Talk:Myth of the flat Earth

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The group of scholars who share Russell's view is not small?[edit] Russell's works are the main sources in this article.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton (1991), Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and modern historians, was Russell's original research which was cited mainly by articles in low ranked journals but almost not peer-reviewed by any important History of science journal.,5

Russell, Jeffrey Burton (1993), "The Flat Error: The Modern Distortion of Medieval Geography", was poor cited and hardly peer-reviewed.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton (1997), "The Myth of the Flat Earth" was a web page hosted on a poor maintained website of a Christian organisation with a big title.

Other sources in this article are also not with good quality (like

I think for anyone with some History of science studies background, it's not unfair to say this article is an idea by a small group of scholars. --shenzhuxi (talk) 14:13, 8 January 2014 (UTC)

I think you misinterpret what is going on here. Russell’s work is cited not because European cosmological beliefs at the time of Columbus were controversial. It is cited because Russell is one of the few scholars to bother to talk about the history of the flat earth belief at all. That’s because it was never a scholarly question, at least as far as the late medieval period goes. (I’m focusing on Columbus here because you have also posted specifically on the Columbus matter over on Talk:Flat Earth.) Consider that you also do not find scholarly works that assume educated people in Columbus’s time believed in a flat earth.
The controversial parts of Russell’s work are not his description of the prevailing cosmological beliefs at the time of Columbus. The controversial bits are the reasons he gives for the invention of the flat earth myth, and, to a lesser extent, Russell’s insistence that the flat earth model had no serious constituency at any time during the middle ages.
I own geography books from the 18th century that describe the European discovery of America in great detail. The facts they convey are strikingly complete even in modern terms, including the scholars’ opposition to Columbus’s plans. But nowhere do those accounts mention anything about Columbus having to defend a spherical earth. There are no works before the late 18th century that mention such nonsense. I agree it would be nice to have stronger and broader citations, but they’re hard to find because scholarly works largely ignore popular myths. Serious encyclopædias never purveyed the flat earth myth, but they’re largely inaccessible online, so they tend not to get cited. See, for example, [1]. Strebe (talk) 07:20, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
So should we say:
The myth of the Flat Earth is the modern misconception that the prevailing cosmological view among scholars during the Middle Ages saw the Earth as flat, instead of spherical.
Before education was universal, can we say that flat earth is the default cosmological view of the public? A spherical earth was indeed not intuitive for people who had few chance to learn it during the Middle Ages. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Shenzhuxi (talkcontribs) 09:49, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
No we can't. Even the Bible says that the world is a sphere (Isaiah 40:22, among others). The Flat Earth Myth is simply that. Ckruschke (talk) 12:14, 9 January 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke
Scholars agree the bible’s cosmology is standard Middle Eastern, which is flat, and the Isaiah passage certainly does not refer to a spherical earth. But that’s irrelevant. What the general public believed at the time of Columbus (or at any time in the distant past) is difficult to discern because popular beliefs generally were not a topic of interest to literate people. However, given that contemporary sermons to lay audiences included obvious references to a spherical earth, we have to suppose that the general public did not find the notion to be foreign. However, it’s doubtful that most people cared or thought about it at all. “The Earth” was not a distinct or useful concept to the typical medieval human. Strebe (talk) 22:40, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
The opening about the Bible is obviously simply your POV as there are many scholars that state that Isaiah certainly DOES refer to a spherical Earth - which specifically contrasts with the surrounding Middle Eastern peoples.
However, I agree whole heartedly with your last sentence which makes this thread basically moot. Ckruschke (talk) 16:38, 10 January 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke
There are other passages which imply a flat earth, such as Matthew 4:8. And this is the New Testament. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 01:22, 16 February 2016 (UTC)

"Myth of 'Flat Earth' belief"?[edit]

The titling of this article has been difficult, as the "myth" it is about is not about the false idea that the Earth is flat (see Flat Earth), but of whether there was a general belief in that false idea in Europe during the Medieval Period. I invite comment on whether "Myth of 'Flat Earth' belief" would be a better title. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:19, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

