A Defense of “A Defense of the Mercator Projection”

Note: This article was originally written for my college’s informal school newspaper, Frankly Speaking, as a reply to a rebuttal to my previous article. The rebuttal argued that the Mercator projection is unacceptable and that globes are the only reliable way to represent the Earth. I’m republishing my reply here in a slightly modified form.

Last month, in Mitch Cieminski’s article, “The Mercator Needs no Defense”, he made several compelling arguments advocating for the globe in favor of maps, and for the Mercator Projection in particular. While the globe has its distinct advantages, so too do maps. We could argue for days about when maps are better than globes and which projection is best (the answer is Lee tetrahedral), but I fear Mr. Cieminski as well as many other readers may have taken my argument too far. To be clear, my article was merely a thought experiment, not to be taken seriously. After all, the entire notion of a map projection is nonsensical. To “project” the Earth onto a plane implies the Earth is not a plane to begin with. Round Earth Theory is an unfortunately widespread misconception that seems to have, in spite of obvious evidence all around us and empirical measurements of the Earth’s lack of curvature, made its way into Olin. I assumed while writing my little thought experiment that all readers would be aware of the true nature of the Earth, but I see now that I will need to educate the Olin community.

When first confronted with the Planar Earth Model, it is easy for one to brush it off as conspiracy theory nonsense. This is an acceptable response. In your defense, the government has been feeding you lies all your life in an attempt to make you easier to control. Therefore, I ask that you open your mind and temporarily cast aside all of the “facts” that you think you know, and instead of blindly relying on science for all the answers, actually think critically about the world and compose your model of the universe out of empirical evidence. Chances are, your teachers in elementary school were all under the same illusion as you are, so nothing they told you can be taken for granted. Photographs are easily falsified, so pictures of spherical earths and ship masts are not acceptable evidence, either. The only way to truly learn about the world is to trust your own twenty-one senses.

Now that that is out of the way, let me tell you what the Earth really looks like. The world is a large disc about 40,000 kilometers across with the North Pole in the center and the ice wall known as Antarctica surrounding it on all sides. The true map corresponds to what round-earthers call the “Polar projection” and can be found on the flag of the UN. What lies beyond the coast of Antarctica is a matter of great interest to those who know the truth. The sun and moon are both 50 km across and 5,000 km above the Earth’s surface. The sun circles the North Pole, sweeping its spotlight-like light across the time-zones. The moon follows a similar path, though at a slightly lower altitude, allowing for solar eclipses. A similarly sized third celestial body known as “the dark object” also orbits at a lower altitude, but is only visible when it moves in front of the moon during lunar eclipses (if that sounds ridiculous to you, remember that according to NASA, most of the mass in the galaxy is invisible). The entire system accelerates upward at 9.8 meters per second squared, creating the phenomenon most people know as “gravity”.

flat earth
The one true map.

A common misconception regarding the spotlight sun model is that in order for the sun to set, it must sink beneath the Earth, which would plunge the entire world into darkness simultaneously. This is obviously not the case, as can be proven by anyone who has ever Skyped with someone in a different time zone. In actuality, the sunset is an illusion. As the sun moves horizontally farther away from an observer, it appears to move closer to the horizon because of perspective. It also appears to stay the same size, though, because of the way bright lights refract through large quantities of air. This phenomenon is why you can see the street lights on the other side of a city even though when turned off they are far too distant to see. When the edge of the sun’s spotlight approaches the observer, the sun is so far away that it appears to be touching the horizon. At this point, high amounts of glare and refraction cause the sun to look far larger and less circular than it should, a fact that even round-earthers will admit (this is related to why one can look directly at a sunset without damaging one’s eyes). Thus, when the sun turns away and finally disappears, it looks as though it has descended beneath the horizon.

