10 years ago to this day I published the first episode of LEP.
10 years later I can now say that I’m making a living from doing what I love.
Thank you for listening and making my podcast what it is today!
This is not an audio or video episode – it’s a letter from me to you.
If you’ve listened to episode 557 you’ll know that I’m currently moving flat, which also means that I’m moving my podcast headquarters out of the sky-pod and into a new sky-pod in our next flat. (What’s a sky-pod Luke? Keep reading and I’ll tell you) We’re saying goodbye to the terrace and the magnificent view, but hello to more space!
Most of the move is finished now, and in our new flat we are surrounded by boxes and bits of furniture.
There’s no internet installed in the new place and so I can’t upload any episodes at the moment.
That’s why Luke’s English Podcast is a bit quiet at the moment with no new episodes. When we have WIFI again, more episodes will return including new episodes of A Phrasal Verb a Day (in the App), a Premium episode (or two) about the English that my wife has learned from me over the years (featuring Mrs Thompson herself) and various other normal episodes of the podcast. I’ve got people to interview, stories to tell and English to teach you.
I was recently interviewed by an online magazine called “Our Paris Stories”. It’s all about people who have moved to Paris, their reasons for moving, the challenges of living in another country and so on. They also did a photo shoot in the sky-pod (now sadly empty after our departure). If you’d like to know some personal things about me, like why I moved to Paris, what my most challenging experiences here are, and what it’s like to record episodes of my podcast at home in the flat, check out the article. There are also some nice pics of the sky-pod and the terrace. If you’re wondering what a ‘sky-pod’ is, read the article – everything is explained. www.ourparisstories.com/luke-thompson/
So, as I wrote before, LEP will be back after a brief pause while we wait for our internet to be installed at home.
Then I’ll tell you some recent news, like a description of the new sky-pod and what it was like to meet Louis CK (infamous comedian) just the other night. Yep, he was in Paris doing a secret comedy gig and I managed to chat with him backstage after the show. It was a bit complex because although I really like Louis’ comedy, he is currently in trouble after being involved in a sex scandal. Is it possible to still enjoy his comedy even though he did some pretty despicable things to women and took advantage of his position in the comedy industry? In fact, Amber wrote an article in The Guardian about it. You can read it here www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/nov/08/louis-ck-paris-female-comic
It’s complicated. I’ll talk to you about it soon.
But for now, I’ll just say (write) bye bye bye bye bye!
This episode is called Death By Meteor and it’s all about asteroids, space, science, maths, astrophysics and the end of the world! Transcript available.
I’m talking about asteroids and meteors and the possibility that one might strike the earth and what would happen in that situation, or perhaps what will happen in that situation because it is highly likely sooner or later, hopefully later.
There will be lots of English of course! Watch out for vocab on all those topics coming up in the episode, which I will be clarifying for you as we go, because I’m nice like that.
In fact, first of all, here’s a bit of vocab straight off the bat.
Oxford dictionary en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/meteor
Asteroid = A small rocky body orbiting the sun. Large numbers of these, ranging enormously in size, are found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, though some have more eccentric orbits.
Meteor = A small body of matter from outer space that enters the earth’s atmosphere, becoming incandescent as a result of friction and appearing as a streak of light.
Shooting star = A small, rapidly moving meteor burning up on entering the earth’s atmosphere
Meteorite = A piece of rock or metal that has fallen to the earth’s surface from outer space as a meteor. Over 90 per cent of meteorites are of rock while the remainder consist wholly or partly of iron and nickel.
Comet = A celestial object consisting of a nucleus of ice and dust and, when near the sun, a ‘tail’ of gas and dust particles pointing away from the sun.
Originating in the remotest regions of the solar system, most comets follow regular eccentric orbits and appear in the inner solar system as periodic comets, some of which break up and can be the origin of annual meteor showers. They were formerly considered to be supernatural omens.
There’s a lot of talk about what’s going on here on earth relating to the political situation – lots of squabbles going on between people.
