We Asked Two Flat Earthers: What About the Other Planets?

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Earth, as seen on April 16, 1972, by the Apollo 16 crew. NASA

Droves of people in America continue to decide to believe the planet is flat and stationary. We've already written about how incorrect that is, but we wondered what they thought about other planets in our celestial neighborhood. Are they recognized as spheres or are they, too, supposed to be flat? So we found two Flat Earthers to ask—here's what we learned.

"You'll find in the community, there are a lot of people that have a lot of differences," Robbie Davidson, organizer of the Flat Earth International Conference, told Newsweek. "We don't all believe in the same model."

"I honestly believe they exist," Davidson, who became a Flat Earth believer about two and a half years ago, said of the other planets in our solar system. "For me personally, I just see them as lights in the sky." That belief actually harkens back to the ancient definition of planets as wandering stars, which was first recognized as incorrect by Nicholas Copernicus in 1543.

Davidson says that means planets are kind of like stars, definitely not "terra firma planets," making them a set of similar-but-different stars. (He also says that our sun isn't the same as other stars, since it doesn't twinkle. In fact, our sun is very normal and no stars twinkle, the perceived phenomenon comes from Earth's atmosphere interfering with their light.)

Read more: All Hail Kronos, the Star That Eats Planets for Breakfast

Davidson says he doesn't have any sense of what planets are made of or what shape they would be. "I wouldn't go so far as to say everything's flat," he said. The sun, moon and planets, "They appear to be spherical, they could be disks," he added. "I don't think it really matters too much," he said. "I just don't believe that we're on a sphere."

The universe is definitely smaller than scientists think, though, Davidson believes. Planets should be closer to us than other stars, he says, but, "I think that everything is relatively close." He didn't want to put a specific distance on it, but he said on the order of a couple thousand miles, rather than the closest star and exoplanet being four light-years away.

11_03_proxima_centauri_dust A sketch of what the solar system around Proxima Centauri might look like. ESO/M. Kornmesser

Speaking of exoplanets, those are off the table for Davidson as well. Of the idea that there are trillions of planets orbiting other stars across the universe, he said, "No one would believe that at all." (NASA's current tally of confirmed planets is only 3,564.)

If all of this sounds unlikely to you, Davidson said, he doesn't blame you. "It chose me," he said of his Flat Earth beliefs. "I would never in a million years choose this." He says he never meant to become a Flat Earther, he just found that when he thought over the evidence for a round planet, he wasn't convinced. He was also quick to say throughout our conversation that he doesn't think he has everything figured out yet and there are plenty of questions for mainstream scientists and Flat Earthers alike to tackle. "I'm not saying I know what it is, I'm just really highly skeptical and I'm pretty sure I know what it's not."

Davidson was also clear he wanted Newsweek to speak with other Flat Earthers, since they would likely have different ideas about planets from his. We got in touch with Pete Svarrior, who runs social media for the Flat Earth Society and has been a member for about six years.

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In a Twitter direct message, he wrote: "Our definition of a planet is not too far removed from the mainstream—it's still a spherical body orbiting a star, massive enough to be held together by gravity, but not so massive as to cause thermonuclear fusion by itself."

So far, so good—he even noted later in his message that the number of planets in the universe is still unknown, which the scientists behind planet-hunting projects will surely be pleased to hear. (If you're wondering how Svarrior can believe all planets except his own are round, the account he runs told SpaceX CEO Elon Musk that Mars has been observed to be round, but Earth has not.)

"In our model of the solar system, the planets orbit the sun, which in turn orbits around the Northern Hub," Svarrior continued, again bringing us back to the days before 1543 and the Copernican Revolution.

Plenty of people wonder—are Flat Earthers serious, or are they just looking for attention? We can't know for sure, but both Davidson and Svarrior seemed to be in earnest, even with their dramatically different beliefs. Other Flat Earthers probably fall somewhere between these two poles. Oh wait. Apparently the south pole is wrapped around the entire planet.