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Online Pete Svarrior

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As I've recently been more active on Twitter, it's come to my attention that one of the most frequently asked questions a newcomer may ask is along the lines of:

How can the Earth be flat if all the planets we've observed are round?

Currently, we do not really host an answer to that question, save for an abysmal page about planets which will hopefully see an overhaul soon. "The Earth is not a planet", while correct, is not quite enough of an explanation for a newcomer.

I would like to suggest that we include an answer to this question in the FAQ. In order to do that, we have to agree on:
  • A reasonable phrasing of the question
  • A phrasing of the answer that makes it easy to understand while covering the basics. It would be good to acknowledge the intuition behind the question, but also to deal with the flawed attempt at proof by induction.

I have some ideas of my own, but I would like to hear what others think first. Input is welcome from FE'ers and RE'ers, provided that you're actually trying to develop a reasonable Q/A and not arguing about what you believe to be the correct shape of the Earth.
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Offline Tom Bishop

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Here is an answer to that question:

Q. If the planets are round, why isn't the earth?

A. The earth is not a planet. The earth very large and unlike the characteristics of the wandering stars called "planets" in numerous ways. This is like asking why basketballs are round, but not the basketball court. The basketball court is a fundamentally different kind of entity than the small balls which may bounce upon its surface.

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Offline stack

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Here is an answer to that question:

Q. If the planets are round, why isn't the earth?

A. The earth is not a planet. The earth very large and unlike the characteristics of the wandering stars called "planets" in numerous ways. This is like asking why basketballs are round, but not the basketball court. The basketball court is a fundamentally different kind of entity than the small balls which may bounce upon its surface.

I think it would be great to really beef up the wiki/FAQ. I thought I'd toss my 2 cents in from an RE perspective, probably the perspective most will read it with. 

"The earth is not a planet."

This is like a welcome mat for mockery and an immediate turn-off and kinda not well supported by:

"The earth very large and unlike the characteristics of the wandering stars called "planets" in numerous ways.”

This to me is too vague and leaves too many holes, people will race to things like: So earth is large, Jupiter is large, larger in fact… What are these wandering stars you speak of, they are not stars, they're planets…etc.

How about something like:

A. Planets (from Ancient Greek (astēr planētēs), meaning "wandering star”) are orbiting astronomical objects. Therefore the earth is not a planet by definition as it sits at the center of our solar system above which the planets and the sun revolve. The earths uniqueness, fundamental differences and centrality makes any comparison to other nearby celestial bodies insufficient - Like comparing basketballs to the court on which they bounce.

I don't know, something like that, ease in the reader a bit more.

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Online Pete Svarrior

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Thank you, Tom and stack. I like stack's take on this. I agree that opening with "The Earth is not a planet" is a bit too sudden. In my recent experience, using this phrase without some easing in results in the other party blocking out what we're trying to say.

I do like stack's phrasing. I think it remains true to what we're trying to say (Tom, do you agree?) while being more accessible and less confrontational. The basketball court analogy has been weaved in rather elegantly, too. It would be good to hear more views, but as it stands I'm inclined to incorporate that wording into the FAQ.
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This might be nit-picky, but I think "solar system" is probably a poor phrase as it implies a heliocentric model. Perhaps replacing "solar system" with "universe" or something to that effect would be a little more clear?

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Offline Tom Bishop

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I think stack's version is good. I don't mind using that version. Maybe get in that the planets are small and close to the earth? If our goal is to be less vague, here is a more direct version:

Q. The planets appear to be visually round. If the planets are round, why isn't the earth?

A. The earth is unlike the planets in a number of ways. The planets are small bodies which circle the sun, while the earth is a terrestrial plane which sits just below the celestial bodies and is so much larger than everything else. The question is like asking why basketballs are round, but not the basketball court. The basketball court is a fundamentally different kind of entity than the small balls which may bounce upon its surface. To this point, the earth is not a planet.

