3/12/10  #563
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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain – he may be trying to control your mind with microwave beams.  Or he could be hiding the truth about aliens and UFOs.  Or he could be selling drugs to finance some government priority that the public need not know about.  Or he could be reading the latest issue of the number one, weekly conspiracy newsletter of strange stuff and high weirdness - Conspiracy Journal!

This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such foot-stomping stories as:

- French Bread Spiked with LSD in CIA Experiment -
- Uri Geller to Search for Egyptian Treasure on Scots Island -
- Newfoundland Fishermen Snag Sea Monster in Nets -
-
Raining Fish and Frogs: Legend or History?-
AND: The Earth is Flat? What Planet is he on?

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of
CONSPIRACY JOURNAL!

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~


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- THE MIND STALKERS DEPARTMENT -

French Bread Spiked with LSD in CIA Experiment

A 50-year mystery over the 'cursed bread' of Pont-Saint-Esprit, which left residents suffering hallucinations, has been solved after a writer discovered the US had spiked the bread with LSD as part of an experiment.
 
An American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD

In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted.

For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now, however, an American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War.

The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread) still haunts the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, southeast France.

On August 16, 1951, the inhabitants were suddenly racked with frightful hallucinations of terrifying beasts and fire.

One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: "I am a plane", before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to put it back. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets.

Time magazine wrote at the time: "Among the stricken, delirium rose: patients thrashed wildly on their beds, screaming that red flowers were blossoming from their bodies, that their heads had turned to molten lead."

Eventually, it was determined that the best-known local baker had unwittingly contaminated his flour with ergot, a hallucinogenic mould that infects rye grain. Another theory was the bread had been poisoned with organic mercury.

However, H P Albarelli Jr., an investigative journalist, claims the outbreak resulted from a covert experiment directed by the CIA and the US Army's top-secret Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

The scientists who produced both alternative explanations, he writes, worked for the Swiss-based Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company, which was then secretly supplying both the Army and CIA with LSD.

Mr Albarelli came across CIA documents while investigating the suspicious suicide of Frank Olson, a biochemist working for the SOD who fell from a 13th floor window two years after the Cursed Bread incident. One note transcribes a conversation between a CIA agent and a Sandoz official who mentions the "secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit" and explains that it was not "at all" caused by mould but by diethylamide, the D in LSD.

While compiling his book, A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments, Mr Albarelli spoke to former colleagues of Mr Olson, two of whom told him that the Pont-Saint-Esprit incident was part of a mind control experiment run by the CIA and US army.

After the Korean War the Americans launched a vast research programme into the mental manipulation of prisoners and enemy troops.

Scientists at Fort Detrick told him that agents had sprayed LSD into the air and also contaminated "local foot products".

Mr Albarelli said the real "smoking gun" was a White House document sent to members of the Rockefeller Commission formed in 1975 to investigate CIA abuses. It contained the names of a number of French nationals who had been secretly employed by the CIA and made direct reference to the "Pont St. Esprit incident." In its quest to research LSD as an offensive weapon, Mr Albarelli claims, the US army also drugged over 5,700 unwitting American servicemen between 1953 and 1965.

None of his sources would indicate whether the French secret services were aware of the alleged operation. According to US news reports, French intelligence chiefs have demanded the CIA explain itself following the book's revelations. French intelligence officially denies this.

Locals in Pont-Saint-Esprit still want to know why they were hit by such apocalyptic scenes. "At the time people brought up the theory of an experiment aimed at controlling a popular revolt," said Charles Granjoh, 71.

"I almost kicked the bucket," he told the weekly French magazine Les Inrockuptibles. "I'd like to know why."

Source: Telegraph (UK)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/7415082/French-bread-
spiked-with-LSD-in-CIA-experiment.html


- BEYOND THE LAND OF THE PHARAOHS DEPARTMENT -

Uri Geller to Search for Egyptian Treasure on Scots Island

Forth outcrop off North Berwick could have secret links to the Great Pyramids at Giza.

Spoon-bender Uri Geller is to hunt for Egyptian treasure on his Scottish island in the Firth of Forth.

