There are those who believe man didn’t step on the moon. And those who remember that the first sentence uttered on another world was screwed up (despite NASA’s recent claims that the modifier was there all along, and Neil Armstrong said ‘That’s one small step for A man, and one giant leap for mankind.’). There were people in the eighties who believed in Satanic Child Abuse, costing the country millions and causing untold misery. Then there are the harmless cranks.
Today’s Guardian reports on David Shenton, the 23 year old American based in London who is the new president of the Flat Earth Society. Although he is comfortable with theories like global warming and evolution, he seems to genuinely believe the earth is flat. The sun and moon are spherical, but much smaller than mainstream science says, and they rotate around a plane of the Earth, because they appear to do so.
Shenton’s argument forces him down all kinds of logical blind alleys – the non-existence of gravity, and his argument that most space exploration, and so the moon landings, are faked. But, while many flat Earthers have problems with the idea of orbiting satellites, Shenton navigates the London streets using GPS. He was also happy to fly from the US to Britain, but says an aircraft that flew over the Antarctic barrier would drop from the sky, and from the planet. It’s a lovely story, but I dug a little deeper and found other Flat Earth Societies (all in the US), most of which are hoaxes. Shenton’s, originally founded in 1956, seems genuine.
Following their recommended links takes you into some seriously messed-up territory. Typically, a documentary about why the moon landings couldn’t have happened can’t stay on topic for more than five minutes before dragging in Hitler, concentration camps and Werner Von Braun; Conspiracy theorists tend to be tempted by the desire to link a lot of disparate information together.
So, is David Shenton simply a nut? Well, his site seems serious enough, although I’m not sure I trust his charity drive enough to send money. You be the judge here.