A Brief History Of The Flat Earth Society

Of all the areas of the liberal arts that need to have the Trivium method applied, this is certainly the one.

I have been fascinated by the willingness of acceptance towards unprovable “facts” used by this group of modern “flat-earther’s.” And so I knew that if I searched a bit I would come to discover the origin of such unscientific thought processes toward the fallaciously standing conclusions put forward therein. And so I’d like to share what I found. This is not meant to be offensive or spark a debate, merely to show the roots of this prima facie (on the face/appearance only) type of belief system and its spread as a subversive culture.

In a nutshell, the origins of the Flat Earth Society come from the Zetetic Society, philosophy, and method. From its modern website we can read:

The ‘Universal Zetetic Society‘ (UZS) was the precursor to the Flat Earth Society. It was founded shortly after the death of Samuel Rowbotham (aka Parallax) by Rowbotham’s adherents. The UZS was active well into the early part of the 20th century, publishing many issues of a magazine titled, The Earth Not a Globe Review?. In 1971, the UZS was renamed The Flat Earth Society when Samuel Shenton became its leader.

Samuel Birley Rowbotham (AKA Parallax) (1816 – 1884), was an English inventor and writer who wrote Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe, based on his decade-long scientific studies of the earth, published a 16-page pamphlet (1849), which he later expanded into a 430 page book (1881) expounding his views. According to Rowbotham’s scientific method, which he called Zetetic Astronomy, the earth is a flat disk centered at the North Pole? and bounded along its southern edge by a wall of ice, with the sun, moon, planets, and stars only a few thousand miles above the surface of the earth.

Rowbotham and his followers gained notoriety by engaging in raucous public debates with leading scientists of the day. One such clash, involving the prominent naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, led to several lawsuits for fraud and libel.

After Rowbotham’s death, his thousands of followers established the Universal Zetetic Society, published a magazine entitled The Earth Not a Globe Review? and remained active well into the early part of the 20th century.

‘Zeteticism‘ is a system of scientific inquiry. The word is derived from the Greek verb zeteo, which means “to search or examine; to proceed only by inquiry.

Zeteticism differs from the usual scientific method in that using zeteticism one bases his conclusions on experimentation and observation rather than on an initial theory that is to be proved or disproved. A zetetic forms the question then immediately sets to work making observations and performing experiments to answer that question, rather than speculating on what the answer might be then testing that out.

For example, in questioning the shape of the Earth the zetetic does not make a hypothesis suggesting that the Earth is round or flat and then proceed testing that hypothesis; he skips that step and devises an experiment that will determine the shape of the Earth, and bases his conclusion on the result of that experiment. Many feel this is a more reasonable method than the normal scientific method because it  removes any preconceived notions and biases the formation of a hypothesis might cause, and leaves the conclusion up entirely to what is observed. Samuel Rowbotham was the first to use the term in reference to Flat Earth? research. He devised the Bedford Level Experiment to determine whether the surface of water is convex, reasoning that if the water is not convex the earth cannot be a sphere. This is how he came to the conclusion that the Earth is flat. The method has been a cornerstone of Flat Earth Theory? ever since.

Link–> https://www.theflatearthsociety.org/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=Universal+Zetetic+Society
Link–> https://www.theflatearthsociety.org/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=Samuel+Rowbotham
Link–> https://www.theflatearthsociety.org/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=Zeteticism


Here we should stop to define a couple of terms, which not ironically have much to do with each other. The Parallax view of convection. Let us use a dictionary from those times:

CONVEX – adjective – [Latin] Rising or swelling on the exterior surface into a spherical or round form; gibbous; opposed to concave, which expresses a round form of the interior surface; as a convex mirror or lens. – noun – A convex body; as heavens convex. (–Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language)

CONVEXITY – noun – [Latin] The exterior surface of a convex body; a gibbous or globular form; roundness(–Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language)

PARALLAX – noun – [Gr. to vary, to decline or wander; beyond, and to change.] In astronomy, the change of place in a heavenly body in consequence of being viewed from different points. Diurnal parallax the difference between the place of a celestial body, as seen from the surface, and from the center of the earth, at the same instant. Annual parallax the change of place in a heavenly body, in consequence of being viewed at opposite extremities of the earth’s orbit. (–Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language)


This notion of Zetetic methodology of science is not distinct from the blind leading the blind. Information without postulate or goal. While Mr. “Parallax” Rowbotham may have been sincere and attempting to be legitimized in his time, it appears that even up to today his followers are merely bad-mannered, browbeating Zetetics hell bent on “engaging in raucous public debates with leading scientists of the day,” and for that matter anyone that seeks rational debate. A simple perusal through the comments section of any “Flat Earth” video or website is evidence of the fallacious ad hominem and other personal, non-scientific attacks towards anyone that disagrees with their strange breed of “science.”