Geller will look for artefacts relating to the legend of the exiled Egyptian princess Scota, whose boat is said to have anchored at Lamb Island, near North Berwick.

It will be Geller's first visit to the outcrop, which he bought last year.

He said: "I decided to buy the island after learning that its mysterious heritage dated back to the pharaohs.

"Indeed, the Lamb is one of three outcrops in the Firth of Forth whose geography exactly mirrors the layout of the Great Pyramids at Giza, leading some investigators to speculate that there are secret links between them.

"The Lamb is one of the keystones to British mythology and I am thrilled to be its new owner. I am fascinated by the connection between the pyramids and these islands."

Geller, a close friend of the late Michael Jackson, will sail out to the island on Saturday afternoon to search for clues and spend the night there in a tent.

Along with the islands of Fidra, Craigleith and the nearby Bass Rock, Lamb is a haven for wildlife and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Tom Brock OBE, chief executive of North Berwick’s Scottish Seabird Centre, said: "We had been looking at the Lamb purely from a wildlife perspective, so it's been fascinating to hear Uri's thoughts on it and we are looking forward to meeting him, particularly as he does seem to take the conservation aspect very seriously.

"The Lamb may have long been in the shadow of its world-famous big brother, the Bass Rock, but we're delighted that, thanks to Uri, it's going to become better known."
 
Source: STV News
http://news.stv.tv/scotland/161840-uri-geller-to-search-for-
egyptian-treasure-on-scots-island/

- STRANGE CREATURES FROM THE DEEP BLUE SEA DEPARTMENT

Newfoundland Fishermen Snag Sea Monster in Nets

The depths of the Atlantic Ocean are filled with all kinds of strange critters and creatures - maybe some we've never seen or heard of before.

Maybe John Marsh has discovered one of them.

Marsh, a fisherman in Lower Lance Cove, Trinity Bay, for nearly 60 years, says he's never seen anything like the animal found caught in his son and nephew's caplin traps last summer.

In a letter to The Telegram, Marsh describes in detail the creature he tried to help out of the trap, from its rounded teeth and camel-like lips to the end of its three-pointed tail.

"It's almost too strange to talk about. It almost don't sound real, but I told you the story of it and we've seen it," Marsh says over the phone from his Lower Lance Cove home.

The day his son and nephew were out fishing, Marsh says he was called to help them cut something out of the nets - a whale got caught, they thought.

But he immediately noticed its eight- to 10-foot-long neck and the fact that it didn't have a blowhole like a whale.

It was "smooth as glass," with pretty green and blue skin, he says.

"If it was a whale or anything like that he would have had old barnacles and scratches on it and stuff like that, but this was perfectly clean just like he come from a washer," he says, explaining that leads him to believe it was probably living near or in fresh water.

He didn't have a camera with him and had to leave to go to a doctor's appointment, Marsh says, explaining he'd hoped to go back for the carcass, but when he did it had sunk.

"I could have made a fortune on it," he says. "It's amazing I'm telling you."

Jack Lawson, a marine mammals research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, says he wishes Marsh had of taken a tissue sample of the animal so testing could have been done.

He read the letter Marsh sent to The Telegram and says he's never heard of anything with that combination of traits.

"Obviously, if he saw something, it would have been great if he could have cut a piece off it or kept it. That's the frustrating part for me. I would have loved to have seen what it was," Lawson says. "I love mysteries.

"If it were a new species it would be really exciting for something that large to have never been seen before."

Although he'd love to have proof of a new sea monster, Lawson says it's possible what Marsh saw was any one of number of things that are already known to be in the Atlantic Ocean.

"I know that some of the large whales that we've seen off shore that have been vessel struck end up having unusual shapes to their bodies. The configuration that we're used to seeing for a whale gets quite changed when they decompose," Lawson says.

"We do occasionally get unusual things cast up. Usually it turns out to be dead sharks or dead whales that have decomposed to the point where they're not easily identifiable. And we've had - for instance on the south coast - my supervisor was down there in 2002 looking at a sea monster down there, and it turned out to be a sperm whale, but you wouldn't have known it until they did the DNA on it."

