of ancient legends”
          Which makes him the quintessential crank and charlatan in my view.

          That’s just Gould being gratuitously contrarian as usual IMO – like his insistence that punc-eq was different from evolution, which gave so much comfort to the Creationists.

          cr

  12. Vaal
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    It’s been an on-going mystery for quite a while within the skeptical community as to whether flat earthers are serious. Because there have been some fake “societies” and web sites for a fat earth. But I’ve seen a lot more activity about a flat earth over the last few years. It seems to be picking up steam. I’ve seen people defending a flat earth on another forum. You think “this person is obviously joking.” And then they continue and you think “Ok, this person is full-blown trolling now” and then they go on, and on, bringing more and more “evidence” for a flat earth, disputing a round earth.

    At that point my reaction is that, lying or not, this person has a major screw loose either way. Devoting that much time and mental energy researching and defending a loony position you don’t believe is crazy in of itself.

    I’m coming around to the idea that some people truly believe the flat earth stuff.
    After all, people believe so many nutty things. Is it THAT far from the amount of evidence one has to ignore to believe in a 6,000 year old earth, for instance? And there is clearly something satisfying and powerful people find in conspiracy theories.
    A Flat Earth is yet another conspiracy theory – “they want us to believe the earth is flat” and so you get to be a self-satisfied detective proving you are seeing behind the scam. I suppose it has essentially the same emotional hooks as any other conspiracy theory, so it’s plausible people could be sucked into flat earth theory.

    • Sastra
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Along with the benefits of being in on the conspiracy, a lot of people seem to think that “common sense” trumps book larnin’.

      Of course, that would be the opposite of the Mads Scientist types, who seem to think that lots and lots of vast esoteric calculations and elaborate models trumps common sense.

  13. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    It is hilarious. Except that it used to be fun to compare religious magic beliefs with flat earth beliefs.

    Now the Ludicrous Scale [measured in units of dembski] got flattened. (O.o)

  14. Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Yes, Dr. Coyne, it’s a really good Jesus ‘n’ Mo, and I can see how you would especially appreciate it because it’s about faith vs. fact.

  15. Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Genetic research shows that life did not originate from a single common ancestor.

    — YEC I’ve been debating. Silly me.

    This cartoon was perfectly timed to respond.

  16. Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    As I recall, there are two major supposed flat earth groups. One runs it as a parody of fringe and dubious claims. Another is for real. I forget which is which, though.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      This suggests that the parody group are doing their job well.

  17. dan bertini
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Bob should watch HARE WE GO!! It completely debunks the flat Earth theory, although Bugs Bunny might be a little too sophisticated for good ol Bob.

  18. Stonyground
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    There is a whole lot of technology that was designed by people who know the earth to be an oblate spheriod. If they were mistaken non of this technology would work. Geostationary satellites for instance.

    I remember, some time ago, my attention being drawn to a spoof fundie website that some people had mistaken for a real one. To be fair it is an easy mistake to make as the genuine fundies are so crazy. My favorite part was where they said that the Bible said that the earth has four corners but this did not necessarily mean that it was flat, it could be a tetrahedron.

    • Richard
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Time Cube!

      Now *that* one really was weapons-grade crazy.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        Timecube is gone??

        I’m devastated.

        The gold standard of internet craziness is no more.

        cr

      • Posted January 28, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Crank.net used to have a good taxonomy of them. The guys who ran that actually suggested that some sites were *worse* than Time Cube, which as far as I can tell was a real pathological case.

    • Sastra
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes, years ago there was a heated argument on iirc Pharyngula involving a spoof fundie site and whether it was or wasn’t serious. I finally managed to win over the majority of folks who were insisting that no, it wasn’t satire by directing their attention to the website’s online store.

      They were selling illustrated WWJD thongs (the women’s underwear, not the sandals.) Case closed.

      I think that was the website where I bought my Mr. Gruff the Atheist coffee mug.

    • bayesrules
      Posted January 28, 2016 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      Does their iPhone tell them where they are?

  19. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    It has been established since 1950 that although folk in the Middle Ages falsely believed in geocentrism, the educated classes knew damn well that the earth was a sphere with gravity towards the center of the sphere. The spherical earth had re-established itself firmly by the 11th century, after a modest eclipse (not in the astronomical sense!!) in the early Middle Ages. Pope Zachary (679 – 752) attempted to condemn the spherical earth theory, but with limited or no success.

    In Dante’s “Divine Comedy” the earth is definitely a sphere with gravity towards the center. Although Satan can telepathically influence events in the world, he is frozen in a block of ice at the center of the earth. He is much larger than the travelers who climb down his body to his waist (the literal center of the earth) and then climb UP his legs TO his feet (since the evil one’s waist is the center of gravity) to get out to other side of the earth. (Apparently hell is on our side of the earth, and purgatory on the other side.)

