Excerpt from The Sphere of Influence by Edward Hendrie
Heliocentric creationist Dr. Danny Faulkner wrote an article, titled Flat Earth Proof—Just a Mirage, wherein he tried to present light refraction as the reason that distant landmarks that should be below the horizon on a spherical earth can still be seen. The problem with Faulkner’s argument is that the typical light refraction actually makes distant objects appear lower and thus harder to see. That means that light refraction actually works against the advocates for the spherical earth model. This author explains that point in detail, with authority, including photographs, in The Greatest Lie on Earth (Expanded Edition).
Dr. Faulkner begins his article on the premise that the visibility of the Chicago skyline in Joshua Nowicki’s famous photograph and Samuel Rowbotham’s experiments on the Old Bedford Canal are not evidence that the earth is flat, but rather evidence of light refraction due to temperature inversion causing superior mirages above the horizon.
Samuel Rowbotham’s experiment, to which Dr. Faulkner refers, was conducted more than 100 years ago in Cambridge County, England, where there is an artificial canal, called the “Old Bedford.” The canal is approximately twenty miles in length. Rowbotham arranged to have a boat, with a flag on it that was exactly 5 feet above the surface of the water. The boat was rowed to Welney Bridge, which was exactly six statute miles in a straight line from Rowbotham, who had waded into the water. Rowbotham stood in the middle of the canal with a telescope exactly 8 inches above the surface of the water. In looking through the eyepiece of the telescope, he observed the receding boat during the whole period required to sail to Welney Bridge, “[t]he flag and the boat were distinctly visible throughout the whole distance!” If the earth were a sphere, as it is supposed, the flag should not have been visible to Rowbotham. The boat and flag should have been 11 feet 8 inches below the horizon as depicted in the diagram below.
Rowbotham was able to see the flag and boat for the entire 6-mile journey in the canal, all the way to the bridge, as depicted in the diagram below.
The fact that Rowbotham was able to see the flag and boat for the entire 6 miles, proves that the earth is flat. Rowbotham did many similar experiments at the canal that all proved that there was no curvature of the earth.
In the photograph taken by Joshua Nowicki as he stood at Grand Mere Park, Michigan, which is approximately 57 miles away, across lake Michigan from Chicago, the Chicago skyline could be clearly seen. If the earth were a globe, Chicago would be below the horizon. The only way that Chicago could be seen from the western shore of Michigan is if the world is flat. If the earth were a sphere all of the buildings should have been below the horizon. Indeed, the top of the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower) would be 194 feet below the horizon. The Nowicki photograph is below. The details of the geometric calculations are given in The Greatest Lie on Earth. The Nowicki photograph depicts all of the buildings on the Chicago skyline. The photograph is an impossibility on a spherical earth.
Dr. Faulkner tries to portray the Nowicki photograph not as evidence of a flat earth but rather as evidence of a superior mirage. Dr. Faulkner’s premise is that superior mirages, which are caused by temperature inversions, explain why objects are visible over the horizon on the supposedly spherical earth. Dr. Faulkner states that conditions for superior mirages are common during late spring and into summer.
Joshua Nowicki’s photograph looks nothing like a superior mirage. Below is a picture of a superior mirage of Chicago taken from approximately 50 miles away across Lake Michigan from Warren Dunes State Park, Michigan, by Joshua Super and Shalee Blackmer. Notice that the buildings in the mirage appear upside down and quite indistinct in their appearance.
Dr. Faulkner theorizes that light “continually is internally reflected, causing the light to bend around the edge of the earth. Therefore, with a temperature inversion, one can see objects that lie well beyond the edge of the earth’s curvature when viewing close to the surface of water.” Indeed, Dr. Faulkner’s theory of light refraction aligns with the orthodox scientific explanation for how distant landmarks can be seen over horizon of the supposed spherical earth. Dr. Faulkner concludes that Rowbotham’s findings were not evidence of a flat earth but rather evidence of a superior mirage.