It's also possible Marsh saw a cadborosaurus, says Lawson, citing a much-rumoured, long-necked creature spotted hundreds of times on the west coast of Canada.

But after being shown descriptions and artist renderings of the cadborosaurus, Marsh said that's not what he saw.

Either way, Lawson has hope there are other things out there to discover, and perhaps Marsh's monster is one of them.

"They certainly seem to be discovering new animals every year," Lawson says.

"It's possible that we have things out in our waters that just haven't cast themselves up on shore yet."

Sea monster sightings certainly aren't a rarity in this province.

In April 2000, Bonavista resident Bob Crewe swore he saw something similar to what Marsh says he saw last summer.

Crewe said at the time he was driving along the cape when he spotted something in the ocean. He stopped his truck and got out for better look at the animal, which he described to be like a wide snake with a snout at the end of its long neck.

Crewe also didn't get pictures of the creature he saw swim off towards the lighthouse.

In May 1997, in Little Bay East, Fortune Bay, fisherman Charles Bungay described seeing a creature with a long neck and gray, scaly skin.

Bungay and a fishing partner spotted what they thought were floating garbage bags and decided to haul them aboard their boat. When they got close, however, the creature reared up its head. He described it has having a neck about six feet long, a head like a horse, horns or long ears, and dark eyes. He estimated its overall length at about 30 to 40 feet.

The creature slipped under the water and disappeared.

At the time, some people suggested the Fortune Bay fishermen actually saw a giant squid.

A Bay L'Argent fishermen saw a similar creature four or five years prior to that sighting. He described it as being like a dinosaur.

And if you want to see a sea monster this year you might want to try in Robert's Arm on the Northern Peninsula, where the town's Come Home Year will focus on "Everything Cressie," or the monster in Crescent Lake.

According to local folklore, in the 1950s two men said they spotted an overturned boat in Crescent Lake as they walked the shore, concerned they started to help but the "monster" turned and slipped into the water.

The 10-day event this July asks former residents to come home and spot Cressie.

Source: The Telegram
http://www.thetelegram.com/index.cfm?sid=330630&sc=79

- THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT DEPARTMENT -

Chief Exorcist says Devil is in Vatican

The Devil is lurking in the very heart of the Roman Catholic Church, claims the Vatican's chief exorcist.

Father Gabriele Amorth said people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron.

He added that the assault on Pope Benedict XVI on Christmas Eve by a mentally unstable woman and the sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries, were proof that the Anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See.
 
"The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences," said Father Amorth, 85, who has been the Holy See's chief exorcist for 25 years.

"He can remain hidden, or speak in different languages, or even appear to be sympathetic. At times he makes fun of me. But I'm a man who is happy in his work."

While there was "resistance and mistrust" towards the concept of exorcism among some Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI has no such doubts, Father Amorth said. "His Holiness believes wholeheartedly in the practice of exorcism. He has encouraged and praised our work," he added.

The evil influence of Satan was evident in the highest ranks of the Catholic hierarchy, with "cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon," Father Amorth said.

In a rare insight into the world of exorcism, the Italian priest told La Repubblica newspaper that the 1973 film The Exorcist gave a "substantially exact" impression of what it was like to be possessed by the Devil.

People possessed by evil sometimes had to be physically restrained by half a dozen people while they were exorcised. They would scream, utter blasphemies and spit out sharp objects, he said.

"From their mouths, anything can come out – pieces of iron as long as a finger, but also rose petals," said Father Amorth, who claims to have performed 70,000 exorcisms. "When the possessed dribble and slobber, and need cleaning up, I do that too. Seeing people vomit doesn't bother me. The exorcist has one principal duty - to free human beings from the fear of the Devil."

The attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II by a Turkish gunman in 1981 and recent revelations of "violence and paedophilia" committed by Catholic priests against children in their care was also the work of the Devil, said Father Amorth, who has written a book about his vocation, Memoirs of an Exorcist, which was published recently.

Father Amorth, who is the president of the Association of Exorcists and fought as a partisan during the war, has previously claimed that both Hitler and Stalin were possessed by the Devil.

In an interview with Vatican Radio in 2006, he said: "Of course the Devil exists and he can not only possess a single person but also groups and entire populations.

