A real estate developer based in South Dakota, Orlando Ferguson, drew a unique map of earth in 1893 which combined biblical and scientific knowledge in a different way. Just like the flat earth believer daredevil "Mad" Mike Hughes, who recently died after his home-made rocket crashed, Ferguson also believed that earth was flat and his map represents the blue planet as a giant, rectangular slab with a dimpled upper surface.
Like these believers, there are 11 million people in Brazil who reject the notion that the earth is a sphere, including an elderly Brazilian restaurant-owner, whose eatery has become a meeting place for the flat earth believers.
The flat earth believers in Brazil
The restaurant owner, Ricardo, who is now in his 60s has declined to give his full name as he claims that others laugh at people who believe in the theory of flat earth. The Sao Paulo resident said, "The only things I know for certain are that I'm going to die someday and that the Earth is flat."
As per the Datafolha polling results which is Grupo Folha's polling institute seven percent of Brazil's population believe in flat earth theory. But it should be noted that Brazil's Flat-Earthers are also quite secretive and at times paranoid.
There are some believers who have YouTube channels which have tens of thousands of followers. In social media, the flat earth believers are free to state what they believe, without the fear of ridicule. It should be mentioned that Brazilians who believe the earth is flat are mostly men, especially Catholics or evangelical Christians with relatively low levels of education, said Datafolha.
Anderson Neves, a 50-year-old Brazilian entrepreneur, who has come to Ricardo's restaurant along with a pamphlet denouncing the "hoaxes" of Newton and Copernicus said that the flat-earthers are the smartest. One of his pamphlets also claimed that "malignant pseudo-science has corrupted the education system around the world."
Even Ricardo's model of flat earth also shows the sun and moon as little balls which are equal in size, suspended above a disc-shaped planet. Nevas said, "Climb a mountain and take pictures. You can see the earth isn't curved."
The counter questions
While scientists disapproved the theory of flat earth, the believers raised questions like, "If the earth is rotating at 1,700 kilometres per hour at the equator, why doesn't the movement make everything fly off?" as well as "If it's a sphere, why can't we see the curve from an aeroplane?"
Astronomer Roberto Costa of the University of Sao Paulo stated: "We've known for certain the earth isn't flat since Galileo, since the early 17th century. But the ancient Greeks had pieced it together more than 2,000 years ago. To scientists, this (Flat-Earth theory) seems more like a topic for psychologists or sociologists to study. The earth's shape isn't a scientific problem to astronomers."
It should be mentioned that YouTuber Siddhartha Chaibub, who is known as "Professor Flat-earth," has nearly 30,000 followers and in November 2019 he helped in organizing the first-ever convention for Brazilian Flat-Earthers, attended by hundreds of people in Sao Paulo.
What Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks about flat earth theory
Cosmos host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shot down the ideas of flat earth on several occasions. In a YouTube video, "We have video from space of the rotating, spherical earth. The earth is round."
In addition, he said that the odd thing is "there are people who think that earth is flat but recognize that the moon is round. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and the sun are all spheres. But the earth is flat ... something doesn't square here."
He also explained that because of the laws of physics and the way energy works, the universe "favours the sphere" when forming planets and other bodies. Sometimes a sphere might be distorted because it's rotating very fast but it can't be flat.