“I’ve previously discussed the Bedford level experiment, in which I explained that atmospheric refraction bent the light of the boat along the surface of the earth, making the boat visible, even though the boat actually was below the direct line of sight. Here I wish to expand upon the phenomenon that caused Rowbotham’s experiment to go awry. Rowbotham was a victim of a superior mirage. When flat-earthers hear this, they normally respond by dismissing this as impossible, because mirages supposedly are inverted images, but Rowbotham saw the boat right side up the entire time. However, this confuses superior and inferior mirages. What is the difference? First we must discuss the physics of light a bit.”
Dr. Faulkner implies that while inferior mirages are upside-down, superior mirages are right-side-up. Dr. Faulkner misleadingly states that “since the refraction acts almost continually rather than at one point, superior mirages normally are erect rather than inverted.” That statement is not true. Both inferior mirages and superior mirages cause an inversion of the image being miraged. The observed image in a superior mirage hovers upside-down above the actual object. Whereas the opposite effect appears with an inferior mirage; the object is observed to sink below the actual object and appear upside-down. Dr. Faulkner is trying to equate looming with a superior mirage. Looming without inversion is a very rare occurrence. Dr. Faulkner is misleading his readers by suggesting that “superior mirages normally are erect rather than inverted.” That is false.
Below is a picture taken by Craig Clements of two superior mirages, one of a ship and another of a smaller white boat. The picture was taken in the Strait of Juan de Fuca just south of the entrance to Victoria Harbour, British Columbia, Canada. Notice that the mirage is inverted upside-down over the ship. That is typical for a superior Mirage.
Dr. Faulkner states that “[s]ince temperature inversions are common over water, it is relatively easy to devise experiments in which distant objects beyond the curvature of the earth are visible.” Dr. Faulkner claims that demonstrating that the visibility of distant objects over the supposed spherical earth is due to superior mirages is easy. If that were true, one would think that Dr. Faulkner would then demonstrate that easily obtained evidence. But he does not do that.
Dr. Faulkner claims that temperature inversions, with cold air beneath warm air, which cause superior mirages, are common and that such common occurrences are easy to prove. He alleged that the opposite effect of “inferior mirages are far less commonly noticed over water.”
The claim by Dr. Faulkner that superior mirages are more prevalent than inferior mirages is refuted by empirical evidence. Professional photographer and mathematics researcher and lecturer at the University of Turku, Finland, Pekka Parviainen, who has been photographing mirages since 1973 and is an expert on inferior and superior mirages, refutes Dr. Faulkner’s claim. Parvianen reveals that “[i]nferior mirages are quite common. … Superior mirages, meanwhile, are much more rare than inferior ones.” Parvianen states that in his many years of photographing and studying mirages he has found that “a good superior mirage is a lot harder to detect and to witness than the common inferior mirage.”
Dr. Faulkner misleads his readers by averring that the visibility of landmarks that should be below the horizon on a spherical earth are the result of what he claims are commonly occurring upright superior mirages. Dr. Faulkner then proceeds to present his first-hand evidence of an inferior mirage. You read that correctly. Instead of presenting the allegedly easy to present evidence of superior mirages, which Dr. Faulkner claims are the reason for the visibility of distant objects over a spherical earth, Dr. Faulkner presents photographic evidence for inferior mirages.
If upright superior mirages are common occurrences and easy to demonstrate as claimed by Dr. Faulkner, why would Dr. Faulkner not present evidence of upright superior mirages? Because, in fact, superior mirages are rare. And upright superior mirages are even rarer. Thus Dr. Faulkner was not able to observe any. Instead, he presented photographs he took of inferior mirages. That is because inferior mirages are more common occurrences. Pekka Parviainen, who is an expert on mirages, explains that “[a] clear and ‘good’ superior mirage is far more rare than an inferior mirage.” The fact that Faulkner could only observe inferior mirages over water confirms what Pekka Parviainen states and impeaches Faulkner’s claim that compared to superior mirages, “inferior mirages are far less commonly noticed over water.”
