# Can White Swans exist?

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#### Rory

##### Closed Account
I'm going to try to hunt down globe deniers interpretation of the black swan theory.

The first one I found is as follows (taken from https://odysee.com/@mitchellfromAustralia:d/flat-earth-school-the-australian-black:5)

The black swan analogy is as follows;

If all swans are claimed to be white, proof of only 1 black swan is needed to disprove that statement.
So if all horizons are claimed to be the geometric limitation of a spherical earth, ie physical earth curve, that ships go over, that physically blocks objects and causes things to disappear bottom up, it only takes one observation of a horizon not being physical to disprove the geometric horizon.

I kinda wish I hadn't cos what the frick is physical and geometric about?

I'm probably more at a loss as to what the statement ever was that just 1 black swan is required to disprove it.

You're right to find that confusing; but it's confusing not because there's something wrong with your understanding but because it's gobbledygook.

He defines a white swan as one thing - the limitation of being able to see beyond physical earth curve - and then curve balls into a nonsensical description of a black swan.

If it's nonsensical gobbledygook why engage with it?

I don't see how that applies. For one it's about Flat Earth and this isn't about that. Second they are using geometry in the argument (earth curve calculator) so it's not about trusting that.

Yep, agreed.

This is making my head hurt.

One thing I learned some years ago with regard to certain philosophical or metaphysical concepts: if I find them incredibly difficult to get my head around and understand it's actually much more likely that there's something wrong with the concept than with my head, therefore I can just dismiss them.

Might not always be true but, either way, it works for me.

#### AmberRobot

##### Senior Member
An argument can follow logically from its premises to its conclusion and still be wrong if the premises are flawed.

#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
Going back to 2020 it does seem that The Black Swan started out as just "can see too far".

I have found Quantum Eraser's modus tollens for the Black Swan photograph...
If the Earth is a sphere with radius 3959 then EVERY horizon distance measurement MUST BE NO MORE THAN 1.225 x square root of observers height in feet.
So it's definitely morphed into this "apparent" "geometric" "physical" monster it is today.

Born slippy.

I'll still maintain there are no white swans given that modus tollens ^_^

Weird that it's not P anymore, and if not P then not Q. Heehee.

#### Rory

##### Closed Account
I have found Quantum Eraser's modus tollens for the Black Swan photograph...

If the Earth is a sphere with radius 3959 then EVERY horizon distance measurement MUST BE NO MORE THAN 1.225 x square root of observers height in feet.

Well that's just silly. Assuming the math is right - I can't be bothered to check - he's completely ignoring the variability of refraction.

(That Quantum Eraser fella is an excellent example of the type of person it would be absolutely fruitless to engage with in a discussion on the subject.)

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#### AmberRobot

##### Senior Member
The science says something like “the average color of a swan is white, but there is a distribution of shades and under some circumstances a black swan can be observed. We can quantify the distribution and make predictions about the likelihood of observing a black swan as well as other observables that would be associated with the conditions under which a black swan would be observable.”

That’s a far cry from the strawman of “MUST BE NO MORE THAN…”

#### Ann K

##### Senior Member.
Well that's just silly. Assuming the math is right - I can't be bothered to check - he's completely ignoring the variability of refraction.

(That Quantum Eraser fella is an excellent example of the type of person it would be absolutely fruitless to engage with in a discussion on the subject.)
He seems to insist that "horizon" only refers to that seen over water ...which is, unsurprisingly, exactly where refraction effects are strongest due to humidity. And that "observer's height" (from the water, presumably) can be measured with any precision in a place where the tide rises and falls. And that horizon distance over water can be measured with precision.

Too many absolutes in his statement to take him seriously as an honest interlocutor.

#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
Well that's just silly. Assuming the math is right - I can't be bothered to check - he's completely ignoring the variability of refraction.