Russell calls it the “modern Flat Earth Error” or just the “Flat Error” in Inventing the Flat Earth (1991). In a 1997 conference he then refers to it as “the myth of the flat earth” (no capitals anywhere). None of these variants convey what the actual error is, and of course the reason Russell doesn’t try is that a literally accurate name would be quite long, something along the lines of “the modern misconception of a medieval European belief in a flat earth”. “Myth of a 'Flat Earth' belief” isn’t horrible, but it’s still not likely to mean anything to someone who doesn’t already know what it’s supposed to mean, in which case we haven’t achieved anything by changing. Russell’s book title works better than any of these other attempts. Something along the lines of “Flat Earth concoction” would give less chance for someone to mistake the article as a description of the belief that the earth is flat, something that has already happened twice in just the call for a capitalization change. Strebe (talk) 05:46, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: We don't care if Russell likes to overcapitalize in ways that MOS:CAPS doesn't sanction (and the source cited above suggests that there's a "myth of Russell's capitalization" at work here. Heh.) WP has a convention of not capitalizing such labels, even for universally accepted theories. "Modern flat earth error" is a good start toward settling on a WP article title that makes sense. This article is about a mistaken modern belief about pre-modern belief in a flat earth. How do we address that most clearly? Two previously mentioned possibilities were "Modern misconception of prevailing Middle Ages' belief in a flat Earth" (which has a possessive usage error), and "Modern misconception of prevailing belief in a flat Earth in history". I think I'd go with: 'Modern misconception of historical belief in a flat Earth' (with precisely that capitalization; see above RM, which can and should proceed in the interim to comply with WP:MOSCAPS, since this "what should this really be titled" discussion could drag out for who knows how long, if it ever gets resolved).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:29, 5 June 2015 (UTC)

    Unless “modern Flat Earth Error” is your own typo, that's an indication that Russell's capitalization doesn't have much of a rationale, like writing "chevrolet Corvette Stingray".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:20, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

