Two problems need help debunking and debating tips? please.

Qulaey

New Member
Hello…

During my spare time over the last few months I have been debating with quiet a few flat earthers, it's been a both frustrating and very rewarding process.

through these arguments I have encountered two problems, suggestions and solutions are more than welcome.

1. The vacuum next to atmosphere

Flat earthers while I am debating with them will almost guarantee to bring up this topic, and demand "imperical evidence" as they call it, by putting gas in a vacuum chamber and they will throw at you some bullshit about the second law of thermodynamics. Is there an explanation to this that will make sense to a flat earther?

2. Mathematics

Flat earth era seem to believe that mathematics is made up by the stone masons to prove globe earth. They refuse to believe that mathematics has any application to the real life and therefore all equations false. They will often use the example, "if you have five apples and you take away six how many are left" if you answer negative one they say there cannot be negative one apples and therefore math is false or if you say it's zero, they say "shouldn't it be minus one?". Please I need an explanation in words flat earther can understand.

I have found a pattern in most of the flat earth debates that I have been in, it's always me against multiple people and it's incredibly degrading as you explain your argument once and you have to explain it again to the other person, sometimes they just chat to themselves. Debating veterans, is there a trick to debating multiple people?

Thanks boys and girls
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
1. The vacuum next to atmosphere

Flat earthers while I am debating with them will almost guarantee to bring up this topic, and demand "imperical evidence" as they call it, by putting gas in a vacuum chamber and they will throw at you some bullshit about the second law of thermodynamics. Is there an explanation to this that will make sense to a flat earther?

There's an explanation, the challenge is communicating that explanation, because it' probably doesn't make sense to most regular people either. The short answer is that the full pressure of the atmosphere is not "next to" a vaccum. It's many mailes away, and the pressure gradually decreases as you get further from the ground. The pressure gradient force is balanced at all points by gravity.

A simpler way of thinking about it is to observe that the pressure at the top of a mountain is lower than the pressure at the bottom, by a lot. Air flows from high to low pressure (in the absence of other forces) but there isn't a constant hurricane blowing upwards. because the pressure gradient force up the mountain is matched by gravity.

2. Mathematics

Flat earth era seem to believe that mathematics is made up by the stone masons to prove globe earth. They refuse to believe that mathematics has any application to the real life and therefore all equations false. They will often use the example, "if you have five apples and you take away six how many are left" if you answer negative one they say there cannot be negative one apples and therefore math is false or if you say it's zero, they say "shouldn't it be minus one?". Please I need an explanation in words flat earther can understand.

An explanation of what? Can you give an actual example of a flat earther using this argument?

I have found a pattern in most of the flat earth debates that I have been in, it's always me against multiple people and it's incredibly degrading as you explain your argument once and you have to explain it again to the other person, sometimes they just chat to themselves. Debating veterans, is there a trick to debating multiple people?
Make a video of the explanation, then just show them that. It takes a lot longer to do, but ultimately saves a lot of time.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Flat earth era seem to believe that mathematics is made up by the stone masons to prove globe earth. They refuse to believe that mathematics has any application to the real life and therefore all equations false. They will often use the example, "if you have five apples and you take away six how many are left" if you answer negative one they say there cannot be negative one apples and therefore math is false or if you say it's zero, they say "shouldn't it be minus one?". Please I need an explanation in words flat earther can understand.

ignore them. if all math is false, then their math is false too. so what's to argue about?

the answer isn't -1 or zero. the answer is "you can't take away 6 apples if you only have 5".

is there a trick to debating multiple people?
State that you are ignoring everyone else and only talking to Person X. and only talk to person X. Don't get distracted by gish gallops. State that you are ignoring gishgallops because the topic now is Topic X.

1. The vacuum next to atmosphere
https://www.metabunk.org/why-does-the-atmosphere-not-fly-off-into-the-vacuum-of-space.t10098/


although there are plenty of science sites too. use Google search.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Totally agree with all of the above. If you're in a debate with people who are raising these ideas, they're almost guaranteed to not be people who are interested in learning anything; or the truth; or in 'fair play' (as far as your interaction goes). So the question then is: why bother?