Feel free to pick and choose. I was unable to mish-mash it in with stack's version. If we want to be direct and explicit, however it is phrased should get in:

- The earth is big
- The planets are small and close to the earth
- The basketball analogy
- Perhaps not directly stating by us that the planets are round, which I saw was a concern by some. In the version of the Q. above, it is the reader who believes that the planets are visually round.
- Does not imply a heliocentric model or traditional solar system
- Finishes with disassociating the planets with the earth
« Last Edit: August 23, 2018, 03:06:07 AM by Tom Bishop »

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Offline stack

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This might be nit-picky, but I think "solar system" is probably a poor phrase as it implies a heliocentric model. Perhaps replacing "solar system" with "universe" or something to that effect would be a little more clear?

Fair point. I didn't go with Universe b/c I'm not sure how FET views our solar system within the Universe. I was trying to keep it 'local' to what RE'rs would default to; the 8 or 9 'planets' we're all taught from birth.

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Offline stack

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I think stack's version is good. Maybe get in that the planets are small and close to the earth? If our goal is to be less vague, here is a more direct version:

Q. The planets appear to be visually round. If the planets are round, why isn't the earth?

A. The earth is unlike the planets in a number of ways. The planets are small bodies which circle the sun, while the earth is a terrestrial plane which sits just below the celestial bodies and is so much bigger than everything else. The question is like asking why basketballs are round, but not the basketball court. The basketball court is a fundamentally different kind of entity than the small balls which may bounce upon its surface. To this point, the earth is not a planet.

For the more direct version, however it is phrased, should get in:

- The earth is big
- The planets are small and close to the earth
- The basketball analogy
- Perhaps not directly stating by us that the planets are round, which I saw was a concern by some. In the version of the Q. above, it is the reader who believes that the planets are visually round.
- Does not imply a heliocentric model or traditional solar system
- Finishes with disassociating the planets with the earth

"The planets are small bodies which circle the sun"
I think you kinda lose the thread right there. It implies that the planets are smaller than earth (which may be the case in FET, idk, I haven't seen that - I've seen moon/sun sizes, but not planets) B/c most people will simply default to, "Ah, no, some are, but Jupiter and Saturn sure aren't." In essence, the earth's size seems sort of neither here nor there.

"The planets are small and close to the earth"
Same as above, but specific to "close to earth", I haven't seen any distances for planets - Same caveat as above, I may have missed it. All in all, distance doesn't seem to be as compelling as position/orientation. At least for an FAQ answer. Big difference when you dive in deeper.

"Perhaps not directly stating by us that the planets are round..."
You're on your own on this one. This leads to a whole different thing. The reader is definitely coming from that position (existent planet rotundity) and then you have to sashee to "The planets are not round..." If that's an FET thing, good on you. But I wouldn't want to be you.

"Does not imply a heliocentric model or traditional solar system"
See Boydster's point above. I agree, just wasn't sure how to do that.

"Finishes with disassociating the planets with the earth"
Yes, the crux of the biscuit.

But all in all, Tom, I think your proposed answer is sound, just that "The planets are small bodies which circle the sun, while the earth is a terrestrial plane which sits just below the celestial bodies and is so much bigger than everything else." doesn't really support "The earth is unlike the planets in a number of ways.". I think I'm hung up on the "small" and "bigger" part as being put forth as the definitive decider. But, again, if that's FET, I am no one to argue.






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Online Pete Svarrior

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This might be nit-picky, but I think "solar system" is probably a poor phrase as it implies a heliocentric model. Perhaps replacing "solar system" with "universe" or something to that effect would be a little more clear?
It's an interesting point, but I think sticking to "solar system" might be more accessible to a newcomer, even if potentially slightly inaccurate.

It's a tough balance to strike. "Atmosphere" is another tough one. If you don't rename it, some people act as if using the word "sphere" was somehow damning. If you call it the atmolayer or atmoplane, they get confused.

I think we have at least a decent draft for the answer (subject to further suggestions, of course!). How do we phrase the question?
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Offline stack

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How do we phrase the question?

1)  Q. The planets appear to be visually round. If the planets are round, why isn't the earth?

