photo of the Earth from space with a horizontal line showing curve

The Oldest Conspiracy Theory


“They want us to think it’s all down there,” he said with disdain in his voice.

“What?” I asked.

“The crust. The mantle. The molten core. All of it.”

“Oh! You mean the Earth!” I said, catching up. “You’re talking about what’s down there below the surface and all?”

“What they want us to believe is down there, you mean,” he corrected.

He kept saying things like that. As though knowledge was some great secret that was being kept from us rubes. Something about his terminology rang a bell in my head, but I couldn’t quite put it together.

He continued, “I mean, we can drill down. But you know how far we’ve been able to drill?”

“You mean the Kola Borehole? I think it’s about seven miles or so.”

“That’s right! You know your stuff.”

“Lucky catch. I watch a lot of documentaries, and sometimes I remember stuff.”

“Seven and a half miles. That’s as deep as anyone’s drilled. Why?”

“I guess technologically…”

“I’ll tell you. They just stopped. They refused to go any further.”

“Really?” I was skeptical. The documentary I watched indicated the technology wasn’t capable of reaching any deeper. They wanted to drill further, but couldn’t without breaking their equipment.

“Yep. They stopped,” and he leaned back as if he had just made a major point.

Then he leaned forward and said in a slightly conspiratorial voice, “And they want us to believe they know what’s down there. The mantle? A fiery molten core? C’mon! They DON’T know. They haven’t been down there. They haven’t seen it. It’s bullshit. All of it.”

Then it hit me. The pieces fell into place and I suddenly realized who I was talking to.

“You’re a Flat Earther!” I blurted out. It was like seeing a unicorn, or meeting a time traveler from the past.

“Yeah,” he replied.

At last! After countless nights of trolling the internet in search of these elusive creatures, I finally had one in the wild, sitting on my deck on a warm summer evening. We were hosting a BBQ for some friends from out of town, and the Flat Earther was one of the relatives of our guests.

Needless to say, I was thrilled – could hardly contain myself. I needed to find my Xenomorph card and have it punched (ten punches and I get a free face-hugger pizza).

I thought, ‘this is gonna be better than a Jehovah’s Witness!’

I stood up and retrieved a couple beers, handing him one.

“Wow!” I replied. “I have some questions.”

“Okay. Go!” he said, cracking his beer open.

“So, if I have this correct, you believe the continents are all flat in the middle of a disk shape, surrounded by ocean. And the Antarctic isn’t a continent, but a giant ice wall barrier all around the outer edge. Is that correct?”

“Pretty much. Yes.”

“But in that case, the length of the Antarctic’s coastline would be enormous, and that’s simply not the case.”

“No. That’s where you’re wrong, because nobody can go there.”

“Wait! People have sailed around it and measured…”

“You can’t get there. They don’t let anyone go there.”

“Scientists. Geologists. Meteorologists. They’ve all been…”

“Normal people like you and I can’t go there. It’s not allowed*.”

“That’s not true. I’ve seen the penguin photos,” I stopped because something he said jumped out at me. “But you also said ‘they don’t let anyone go there’ and you didn’t say who ‘they’ were.”

“Have you read ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’?”

“No, but I see you’re also a Conspiracy Theorist and an Anti-Semite. Good to know. And you dodged my question. What’s the length of this Antarctic ice barrier that borders the flat earth disc?”

“Don’t know. Nobody’s measured it.”

“Weird. You’d think that would be one of the first things they’d do. Well, let me help you out on that one by starting with an estimate. If the diameter of the Flat Earth Disc is 12,000 miles…”

“Wait! What are you basing that measurement on?”

“Well, the distance from the North Pole to the Equator is roughly 6,000 miles, which would account for half of your disc world, add another 6,000 miles to include the lower half and you get 12,000 miles. It’s simple math, and these are just rounded estimates, not precise numbers. You with me?”

“Oooookaaaaay,” he said carefully, not wanting to fall into a trap.

Too late.

“Taking that 12,000 miles and multiplying it by 3.14 we get the circumf…”

“Hold on just a minute! What’s that 3.14 number?”

“That’s Pi”


“Pi. P. I. Google it.”

“Oh! That pi,” he said sheepishly.

“Yes, the way to determine the circumference of a circle is to multiply the diameter by Pi – 3.14 – which gives you the length of the outer measurement of the circle. The circumference.”

“Hmmm. Not so sure I agree with your methods.”

“Well, that’s how it’s done. Anyway, multiplying 12,000 miles by 3.14 gives us around 37,680 miles. That’s the length of your imaginary Ice Wall Boundary circling your Disc World. That’s a lot of coastline nobody has ever seen. In fact, the actual length of Antarctica’s coastline – which has been circled and well-measured many times over the years – is around 11,000 miles. Your Disc World is off by some 26,000 miles and change.”

He seemed intent on changing the subject. “Whatever. But here, this should really blow your mind.”

“I’m listening.”

“Elon Musk said the Firmament exists**.”

“The Firmament? Like Genesis 1:6 Let there be a firmament made amidst the waters…’. That Firmament?”

“Yeah. That Firmament. He told Joe Rogan on a podcast that getting his rockets past the Firmament is holding him back from going to Mars.”

“Was that before or after they fired up the spliff? The Firmament is from ancient Babylonian mythology that the Hebrews borrowed. So if it exists, how did the Babylonians know it existed? They didn’t have rockets and they couldn’t throw rocks that high.

“Oh, and also, that quote is a fake. Flat Earthers took bits of quotes and threw them together to imply Musk said something he never actually said. You can watch the complete video interview and you’ll never see or hear that quote. Doesn’t do much for the Flat Earth cause when they have to manufacture fake quotes.”

He shrugged.

“So not only are you a Flat Earther, you’re also a Biblical Literalist?”

“A what?”

“You’re someone who takes the Bible literally, so when it mentions a Firmament dividing the waters, you believe an actual firmament exists like some sort of impenetrable see-through cake cover in the sky?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it a cake cover, but it prevents any travel into space.”

“So you’re a Flat Earther, Conspiracy Theorist, Anti-Semite, Biblical Literalist, and Moon Landing Denier. I’m afraid to ask your opinions on Aliens, Lizard People and the Kennedy Assassination?”

“All true. And Kennedy was killed because he was going to reveal the alien presence in America.”

“Of course,” I said. “Then there’s gravity.”


“Gravity. You have no concept of gravity.”

“Gravity doesn’t exist,” he said defiantly.

“Really? Do tell.”

He went on a long convoluted explanation that basically amounted to saying that things don’t fall to Earth, but instead Earth rises to those things. Flat Earthers believe their imaginary Disc World is hurtling through space, top up, and what we call “gravity” is really the effect of the ground accelerating up to meet falling items. The speed at which the Flat Earth rises is equal to the rate of what we Round Earthers call “gravity”.

I sat in stunned silence.

“Well! This has been an enlightening conversation,” I finally said.

At that point the party was winding down, so we said our cordial goodbyes and he left. He was a nice guy, but had some kooky ideas.

I had one final question, but it was for me. I thought about it late into the night.

If you take Occam’s Razor to all the myriad Flat Earth explanations and pseudo theories, what do you get?

By morning I had my answer.

Flat Earth is the Borg of Conspiracy Theories. Like the Borg, it moves inexorably through space and time adding the uniqueness of every other conspiracy theory to its Collective, ultimately forming an all-encompassing Conspiracy Theory of Everything.

Crazy! Absolutely crazy!

On the plus side, it makes my firm belief in the divining power of goat entrails almost respectable.