“Anybody who’s got any brains has already joined.”
Dear Sir: A while ago I read an article that mentioned the Flat Earth Society. Does it still exist? Did it ever really exist, or is it just a name made up to epitomize stupidity? — Warren, Normal Heights
The flat-earthers would appreciate your skepticism if not your characterization. In fact, the 3000-member Flat Earth Research Society International has been ticking along for 194 years. Charles Johnson, a 68-year-old retired airplane mechanic, has been president since 1972. Flat-earthers insist we live on a lumpy disk something like a pizza, I guess, a belief formally known as platygeism. The North Pole is at the center, with a ring of icebergs (what the rest of us call the South Pole) around the edge. Their proof? Well, if we really do live on a spinning globe, they ask, why don’t our hats fly off in that heavy wind? And since the continents move, why hasn’t centrifugal force caused them to clump up around Earth’s middle? According to flat-earthers, things seem to disappear over the horizon, not because we live on an orb, but because objects diminish in size as they recede, so we really just lose sight of them. NASA photos of Earth from space? Distortion by wide-angle lenses and the refractive index of Earth’s atmosphere. For anyone still not convinced, Johnson gladly trots out Mrs. Johnson, an Australian, who states indignantly that she did not spend her youth hanging by her feet from the bottom of the globe.
Johnson’s been quoted as saying, “Astronomy is a whole pile of nonsense from a whole bunch of pathological liars.” We “globists” have fallen for hogwash (e.g., the Apollo moon landing) ladled out by the military-industrial complex to enrich NASA contractors. Johnson’s predecessor declared that astronauts had been hypnotized into believing they’d been in space. The space program is “entertainment for us animals here on the Animal Farm,” says Johnson, who lives six miles from Edwards Air Force Base, where the shuttle lands (“just a simple, stupid old airplane carried piggyback and dropped over Lancaster,” he explains). Roosevelt and Stalin were closet flat-earthers. Just look for proof at the U.N.’s logo, a flat-earth map projection with the North Pole at its middle.
The group doesn’t evangelize because Johnson believes that “anybody who’s got any brains has already joined.” But in case you missed the sign-up, send $10 to FERSI, Box 2533, Lancaster, CA 93539. Warning: They require a signed pledge that you won’t snicker at your fellow members.
November 23 update
SIMPSON SHOCKER! O.J. PROVES EARTH’S FLAT; FEDS VOW REVENGE!: Finally — my chance to rake the Simpson muck with Hard Copy and the rest of the gang. I’d hoped for something more along the lines of “Nicole’s Secret Heartbreak!” or “Dry Cleaner Tells All! Those Stains on O.J.’s Tie — Meat Loaf or Mayhem?” But I suppose this will do in a pinch. It’s actually a postscript to last week’s peek at the Flat Earth Research Society International. If you were tuned in, you’ll recall that most FERSI members insist our space program is just a lucrative hoax cooked up by the military-industrial complex using lies and cheap camera tricks. And now the group’s added its voice to the Simpson trial excesses. According to a recent interview with FERSI president Charles Johnson, the O.J. prosecution is obviously a government payback for Simpson’s role in the 1978 film Capricorn One, which detailed the faking of a NASA mission. According to Johnson, the space agency and its contractors are still steamed that the film ripped the sheep’s clothing from the NASA wolf, and O.J.’s taking the heat. So you thought the flat-earthers were just irrelevant old cranks. Well, there you have a government conspiracy theory with an O.J. twist. What could be more contemporary? Probably three mini-series in development even as we speak.