    A good book length survey of flat earth thinking is Jeffrey Burton Russell’s “The Myth of a Flat Earth” and there is a section on it in the much earlier book “The Elizabethan World Picture” by E.M.W. Tillyard.

    The notion that Columbus was trying to prove the world is round first appears in a novel by Washington Irving (“Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip van Winkle”) but has been discredited.

  20. Christopher Bonds
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Perfect!

  21. Kevin
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Alas, if only 64% of the same Americans would discard their smart phones. They only discard what is a threat to their faith.

    A flat earth belief does not appear to be to anyone’s advantage…it’s just strange.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      “Remember that 64% of Americans (according to a 2006 Time Magazine/Roper poll) would discard a scientific fact if it contradicted one of the tenets of their religious beliefs. The same goes for 41% of British Christians.”

      Prof CC almost had me there.

      41% of Brits?

      Then I realised it said ‘British Christians”. Not quite the same thing. Bad Prof CC 😉

      cr

  22. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Well, the earth’s surface can be regarded as basically flat for everyday purposes (that excludes air travel), in the same way that Newton’s laws can be used (ignoring relativity) for almost all practical terrestrial engineering.

    My house plans, my collection of large-scale contour maps, the designers of Auckland’s sewerage system who built the first big sewer at 1 in 3000 grade, all implicitly ignore the curvature of the earth. In other words, we can conveniently treat the earth as if it were flat.

    So in that local sense, the earth is flat.

    (Actually, I’m wondering if there’s a relativistic sense which the earth is flat too. Gravity curves spacetime or somesuch (I can’t get my head around it), but since gravity at all points on the Earth acts perpendicularly to the surface, could the surface be said to be ‘flat’ in those terms?)

    Of course none of that is what B.o.B means. One has to wonder, do those people really think it’s flat or are they just ‘being different’?

    cr

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but having had to correct reports to accommodate the curvature of the Earth, your imprecision is disturbing.
      It does make a difference. When we have to be able to specify the position of an 8.5in diameter cylinder several miles away to a precision of less than it’s own diameter, curvature matters.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 28, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink

        Your requirement for precision is acknowledged.

        But I’d say you are the exception.

        I’m an engineer and not once in my career has the question of the earth’s curvature ever come up. The difference from ‘flat’ is un-measurable in an everyday application. I’d be willing to guess that would hold true for at least 99% of the readership of this site, too.

        (Okay, excluding astronomers and rocket scientists)

        cr

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 28, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

          I’ve never had to drill a relief well, but these days (post Macondo), we do have to plan them as part of the acceptance for the plans for a main wellbore. That includes updating the plans in real time as we drill the actual wellbore (which will deviate from the plan). And at that point, your intersection plan needs to be in a curvature-accommodating geodetic system.
          The maths make my eyes water. I just have to farm that bit of the job out to the surveying specialist. But the non-curvature maths I can do even if we don’t have a specialist surveying company on contract.
          It is, of course, irrelevant bullshit, mandated by politicians who don’t understand drilling. The process of drilling a wellbore induces damage and changed stress fields in a volume of rock extending to tens of metres from the original wellbore, so if you can get within that degree of accuracy, the original wellbore will suck your intersecting wellbore in like a … like a … like a metaphor struggling for realisation. Which is why relief wells could be drilled even before the original wellbore had a proper survey (without any of the Wolff & deWardt systematic offset corrections – introduced after the Alwyn accidental wellbore collision. And that’s even worse maths.)
          Sorry, you got me on a pet topic. But you’d be surprised how often these things do turn up. Who would have thought when we were kids that most people would own several devices which rely on general relativity for their correct operation?
          Where’s my flying car? And my 3-d piloting license?

          • Posted January 28, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

            GPS is a great example of why even the narrowest capitialist beancounter should support basic research. An *technology that is found everywhere using general relativity*? Wow.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

              In no way was I arguing against research. I’m all in favour of it. But I don’t need to know all the details.

              (By the way, I don’t use GPS. The only time I tried using one it led me to a point which I knew full well was at least 200 yards from the manhole I was trying to locate (the wrong side of the nearest road, is how I knew). It may have improved since.)

              I prefer to use maps. I’m quite aware that mapping projections are approximations to the actual shape of the earth (sometimes very rough approximations – Mercator?). But I don’t need to know this to use a map, any more than I need to know what shape the earth is to use GPS, or need to know the theory behind lasers to view a DVD.

              I do know these things (more or less sketchily) because I like to know them, but probably most people don’t and they can still function perfectly well. For example, I just bought a SATA/IDE card on Ebay Australia and paid for it by credit card – I know nothing of what determines exchange rates or the international banking system, nothing of the commercial accounting systems that the seller presumably uses, and I don’t want to – I just assume he’ll get my money.

              cr

  23. Diane G.
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    sub


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