They say "please provide a practical demonstration of gas pressure without a container" because they're parroting other people. And the apples/ice creams question is just silly (Deirdre provides the correct answer).

Still, if you're enjoying it and learning something yourself, go right ahead. :)
 

cloudspotter

Senior Member.
Hello…

During my spare time over the last few months I have been debating with quiet a few flat earthers, it's been a both frustrating and very rewarding process.

through these arguments I have encountered two problems, suggestions and solutions are more than welcome.

1. The vacuum next to atmosphere

Flat earthers while I am debating with them will almost guarantee to bring up this topic, and demand "imperical evidence" as they call it, by putting gas in a vacuum chamber and they will throw at you some bullshit about the second law of thermodynamics. Is there an explanation to this that will make sense to a flat earther?


As others have said, you're unlikely to change their minds and they're unlikely to be interested in your answers. However, for the audience of possible fence sitters who aren't joining in, you could try drawing the flat earthers out on their argument by getting them to put some numbers on it and describe the model they are trying to debunk.

For example; how much pressure are they talking about and at what point is this pressure next to the vacuum of space?

It may make them stop and think a little about their argument and demonstrate to the audience that the argument hasn't really been thought through
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Flat earth era seem to believe that mathematics is made up by the stone masons to prove globe earth. They refuse to believe that mathematics has any application to the real life and therefore all equations false. They will often use the example, "if you have five apples and you take away six how many are left" if you answer negative one they say there cannot be negative one apples and therefore math is false or if you say it's zero, they say "shouldn't it be minus one?". Please I need an explanation in words flat earther can understand.

Don't use apples, use dollars (or your currency of choice). Having a negative number of apples isn't intuitive, but being overdrawn is (for some of us, anyway :( ).

If you only have $5 but you have to give someone $6, you are left owing them $1, so you have minus one dollar.
 

Jason Bush

New Member
There's an explanation, the challenge is communicating that explanation, because it' probably doesn't make sense to most regular people either. The short answer is that the full pressure of the atmosphere is not "next to" a vaccum. It's many mailes away, and the pressure gradually decreases as you get further from the ground. The pressure gradient force is balanced at all points by gravity.

A simpler way of thinking about it is to observe that the pressure at the top of a mountain is lower than the pressure at the bottom, by a lot. Air flows from high to low pressure (in the absence of other forces) but there isn't a constant hurricane blowing upwards. because the pressure gradient force up the mountain is matched by gravity.



An explanation of what? Can you give an actual example of a flat earther using this argument?


Make a video of the explanation, then just show them that. It takes a lot longer to do, but ultimately saves a lot of time.

This may not help much, but a bit of information from the aviation world. Aircraft need to set their altimeter to the same setting as the airport ground station (barometric pressure) to ensure they are reading the correct altitude. In the USA, inches of mercury is used. On a standard day (68F/20c) a pressure altimeter would read 29.92 inches of mercury at sea level. This is the basis of which all aircraft in the United States NAS (National Airspace System) operate under. I can't speak about countries, other than they all use a scheme based off the same principle.

As aircraft move from point to point, the pressure, of course, does not stay static. As an aircraft transitions from one area or airport to another it must keep its altimeter matched with the nearest ground station. This is provided by automated ground weather stations (text to speech) the pilot can tune into, or is automatically provided by ATC when the aircraft moves from radar sector to radar sector. This ensures that if an aircraft is landing at let's say, an airport 1000 feet above sea level, the aircraft's altimeter will show 1000 feet at touchdown. It also ensures that when ATC issues an altitude for separation, all aircraft are on the same page(altimeter barometric setting).

Note: Altimeters typically don't display how far above ground you are, only how far above sea level. It's up to the pilot to know the airport elevation and adjust accordingly. One exception is when some stunt pilots perform. Some set their altimeter to read zero at field elevation when they take the runway for takeoff, regardless of barometric pressure. This works because they aren't going from airport to airport mixing in with other aircraft, and when you're doing a loop, knowing your AGL (above ground level) is very important!