(That Quantum Eraser fella is an excellent example of the type of person it would be absolutely fruitless to engage with in a discussion on the subject.)
But at least it's comprehensible. It's based on sense. It would be true if not for refraction.

But in true Globe Denying style, instead of admitting a mistake it's just double, triple, who knows how many-ble down while it mutates into an unintelligible mess that's practically impossible to argue against like...
If all horizons are claimed to be the geometric limitation of a spherical earth it only takes one observation of a horizon not being physical to disprove the geometric horizon.
(superfluous fluff removed by me).

How do we observe things that aren't physical?

But that's beside the point. This Black Swan went from trying to argue that the globe isn't radius 3959 miles into some bizarre argument of why celestial navigation can't work. Some incredibly strange "physical" "apparent" "geometric" mess cos it seems celestial navigation was giving them some problems.

That still only "argues" against the navigation that uses the horizon anyway. I'm fairly certain there's a navigation technique that doesn't use the horizon but I can't remember the name of it.

But yeah, kinda interesting to see that Globe Denial arguments tend to be crap piled on crap piled on crap due to the inability to accept a "mistake".

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#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
The best I can do at the moment is along the lines of...

Globe needs (physical) horizon.

Horizon moves. It's apparent, therefore not physical (it's optical). I think they use physical to mean geometric and therefore apparent cannot be geometric.

Maybe.

No calculations can be done on a horizon that's not physical/geometric.

I think that's what The Black Swan is used as an argument for. Or at least something like that. This is making my head hurt.
I think I can simplify this....

Geometry = shapes = physical things.

Geometric horizon = physical horizon.

We see apparent horizon.

It's not geometric therefore you can't do geometry using it. You need the horizon with the word geometry in it if you want to do any kind of geometry with it.

Cos words/definitions are absolute.

Perhaps and even simpler way of saying it would be...

You can only do geometry on geometric things. Apparent horizon is not the geometric horizon and therefore you cannot do geometry with it.

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#### Mendel

##### Senior Member.
That still only "argues" against the navigation that uses the horizon anyway. I'm fairly certain there's a navigation technique that doesn't use the horizon but I can't remember the name of it.
Just measure all angles from vertical, simple. That means you can also determine your position inland, like map surveyors have always done.

It's not geometric therefore you can't do geometry using it. You need the horizon with the word geometry in it if you want to do any kind of geometry with it.
Yes, it's geometric, it's just not highschool geometry, with Euclidean straight lines.

One common way is to compute as if Earth's radius was bigger, 7/6 for standard refraction, which actually brings the maths down to highschool level again.

P.S. shadows are not things, but you can do geometry with them just fine, see e.g. Eratosthenes

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#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
If it's nonsensical gobbledygook why engage with it?
Because this has actually given me a grasp on where conversation threads about this topic deviate to. I was wondering where all this "apparent" deflection was coming from and what it was doing.

And it's so slippery.

What we seem to have is the Black Swan still brought up in discussions. But most people seem to think that the Black Swan was debunked by refraction (the "we see too far") so will mention something about that without realising that the Black Swan is now saying that refraction turns the horizon from geometric to apparent and therefore you can't do geometry with it.

This, in the view of the globe denier, has you agreeing and affirming the Black Swan.

Just by bringing up refraction you have conceded that the horizon is not geometric therefore geometry cannot work using it. Flat Earth confirmed!

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#### jarlrmai

##### Senior Member
You can do geometry, its just non-Euclidean, in reality it always has been non-Euclidean because of the curvature of the Earth, it's just there's now another curve to account for.

#### Pertti Niukkanen

##### Member
The logic in the black swan argument is as follows:
– Statement: All swans are white.
– Observation: One swan is black.
– Conclusion: The statement is wrong.

So the statement argues something general (All swans…). I wonder what is that general statement, to which the flat-earthers think to have a counterexample.

Think the statement: "All observation of hidden heights can be explained by curvature of the Earth and standard refraction." In this case the oil rig photo is a black swan that really falsifies the statement. But who globie would argue such?

