BORZBALLS, IOWA (Rooters agency) – “Go ahead then, if you insist. But don’t blame me if they all fall off the edge.” With these words of warning about sending the US Navy too far into the Pacific Ocean, Republican politician Bud Factotum concluded a recent discussion about AGD – Anthropogenic Geographic Discovery.
Factotum is one of a growing number of declared and undeclared candidates for his party’s presidential nomination, and the attitude toward AGD is becoming an issue among them.
Many Republican voters are skeptical about AGD, especially about the view of most geographers that the Earth is approximately spherical in shape. Whatever their own views, the presidential hopefuls must not alienate these voters if they are to have a chance in the primaries. On the other hand, they don’t want to appear fanatical about it to the fairly large majority of other voters they would need to convince to win the November 2016 presidential election.
The dilemma this creates for the candidates was visible at the recent Raw and Roar barbecue held here by Republicans, which was attended and addressed by nearly all of the candidates.
Senator Mark Arboreal was one of the most AGD-skeptical of the candidates at the R&R event. He says that AGD is “probably an atheist conspiracy to attempt to discredit the Bible,” and calls for the closing down of NASA, which he calls “an obvious waste of money.”
Curtly Fired, as a former business executive, was similarly opposed to AGD, saying she is certain that “the President and his liberal geographers have created this whole round Earth thing as a way to sneak in their anti-business policies.”
Factotum, whose remarks at the barbecue are quoted above, is not quite so categorical. When pushed to state his view on whether the Earth is round or flat, he says, “I’m not a geographer. I think we should leave it up to the experts to establish the truth before we act on either view.”
His agnosticism is shared by Senator Random Poll and former Governor R.I. Petty. Senator Poll points out that many good Tea Partyers are suspicious of anything the government says about the shape of the world, and with good reason. Governor Petty says “We don’t have the settled science to tell people that there’s only one valid map of the world, and that they should disbelieve what they see.”
The three all point out that geographers are not unanimous in their views of the question. While the International Flat Earth Research Society is not currently active, they refer to a long history of scientific investigations – beginning with Samuel Rowbotham’s famous Bedford Level experiment of 1838 – that has convinced a substantial minority of researchers that the Earth is indeed flat. Flat Earth Societies exist in a number of countries.
Another view is advanced by two governors, Rick Risky and Posh Crawler. They say that it does appear that the Earth is round, but we can’t know the reasons for that, and there’s not much we can do about it in any case, so everybody should concentrate on some other topic, like reducing taxes on businesses and rich people or outlawing unions.
This view seems to be shared by Senator Texas Crude, who objected strongly to the way in which partisans of a round Earth disparage those who disagree with them. “Today the round Earther fanatics are the equivalent of climate-change denialists,” he said, causing listeners to scratch their heads and cartoonists and satirists across the country to begin praying for a Crude presidency.
An attempt at putting together a compromise position came from Jeb Myturn, considered by many to be the front-runner for the party’s nomination. “Nobody,” he said, “believes that the Earth is a perfect sphere. The majority of geographers call it an ‛oblate spheroid’. So it might be round at the edges, but it can’t be completely round, because that would mean a level playing field was impossible.”
He was confident, he added, that Americans would never vote for a playing field that wasn’t level.