One begins to see similar patterns of this type of harassment in certain elements of the “truth movement” and its infamous shock jocks, and within groups like We Are Change and the various 9/11 truth movements, of which I was once very much involved. This is certainly not to say that no science backs their (and my) claims about 9/11. It is to say that the approach towards dissemination of this information, which is prima facie evidence at best, is to gather in places and have arguments similar to those of the flat-earther’s, usually ending in statements like “if you can’t see what is happening in this video you must be an idiot.” And I believe this is why such movements are so transient and ineffective, for the confidence of absolute observational correctness becomes an overwhelming force that allows no further debate and ignores all evidence to the contrary.

Now remember, I am referring to myself here, as one of the guys that used to get out in the streets and in parks and other public places in people’s faces without solicitation to spread “9/11 truth.” And honestly, I hate the thought that I might have been so belligerent and unreasonably argumentative that I turned people away from actually examining the evidence I had just by my attitudinal prejudices. And so as one with experience in this gang-up and insult methodology, I know this is a mental trap we must all grow from if we are to have any effect.

One of the most outspoken and somehow respected “flat-earther’s” is Eric Dubay.

In the following video debunking most tenets of this movement, we find that many of Dubay’s sources for flat-earth cosmology is from just where we would expect, the Zetetic Society. I recommend this entire video:

Note too in this video that “Freemasons formed Zetetic Societies to engage in anti-Christian and scientific debate.” In other words, counter-culture.

We can also find much of this sort of fallacious reasoning in Theosophical writings and movements. From the Theosophical.org website we can read some of these esoteric writings that seem to support such Zetetic methodologies and beliefs:


Earth Mind: Starting where we are in the world of appearances, we see the myriad of forms, from our time and place of seeing, from our point of view and perspective. We are the subject registering objects.

This is my world, my life, my things, my roles. Fear and desire. The mask of persona. The consumer. Habits. The everyday world. The world of natural living. This is the flatworld; the sun revolves around us. This is the data storage mind. Calculating mind. Taking care of business. This is the earth world. The outer world. The subject-object awareness dominates

Esoteric Initiations: In addition to meditation, ancient myths, and near-death research, we have a similar process described in the psychological initiations of consciousness familiar to esoteric groups. There are notable similarities between the process of natural life and death and the ending of an old value system and a rebirth into a new perspective.

Transpersonal psychologists love to look at this process of death and rebirth in consciousness. One of (the) first of these was the Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade, who observed: “Initiatory death provides the clean state on which will be written the successive revelations whose end is the formation of a new man…This new life is conceived as the true human existence, for it is open to the values of spirit” (Eliade, xiii-xiv). The process of initiatory death wipes the slate clean so that a new chapter in the book of life may begin fresh, open, and unprejudiced by old cultural and social values and viewsInitiation breaks down old patterns of behavior. It allows people to begin again and to see with new perception. The new values become the principal values of the new life.

At each initiatory death and rebirth we begin with a new view from a higher elevation. We see more, know more, and can relate to whole systems more readily. Seeing and accepting life as a process of birth/death instead of regarding life as the opposite of death is an initiation into reality

Link–> https://www.theosophical.org/publications/quest-magazine?id=2810
Sources–> Alice Bailey (Theosophy), Madamn H.P. Blavatsky (Theosophy), The Dali Lama, etc…


With its hand inside and its (formally “Lucifer”) Lucis Publishing company officially recognized and integrated into the United Nations and the Common Core agenda for world education, let us again understand the basics of Theosophy for our purposes:

THEOSOPHY – noun – Divine wisdomgodliness. 1. Knowledge of God. (Webs1828)

THEOSOPHIST – noun – One who pretends to divine illuminationone who pretends to derive his knowledge from divine revelation. (Webs1828)

THEOSOPHIST – noun – [Gr. God, and comment; wise.] Pretension to divine illumination; enthusiasm(Webs1828)

SOPHIST – noun – [Latin sophista.] 1. A professor of philosophy; as the sophists of Greece. 2. A captious or fallacious reasoner. (Webs1828)

SOPHISTRY – (repeated) – noun – 1. Fallacious reasoningreasoning sound in appearance only. These men have obscured and confounded the nature of things by their false principles and wretched sophistry2. Exercise in logic(Webs1828)


Logic without grammar — this is the epitome of the Flat-Earth Society. Perspective-based information without True knowledge.

