In 1885, William Carpenter published the entertainingly titled One Hundred Proofs that the Earth is not a Globe. Amusingly, most of his ‘proofs’ can be explained away by Carpenter ignoring two simple facts: (1) the Earth is actually quite big, and (2) gravity…
Here’s a selection of some choice ‘proofs’:
2. Whenever experiments have been tried on the surface of standing water, this surface has always been found to be level. If the Earth were a globe, the surface of all standing water would be convex. This is an experimental proof that Earth is not a globe.
3. Surveyors’ operations in the construction of railroads, tunnels, or canals are conducted without the slightest “allowance” being made for “curvature,” although it is taught that this so-called allowance is absolutely necessary! This is a cutting proof that Earth is not a globe.
8. If the Earth were a globe, a small model globe would be the very best — because the truest — thing for the navigator to take to sea with him. But such a thing as that is not known: with such a toy as a guide, the mariner would wreck his ship, of a certainty! This is a proof that Earth is not a globe.
15. The idea that, instead of sailing horizontally round the Earth, ships are taken down one side of a globe, then underneath, and are brought up on the other side to get home again, is, except as a mere dream, impossible and absurd! And, since there are neither impossibilities nor absurdities in the simple matter of circumnavigation, it stands, without argument, a proof that the Earth is not a globe.
21. Man’s experience tells him that he is not constructed like the flies that can live and move upon the ceiling of a room with as much safety as on the floor: and since the modern theory of a planetary earth necessitates a crowd of theories to keep company with it, and one of them is that men are really bound to the earth by a force which fastens them to it “like needles round a spherical loadstone,” a theory perfectly outrageous and opposed to all human experience, it follows that, unless we can trample upon common sense and ignore the teachings of experience, we have an evident proof that the Earth is not a globe.
23. If astronomical works be searched through and through, there will not be found a single instance of a bold, unhesitating, or manly statement respecting a proof of the Earth’s “rotundity.”
28. Astronomers are in the habit of considering two points on the Earth’s surface, without, it seems, any limit as to the distance that lies between them, as being on a level, and the intervening section, even though it be an ocean, as a vast “hill” — of water! The Atlantic ocean, in taking this view of the matter, would form a “hill of water” more than a hundred miles high! The idea is simply monstrous, and could only be entertained by scientists whose whole business is made up of materials of the same description: and it certainly requires no argument to deduce, from such ”science” as this, a satisfactory proof that the Earth is not a globe.
33. If the Earth were a globe, people — except those on the top — would, certainly, have to be ” fastened” to its surface by some means or other, whether by the “attraction” of astronomers or by some other undiscovered and undiscoverable process! But, as we know that we simply walk on its surface without any other aid than that which is necessary for locomotion on a plane, it follows that we have, herein, a conclusive proof that Earth is not a globe.
42. It is certain that the theory of the Earth’s rotundity and that of its mobility must stand or fall together. A proof, then, of its immobility is virtually a proof of its non-rotundity. Now, that the Earth does not move, either on an axis, or in an orbit round the Sun or anything else, is easily proven. If the Earth went through space at the rate of eleven-hundred miles in a minute of time, as astronomers teach us, in a particular direction, there would unquestionably be a difference in the result of firing off a projectile in that direction and in a direction the opposite of that one. But as, in fact, there is not the slightest difference in any such case, it is clear that any alleged motion of the Earth is disproved, and that, therefore, we have a proof that the Earth is not a globe.
49. It is a well-known fact that clouds are continually seen moving in all manner of directions — yes, and frequently, in different directions at the same time — from west to east being as frequent a direction as any other. Now, if the Earth were a globe, revolving through space from west to east at the rate of nineteen miles in a second, the clouds appearing to us to move towards the east would have to move quicker than nineteen miles in a second to be thus seen; whilst those which appear to be moving in the opposite direction would have no necessity to be moving at all, since the motion of the Earth would be more than sufficient to cause the appearance. But it only takes a little common sense to show us that it is the clouds that move just as they appear to do, and that, therefore, the Earth is motionless. We have, then, a proof that the Earth is not a globe.
55. The Newtonian theory of astronomy requires that the Moon “borrow” her light from the Sun. Now, since the Sun’s rays are hot and the Moon’s light sends with it no heat at all, it follows that the Sun and Moon are “two great lights,” as we somewhere read; that the Newtonian theory is a mistake; and that, therefore, we have a proof that the Earth is not a globe.
62. It is commonly asserted that “the Earth must be a globe because people have sailed round it.” Now, since this implies that we can sail round nothing unless it be a globe, and the fact is well known that we can sail round the Earth as a plane, the assertion is ridiculous, and we have another proof that Earth is not a globe.
77. “Oh, but if the Earth is a plane, we could go to the edge and tumble over!” is a very common assertion. This is a conclusion that is formed too hastily, and facts overthrow it. The Earth certainly is, just what man by his observation finds it to be, and what Mr. Proctor himself says it ” seems” to be — flat ; and we cannot cross the icy barrier which surrounds it. This is a complete answer to the objection, and, of course, a proof that Earth is not a globe.
85. There are rivers which flow east, west, north, and south — that is, rivers are flowing in all directions over the Earth’s surface, and at the same time. Now, if the Earth were a globe, some of these rivers would be flowing up-hill and others down, taking it for a fact that there really is an “up” and a ”down” in nature, whatever form she assumes. But, since rivers do not flow up-hill, and the globular theory requires that they should, it is a proof that the Earth is not a globe.
Regarding Proof 8, a navigational globe of sorts did exist, the celestial globe, although it was the stars that were mapped on the globe not the Earth. An example of a celestial globe is shown in the photograph above.