It looks like we’re facing a pretty troubled time, and maybe we’re going to spoil everything for ourselves by blowing each other to smithereens, crashing the economy or just ruining the lives of most ordinary people to the point that the world becomes a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the super-rich 0.1% live in protected biodomes in space or something.
Like T800 says in Terminator 2 “You are humans. It is within your nature to destroy yourselves”
However, perhaps before we manage to do that, we might in fact go the way of the dinosaurs, and end up being wiped out by environmental factors, and this includes the very real threat of climate change and how that can affect the careful balance of life on earth, or by some geological event like the eruption of a supervolcano or even a threat from space.
I’m not talking about aliens here. I’m talking about the possibility of the earth being struck by a meteor. And it really could happen within our lifetime. There’s something to look forward to.
This is a real threat to us and makes our petty disputes on earth seem pretty pointless and trivial.
Fairly large asteroids hit the earth on quite a regular basis. The latest one I can remember hearing about was in Russia on 15 February 2013 when an unknown object exploded high above Chelyabinsk, with 20–30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Apparently it flew through the sky at 20 miles per second.
The light from the meteor was brighter than the Sun, visible up to 100 km (62 mi) away. It was observed over a wide area of the region and in neighbouring republics. Some eyewitnesses also felt intense heat from the fireball.
The danger from things like a collision with an asteroid is very real, although it might be possible to do something about it – and protect ourselves, if we manage to work together.
The following is from the PAN STARRS website – a site dedicated to observing the sky for large objects that could collide with earth. An important project!
Since it formed over 4.5 billion years ago, Earth has been hit many times by asteroids and comets whose orbits bring them into the inner solar system. These objects, collectively known as Near Earth Objects or NEOs, still pose a danger to Earth today. Depending on the size of the impacting object, such a collision can cause massive damage on local to global scales. There is no doubt that sometime in the future Earth will suffer another cosmic impact; the only question is “when?” There is strong scientific evidence that cosmic collisions have played a major role in the mass extinctions documented in Earth’s fossil record. That such cosmic collisions can still occur today was demonstrated graphically in 1994 when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke apart and 21 fragments, some as large as 2 km in diameter, crashed into the atmosphere of Jupiter. If these fragments had hit Earth instead, we would have suffered global catastrophes of the kind that inspire science fiction movies.
General threat – I did a bit of googling.
So, asteroids and the asteroid threat to earth!
There are tens of thousands of objects in space that have an orbit around the sun and their orbits cross the orbit of earth. Apparently it’s only a matter of time until there’s a collision. One of these objects, a large asteroid, could collide with the earth at a massive speed. This would cause huge earthquakes and tidal waves. It would also throw massive amounts of dust, gas, molten rock and ash very high into the atmosphere – enough to envelop the entire world in burning hot ash and lava, not to mention various noxious natural gasses and possibly dangerous chemicals from the asteroid itself. The burning ash and lava would probably destroy a lot of life on the surface, like a huge explosion. But also the resulting ash and dust would probably fill the sky above earth, blocking out the rays of the sun and basically turning the whole planet into a nuclear winter wasteland. Lovely!
As far as I know, this is pretty much what happened to the dinosaurs when an asteroid hit the earth near the Gulf of Mexico a very long time ago. Apparently there may also have been volcanic eruptions at around the same time (well, about 250,000 years before the asteroid) that had already filled the atmosphere with ash and gas, making life pretty difficult already (for 250,000 years!) and then as if that wasn’t enough, a huge space rock or two smacked into the earth and that was that. The majority of life on the planet was wiped out, but not all of it of course.
We know this because the evidence is written into the earth itself. All you need to do is explore the carbon records and you can actually see the layers of different types of matter which correspond to the different events occurring, even the remains of living things, the ash, the lava rock and so on – it’s all in layers in the ground. It’s all there.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks about the real possibility of us being struck by an asteroid that scientists have been watching very carefully.
DeGrasse Tyson is one of the world’s most famous astrophysicists. He is the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York and is generally a very media-friendly science guy who is very entertaining on all manner of scientific subjects, especially space.