"I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed. All you have to do is think about what Hitler and Stalin did."

He also condemned the Harry Potter books, saying they were dangerous because they dabbled in the occult and failed to draw a clear distinction between "the Satanic art" of black magic and benevolent white magic.

Source: The Telegraph (UK)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/
7416458/Chief-exorcist-says-Devil-is-in-Vatican.html

- STRANGE DEATHS DEPARTMENT -

Mystery of 75 Starlings Falling From the Sky


The deaths of 75 starlings which appeared to fall from the sky and crash land on to a driveway in Somerset has mystified the RSPCA animal charity.

The birds were spotted falling onto the entrance of a house in Coxley in Somerset on Sunday 7 March.

Animal welfare officer Alison Sparkes, who was called by police, said: "It was a remarkable sight, I've never seen anything like it."

There is no evidence the birds were ill or poisoned before they hit the ground.

Ms Sparkes said: "Onlookers said they heard a whooshing sound and then the birds just hit the ground.

"They had fallen on to the ground in quite a small area, about 12ft (3.6m) in diameter.

"They appeared to be in good condition other than injuries that they appear to have suffered when they hit they ground.

"Our best guess is that this happened because the starlings were trying to escape a predator such as a sparrow hawk and ended up crash landing."

She said that the birds had suffered broken beaks, broken legs and wings and abdominal injuries.

Five of the birds survived the fall but had to be put down because of their severe injuries.

Householder Julie Knight, 53, returned to her home in the quiet village of Coxley at 4.15pm to find the macabre scene.

Julie, a nurse, said: 'It was like something out of an horror film - like Hitchcock's The Birds - it was absolutely terrifying.

'The sky was raining starlings. One of my neighbours saw them. They seemed to just fall out of the sky. About 70 were dead straight away.

'There must have been over 100 birds in total. I've been a country girl all my life and I've never seen anything like it.'

'The only way to describe what they looked like is that they seemed to have had a fright and were petrified.

Similar incidents of flocks of birds plummeting to earth have been reported all over the world, with pesticides and collisions sometimes being blamed.

Lloyd Scott, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: 'This is one of the oddest things I've ever heard about.

'We've certainly never come across anything similar.'

He said it was unlikely that the birds had flown into each other in confusion.

'Starlings have natural habits and behaviour, when flying around in a murmuration they relate each movement to the seven birds closest to them.

'They are hardwired into doing this and on instinct they stay away from each other.'

He speculated that the birds may have flown into a glass conservatory while taking part in their sky dance, but Mrs Knight insisted they had simply fallen out of the sky.

Post mortems on the starlings carried out today proved inconclusive.

They were all found to have physical injuries - with most suffering either broken wings or a shattered beak - but no underlying health problems or toxins which could explain their sudden deaths.

Source: BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/somerset/8560398.stm

- KEEP YOUR EYES TO THE SKIES DEPARTMENT -

Raining Fish and Frogs: Legend or History?


A recent report in Northern Territory News has provided evidence that food falling from the sky is more than a legend. It was reported that on Feb. 25 and 26, fish landed like rain on Lajamanu, Australia, 200 miles from the coast.

The fish, believed to be a small white type called the spangled perch, are common in northern Australia. According to Balmer, the fish were alive when they fell.

Residents from Lajamanu, Maningrida, and Hermannsburg have told the Northern Territory News about their experiences of seeing the raining fish. One said that, when he was a child, his peers would go fishing in an oval (an Australian football field) when fish fell from the sky.

Villagers in Yoro, Honduras, are accustomed to preparing containers like buckets and basins every year during the rainy season between May and July in expectation of the annual fish-fall from the sky.

Although there are no other cases quite as cyclic and repetitive as Yoro’s, the raining down of aquatic animals, amphibians, and other even more bizarre things have occurred in other areas.

In 1578, large yellow mice poured from the skies over Bergen, Norway.

In January 1877, the prestigious Scientific American recorded a rainfall consisting of snakes that measured up to about 20 inches long in Memphis, Tennessee.