How does Dr. Faulkner explain his failure to show what he alleges to be the common and easily demonstrated upright superior mirage effect? He doesn’t; he simply dismisses the images of landmarks over long distances (such as Nowicki’s photograph of the Chicago skyline) as superior mirages. He then poses this question: “However, what would happen if one were to repeat this experiment over water that is warmer than the air temperature?” He now is going to show us inferior mirages and claims that he will also show that “a hull disappears from bottom up. Since there is no temperature inversion, the hulls of ships ought to disappear.” He claims that he is doing this to avoid the complication of the alleged temperature inversion that causes superior mirages. The real, but unstated, reason is that he could not find any temperature inversion to cause a superior mirage.
Below is a graphic from Georgia State University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy that explains what causes an inferior mirage. It illustrates how light refraction causes the inferior mirage to appear upside-down.
Dr. Faulkner produced a series of photographs that he said he took from the shore of Virginia Beach, Virginia. We will see below, though, that his explanation of what the pictures show does not match what is seen in the pictures. Dr. Faulkner fallaciously concluded:
“These photographs clearly reveal that the hulls of these two ships progressively disappeared as the ships moved farther away. This is consistent with what we would expect if the earth is spherical, but this cannot be explained if the earth is flat. Therefore, this is good evidence that the earth is spherical. The results presented here contradict the many photos on the internet of objects beyond the horizon that supposedly prove that the earth is flat. Those alleged proofs are flawed because they failed to take account of atmospheric refraction due to a temperature inversion. By conducting this experiment when there was no possibility of a temperature inversion, I avoided that complication. The fact that inferior mirages consistently showed up in the photographs prove [sic] that there was no temperature inversion, indicating instead that there was a slightly warmer layer of air in contact with the water, with slightly cooler air above.”
At no time in Dr. Faulkner’s article did he ever mention the distance the ships he photographed were from shore. That was germane to his conclusion. But, no doubt, those facts would weigh against his argument for a spherical earth. Consequently, the eminent scientist did not make any mention of distances. That was not very scientific of him. Neither did Dr. Faulkner mention the height of his camera above the water. As will be explained below, he had a nefarious reason for not doing so.
Dr. Faulkner does not tell the reader about an optical effect of light refraction known as the vanishing line. Faulkner did not tell the reader that as objects get further from the observer, light refraction causes a vanishing line to develop. The observer cannot see the area below that vanishing line. Georgia State University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy explains that “[p]oints below that ‘vanishing line’ on the object will not be seen by the observer.” This gives the effect of cutting off the bottom of distant objects. Faulkner was not satisfied with the naturally occurring vanishing line, so he enhanced the effect of the vanishing line by progressively lowering his camera in order to artificially raise the vanishing line. He used the elevated vanishing line to cut off the bottom of the hull of the ship so he could argue that the supposed spherical earth caused the bottom-up disappearing hull. That phenomenon of light refraction causing a vanishing line that cuts off the view of the bottom of distant objects is illustrated by Georgia State University (GSU) in the following graphic:
The GSU palm tree diagram illustrates that “[t]he observer can see both the object above the vanishing line and corresponding points in the inferior mirage below that level.” The vanishing line phenomenon has the effect of cutting off the bottom of the object in view as well as its inferior mirage. The GSU website illustrates this concept with the following graphic:
GSU explains what is being depicted in the above graphic as follows:
“The above illustration is patterned after one in Greenler, based on his observations of lakes in northern latitudes. The vanishing line limits the amount of the distant shoreline that is visible, and an inferior mirage is exhibited below the vanishing line. The above illustration shows the inferior mirage at the same vertical scale as the object, but that is not necessarily the case. Greenler notes that the inferior mirage is often vertically compressed. With a greater viewing distance, the vanishing line will rise so that less of the object is seen. Greenler notes that with a small change in viewing height, like stooping down, a dramatic change in the vanishing line may occur.” (emphasis added)
Notice that GSU reveals two essential points. The first point is that “[w]ith a greater viewing distance, the vanishing line will rise so that less of the object is seen.” The second point is “that with a small change in viewing height, like stooping down, a dramatic change in the vanishing line may occur.” That means that as an object gets further away, the vanishing line will rise, thus having the effect of cutting off the bottom of the object from view. And when someone lowers the camera closer to the water that also has the effect of raising the vanishing line. Raising the vanishing line causes the bottom of the object to be cut off from view.