Let us be clear… I have maintained throughout my research and writings that I simply don’t know the shape of the earth, nor do I fool myself that this type of knowledge is for such mortals as myself. I remain neutral. This is, if anything, a sort of divine wisdom whose vantage point is only with God, if you will. I don’t know. I will continue to answer I don’t know. But so far, the evidence lands almost exclusively in the “globular” earth model. But I still do not know.

The typical flat-earther, however, has already decided, claiming God-like knowledge as divine wisdom without proofs and without actually realizing this cultish disposition. Such confidence is reminiscent to the historical accounts of the church’s resolve in justifying the witch-burnings. Fact built upon fallacious reasoning… or no reasoning or questioning at all! Belief based purely on physical observation and perspective is obviously a very dangerous thing, and is how the masses are controlled in many areas of thought. It is not dissimilar to ignoring the camouflage of many species that allows them to hide in plain site by subterfuge so as to catch its prey unsuspecting.

But what happens when one’s perspective is changed?

What happens to the mountainous ant hill when the ant climbs a tree and observes it from directly above as seemingly flat?

In fairness, we must acknowledge that the world and those who run it is full of controlled oppositional forces. It was Vladimir Lennon who is quoted as suggesting that “the best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” And so as we find Eric Dubay outing almost all other prominent flat-earth researchers but himself as shills and controlled oppositions, we may also find otherwise legitimate inquiries and scientific researchers seeking the Truth of the matter. And so I leave this short essay with the following link that you may read at your leisure, which discusses the history of the Flat Earth Society, its leaders, and the fact that they may have been controlled opposition to counter any good information from being taken seriously.

Link–> http://www.atlanteanconspiracy.com/2015/03/flat-earth-society-controlled-op.html

Again, I remind the reader that I remain neutral on the subject, so no need to bully me or attempt to belittle my character in the comments below. I simply ask that you consider the origins of this movement, a movement without really anywhere to move, and that you beware of any belief without supportive data. Use your grammar, logic, and rhetoric, in that order only.

Where does your grammar come from? Is it to teach or to deceive? Is it of the Nature of the Universe or is it sourced in the adverse?

ADVERSARIA – (From Latin adversa, things remarked or ready at hand.) Rough memoranda, common-place books. (Black4)

ADVERSARIA – noun – [Latin from adversus. See Adverse.] Among the ancients, a book of accounts, so named from the placing of debt and credit in opposition to each other. A commonplace book. (Webs1828)

ADVERSE adjective – [Latin adversus, opposite; of ad and versus, turned; from verto, to turn. See Advert. This word was formerly accented, by some authors, on the last syllable; but the accent is now settled on the first.] 1. Opposite; opposing; acting in a contrary direction; conflicting; counteracting; as, adverse winds; an adverse party. 2. Figuratively, opposing desire; contrary to the wishes, or to supposed good; hence, unfortunate; calamitous; afflictive; pernicious, unprosperous; as, adverse fate or circumstances. – verb transitive – advers’. To oppose. [Not used.] (Webs1828)

SATANnoun – [Hebrew. an adversary.] The grand adversary of man; the devil or prince of darkness; the chief of the fallen angels. (Webs1828)


Are the books (grammar) on your shelf and in your digital browser a gift of the light of knowledge or of the adverse of darkness as form without substance?

The world, be it flat or round, square or artificial, is abound in false dialectic (logic), in adversarial forces intent on counter-cultural confusion. Perhaps it is time to abandon such impossible pursuits and focus on the ever-deteriorating and legally (licensed) anarchistic society we find ourselves in today? No matter what side of this debate you fall on, perhaps it is time to come back to earth and treat it as home, whatever its unknown shape, and to start treating each other as we wish others to treat us. Oh, what a wonderful world (round or flat) that would be.


–clint richard-son (realityblogger.wordpress.com)
–Sunday, September 17th, 2017