In February 1877, a yellow, flaky substance fell in Penchloch, Germany. The substance was reportedly thick, had a fragrance, and came in the shapes of arrows, coffee beans, and round discs.

In December 1974, during the course of several days it rained hard-boiled eggs over an elementary school in Berkshire, England.

In 1969, it rained flesh and blood over a large area of Brazil.

In 1989, wooden dolls with heads that were burned or cut off fell from the sky over the town of Las Pilas, Cantabria.

In 2007, it rained small frogs over Alicante, Spain; and spiders rained down in Cerro San Bernardo, Salta, Argentina. A reader of The Epoch Times took a photo of the event.

On July 31, 2008, it rained blood (reportedly confirmed by lab analysis) in the town of Choco, Colombia.

U.S. researcher Charles Fort (1874–1932) spent years studying foreign rains. He collected about 60,000 clippings from newspapers, magazines, and other sources about unusual occurrences. Throughout his career, Fort managed to record instances of raining crosses, coins, snakes, ancient Chinese stamps, blood, frogs, insects, cotton, oils, and liquid substances.

Northern Territory News cited Australian Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Ashley Patterson, who attempted to explain the fish rain in Australia. His theory is not unlike that of many other scientists who believe that fish can be sucked up into the clouds by twisters, waterspouts, or tornados, travel with the clouds, and then fall down again, landing away from their site of origin.

“With an updraft, [fish and water picked up] could get up high—up to 60,000 or 70,000 feet,” Patterson said. “Or [it is] possibly from a tornado over a large water body—but we haven't had any reports.”

However, in the majority of cases, this theory doesn’t seem to explain why only a particular animal or object would fall from the sky. Why would a current of air choose to lift up, for example, all the frogs from a lagoon without taking the water, mud, algae, and other species from that very same ecosystem?

The explanation becomes much less plausible when, like in the case of the fish rain in Australia, there are no bodies of water nearby, and neither hurricanes nor tornados were recorded at the moment of or during the days prior to the anomaly.

Some also try to explain the falling of man-made objects as objects falling from airplanes, but that could not have happened without people seeing the airplanes.

In many cases, people tend to attribute such phenomena to experiments by alien craft or to a dimensional crossroads, where things suddenly materialize or disappear from the skies. In some instances the phenomena have been blamed on a “cosmic joker,” referring to a higher being with nothing more to do than be entertained by humans’ reactions to such strange rains.

Until today, material rainfalls have done nothing more than to generate doubt, since these events have been recorded in documents like the Bible and in ancient Egyptian writings.

Are these selective waterspouts? Are they weather phenomena that are perfectly explainable? Are they messages from the gods? Whatever the case, the next time the sky darkens you’d better be forewarned; it may not just be a watery downpour.

Source: The Epoch Times
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/30887/

- WATCH OUT FOR THE EDGE DEPARTMENT -

The Earth is Flat? What Planet is he on?

The Flat Earth Society has become a byword for sticking your head in the sand, whatever the scientific facts. David Adam tries to make sense of its new president, Daniel Shenton

Daniel Shenton should be the most irrational man in the world. As the new president of the Flat Earth Society, you'd ­imagine he would also think that evolution is a scam and ­global warming a myth. He should ­argue that smoking does not cause ­cancer and HIV does not lead to Aids.

Yes, that Flat Earth Society, a group that has become a living metaphor for backward thinking and a refusal to face scientific facts. Yes, it is still going, and no, this isn't an early April fool.

In fact, Shenton turns out to have resolutely mainstream views on most issues. The 33-year-old American, ­originally from Virginia but now living and working in London, is happy with the work of Charles Darwin. He thinks the evidence for man-made global warming is strong, and he dismisses suggestions that his own government was involved with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He is mainstream on most issues, but not all. For when Shenton rides his motorbike, he says it is not gravity that pins him to the road, but the rapid upward motion of a disc-shaped planet. Countries, according to him, spread across this flat world as they appear to do on a map, with Antarctica as a ring of mountains strung around the edge. And, yes, you can fall off.

If you thought that flat Earthism was gone, think again. The scientific evidence is stacked against Shenton, ­obviously, just as it is against those who think global warming is a hoax and that the dead stalk the Earth as ghosts – but that doesn't appear to trouble him in the least.