“Chevrolet” is a brand; “modern” is not, so I don’t quite agree with your statement, but in any case, I can’t find “modern” attached to the phrase, so either it was a one-off or I was hasty. Capitalization in the book makes sense; there are times it is abbreviated all the way down to the Error. Paradoxically(?), if the usage were common then it would not need capitalization; the very fact that Russell was the inventor of the term means capitalizing it in his book serves the purpose of reminding the reader that it has a specific meaning far beyond the sum of its words.
As for proposed replacements, none of them work well for me. “historical belief” is far too general; the Error refers specifically to medieval European belief (and not specifically Middle Ages, either—oh, look at that! capitals!). All of them are too long for a reasonable title, and pretty much have to be if they are going to be literally correct. Strebe (talk) 03:15, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Chevy: The point was that if the theory is that Russell was using the entire phrase a proper name, then his capitalization being inconsistent is evidence against that assumption (whether something's a trademark or not isn't relevant; proper names are capitalized in English regardless of why they're considered proper names, trademarks being only one such reason). "The Error": The very fact that he's doing that is clear evidence that his capitalization style is a personal idiosyncrasy, a method to "big-note" stuff that's important to his thesis. I.e., it's capitalization for emphasis, proscribed by MOS:CAPS, and why we proscribe this particular "capitalize because it's a specialized term of art" form of it it is adequately explained at this essay. It all comes back to the "we don't even capitalize Newton's laws of motion" issue. This guy's historiographic theory (probably quite correct) doesn't rise to the level of a law of nature, so no caps.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:41, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: In this section let's ignore capitalization. That can follow whatever is decided in the previous section. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:30, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
  • So, where'd everyone go? How seriously should the closer take nay-saying !votes given on the basis that some other name must be better, if none of them have any ideas for a better name?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:21, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes. Suggesting Historiography of the flat-Earth myth as per my post in the RM discussion above. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:38, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
After sleeping on it: no. However it accurate that term might be, and however suitable as a section title, I find it too pedantic for the name of an article. "Historiography" is not a common word, and I suspect that most readers looking for this article (even if they had already seen it as "Historiography of ...") would be searching for some form of "flat earth", so we would need suitable links. Better that the more common and expected term be the title, not an indirect link. But let's keep chewing on this. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:13, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
I am not dissuaded in Historiography of the flat-Earth myth. Or Flat-Earth myth historiography, or similar. Pedantry is appropriate here, and the funny word is worth learning given that the Wikipedia is an historiographical work. This article assumes familiarity with the flat earth myth. Flat Earth is/was a myth, the current title here is confusing, the use of "myth" of a "myth" is too prone for confusion. No reader should come here having missed the main article. I definitely like it because it is accurate and NPOV.
Other ideas:
or, forgoing NPOV):
Can I ask that if you are going to say "no" that you should feel compelled to offer alternatives, even if offered with misgivings? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:44, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
Sure. How about Flat-earth belief as myth? Unlike some of the other candidates it does not assert a position (like "misconceptions" or "falsely ascribed") and so leaves open whether the alleged belief in a flat-earth is a myth, or not. BTW, I am not entirely against pedantry. But I think the meaning of "historiography" is bit too obscure to be a topic title. Or at least as the leading term. Pushing it back, as in Flat-Earth myth historiography, reduces that problem, though for most readers it will still be obscure. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:49, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
Flat-earth belief as myth doesn't work, because the flat-Earth idea is a myth, and it is a myth that so many people believe the myth.
I beg to differ in that the "flat-Earth idea" is potentially a belief whether anyone believes in it or not. -JJ
Flat-Earth myth historiography, I definitely prefer putting the funny academic word at the end.
Flat-Earth belief historiography might be better, avoiding the myth word.
Flat-Earth belief propaganda might be closer to the thrust of the content, but I don't support it.
Agree. -JJ
Flat-Earth beliefs might do? or
Flat-Earth beliefs in medieval Europe? "Beliefs" covers what people believed, and what people believed that others believed. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:28, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
The plural "beliefs" is one way of indicating there is more than one belief (myth) involved here. But the sense I get is that there is more than one belief that the Earth is flat, not the multi-level "belief about a belief". Well, I think we are have a good exploration of the possibilities. Let's keep going. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:21, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Not sure I have a favorite, but we should avoid the word "myth", as it's being used in a questionable way here. While misuse of the word to describe folk beliefs that have nothing to do with mythologies is fairly common (e.g. "the urban myth of alligators in NYC sewers"), that's no reason for WP to perpetuate the mistake. Historiography of flat-Earth beliefs is quite precise, while Falsely ascribed beliefs in a flat Earth is plainer English (which also says that the ascribing was definitely false). Imputations of belief in a flat Earth doesn't say anything about the falsehood, which may or may not be desirable (we don't have to carry WP:NPOV to excessive extremes). If we can tolerate title recursion like List of lists of lists, I think we can also handle something like Modern beliefs about earlier beliefs in a flat Earth or something to this effect, so it's clearer that this is article on beliefs-about-beliefs.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:41, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't know that we need eschew "myth", but I grant it needs some care in handling. Even if we should use it strictly accurately, there is the problem of how the readers might interpret it. Perhaps the strongest reason for retaining it (even with the various problems) is that "myth of the flat earth" is a well-known tag for this topic. But I think a suitable redirect takes care of that, so we are free to use a better title. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:22, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
The notion that it's a mistake to use of the word "myth" to mean "a widely held but mistaken belief" is itself mistaken. That usage is very well established, and is recorded without any adverse comment in both my 2010 Oxford Dictionary of English and my 1997 Macquarie dictionary. For word usages (such as "enormity" as a synonym for "immensity", for instance) that are deprecated by a substantial number of language police, both dictionaries tag those usages with explanatory notes recording that fact. Neither of them contains such a usage note for any of their recorded senses of the word "myth". Here's the entry for "myth" in the online edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English, and here it is for the online Merriam-Webster's dictionary. Both of them record this supposedly mistaken sense of the word as perfectly normal.
None of this of course means that the word "myth" must be retained in the title of the article, merely that it should not be rejected on the erroneous grounds that it's being misused.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 00:11, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
The argument is more subtle than that, David. There are wiki articles such as Flood myth and Creation myth where the word is used in a very different sense, yet popularly these phrases are used to rubbish those who believe in these ideas. I don't personally believe in them, but they are more lasting and meaningful than a mistaken notion of a flat earth. Chris55 (talk) 11:29, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
"Myth" is complicated by the "Flat-Earth" notion being a myth, and it being a myth that so many in medieval Europen people believed the notion. Substituting "belief" and "myth" I don't think addresses the double meaning problem.
"flat-Earth idea" is not a belief, no, but a person might believe the idea that the Earth is flat. What a nuanced language we have.
Further ideas:
I am personally ranking Flat-Earth myth historiography highest in a weak field, at 6.5/10.
The current title, Myth of the flat Earth, I would score at 4/10, failing due to being ambiguous with Flat Earth.
--SmokeyJoe (talk) 07:31, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
So we have the supposed belief1 (allegedly a "myth") that there was a general belief2 in the "flat-Earth idea". It's a difficult problem on all fronts, and anyone that can formulate an acceptable solution deserves a philosophical analysis barnstar. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:07, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
I am now unsure what is best, "myth" or "belief". I am starting to think that "myth" in a modern (medieval) context is too grand, and am thinking of formally proposing Flat-Earth belief historiography. Am I correct in sensing that it is better than the current and not substantially worse than any other suggested? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:08, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
I think "Flat Earth (historiography)" would be best. Concise, fits the title convention (disambiguation), and avoids opening another can of worms such as whether "belief" or "myth" are appropriate terms or not. Cesiumfrog (talk) 12:58, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
Flat-Earth historiography or Medieval flat-Earth historiography  ? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:10, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

