No, the Earth is Not Flat

Reflections on a painful discovery

Julio Vincent Gambuto
3 min readAug 17, 2022

Illustration by David Foldvari | Source

At some point, you will have to admit you were wrong. It is the hardest thing on Earth to do. After all of these years of talking about how flat the Earth is — first casually entertaining the idea that it simply ends at the edge, then standing with the others who shouted that it was as flat as a disc, a dish, a pancake. Then flying the banners and wearing the hats. We know you’re trapped. You can’t get out. You bought in early, and they just kept drawing you in deeper and deeper. Turns out, the town crier is a liar. So are the mapmakers. And the ship builders.

We know, you need to be right. It’s one of our strongest emotional needs. So you keep doubling down on its flatness. But it simply isn’t so. It is not flat. This is hard. Admitting you’re wrong means so much more. It’s not just about the Earth. It means you might be wrong about other things, too — in your village, in your home, in your heart. Are you respectable in the eyes of the noblemen? Do your kinfolk love you? Are you a good cobbler? Don’t worry. Let those questions be separate inquiries. Let those lead to their own sleepless fortnights. This time, it just means you were wrong about the shape of the Earth. That’s all. It’s okay.

We get it. It seemed like a reasonable choice: flat or not flat. We were all picking sides and enjoying the jousting, though it was muddier than usual in the square. The idea of a round, globular Earth was unimaginable, despite all the drawings and the firsthand accounts and whatever the seafarers said. How could it all just be a ball? A flat Earth seemed to make sense. Fuck the Spherists. They’re all witches. Some of us are; most of us aren’t. We forgive you. We’re angry, but we forgive you. We know we’re not your favorite people. We’re so self-righteous. We think we know it all. Trust me, it was as painful for us to watch as it has been for you to discover. One can only insist for so long before a planet shows its genuine and natural form.

We just want to move on, with you by our side. There is so much work to do, especially now that we know the Earth’s fullness, its vast dimensions. First, we have to save it, so that the sphere doesn’t burn to the fucking ground. Then we have to re-chart our course. It is so much harder to steer the ship if you’re stewing. And if we have to spend any more time listening to the town crier. And the mapmakers. And the ship builders. Damn shin-kickers. We’re all exhausted.

You will feel foolish. For a minute. It will hurt. Then, it will pass. And you will be relieved. And we can all go on and be right about something else. What do we all think of the wheel and indoor plumbing?

Julio Vincent Gambuto

Author of “Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!” from Avid Reader Press at Simon & Schuster // Now available in US and UK //