Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Go sit in the corner

Humorist Eric Snider pointed me toward an interesting web resource called ConservaPedia. This is like a free, user-edited encyclopedia for very stupid people who vote basically the same way I do.

As Eric points out, stuff like this is one of the reasons that many left-leaning folks feel comfortable stereotyping right-leaning folks are not very bright. I thought the article was funny, but I decided I should go check it out the site and see if it was as goofy as Eric made it sound. (He's a very funny guy, so things often sound sillier when he talks about them.)

Conservapedia proved to be a lot dumber than I expected. Among my favorite nuggets of idiocy is the claim that the earth is flat, as proved by Bible passages about the "four corners of the world." Personally, I don't take passages like this so literally, but to my way of thinking even if you really want to take it literally, you have to consider a couple of other possibilities. Which is really what I want to talk about today.

First, if the world really has four (and only four) corners, and it's flat, then this tells us not only that the world is flat, but also that it is a quadrilateral of some kind. So it's not a hexagon, for instance.

But we run into some problems. For instance, the Bible does not say that the earth's four corners are angled at ninety degrees. So, assuming the earth is flat, we are still left with a very interesting question: What shape is it? I mean, you could have a parallelogram or a trapezoid, which I think we all would agree are much more fun to think about than a square or rectangle. You could even get some kind of funny straight-edged boomerange shape, right?

But let's set this aside, and move on to intriguing possibility number 2. Again, assuming that we have a flat earth with four (and only four) corners, we still don't know that these corners are on the outside. They could be on the inside. So maybe the world is a vast, infinite plane with no corners and no ends on the outside, but with a big square hole in the middle, with four corners. Why not? This fits the Biblical requirement just as well as anything else. The hole is a bit problematic, because the water would all pour through, but I'm not sure how square-flat-earthers handle the water problem, either.

Because, if you think about it, unless the world is completely flat, then it has more than four corners. Like, if it's a square box deep enough to hold the oceans, then it has eight corners. There's only four on the top, true, but there's eight overall, which is more than the Biblical specification. Of course, maybe the square is not completely flat. Maybe it's deep in the middle-- like maybe the world is a square, but it's flexible like cloth, and it's being held at the corners by angels, but in the middle it's full of water and land and animals and such. That way it's still got only four real corners, but it allows for a three-dimensionality that the original, square, totally flat earth model doesn't allow.

And speaking of three-dimensionality, here's a third interesting possibility. Assuming that the earth has four (and only four) literal corners does not mean that it has to be flat. If the earth was a pyramid with four triangular sides, then it would still have four corners. (They wouldn't be ninety-degree corners, but the Bible does not specify the angle, so I think we're still within the specifications.) So why not a tetrahedral world?

So, if there are any flat-earthers among my imaginary readers, I would be pleased to hear which of these various models you favor. Although I think a careful, and of course, excruciatingly literal reading of the Bible forbids commenting on blogs. Which, I think, is why Blogger has disabled this feature on my blog. Thanks, Blogspot!



Edje said...


I am an ardent Flatlander. Earth is flat in two ways.

Earth as we know it is merely a projection into N-space of a portion of an (N+k)-object embedded in (N+p)-space, where N is apparently some integer greater than or equal to 3 and less than or equal to 23, depending on which physicist you ask on which day of the week. So far as I know there are no consistent guesses for k and p; we're not even sure they're integers. We do know that k is less than or equal to p.

Obviously, the earth is "flat" as it has fewer dimensions than the space in which it is embedded.

Second, the curvature of space was wrecked when Adam and Eve ate the membrillo. In the last days the proper curvature will be restored and then Earth's perfect flatness will be obvious to all.

Earth has precisely four corners, thank you very much. We don't see them because they are--duh--N+1 face intersections. Only prophets can know where they are.

the House of Payne said...

Why would Adam and Eve eat brillo? Those pads do not seem tasty at all.

Also, thank you for crazying up my blog. This is the very reason I have been wanting to get the commenting feature fixed. Cheers, and please give my all my best regards to the crack team of doctors who I am sure care for you 'round the clock.

love and kisses,