Just seems redundant and not how I would ask it.

2) Q. The planets appear to be visually round, why isn't the earth?

A hybrid I don't particularly care for. It's asking a different question, "Why isn't the earth visually round?"

3) Q. If the planets are round, why isn't the earth?

I like this one (I think it's the original). It's definitely how I would ask it. It's short, direct, succinct. An the "If" still leaves the out as to whether the planets are round or not.  It's not, "Since the planets are...".


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Offline stack

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While you’re at it, you may want to fix this one:

Size and Magnitude

Q. How big are the planets in the FE model?

A. Pretty small.

The answer is, well, lame.

Proposed answer:

A. Flat Earth researchers have estimated the sun to be at about 3000 miles above the surface of the earth, with the stars and planets at about 100 miles above that. Further research has concluded that the diameter of the celestial bodies above Earth are as follows:

Sun      =   32 miles
Moon           =   32 miles
Mercury   =   ?
Venus   =   ?
Mars           =   ?
Jupiter   =   ?
Saturn   =   ?
Uranus   =   ?
Neptune   =   ?


I couldn’t find anything in the wiki or in threads that speaks to the planets sizes.

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Online Pete Svarrior

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Yes, that's what I was referring to when I called the entire page "abysmal". I don't think there is a current consensus on planet sizes, so the best thing to do might be to just erase that non-answer.
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Offline stack

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Yes, that's what I was referring to when I called the entire page "abysmal". I don't think there is a current consensus on planet sizes, so the best thing to do might be to just erase that non-answer.
If there isn't consensus, good call to ditch it.

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Online Pete Svarrior

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For the time being, I have included stack's phrasing with a few minor stylistic alterations. I propose that we keep our eyes out for any potential reactions, and adjust the answer further if need be
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Offline Tom Bishop

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I noticed that the Planets page was deleted entirely, and the retrograde explanatory illustration and descriptions were lost. I will make a temporary page called Retrograde Motion of the Planets with those contents and leave it as a stand alone page until better pages on the planets are created.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2018, 04:36:04 AM by Tom Bishop »

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Online Pete Svarrior

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I noticed that the Planets page was deleted entirely, and the retrograde explanatory illustration and descriptions were lost.
The explanation was included underneath an image in the FAQ. The other illustration was more misleading than helpful, and should be eliminated. The question practically never comes up anyway, so it doesn't need more than a sidenote.
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I have a slight issue with Tom's answer, in that the planets do not orbit the sun in FET. They are part of the celestial gearing (each is on one of Aristotle's 49 movers - cogs) and actually also circle the earth, albeit in a Spirograph type pattern. They definitely do not follow the sun. The sun licks around the earth once a day. Venus will be in the same part of the sky for weeks.




Please also note from ENaG
Quote from: Sir Samuel Rowboham
The Zetetic Sun, moon, planets and stars are all only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth.
Ergo the sun is small, but planets and stars must be very small.

In essence planets are stars in FET. They aren't on the two major movers, moving with all the others (North and South Hemisphere), but each one is on its own gearing. They are special, they have all kinds of unique reverence, but they are the wandering stars and little more.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2018, 03:12:12 PM by Baby Thork »
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Offline Tom Bishop

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I noticed that the Planets page was deleted entirely, and the retrograde explanatory illustration and descriptions were lost.
The explanation was included underneath an image in the FAQ. The other illustration was more misleading than helpful, and should be eliminated. The question practically never comes up anyway, so it doesn't need more than a sidenote.

What do you feel was misleading about it? The text below the illustration seemed to provide the disclaimer that it is not what occurs over a single day. The diagram does better illustrate why the planets retrograde with the circling-the-sun explanation, than with the looping mars image alone.

Here is the current page: https://wiki.tfes.org/Retrograde_Motion_of_the_Planets

How can it be improved?