Broadening the statement like "All observation of hidden heights can be explained by curvature of the Earth and refraction plus other known meteorological phenomena", makes all swans white (so far).

So what is that general statement, which the oil rig photo could falsify?

#### Mendel

##### Senior Member.
So what is that general statement, which the oil rig photo could falsify?
@MyMatesBrainwashed quoted it in post #43:
If the Earth is a sphere with radius 3959 then EVERY horizon distance measurement MUST BE NO MORE THAN 1.225 x square root of observers height in feet.
Content from External Source
It's a straw man, of course.

Generally, FE arguments have a structure of "here is something I don't understand, therefore the Earth is flat."
We sometimes see "here's something I don't understand, therefore the Earth is a globe", but these are less obvious.

#### Rory

##### Closed Account
Ok, so I think I've got my head around all this swan business now.

Black swan theory:

Assertion: all swans are white (or rather, no swans are black)
Disproof: a non-white swan (or a black swan)
Result: modify the assertion

In Quantum Eraser's understanding:

Assertion: the earth is a sphere with a radius of 3,959 miles, meaning the horizon can't be more than 1.225x (etc)
Disproof: a horizon that is significantly more than 1.225x (etc) away
Result: the earth is not a sphere

And in reality:

Assertion: the earth is a spheroid with a radius of approximately 3,959 miles (it varies). The distance to the horizon in miles and taking standard refraction into account is approximately 1.429x the square root of the viewer's height in feet. Increased distances are possible dependent on atmospheric conditions
Black swan: a horizon considerably further away (such as 20x √h).
Result: have a very serious think

It makes sense (in a way) but it's also kind of silly: it's comparing something very simple - if we find something that contradicts your assertion then your assertion is false - with something much more nuanced. "No planets are flat" would be a more equivalent assertion. Or "when standing on the shore it's not possible to see another shore 70 miles away."

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#### Ann K

##### Senior Member.
In Quantum Eraser's understanding:

Assertion: the earth is a sphere with a radius of 3,959 miles, meaning the horizon can't be more than 1.225x (etc)
Disproof: a horizon that is significantly more than 1.225x (etc) away
Result: the earth is not a sphere
All you'd need would be a terrestrial "plane" (not a water surface) with edges higher than the center - a shallow dish shape - or a gentle uphill slope. The flat-earther is likely to say "See that cliff? It's too many miles away for it to be seen from this distance on a globe." Our globe has a lot of lumps and bumps, and someone unable to accept the science that shows the whole thing is a globe is similarly unlikely to accept the science of precise measurements of altitude.

#### LilWabbit

##### Senior Member
In Quantum Eraser's understanding:

Assertion: the earth is a sphere with a radius of 3,959 miles, meaning the horizon can't be more than 1.225x (etc)
Disproof: a horizon that is significantly more than 1.225x (etc) away
Result: the earth is not a sphere

I think the bottom line is Quantum Eraser's 'flatly' (pun intended) false assertion that the globe hypothesis cannot tolerate even the slightest variation from his simplistic equation.

#### Mendel

##### Senior Member.
Black swan: a horizon considerably further away (such as 20x √h).
i don't believe a 20x photo exists
I'd be willing to bet it can't exist

you laid out the process nicely

I would add that the "serious think" involves finding (and proving) an explanation for the discrepancy.
this is the step CTists usually leave out when confronted with contrarian evidence.

#### Pertti Niukkanen

##### Member
Fleshed out a little:

From Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horizon:

Quantum Eraser uses the formula 3, which is about the same as formula 1. Formula 1 gives the distance of the horizon when atmospheric refraction is ignored. So Quantum Eraser chooses to ignore it too. Formula 2 is the distance with standard refraction.