Listen to DeGrasse Tyson’s predictions with some questions beforehand
Why is the asteroid called Apophis?
How do we know where Apophis is going to go?
What’s going to happen in 2029?
What are the conditions for it hitting the earth the next time it arrives?
If it does hit the earth, what exactly will happen?
Death by Meteor – Neil DeGrasse Tyson
There is an asteroid, discovered in December 2004, called Apophis. Named for [after] the Egyptian god of death and darkness. It was named only after its trajectory was identified to intersect that of Earth. Had that not been the case we would not have named it Apophis. Could name it like Tiffany or something or Bambi. You know, something not threatening.
This one was headed towards Earth. Apophis.
Alright once you discover an asteroid you’ve got to wait a little while to get enough of a segment of its orbit to calculate what the full orbit will be, to know if it will come in harm’s way. So we did that… we the community… I wasn’t the one do it. We got ‘peeps’ who do this, okay?
So, ‘peeps’ if you’re over 30 means people. Okay.
Forgive me but, saying you got “peeps”, it’s people. It’s actually a loving phrase.
Right. It’s not little yellow marshmallow. (I assume they have marshmallows in USA called Peeps) Do not write.
So we get the orbit. [It] turns out in the Year 2029, the month of April, the 13th of April, a Friday. Thanks. Apophis will come so close to Earth that it will dip below our orbiting communication satellites and it is the size of the Rose Bowl. It will be the largest, closest thing we have ever observed to come by earth. Now of course a much bigger asteroid took out the dinosaurs but we weren’t around at the time so this is in the era of observing the cosmos with technology. This will be the closest biggest thing we’ll ever see come by.
Now the orbit we now have for it is uncertain enough, because these things are hard to measure and hard to get an exact distance for. The orbit is uncertain enough so we cannot tell you exactly where that trajectory will be. We know it won’t hit earth. We know it will be closer than the orbiting satellites.
There is a range – a 600-mile zone we call it the keyhole. If the asteroid goes through the middle of that keyhole it will hit the earth, thirteen years later, it will hit the earth, 500 miles, sorry 500 kilometres due west of Santa Monica.
So it doesn’t matter where it goes through that keyhole.
Now that’s if it goes through the center. If it goes through other places within that keyhole then the contact point shifts further into the Pacific or closer towards North America, yes okay.
But if it goes through the center it hits the Pacific Ocean, plunges down into the Pacific to a depth of three miles, at which point it explodes, cavitating the Pacific in a hole it’s three miles wide, three miles deep that will send a tsunami wave outward from that location that’s 50 feet high, five stories.
Oceans don’t like having holes in them, so this three mile high wall does what? [An audience member says something] You say that so timidly sir. It collapses! It’s a three mile high wall of water! Thank you, fall back into the hole sloshing against itself with such ferocity that it rises high into the atmosphere and falls back down to the ocean cavitating the ocean again.
So now you make a cavity a second time. This cycle takes about 50 seconds. You can calculate it okay? So here comes the first tsunami and 50 seconds later comes another tsunami. So there you are on the beaches of Malibu. [A] tsunami comes in. Now, unlike the tsunami in Indonesia which was one wave that went deep into the shore, this first wave needs a supply of water to exist so that the next wave actually sucks back on it to create itself. So this tsunami will only go in about a quarter of a mile. [Someone in the audience makes a noise] We have the sound effects person there [in the] upper row there.
So it only goes into quarter mile before it gets sucked back out for the next wave to come. Here’s the problem. Whatever was there on the coastline is now brought back out to sea and the next tsunami brings it back to the shore. All the million dollar homes in Malibu, they get taken out to the sea and then back. But this time they’re in a slightly different shape, okay?
And so what happens is all of them… all the artificial stuff, all the houses, the factories, they get churned into this ablative force that sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean. So, have a nice day!
I’m sorry I said 13 years after 2020 I misspoke it’s April 13 2029 and if it threads the keyhole it will hit Earth April 13th 2036. So it’s a it’s a seven year [period].