Looking at Historiography (because it is not a familiar term) I read: "Historiography refers to both the study of the methodology of historians and development of history as a discipline, and also to a body of historical work on a particular subject." Well, the topic here is not Flat Earth, nor the body of work on either that topic or any subtopic. So I began to doubt that it is an adequate replacement for myth/belief.

Hmmm, I just had a wild idea. Anyone up to asking some actual scholars about this? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:43, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

I just emailed Jeffrey Burton Russell. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:08, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Excellent! ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk)
So, has anything come out of it? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:49, 17 February 2016 (UTC)
RE your edit summary. You've always been cool on "historiography". Your post today tells me that the topic is historiography of the belief/myth of a belief in the myth of a flat Earth, and that "Flat-Earth historiography", omitting belief/myth doesn't work. I still like Flat-Earth belief historiography as least bad.
Trying another for JJ: Belief and ascribed belief in a flat Earth in medieval Europe Ungainly, but I like it. -JJ
Can you remind us of your favorites? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:09, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
I would have to review them, as "favorite" is rather malleable. "Myth of 'Flat Earth' belief" still tickles my fancy. - ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:28, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Late to this discussion but I am a historian and had a course in historiography of science many years ago so here's my two cents:
  • I really have no problems with Myth of the flat Earth, but apparently a lot of people either get confused about what the myth is, who believed / advanced it, why they did, and even what is a "myth".
  • If we went with a historiographical title we might be on the right track, for as the historiography article points out "The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians have studied that topic using particular sources, techniques, and theoretical approaches." Flat Earth (historiography) would then cover how historians have studied the topic of the Flat Earth, neatly avoiding putting an answer to the question of whether this was a consciously developed myth in the title. Although I agree with the advocates of that position, I don't mind moving it out of the title.
The only problem I see with the historiography title is that it would not be obvious to most people consulting Wikipedia; it would certainly require a redirect from Myth of the flat Earth. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 02:03, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Disagreeing only with your last sentence, I don't see that certainty. I think Myth of the flat Earth should redirect to Flat Earth
The current title apparently is most strongly supported by Jeffrey Burton Russell, a paper titled "The Myth of the Flat Earth" However, this title does not to my reading refer to the post 1830 belief that medieval people thought the earth was flat, but to the ancient myth. Instead, in a legnth aside from which he never returns, the author turns to a the double barreled notion of the belief of the myth. Russell writes of fictionalised histories, but never once refered to the post 1830 fiction as "myth". --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:37, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
"Flat-Earth beliefs by medieval Europeans, a nineteenth century myth" or "Flat-Earth beliefs by medieval Europeans". --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:02, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
I don’t see that it matters. This article will never have a title that someone would just stumble onto by guessing it, no matter how much care and thought we put into it. Nor, if they magically find themselves at the article, will they grasp what the title purports to mean without reading at least the introduction. The only thing remotely like a term for the topic is “The Flat Earth Error” or “The Flat Earth Myth”, but anyone who knows those terms will already have read Russell’s book. The bulk of people interested in the topic are going to be thinking specifically of Columbus, in which case something like “Columbus and the shape of the Earth” would be apt. That’s still not “discoverable”, but at least people would grasp what the article is about if they arrive at it from a link. And yet of course the pedants would be grouchy because the article is about more than that. Strebe (talk) 05:51, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree that achieving a perfect title doesn't matter so much, for the reasons you give. However, the driver for changing to something is that the current title is ambiguous with Flat Earth. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 07:04, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
I suspect many (most??) of the readers coming here will have heard of the book. Indeed, they may be coming here to learn more about the book itself. Having once gotten here, the title should be sufficiently memorable and "logical" that it is easy to "re-discover". Without the ambiguity of the current title, on which I think we all agree. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:01, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
That would argue for “The Flat Earth Error”. But I dispute that most visitors are looking for information about the book. They find their way here because of the Columbus myth specifically, which is far and away the most “populist” aspect to the narrative. I think Wikipedia has ways to see how traffic gets directed to specific pages; we should avail ourselves of them. Strebe (talk) 00:55, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
I did not say "most", I said "many". with a speculative and parenthetical "most??" (emphasis added). But let me put it this way: Russell's book certainly has gotten a lot of attention, and it seems quite likely that many people might want to know more about the book, or it's topic, as denominated by the book. Even if they have heard of "the Columbus myth", they might try to get here directly with "Flat Earth" something. Should we say "no, no, you must start from Columbus"? I don't think so. (Though I will mention again that this may be adequately handled as a redirect.) My point is that "myth of the flat earth" (or some such) does have some currency, which we should keep in mind. Even if it is not a majoritarian position. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:09, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
One minor quibble; when you say "myth of the flat earth" is not a majoritarian position you may be right if referring to the phrase, but the concept that Russell advanced is certainly a majoritarian position among those historians of science or medieval historians who actually deal with the issue. Of course, that is a small subset of both groups, most of whom have other interests. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 23:56, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
That the current title is not majoritarian among all readers is Strebe's view. (What I actually said was qualfied with even if.) But you touch on a good point: even though the historians are (I presume) a minority of all readers, they are the experts, and their terminology might (though not necessarily) warrant a greater weight of consideration. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:28, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