I have a slight issue with Tom's answer, in that the planets do not orbit the sun in FET. They are part of the celestial gearing (each is on one of Aristotle's 49 movers - cogs) and actually also circle the earth, albeit in a Spirograph type pattern. They definitely do not follow the sun. The sun licks around the earth once a day. Venus will be in the same part of the sky for weeks.

http://losmundosdebrana.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/cassini_apparent.jpg

Please also note from ENaG
Quote from: Sir Samuel Rowboham
The Zetetic Sun, moon, planets and stars are all only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth.
Ergo the sun is small, but planets and stars must be very small.

In essence planets are stars in FET. They aren't on the two major movers, moving with all the others (North and South Hemisphere), but each one is on its own gearing. They are special, they have all kinds of unique reverence, but they are the wandering stars and little more.

This is interesting. I don't mind if a geocentric explanation is included. What do you make of the following page, which shows an animation of the planets moving in the sky with the sun. Scroll down to the Dance of the Planets animation:

http://www.nakedeyeplanets.com/movements.htm

From this, it seems to portray that Mercury and Venus follow closely to the sun tend to wobble to either side of it as it moves. Admittedly, the other planets do not seem to have such a stark visual relationship with the sun.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2018, 04:39:10 PM by Tom Bishop »

Well, how far do you want to take me down this rabbit hole? In essence, the earth is the centre of the universe, nothing orbits the sun. Geocentric, not heliocentric

The Aristotle model is as described above. I can fast forward to Ptolemy and I still have the same model, albeit this is illustrated in a static fashion. I have the moon doing the closest laps to the north pole, then mercury all the way out. Note the sun is between Venus and Mars. I then get into the constellations and stars and finally right at the top I have the Primu Mobile or Aristotles Prime Mover. The thing that powers the heavens ... you can call this God if you like. But its the drive wheel that turns all the other cogs.



Christianity later steals from this and makes out it is a type of higher order angel called an orphanim that powers the heavens
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophanim
they look like this pictured left like a wheel within a wheel




And of course we see these little buggers all over FET powering the heavens such as in the Flammarion woodcut, pictured top left.


The point of the image being the man peels back the curtain of the sky to reveal God. He's a monk after all, and he travelled to the edge of the earth. His name was Cosmas Indicopleustes. So this idea of the heavens being driven by a gearing system goes back thousands of gears. It later gets readopted by the Deists in the 18th century during the enlightenment with their clockwork universe.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clockwork_universe

If you step away from a clockwork geared universe, I don't know of any enduring explanation for how the heavens move until Newton comes along.

Now, how helpful is all that to answering Pete's tweets, I don't know. It seems a little in depth to me. But if we get the basics right, there isn't any contradiction later.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2018, 04:54:56 PM by Baby Thork »
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Offline Tom Bishop

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I like the idea of the geocentric explanation in the Wiki. We may be unable able to solve whether the planets are revolving around the sun or not. I have some doubts that my last link with the Dance of the Planets animation, where Mercury and Venus dance closely around the sun, following and shifting to either side of it, is even accurate myself, considering that there are reports of people observing Venus throughout the night.

There is some contradicting information that is preventing me from coming to a conclusion.

To the current answer in the FAQ:

"Planets (from Ancient Greek ἀστὴρ πλανήτης [astēr planētēs, "wandering star"], or just πλανήτης [planḗtēs, "wanderer"]) are orbiting astronomical objects. The Earth is not a planet by definition, as it sits at the center of our solar system above which the planets and the Sun revolve. The earths uniqueness, fundamental differences and centrality makes any comparison to other nearby celestial bodies insufficient - Like comparing basketballs to the court on which they bounce."

On reading this again, to the newcomer it may still sound like the earth is just a flat disk in the middle of the traditional Round Earth solar system, with large round planets around it. That is what they believe the case to be when coming in and reading the FAQ, after all. I believe this is what boydster was hinting at earlier. We may consider making it more clear what the fundamental differences are.

I imagine the response to this may be "That's ridiculous! Why is the earth flat, but the other planets around it are not? How is it so different that comparison is insufficient? It makes more sense that the Earth is round like the round planets around it."
« Last Edit: August 26, 2018, 05:36:27 PM by Tom Bishop »