Repeat what he said.
Highlight some of the language
99942 Apophis (/əˈpɒfɪs/) is a near-Earth asteroid that caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 because initial observations indicated a probability of up to 2.7% that it would hit Earth on April 13, 2029. Additional observations provided improved predictions that eliminated the possibility of an impact on Earth or the Moon in 2029. However, until 2006, a possibility remained that during the 2029 close encounter with Earth, Apophis would pass through a gravitational keyhole, a small region no more than about 0.5 miles wide, or 0.8 km that would set up a future impact exactly seven years later on April 13, 2036. As of 2014, the diameter of Apophis is estimated to be approximately 370 metres (1,210 ft). Preliminary observations by Goldstone radar in January 2013 effectively ruled out the possibility of an Earth impact by Apophis in 2036.  By May 6, 2013 (April 15, 2013 observation arc), the probability of an impact on April 13, 2036 had been eliminated. Using observations through February 26, 2014, the odds of an impact on April 12, 2068, as calculated by the JPL Sentry risk table are 1 in 150,000. As of March 2018, there were seven asteroids with a more notable cumulative Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale than Apophis. On average, one asteroid the size of Apophis (370 metres) can be expected to impact Earth about every 80,000 years.
So, Apophis isn’t going to strike the earth in 2036, thank goodness, but there’s a slim chance that it will hit the earth in 2068, but we’ll all be dead by then so who cares? (will we?)
Still, the threat remains, doesn’t it? Every 80,000 years? I think we’re probably due one again.
What can we do? Call Bruce Willis?
So, when you think about all this it makes you realise or perhaps remember that despite all our petty troubles on earth, it could all be wiped out by an unexpected collision with an asteroid. Scientists can’t always see them coming.
For me this makes me think that I should just live every day and stop sometimes to just enjoy what I have and be grateful.
So, after listening to this, take a moment to think about all the good things in your life. Even if you’re not happy these days for whatever reason. Just think about any good thing you have and think about how grateful you are for it.
Perhaps call a friend or someone you care about and tell them how you feel and say thank you for something. It might just be a good way to appreciate all of this while it lasts.
LEP PREMIUM announcement. www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium
If you want to superpower your English into the 9th dimension, then you can get started by signing up for LEP Premium. Let me tell you about it.
I’m about to upload some premium episodes into the app. They’ll also be available online if you don’t have the app – but the app is going to be the most convenient way to listen to these episodes in the normal way, when you’re out and about or when you’re at home studying.
There will be about 3 episodes coming (probably more in fact) – probably already there by now, a couple of videos and then more episodes + bonuses every month after that.
The way this works is that you’ll need to just create a profile online with my host at teacherluke.co.uk/premium, sign into the app with that profile (login and password) and you’ll get access to all the premium episodes I’ve uploaded and am going to upload. You can also log onto my premium page and get access there.
teacherluke.co.uk/premium to get started. Then Get Access to Premium Episodes. Complete the details and get your login codes and then bob’s your uncle. In the app the login is in the settings menu.
Make sure your version of the LEP app is updated too.
Check the PREMIUM category and that’s where you’ll find the episodes. There will be episodes coming regularly and I’ll also upload other things for premium subscribers, including pdfs, shorter episodes, phrasal verbs and videos. There will be quite a lot of content for the premium subscribers – in the app and online.
Yep – you will also have to pay for the premium episodes, but it will be a small amount – just a few dollars – like the price of a coffee, and finally this is a way for me to monetise my online work, and for you to support this whole project.
So the podcast will continue as normal with normal episodes being free, but premium subscribers can access all this other stuff too.
Every premium episode will primarily be about teaching language to you. Grammar, vocab or pron.
Episodes will be either:
You might think – what’s the difference between premium and normal?
Putting it simply, Type 1 = topic episodes. Type 2 = language episodes.
Most episodes deal with the first option, with a bit of the second option thrown in too.
E.g. the recent episodes with Andy or other conversations in which I explain the vocab and language afterwards.
Some episodes deal with the second option, with a bit of 1 thrown in.