Title redux[edit]

[Split from previous section. J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:19, 16 February 2016 (UTC)]

How about Medieval flat-earth beliefs or Flat-earth beliefs in medieval Europe? That even leaves the question open. The evidence mentioned above does suggest that flat-earth beliefs were not widespread in medieval Europe even among the uneducated, but maybe the title doesn't even need to make that point already. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 01:29, 16 February 2016 (UTC)

That would be a different article. This article isn't about medieval flat-earth beliefs as such, but about a modern belief about an alleged medieval belief. While examination of the former certainly constitutes an answer about the latter, an article about the medieval belief could be much broader (e.g., why, and how did that view evolve, etc.), and yet not even touch on this modern belief. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:23, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
The current title implies that it is about the Flat-Earth Myth. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:29, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
  • (ec) Support. I prefer the second, slightly. I note Medieval (term) is taken to imply Europe, hegemony? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:27, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
I don't think so. "Middle Ages" (originally in Latin: "medium aevum" et sim.) is a term which has grown out of the European historiographical tradition. Applying it to other continents is problematic, although phrasings like "medieval China" are frequently encountered in popular literature – we even have an article Europeans in Medieval China, although on the talk page "Medieval Europeans in China" is suggested as a more sensible title ("medieval" applied to the Pre-Columbian Americas, let alone Oceania, on the other hand, is distinctly unusual, at least in academia). However, "medieval" without context or qualification always rightly implies Europe, so "medieval Europe" is strictly speaking redundant. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:11, 17 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It's sad that once again we have to go over this attempt to refocus the article from its central concern with nineteenth and twentieth-century historical propoganda. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 02:33, 17 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes, it is about a 19th-20th century myth that medieval Europe actually believed the ancient flat-earth myth. The current title is very easily misread, and the lede is not particularly good. You call it "propaganda", which I think is incorrect, 19th-20th century people actually believed it didn't they? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:35, 17 February 2016 (UTC)
I agree. Is there any evidence that the mistaken notion was promoted in bad faith (at least in the beginning)? Certainly not by Irving, who does not seem to have had any interest in antitheism or the conflict thesis, or disparaging the medieval period in general.
By the way, I just saw that you have already proposed essentially the same title (TL;DR effect here), but I note that you did not encounter such a hostile reaction at all. Anyway, I've already indicated sympathy with Flat Earth fallacy or Flat Earth legend – "fallacy" being close to "error", without directly imputing any nefarious motives, while simultaneously potentially implying that the mistaken notion has been used for certain purposes. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:25, 17 February 2016 (UTC)
A title like Myth of Medieval belief in the flat Earth would be clearer (and perhaps that should be added as a redirect [Done!]), but (as we have gone over before) "The Myth of the flat Earth" is significant in being a familiar term for this idea in both the popular and expert literature. Established usage (the essence of communications) should not be sacrificed to a marginally more perfect formulation. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:58, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
"Marginally more perfect"? Neither is "myth of the flat Earth" (vel sim.) established as a technical term in the literature, nor is it a sensible title for an article which is not about pre-modern flat-Earth beliefs themselves. It blatantly fails WP:NC and WP:SURPRISE. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 05:08, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
If you want to quibble about it, note that I did not say that this title is established as a technical term, only that it is a familiar term, as popularized by Russell's book. Also, it is unclear why you want to qualify this title as being about medieval beliefs when (as you allow) the article is "not about pre-modern flat-Earth beliefs themselves." Not that I propose debating this; I think most this has been pretty well discussed already. (Look back to around 30 June 2015). ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:57, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
I have added Myth of Medieval belief in the flat Earth as a redirect to this article. Perhaps that will ease some of the angst (expressed in prior discussion) of how are people ever going to find this article if they have a different conception of what the title should be. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:48, 21 February 2016 (UTC)


