The History of The Flat Earth Society

Darhell Akitani Bob, Reporter

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For most of humanity’s history, we have known that the earth is round and not flat.The earliest documented mention of the spherical Earth concept dates from around the 5th century BC, when it was mentioned by ancient Greek philosophers, even Columbus knew the earth was round, but in the 1970s and ‘80s, a man named Charles Kenneth Johnson became a minor celebrity for his refusal to believe the Earth is round, and would create a group that would one day have members all around the globe.

Johnson had a good friend called Samuel Shenton who founded a small fringe group dubbed the Flat Earth Society in the 1950s. In 1972 Johnson became the president of the society after Shenton’s death, transforming the group from a small collection of conspiracy theorists into an organization with thousands of members.

He was a big figure in the national media at the time and became known for cheerfully insisting the rest of the world was being duped by scientists, and believed the earth was flat with a giant sheet of ice surrounding the edges, and that the Apollo missions and the 1969 moon landing were fake plots by NASA to keep humanity away from the truth of the flat Earth.

After Johnson took control of the flat earth society, it blew up significantly, growing up to 3,500 under his leadership, but began to decline after a fire at his house in 1997 which destroyed all of the records and contacts of the society’s members, and Johnson died in 2001.

But in 2004, Daniel Shenton (not related to Samuel) resurrected the Flat Earth Society, basing it around a web-based discussion forum. This eventually led to the official relaunch of the society in October 2009 and the creation of a new website, featuring a public collection of flat Earth literature and a wiki.

In 2004, the society began accepting new members for the first time since 2001, with musician Thomas Dolby becoming the first to join the newly remade society. As of July 2017, over 500 people have become members.