Mick West says at his Metabunk curve calculator:
"Standard Refraction" is an approximation of the refraction expected under average or Standard Atmospheric conditions. Actual atmospheric conditions can vary greatly, and the resultant refraction can be complex, especially close to the horizon."
Refracted Horizon values are also given with a warning "Note: Not accurate for observations over water very close to the horizon (unless the temperature and vertical temperature gradient are accurate)"

So one foot observation height and exceptionally strong refraction can push horizon very far from the standard. For more analyse see for example Bob the Science Guy's YouTube-video "Final Analysis of the Black Swan Still a GLOBE".

It's a straw man, of course.
Yes, it really is. The claim "EVERY horizon distance measurement MUST BE NO MORE THAN 1.225 x square root of observer's height in feet" does not follow from the fact that "the Earth is a sphere with the radius 3,959 miles". No one with the slightest knowledge of physics would say such a thing.

#### Rory

##### Closed Account
The distance to the horizon in miles and taking standard refraction into account is approximately 1.429x the square root of the viewer's height in feet

Going by the post above, that 1.429 should actually be 1.32 - looks like I multiplied by 7/6 in the wrong place (been a long time).

I think the rest still stands though. Could even reduce that requirement for 20x to give the flat earthers more of a fighting chance - and the smaller the better for simultaneously showing up the fallacy of the flat earth.

Example:
• Viewer height 50 feet
• Horizon distance with standard refraction 9.3 miles
• "Black swan" requirement at 20√h is 141 miles
• Flat earth requirement given clear conditions - the sky's the limit
So say we make it 7x√h the "bs theory" still requires seeing 50 miles from 50 feet - presumably/hopefully impossible - but shows much more clearly the nonsense of the flat earth. For if the Earth was flat what would stop someone at 50 feet above the water seeing a large boat 50 miles away on a clear day?

Somewhere between 7x and 20x is the perfect dangling carrot that promises to bait the elusive "black swan" but is actually poison for the flat earth idea.

Not that it would work on any committed flat earther.

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#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
Just to bring this back to the swans...

Fairly certain that against qe's modus tollens that white swans don't exist and all swans (photographs) are black.

Against mitchelfromoz's there are no white swans either. At least on earth. Astronauts on the moon would've seen a geometric horizon but every horizon viewed on earth is apparent. All swans are black.

Probably no surprise that nathan oakley's is the hardest to get head around. Not sure what's going on there yet. I dunno but I'm thinking that maybe how geometry applies to physical has something to do with its flaw. Like, a 2cm circle with have area of 12.56637cm but you could never provide me with that physical circle. Not that that helps understanding his swans. I don't even get what his black swan is. A concept?

And does anyone have any idea of how the author of that guff seems to think refraction works? I'm a bit lost picturing their argument for why refraction can't do what it does.

#### Rory

##### Closed Account
Probably no surprise that nathan oakley's is the hardest to get head around.

You haven't quoted what he's said so we don't know what you're referring to. Same for the Mitchel fella.

But I'm pretty sure I can pre-empt it by saying it's gobbledygook and if you  can get your head around it that's when you've got to start worrying.

Same with that book I referred to. I've scanned a few pages and it's purely off with the fairies stuff. No reason to try and comprehend the incomprehensible.

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#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
You haven't quoted what he's said so we don't know what you're referring to. Same for the Mitchel fella.

QE: If the Earth is a sphere with radius 3959 then EVERY horizon distance measurement MUST BE NO MORE THAN 1.225 x square root of observers height in feet.
If white swans are a horizon distance measurement of 1.225 x square root of observer's height then white swans don't exist because the horizon is always refracted for the observer.

I think it's safe to say that the mention of observer shifts this to apparent horizons rather than talking geometric horizons.

MoA: If all horizons are claimed to be the geometric limitation of a spherical earth it only takes one observation of a horizon not being physical to disprove the geometric horizon.
This is a bit weird cos all (observed) horizons are apparent and therefore aren't claimed to be the geometric limitation of a spherical earth.