Collapsing stale and off-topic comments per WP:SOAP. -JJ

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Hellbound Hound 2: I have moved your comment to here. Please note that 1) comments should be added at the end of the discussion, and 2) new discussions should be opened in their own section. Note also that this happens automatically if you click on the "New section" tab at the top. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 01:04, 1 March 2016 (UTC)]

The default position should be that people throughout most of (written) history knew the world was spherical, based on very simple logic. 1) Anyone who traveled north would notice that the North Star (Polaris) rises higher in the sky. When traveling south, the opposite happens. This would clearly not be the case on a flat world. (Before the days of radio technology, people paid a lot of attention to the sky for navigation). 2) Someone standing on a hill can see farther than someone standing at ground level (I'm assuming no obstacles to look over). Again, this would not be true on a flat Earth. (Draw a diagram in order to see how this is so). 3) Anyone living near a body of water would see ships disappear over the horizon (and they came back, so clearly they didn't sail off the edge of the world). If their eyes were close to sea level, the horizon would be very near, and this effect would be glaringly obvious. And finally ... 4) THE MOST OBVIOUS EVIDENCE OF ALL: If the Earth were flat, all the water would drain off the edges and there would be no oceans!

Our ancestors may have lacked advanced technology, but they weren't total idiots! Hellbound Hound 2 (talk) 04:35, 28 February 2016 (UTC)

Please note the two lines at the top of this page:
  • This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Myth of the flat Earth article.
  • This is not a forum for general discussion of the article's subject.
~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 01:18, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

Hellbound Hound2 please note: this page is not for general discussion of the topic, and certainly not for "soapboxing" on the topic. Please refrain from further comments of this nature on this page. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:26, 21 March 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Wrong paragraph[edit]

Exterior (shutters) of The Garden of Earthly Delights.

"belief in a flat Earth among the educated was almost nonexistent, despite fanciful depictions in art, such as the exterior of Hieronymus Bosch's famous triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, in which a disc-shaped Earth is shown floating inside a transparent sphere."

There is no such thing as a "disc-shaped Earth" shown "floating inside a transparent sphere" in that painting. Who wrote that? The closest thing is an spherical fountain where people are playing in a disc that serves as a ledge. Please, correct that. (talk) 07:57, 14 October 2016 (UTC) anonymous

Good catch, but Bosch's "Garden" is a complex painting; the commonly seen triptych does not include a disc-shaped Earth. However, the triptych can be closed and the cover displays the disc-shaped Earth described in the article and in the source by Gombrich cited there. I've added a figure for reference. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 01:10, 15 October 2016 (UTC)
Good work. Thank you. And strong reminder to all to not go running off on first impressions, but to check the sources, etc. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:10, 15 October 2016 (UTC)