If only this "debate" could fall flat.
There are still people out there who believe the Earth is flat -- and if a few recent news stories are any indication, they're making a comeback.
The argument is nothing new. The theory re-emerged in the late 19th century, when truthers thought all that Earth-is-round science and whatnot was part of a conspiracy to debunk religion, according to the Pacific Standard.
We've reported on flat-Earth truthers more recently, and we give them the same level of credence as people who believe there are reptilian aliens living in underground networks in Montauk, New York, controlling locals' minds.
But when TV personality Tila Tequila went on a now-infamous Twitter rant about the Earth being flat earlier this month, the headlines followed, along with more conspiracy theories.
The leading flat Earth theory holds that our planet is actually a disc and that gravity is an illusion. As The Huffington Post reported in 2012:
Earth is a disc with the Arctic Circle in the center and Antarctica, a 150-foot-tall wall of ice, around the rim. NASA employees, they say, guard this ice wall to prevent people from climbing over and falling off the disc.
Earth's day and night cycle is explained by positing that the sun and moon are spheres measuring 32 miles that move in circles 3,000 miles above the plane of the Earth. (Stars, they say, move in a plane 3,100 miles up.) Like spotlights, these celestial spheres illuminate different portions of the planet in a 24-hour cycle. Flat-earthers believe there must also be an invisible "antimoon" that obscures the moon during lunar eclipses.
The theory's main proponent, the Flat Earth Society, has made some waves over the years, but truthers' baffling arguments were losing most of their steam -- until now. Tequila, who said late last year that she was struggling with mental illness and drug addiction, got the conversation going again.
If that weren't enough, YouTube user and former truther TigerDan925 -- who has 25,000 subscribers and has posted 18 flat Earth videos -- caused a stir for turning the flat Earth theory on its head by conceding this month that Antarctica is a continent, not a wall.
His video has apparently created a rift in the flat Earth community.
“[This is] just the tip of the iceberg,” said flat-Earth convert Mark Sargent, who used his two decades of work in the tech and video game industries to create the site enclosedworld.com and a YouTube series called Flat Earth Clues. “There’s dissension in the ranks all over the place.”
“It’s almost like the beginning of a new religion. Everyone’s trying to define it. And they’re turning on each other because there’s no unified theory.”
For the record, the Earth is a bumpy spheroid. But it doesn't seem like flat-Earth truthers -- or Montauk lizard aliens -- are going away anytime soon.
Meanwhile, here's our theory about the renewed interest in our flat Earth: Mercury is in retrograde, people.