Ignoring that I get stuck on observing something not being physical. Just because refraction has shifted it, it's still physical. But I think he wants geometric = physical.

But taking it on face value then all observations of a horizon are black swans and white swans can't exist on earth.

NO: It is asserted we have a geometric sphere beneath our feet and that sphere has physicality, which therefore has physical limitations. Now, that assertion is analogous to a white swan. Most photographs presented look like they take place on a sphere. Then you have a demonstration of something that says to your average village idiot, or somebody who hasn't experienced much of the world, a black swan, something that wasn't considered to be the norm, presumed not to exist at all. Obviously the earth's a sphere and has its physical limitations based on its geometry. So as soon as you show something beyond that physical constraint of geometry, you have what we call a black swan.
Wowsers. And I had to type that out due to lack of cut and paste <_<

Not sure the assertion is analogous to a white swan.

Not sure where "Most" fits into black and white swans.

But again, all photographs and observations show something beyond the physical constraint of geometry. They are all black swans. White swans don't exist.

At least, I think.

I dare say none of them could provide an example of a white swan.

#### Mendel

##### Senior Member.
But taking it on face value then all observations of a horizon are black swans and white swans can't exist on earth.
Globe Earthers: all swans are black
Flat Earthers: behold this black swan
Globe Earthers: nice. what's your point?

Nathan Oakley: Most photographs presented look like they take place on a sphere.
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I dare say that all of them do.

What's worse, there is no set of photographs taken at a distance that looks like it takes place on a flat Earth.

Short distance photographs typically don't allow a determination to be made.

#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
I dare say that all of them do.
Something that surely must be a huge red flag on the globe denying side is how globe defenders tend to have to be really careful with their words so as not to be misconstrued, but for globe deniers it's better to be less careful because it helps them if their points get misconstrued and the argument deviates from the point they are making.

Like, I reckon you could argue most photographs look like they were taken in a box. But we all know that's not what they mean. But you could argue that instead if you wanted to.

#### Mendel

##### Senior Member.
Something that surely must be a huge red flag on the globe denying side is how globe defenders tend to have to be really careful with their words so as not to be misconstrued, but for globe deniers it's better to be less careful because it helps them if their points get misconstrued and the argument deviates from the point they are making.
That's simply a consequence of them not having any evidence of their own.

There is no proof—none!—that "water always seeks its level" is true ("water follows any force" is demonstrably true), nor for any of the other FE claims. Mercator mapped the globe in the 16th century, but today's FEers with access to photoshop and the Internet still don't have a working flat map.

If you have nothing to defend, you never need to talk defensively.

#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
I'm currently boiling Oakley's down to...

Physical things have physicality and physical limits. Photographs are able to determine the physical limits of physicality regardless of the amount of physicality in the photograph.

But it's not quite right yet.

#### Mendel

##### Senior Member.
I'm currently boiling Oakley's down to...
Obviously the earth's a sphere
Content from External Source

#### Rory

##### Closed Account
Taking it one sentence at a time:

It is asserted we have a geometric sphere beneath our feet and that sphere has physicality, which therefore has physical limitations.

Can he lose the "geometric sphere" and just say "it is asserted that we live on a physical spheroid which is subject to physical limitations"?

I think we'd all agree to that.

Now, that assertion is analogous to a white swan.

No it's not. Unless he's redefining what "white swan" means in the context of the black swan theory.

A black swan theory assertion would be more like:
• All planets are spheroids
• All physical objects are subject to physical limitations
• All physical objects can be modelled using mathematics
Most photographs presented look like they take place on a sphere. Then you have a demonstration of something that says to your average village idiot, or somebody who hasn't experienced much of the world, a black swan, something that wasn't considered to be the norm, presumed not to exist at all. Obviously the earth's a sphere and has its physical limitations based on its geometry.

This doesn't seem massively clear. Probably the link to the video will illuminate. But I guess he's saying people just assume the world's a sphere and even if so-called contradictory evidence is presented they go along with the narrative, because they don't question things.