"There is no unified flat Earth model," Shenton suggests, "but the most commonly accepted one is that it's more or less a disc, with a ring of something to hold in the water. The height and substance of that, no one is absolutely sure, but most people think it's mountains with snow and ice."

The Earth is flat, he argues, because it appears flat. The sun and moon are spherical, but much smaller than mainstream science says, and they rotate around a plane of the Earth, because they appear to do so.

Inevitably, Shenton's ­argument forces him down all kinds of logical blind alleys – the non-existence of gravity, and his argument that most space exploration, and so the moon landings, are faked. But, while many flat Earthers have problems with the idea of orbiting satellites, ­Shenton navigates the ­London streets using GPS. He was also happy to fly from the US to Britain, but says an aircraft that flew over the Antarctic ­barrier would drop from the sky, and from the planet.

The Flat Earth Society was originally formed as the Universal Zetetic Society in 1884, after the Greek word zeteo, "to seek". Zeteticism, Shenton says, ­emphasises experience and reason over the ­"trusting acceptance of dogma" – or, it seems, overwhelming evidence. Only a personal trip into space to see the world as it is for himself would ­persuade him. "But even then, in seeing it, I would have to be convinced there weren't any tricks involved."

The International Flat Earth Society was formally founded in 1956. Shenton resurrected the society and claimed its presidency last year, ­following years of inaction after the death of former ­president Charles Johnson in 2001, who had some 3,000 registered followers. He has so far recruited 60 members through the society's website, which boasts about 9,000 visitors to its discussion forums.

"I can't say what everybody's motive is for joining, but there are quite a few who I know are as serious as I am," he says. "Lots of people log on once to hurl abuse but they tend to get bored and go away. We're not ­fanatical about it and we're not going to engage in pointless, ­angry discussions."

The website features scanned issues of the society's newsletter, the notorious Flat Earth News, from its 1970s and 80s heyday. Sample headlines include: Sun Is a Light 32 Miles Across, Australia Not Down Under, and World Is Flat and That's That.

"I thought it was a shame that all these documents would go unseen ­forever," Shenton says. But what about the evidence? In an age where ­astronauts send photographs of a spherical planet from an orbiting space station, how can the concept of a flat Earth persist?

"Look at what special effects are capable of: you can produce any photograph, any video. I don't think there is solid proof. I'm not intentionally being stubborn about it, but I feel our senses tell us these things, and it would take an extraordinarily level of evidence to counteract those. How many people have actually investigated it? Have you?"

Last year, Shenton did just that, travelling to a six-mile stretch of straight water along the Old Bedford River in Norfolk, the scene of many infamous flat Earth experiments. "There should have been curvature, but I didn't see what mainstream science says should have been there," he says.

Shenton's critics, it should be pointed out, can fall back on spherical trigonometry and astronomical ­observations that date right back to Aristotle in 330BC. In fact, the idea of a flat Earth was widespread only until about the fourth century BC, when the Ancient Greeks first proposed it was a sphere. By the Middle Ages, most ­people in Europe were convinced, ­contrary to popular stories. "A lot of the stuff about Columbus isn't true; there weren't mutinies about whether they would fall off the Earth," Shenton says.

The modern Flat Earth movement dates back to Victorian England, and biblical literalist Samuel Rowbotham and his followers, who promoted their cause by engaging top scientists of the day in public debate.

Shenton himself used to accept that the Earth was round, but began ­asking questions after hearing musician Thomas Dolby's 1984 album The Flat Earth. (When Shenton reconvened the society last year, Dolby accepted membership number 00001.) "It was the late 1990s and I started doing research into what the Flat Earth Society was. I had heard of it and, when I did some more research, I eventually ended up believing its ideas were true."

It may sound like Shenton is playing games, that the reborn society is a clever metaphor or marketing tool for another cause – but he insists he is serious.

"I haven't taken this position just to be difficult. To look around, the world does appear to be flat, so I think it is ­incumbent on others to prove ­decisively that it isn't. And I don't think that burden of proof has been met yet."

Source: The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2010/feb/23/flat-earth-society

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