At this point, I can practically feel your skepticism. “The Earth can’t be flat,” you think. “For one thing, if the Earth were flat, we wouldn’t have a horizon!” This notion is complete trash. The existence of a horizon does not depend on a round Earth, as anyone who has played a superflat map in Minecraft can tell you. “If the Earth were planar, though,” people say, “you would be able to see from Boston to London. Instead, London is hidden from us by the Earth’s curvature.” This is also completely false. If you have ever stood on the southeastern tip of Oʻahu and gazed over the Kaʻiwi channel, chances are you will have seen naught but water. If it is a particularly clear day, you may have seen Haleakala on Maui. If it is exceptionally clear and the air highly transparent, you may have even glimpsed the silhouette of Mauna Kea. How far down the archipelago you can see is purely a function of clarity. Distant objects are hidden from us only by the omnipresent haze of slightly opaque air, which is why the clearer the day, the farther you can see. If the Earth truly curved, you would not be able to see Mauna Kea at all, it being a measly 4.2 kilometers above sea level and a whopping 280 kilometers away.

“But why, then, does increasing one’s altitude make more things visible?” you ask. This is common sense. Spherical or planar, the Earth’s surface is not perfectly smooth. In any direction from where you read this, you almost certainly see buildings, hills, mountains, and—if you are somewhere besides Olin—trees. Moving higher up enables an observer to see over these things. On a round Earth, in order to observe the horizon actually moving away, one would have to stand in a high place surrounded by bare flatland with some kind of metric to gauge the “distance” of the horizon (the ocean won’t work because there is no good way to tell how much of it one can see). If such a place existed and were easily accessible, you could test it for yourself and see that as you go higher, you don’t actually see more, but less.

There exist many other common “proofs” that the Earth is round. All are easily explained away by the actual model of the Earth. The fact that vertical sticks cast different shadows on different parts of the Earth is just as justifiable for a globe Earth and a distant sun as it is for a plane Earth and a nearby sun. The fact that other planets are round means little given that the Earth is the center of the Universe and is thus inherently special. The perceived curvature of the Earth one sees when in a plane is an illusion caused by the thick, pressurized airplane window. If that weren’t the case and the Earth’s radius were what the Government tells us it is, planes wouldn’t even fly high enough to see the curvature of the Earth. Similarly, the visual phenomenon of ships appearing mast-first over the horizon is an illusion; any ship at that distance appears small enough that it is easy to trick oneself into seeing what one expects to see. Besides, when was the last time any of you saw a ship with a mast?

With all this in mind, the notion that the Earth is not round should be just as plausible as what you were led to believe. Given that, on top of all of this, the Earth looks flat, the burden of proof should really rest on the round-earthers, not us. However, since I know you are all still skeptical, here is some evidence: the Bedford Level Experiment. In 1838, Samuel Birley Rowbothan observed a boat row 10 kilometers down a straight stretch of the Old Bedford River. If the Earth were round, by the time it got 10 kilometers away, the 1 meter mast should have been a full 3 meters below his line of sight. Instead, to his surprise, its height did not appear to change at all as it moved away from him, remaining perfectly visible above the water for the entire 10 kilometer stretch, proving that the Earth is not, in fact, curved, but flat. The masses, of course, paid little heed to the discovery, as confirmation bias will tend to make one do, particularly when evidence so thoroughly disproves the public’s most basic of understanding of the world. I assume that if you have read this far that you are critical enough to honestly process this information and come to the correct conclusion.

But why would someone do such a thing? If all this is true, then many people must be in on it and have good reason to keep it a secret. To start, whether the space industry is in on it is unknown at this point. In all likelihood, space travel is impossible, so when NASA created the pictures of the Earth for the Apollo program, they depicted it as they expected it to be—round. The fake pictures of a round Earth may simply be the result of the government lying to NASA along with the rest of the citizenry. Why would the Government lie to the citizenry, though? No one is sure, but the best explanation I have found is this: when one thinks they live on a tiny orb orbiting the sun along with seven other planets, hurtling through an unthinkably large galaxy in an unthinkably large universe, it makes one feel insignificant.

And people who feel insignificant are easier to control. Take a look around. The first mentions of a spherical Earth are from the third century. One of the galaxies allegedly in the local group is called “Triangulum”. The first digit in pi is 3. Wake up, sheeple. The Illuminati have been lying to you all your life about the nature of the Earth in an attempt to manipulate you. First they tell us the Earth is round. What’s next? Area 51 is a hoax? Lizard people are fake? Olin, it’s time to stand up, look around, and rise against our masters. Judgement day is near. Until then, remember to wear plenty of iron, and never use the same parking stall twice. Stay flat, comrades.

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