Anyway, it doesn't really seem related to the assertion or whatever it is he's trying to argue, just a general description of how he imagines people are.

So as soon as you show something beyond that physical constraint of geometry, you have what we call a black swan.

That pretty much speaks for itself: something in the physical world that exists outside physical understanding would indeed be a black swan, if the assertion was "all physical things can be modelled geometrically/mathematically".

I guess the crux is that he doesn't consider light or the things that contribute toward refraction as physical.

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#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
• All physical objects are subject to physical limitation
That's what I assume it's trying to say.

But can just observation alone determine the physical limits of a physical object? This definitely seems the kind of thing you've got to be really careful how it's worded so as not to be misconstrued. Do you need to be able to see the whole thing? Or observe every side of it?

Like what's the physical limit of the underneath of a flat earth?

#### MyMatesBrainwashed

##### Active Member
It is asserted we have a geometric plane beneath our feet and that plane has physicality, which therefore has physical limitations. God knows what the limits are though. Literally.

#### Rory

##### Closed Account
It is asserted we have a geometric plane beneath our feet

I don't think you need the word geometric in front of plane or sphere. Unless you can show me a non-geometric sphere?

Have you thought about asking Nathan Oakley to explain what he means by all these words?

#### Mendel

##### Senior Member.
I took it from this post of Rory's. Link to "book" is also included...
Thank you. Unfortunately, it's not a quote, but a paraphrase.

#### Mendel

##### Senior Member.
It is asserted we have a geometric plane beneath our feet and that plane has physicality, which therefore has physical limitations. God knows what the limits are though. Literally.
And the FEers definitely don't know either. They've shied away from anything testing their "ice wall".

#### Mendel

##### Senior Member.
I don't think you need the word geometric in front of plane or sphere. Unless you can show me a non-geometric sphere?
I expect they use "geometry" to refer to Euclidean geometry.

But our reality may best be described as non-Euclidean anyway once you get into astrophysics? so that's another "white swan" that's outdated

#### Ann K

##### Senior Member.
Physical things have physicality and physical limits. Photographs are able to determine the physical limits of physicality regardless of the amount of physicality in the photograph.
This comment makes MY head hurt. Merriam-Webster has twenty-one synonyms for "physicality". They all translate to "sensuality", or at least the opposite of spirituality. I think I'm safe to assume that's not what Oakley refers to, but certainly nothing is clarified by using the word, is it? "Physical" is quite sufficient.

#### LilWabbit

##### Senior Member
This comment makes MY head hurt. Merriam-Webster has twenty-one synonyms for "physicality". They all translate to "sensuality". I think I'm safe to assume that's not what Oakley refers to, but certainly nothing is clarified by using the word, is it? "Physical" is quite sufficient.

Oakley's musings on 'physicality' betray the fundamental issue with the FE nonsense: The outright denial of known physics and the subsequent redefinition of every physical concept.

The ufologist may sometimes also perpetrate a similar argument for convenience by selectively using established physics when it suits the narrative while denying it when it doesn't.

But the FEer goes way further. His very main position is a denial of known physics. And doing it on a very fundamental level of denying, unwittingly, gravity, spacetime and electromagnetism by extension -- each and all proven by highly accurate and repeatable measurements over the course of centuries and counting.

By denying the spherical earth the FEer unwittingly denies all of these other fundamentals and hence is forced to reinvent physics and physical concepts if he wishes to seriously prove his hypothesis. Since he is utterly incapable of taking on such a formidable and indeed impossible task of scientific proof, he settles for pinpointing specific errors in strawman arguments for spheroid earth which are never actually claimed by science.

And so these Oakleys et al mainly contribute to a conversation within the echo chamber of other FEers seeking sciency-sounding validation for a narrative that is bound to rouse a psychological sense of doubt even amongst the most hardline 'loyalists'.

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