The Extreme Case Of The Flat Earth

Conversation, Reading and Video Activity

1. Facts, Opinions and Going Too Far:
 Read the following definition and discuss the questions that follow.

An opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement about matters commonly considered to be subjective. It is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. What distinguishes fact from opinion is that facts are verifiable.

  • Do you think you have strong opinions?
  • Are opinions important or just facts are?
  • Is there an extended opinion these days that you strongly disagree with?
  • Do you value the opinion of the media, TV news, newspapers, etc.? Why (not)?
  • What could you say is going too far in terms of opinions?

2.The Edge Of The World

(A) Read and analyze the poem below, and answer the two questions at the end. 

Edge of the World
by Shel Silverstein*

Columbus said the world is round?
Don’t you believe a word of that.
For I’ve been down to the edge of the world,
Sat on the edge where the wild wind whirled,
peeked over the ledge where the blue smoke curls,
And I can tell you, boys and girls,
the world is FLAT!

  • What do you imagine you would think about the shape of the Earth if you were a prehistoric or caveman?
  • What would you base your ideas on?
  • How would you determine the shape of the planet?

*Shel Silverstein (1930-1999), was an American poet, singer-songwriter, musician, and cartoonist. His funny poems for children are memorable.

(B)Reading Segment: Read the text and answer the following question.
“What makes information acceptable and how do we discard facts from opinions?”

Even If The Earth Looks Flat...

From ancient times people have had different notions about the shape of our planet. Is the earth flat like a pancake or spherical like a globe?

Each concept has had its supporters. The Sumerians, Babylonians, ancient Egyptians, and most Greeks believed in a flat earth. Some ancient Greek scientists, as well as many Church Fathers like Albertus Magus, and St. Thomas supported the round earth.

Intuitively, our simple observations support a flat planet. Some early explanations for this idea used a vivid imagination, including water on all edges, pillars to hold up the sky, and a giant turtle and elephants to hold up the world. Later, with travels to other lands and better observation of star movements these explanations became less acceptable. In late medieval and early modern times,  Copernicus, Galileo, Columbus, and Magellan started expanding the notion of a round earth.

The process of science is based on curiosity and insistence on evidence. People who are more dependent on opinions or media have not developed skills for being skeptical of information sources. Many could still believe nowadays that the Earth is flat. However opinions do not turn into facts just for the number of supporters, even if they seem to be the most popular ones.

Stanley Weinberg - Magrane et al, SPAEA.

(C)Video Segment: The Eye Of The Beholder

1.Discuss the following questions:

What is your opinion of our planet?
Would you say it is positive or negative? Why (not)?
What makes you think so? What do you think influences your opinions?
Is it based on facts too?

2.Watch the following short made by The Upthink Lab, shot on location in the High Sierra Nevada, Canadian Rockies and Southern Appalachians.

Length: 3.41 minutes 

Eye of the Beholder from The Upthink Lab on Vimeo.

Did you like it? Why (not)?
What does the film encourage the viewer  to do?
After watching it, what do you think of your own answers to part 1?
What are your conclusions?

1 comment:

  1. FYI, you can make a flat and round earth! you shall use the word Spherical instead.