Anyway, that's just a quick down and dirty explanation to set up my main point. When aircraft climb above 17,999 feet (in USA's NAS) they enter what we call the 'flight levels'. Two things happen in flight levels:

1st, altitudes are conveyed to ATC in flight level format. For example, 18,000 feet is now stated as Flight Level 180 (one-eight-zero), written "FL180".

2nd, the aircraft altimeter is now set to 29.92. Since the USA doesn't have much terrain at 18,000 it's easier to keep all the fast moving aircraft vertically separated if they all use a common altimeter setting. These rules apply from FL180 to FL600. Note: Some low lying countries begin flight levels much lower. I've seen as low as FL050 (5,000 feet).

So, now the trivia part. It just so happens that at 18,000 feet there's just as much air molecules below you as above. I've been told many times that is another reason the USA chose 18,000 feet for the transition point, but have never found it in writing. Attached however is a 1951 document from the Navy on 'Aerology' that explains that point, and pressure phenomena in general:

https://books.google.com/books?id=Z...DJCJoQ6AEwEXoECAMQAQ#v=snippet&q=half&f=false

Plus the Wiki on Altimeters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altimeter

Jason Bush
Operations Supervisor at the Northern California TRACON
35 years flying experience
30 years ATC experience
 
Last edited:
I can't even wrap my brain around someone saying you can't have negative numbers because there's no such thing as a negative apple. The entire concept of subtraction depends on negative values.

If I need a panel of plywood that's 2 feet wide and I measure my sheet of plywood I have is 18 inches wide, then the -6 inches of plywood I come up with tells me how much more plywood I need.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
The rejection of mathematics means you have to illustrate your points in a way that works without abstract thinking. Talking to FEers is much like arguing with people who are not capable of deeply abstract thought, and who therefore always felt highly uncomfortable in maths class. People engaged in debate with FEers have found highly creative ways to make their points directly. Foucault's pendulum may be an "ancestor" of this kind of demonstration, because it is very immediate: the pendulum spins because the Earth spins.

The schism in how we reason about the world and how they reason about the world goes back to the 17th century and Newton, who invented modern science out of what was then mere philosophy. The FEers notion of "scientific method" typically predates Newton and goes back to Bacon, and they reason about the world by intuition and similarity instead of hypotheses, predictions, and measurements. (I think their type of reasoning could be called Aristotelian, but I can't find the proper sources for this right now.)

If you are discussing with people to "win" a debate, that's usually a bad idea in any situation. To teach someone effectively, you have to listen to them, find out how they are thinking, and where their misconceptions are. Listening to many people talking at once is obviously a challenge, and unless ypu can moderate them to debate themselves and agree on what they're really thinking and believing, you're not going to have much success.

That said, here are some "non-scientific" arguments for the vaccuum problem:

a) Light seems to need a barrier: if we have darkness next to light, that only works if we block the light off. Yet we can have darkness with an unblocked light if that light is very far away. Imagine a dark night, a single candle, and someone takes it and walks away.

b) Pressure can be caused by weight. Imagine a stack of wooden Jenga blocks, the ones at the bottom are harder to pull out than the ones at the top. The pressure on the blocks at the bottom is higher than the pressure on the blocks near the top. This works precisely because there isn't a barrier in the stack.

c) direct measurement: Dwayne Kellum sent up several balloons to high altitude and documented the process on youtube. His recent videos show barometric data, and the presure goes down to vacuum chamber levels gradually, and without ever crossing a barrier.
image.jpeg
image.jpeg
Source: https://youtu.be/JkrIm0ZUyJY
 

jonnyH

Senior Member.
1. The vacuum next to atmosphere
A vacuum does't suck, it's the greater pressure of the sorrounding environment that pushes stuff into it. If you create a vacuum at ground level on Earth the pressure caused by the weight of atmosphere wants to push gas into it. if you are in a pressurised spacecraft and you open the door, the vacuum of space doesn't suck you out, the pressure inside the spacecraft pushes you out much like water from a super soaker, a potato from a potato canon, or a nail from a paslode.

The vacuum of space does not suck the atmosphere from the Earth because it does not suck. The pressure at ground level does not push the gas off the planet into the vacuum of space space because it is gravity pulling the gas of the atmosphere down that creates that pressure.
 
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