The Flat Earth Theory

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Advancements in communication via channels such as the internet have allowed for many false scientific theories to become increasingly popular in today’s society. These theories have become widespread and intertwined with common beliefs to the point where many of them are now synonymous with actual theories. The flat earth theory is a claim that suggests the earth isn’t a three-dimensional sphere, but instead a flat, two-dimensional circle (Flat Earth). The theory of plate tectonics outlines how continental drift occurs as a result of the lithosphere consisting of plates that are able to move along on top of the asthenosphere as well as what occurs in the mantle to cause the formation of these plates (Van Andel and Murphy, 1). Pseudoscientific…show more content…
Firstly, plate tectonics was not formed exclusively from induction which differentiates “real science … from unscientific superstitions by its reliance on observations, generalization, and repeated confirmation”, however it was crucial in forming the basis of this theory (400). Continental Drift was the precursor to plate tectonics in a sense as it used sensory observations including the examination of how continents appeared to fit together like puzzle pieces and how many plant and animal fossils as well as rock formations were shared among continents that currently have no physical connection. These observations led Alfred Wegner, the man who introduced continental drift, to make a general statement that all of the continents must have been together at one time and have progressively shifted because of some force (Ammon). Although this evidence was circumstantial and did not undeniably prove his theory, more proof was repeatedly found with additional fossils and rock formations that were discovered to be shared between continents. Conversely, flat earth theory uses a single experiment known as the Bedford Level Experiment which incorrectly stated the earth was flat (Cox). This experiment does use sensory observations and a generalization regarding said observations which is part of induction, but leaves out the necessary component of repetition that completes it. In…show more content…
When plate tectonic theory was first conceived with the continental drift theory in 1919, there was some controversy regarding the evidence found and the theory was not accepted. Many distinguished scientists including Harold Jeffreys believed that the new theory was false and refused to lend it support. However, evidence had been found by the 1960’s that showed oceanic crust is magnetic and could therefore confirm seafloor spreading, and continental drift (Richardson). On the other hand, the Bedford Level Experiment can be used to show the limitations of the flat earth theory again, as it showed that proponents of the theory refused to believe that it was incorrect. Instead of trying to reconfirm this data through proper research or conducting a similar experiment somewhere else in the world, believers of a flat earth denied the unsupportive evidence and clung to the few supportive points they had (Richardson). By being critical of one’s own theory and actively searching for both supportive and unsupportive evidence, scientific theories can be strengthened and advanced. Oppositely, theories of pseudoscience are forgotten and become irrelevant as time goes on because of the search for selective evidence and minimal effort in trying to disprove them. This characteristic allows legitimate scientific theories to be easily identified
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