Arguing with a Flerf

What is a flerf?

Flerf is simply short for a flat earth fanatic, a little easier to type than the whole thing. Some may consider this derogatory, I do not particularly see it as so. Well? Maybe a little. But considering what I have been called by flerfs, I have no regrets.

Chang'e 5 Earth and Moon
The Chang’e 5 test vehicle service module took this photo of Earth and the Moon together. Credit CSNA

Our local flerf goes by the screen name of Adam Asing. That might even be his real name as there is a local musician of the same name. We have occasionally identified other screen names he uses, probably because he has been blocked under his primary alias in so many media outlets.

I would probably not normally notice Mr. Asing, except he routinely attacks the telescopes in just about any media he still has access to. As such he intentionally makes himself a target. As such I sometimes respond… It can be so much fun!

There is always the possibility the Mr. Asing is playing the troll, and does not actually believe what he espouses. The more I read his responses the more I suspect he really believes the Earth is flat. Despite so many easy ways to show the Earth is a globe, he stubbornly insists otherwise and refuses to examine the evidence we give him.

Mr. Asing is a rather extreme form of flat earther, his primary claim is that all of space is fake. This rather makes sense as so many of the easily visible proofs of a globe involve space it makes it simple to ignore these. Instead he bases his model of the world on traditional Hawaiian lore…

Now listen very carefully…
The earth is flat and stationary and covered with a glass-like dome our ancient kūpuna called “Lani pa’a.”
There is no such thing as outer space, solar systems, imaginary planets, galaxies, asteroids, black holes, singularities, gravity, dark matter, etc. 
It’s all bs.

Adam Asing in a Facebook comment on a post by PUEO

His main claim is that the Earth is flat and the heavens we see are a simple crystal dome overhead. This model leaves a lot of questions… What does it sit on? How do the stars, Sun and Moon rise and set? Why does it need to be “glass-like”? You can have all the fun you want with that one.

Mr. Asing claims that all of the images out of the telescopes are “CGI cartoons and photoshopped images “. This again makes sense as it agrees with his opposition to telescopes on Mauna Kea. No better way than to claim everything we do is fake and that the telescopes have no real purpose.

His modus operandi is typical of any conspiracy theorist, when pressed on a detail he can not support he changes the subject, it is all some great conspiracy to keep the public in the dark about something. He claims to use evidence, but rejects anything that is presented that does not agree with his personal common sense.

There is a lesson for all of us here… From our earliest age, or as soon as we can put something in our mouth and bite on it, we begin to form an internal concept of how the world works, what most people call common sense. Things fall when we drop them, water is wet and runs downhill, time moves forward never backwards, etc. This framework is essential to how we interpret the world and avoid killing ourselves.

There is a problem with this. These learned rules for how the world works only properly apply to our scale and our specific situation. Break away from our everyday situation and things begin to change. You do not have to go far to see this. Anyone who has worked with a microscope understands that tiny objects do not always fall or move like you expect. Surface tension and electrostatic forces become more important at small scales, gravity does not automatically rule. Under the microscope you see that water can flow uphill.

As science explores the really big stuff like the universe, and the really small stuff in the realm of atoms and neutrinos, we find that things do not behave as our common sense would dictate. Things can be in multiple places at once, or instantly move from one place to another. There are things that can have enormous mass and occupy no space at all, or space itself can expand without the things in it noticing. Things simply get weird.

Total Lunar Eclipse Aug 28,2007
Total lunar eclipse August 28, 2007

It is natural for us to rebel against these concepts, stuff should simply not behave this way, at least according to the rules that govern our everyday lives. We search for any other answer that can behave the way we can expect.

Flat earthers are an extreme form of this. To accept the idea that the globe is round you must also accept that the horizon is lower than you are but the water in the ocean does not flow away, that you are moving at thousands of miles per hour while sitting still, that people on the other side of the world are upside-down, and many other absurdities.

We corner the market on using your God given senses actually. Globeheads do not. Fact. 
For example, I can sense that I’m not spinning 1038mph + 66,600mph + 500,000mph.
My senses tell me the earth is stationary.

Adam Asing in a Facebook comment on a post by PUEO

If we are to understand what the science teaches us eventually we must accept the results of our experiments, even if the results are absurd. Beyond our everyday experience the rules of life we understand do not necessarily apply… An electron can instantly move from one place to another.

I will readily admit to not really understanding the realities of quantum mechanics, I have trouble visualizing the overall structure of the universe and the big bang. In that way I too am a bit of a flerf, even if I do know our Earth is an oblate spheroid. To some extent or another we are all limited by common sense in our view of the universe.

To truly understand our universe we must accept the results of our experiments and observations. Feel free to double or quintuple check when you get an absurd result. In the end a true scientist must step beyond common sense and be ready for the weird.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

6 thoughts on “Arguing with a Flerf”

  1. Adam says: “For example, I can sense that I’m not spinning 1038mph + 66,600mph + 500,000mph.
    My senses tell me the earth is stationary.”
    I wonder if Adam has ever flown on a plane? His senses would tell him he’s not moving at 500 mph, but then why does he end up somewhere else when the plane lands?

    1. I do not expect so. With the evidence so obvious they are blinded by their own investment in the conspiracy. The who thing has been very revealing into the motivations of such a group. Is group the right word? The description cult might be more accurate.

  2. My favorite part actually was when he started to move the goal posts right after his whole “proof” that the peak of Maunakea shouldn’t be seen from other islands completely evaporated.

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