ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why do we Think the Earth is a Sphere? A Question to Stimulate Critical Thinking

Updated on February 24, 2013

Modern science and common sense tell us that the earth, the moon, the sun, and many other celestial bodies are spheres, but why should we take this information for granted as fact?

When I first heard about the Flat Earth Society and researched them, I laughed and told myself "OMG, these people are crazy." However, I started thinking, and I realized that I have no right to condemn anyone for believing that the earth is flat for the simple reason that I do not personally have access to the conclusive scientific evidence that the world is a sphere.

According to the Flat Earth Society, Antarctica is a wall of ice surrounding a disc-shaped world.
According to the Flat Earth Society, Antarctica is a wall of ice surrounding a disc-shaped world.

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to argue that the Flat Earth Society is right and that the world is flat, I am just using this situation as an example of how critical thinking can help people to better tolerate and accept one another, despite our different beliefs and opinions.

I am proposing a theoretical Third Level in critical thinking. The First Level, in this instance, is the out-dated belief by the FES that the world is flat, the Second Level is the discredit thereof by people who adhere to modern science and common sense, and the Third Level is the consideration that the FES has the right to its belief, and that it should not just be condemned because it goes against knowledge that we take for granted as a society. The result of this Third Level critical thinking is that the mind is opened, and while not personally believed, seemingly outrageous claims are at least brought into perspective as something to be tolerated as the beliefs of others.

Think about it, most of us are not astronauts and have therefore not observed the planet from a spacecraft. Similarly, I am sure none of us have single-handedly graphed the surface of the planet to prove it spherical. I know that this is gross oversimplification and that I could go on, but you get the idea. Essentially, we only know that the world is a sphere from what we have read in books, seen on television, been told by others, etc. I am not proposing a conspiracy theory in which the government is lying to the population about the shape of the planet, but I am trying to demonstrate that it is possible for them to do so since we can not see the world from afar for ourselves.

While it would be an immensely elaborate lie for no particular gain, as far as any of us know, the information we have regarding the structure of the planet might not necessarily be true. Therefore, it is safe to believe that the world is a sphere (among most other things the science books tell us), but think about whether or not you can know something for sure before you judge someone else for his or her alternate beliefs thereof.

Critical thinking will make this world, spherical or not, a better place.

Flat or Spherical?

How sure are you that the world a sphere?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 5 years ago from Canada

      I like your approach. I've always considered this to be one of my "flimsier" hubs. I agree that due consideration is what we owe the authorities and professionals in whatever field. Of course, not without a healthy dose of critical evaluation, as you say.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      This approach to critical thinking may be appropriate as an intellectual exercise, but I'm not sure we can afford to encourage it at this point. We live in a world where the great preponderance of scientific evidence says human activity is accelerating global warming, but many refuse to accept what the scientific "authorities" say on this matter. Yet vitally important policy decisions that have a real impact on our future hinge on whether the electorate chooses to accept as true information we cannot individually verify. Maybe what we need to focus on is that we all have a duty to critically and rigorously evaluate information provided by authorities rather than just accepting that everybody has the right to believe whatever they want.

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 5 years ago from Canada

      I personally think the earth is probably a sphere, but in general, I think we need to be more careful about what we take for granted.

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 5 years ago from Malaysia

      This is really a critical process! Can't really judge what it the shape of our earth!

    • rdlang05 profile image

      rdlang05 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Haha well in that case it's well written for something so spontaneous.

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 5 years ago from Canada

      Thank you for your thoughts... I really just pulled this one out of the air a couple years ago, to be perfectly honest :)

    • rdlang05 profile image

      rdlang05 5 years ago from Minnesota

      It is this kind of epistemological skepticism that lead to post-modernism and pluralism. It's ok to "keep an open mind" as you say, or to "tolerate", but (though I think you may disagree with me) there is one truth, and sometimes it is just reality that one person is right and one is wrong.

      Interesting premise though.

    • profile image

      pisces chick 7 years ago

      no info


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)