GSU points out that the change in the vanishing line by lowering the viewing height can be “dramatic.” That is what Dr. Faulkner did with his photographs. He did this to create the dramatic effect of the bottom of the ship disappearing, so he could argue that was evidence of a spherical earth.
As the ship being photographed by Dr. Faulkner got further from shore, light refraction caused the vanishing line to rise. That caused the bottom of the vessel to appear cut off from view. Dr. Faulkner, apparently, was not satisfied with how much of the ship’s hull was being cut off by the naturally occurring elevation in the vanishing line as the vessel got further away; so he enhanced that effect by lowering the camera toward the water in each successive photograph as the vessel got further from shore.
Faulkner deceitfully claimed that the bottom of the ship was disappearing due to the curvature of the earth. When, in fact, it was actually due to light refraction that caused an elevation of the vanishing line as the ship got further away. That effect was enhanced by Faulkner’s trickery of lowering the camera in each successive photograph.
Dr. Faulkner made no mention that light refraction causes a vanishing line that progressively rises as objects get further away from the observer, which has the effect of making the bottom of the distant object appear to be cut off. Neither did Dr. Faulkner mention that he lowered the camera, which had the effect of further raising the vanishing line. Instead, he misleadingly described the vanishing of the ship’s hull in the photos from the bottom up as being due to the curvature of the earth.
Also, lowering the camera height enhances the visibility of the inferior mirage. Pekka Parviainen explains that “[i]nferior mirages are clearly visible near a warm sea surface, but an elevation of as little as a couple of meters may cause the phenomenon to go unnoticed unless you are already familiar with it.”
Dr. Faulkner is an expert in physics and astronomy. He has a master’s degree in physics and a Ph.D. in astronomy. He studied and taught physics and astronomy for 26 years at the University of South Carolina Lancaster. Indeed, he spent a good deal of his article explaining in detail how light refraction works. He knows light refraction backward and forward. His erroneous conclusions in his article are not from ignorance or misinterpretation. He knew exactly what he was doing. His conclusion was arrived upon before he started his observations.
Dr. Faulkner made no mention of the vanishing line or that he lowered the camera for each successive photograph. He was counting on people not knowing those things. He thought that because of the general ignorance about light refraction that he would be able to get away with his dissimulation. He will soon understand that “nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” Luke 8:17. In Faulkner’s article, he is manifesting three of the abominations that God hates: a lying tongue, a false witness that speaks lies, and a heart that devises wicked imaginations. See Proverbs 6:16-19.
Dr. Faulkner is purposely misleading his readers. He mischaracterized upright superior mirages as being common. He claimed that such upright superior mirages are the reason landmarks can be seen from long distances. When he could not replicate from the shoreline an upright superior mirage, he went with what actually happens, upside-down inferior mirages.
Dr. Faulkner knows all about the vanishing line phenomenon with inferior mirages, which has the effect of cutting off the bottom of a distant object as well as its inferior mirage. He cunningly used that phenomenon by not mentioning it to his readers and instead argued that the curvature of the earth caused the bottom-up disappearance of the hull. But curvature of the earth did not cause it; the elevation in the vanishing line caused it as the ship got further away from shore and Dr. Faulkner progressively lowered his camera.
Faulkner inadvertently memorialized his crafty trick in his photographs. The pictures he displayed in his article, when laid side-by-side, reveal his trick. The pictures reveal that the apparent horizon rises higher-and-higher in each successive image. That is evidence that Faulkner progressively lowered the camera in each sequential shot. Lowering the camera had the effect of causing the vanishing line to accelerate its rise as the ship got further away. The photographs reveal that Faulkner lowered the camera in each successive camera shot in order to raise the vanishing line and buttress his illusory argument that the ship was disappearing from the bottom up below the curvature of the supposed globular earth. Dr. Faulkner is a cheating pseudo-scientist.
If the earth were truly a sphere, there would be no need for such shenanigans. Lies can only be supported by more lies. The fact that a highly educated scientist must resort to such chicanery can mean only one thing: the spherical earth is a myth.