E.g. language focused episodes, like the recent Grammar Questions, or ones about phrases with GET or plenty of episodes in the archive in which I teach idioms, verb tenses, connected speech, etc.
Type 2 episodes often take a long time to prepare. They also involve me using professional skills that at this point in my career should come with a fee!
Premium episodes will primarily be type 2 episodes.
I’ve decided that I need to try and monetise some of my podcast work.
I’ve been doing it for 9 years. This April was the 9 year anniversary of LEP.
Doing the podcast is my part-time job. I teach at the BC and I do my podcast.
I really want to continue doing it, I want to support your English, but I also need to support my family!
I think you understand.
I want the podcast to remain free, and that will happen. Normal episodes of LEP will still be free. There might be slightly less of them, but so be it. But they will be free.
If you want to support LEP after all these years you can by becoming a premium member and you’ll get a bunch of serious bonus content too.
I remember listening to the pink gorilla episode about a year ago and during the episode you said “OK, never mind”. Same thing happened again and when it happened the second time I thought : Why does Luke say “OK, never mind” why doesn’t he just say “OK” ? What does “never mind” mean? And that curiosity led me to google and that’s how I learned that word :) So with LEP Premium episodes you are essentially explaining the listeners all the language without them having to do any hard work :P they just have to listen to that episode everyday until it clicks.
Your vocabulary is going to get so good
This is a double whammy of just absorbing English through exposure and having things carefully pointed out and clarified, explained
How do teachers choose what English to teach you?
It’s based on general corpora of English. With this method the corpora is LEP. Learn the English you hear on the podcast.
So, not only will you be hearing a lot of vocabulary just coming up naturally in context in normal episodes (which is a really solid way to build awareness of English into your life steadily, bit by bit) but also you’ll regularly have things clarified and taught to you by me afterwards. I think it should be a powerful combination of natural exposure to English in full context and also good old fashioned language teaching from me – all based on the same language.
I think to get this full LEP experience you’ll need to be a premium subscriber.
It’ll also help you to understand and appreciate the normal episodes of the podcast that much more. For example, imagine hearing a conversation with Amber & Paul – you might enjoy it because of the fun vibe we have between us, but there’s bound to be loads of things you’ll miss. Then you can hear a premium episode which clarifies so much of what we said. You could then go back and listen to the original episode again, armed with so much more understanding – you’d understand much much more of it and as a result a lot of that language is going to stick with you.
It’s the ideal combination I reckon.
Also, your grammar is going to get more and more solid as I will make a point of highlighting features of grammar, as well as vocabulary as we go.
LEPP episodes won’t just be about explaining vocab and grammar you’ve heard. Some episodes will be lessons that just focus on important bits of language that you need to know anyway, even if they haven’t come up specifically in other episodes.
It’s all about language – raising awareness, raising your understanding, improving your accuracy so you avoid common errors, making you more confident with the language but not in an abstract way – in a way that connects it to how the language is actually used and has actually been used in conversations you’ve already heard on the podcast.
That’s the thinking behind LEP Premium. I hope you jump on for the ride.
Now, there are 3 premium episodes recorded and ready to go and they’ll be available to you almost immediately.
Remember, they’ll be in the LEP App in the premium category, and on the LEP Premium page at www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium
That’s where you’ll find the episodes and you’ll be able to get the pdfs in those places too.
Use the website teacherluke.co.uk/premium to set up your premium profile with a login code and password.
Then you can sign into the app and gain access to premium content there, and also sign in online and get episodes there, including any premium players on my website which will be locked unless you’re a subscriber.
Choose your payment plan. This is where you are going to help me out with a contribution each month.
How much do you reckon you’d expect to pay for all this stuff? Think of it as a contribution towards helping the podcast.
$3.99 per month = Buy me a pint of beer in a pub
$19.99 every six months ($3.29 per month) Buy me a Big coffee – 15% discount
$34.99 per year ($2.89 per month) Buy me a Small coffee – 30% discount
Remember all the stuff you’ll be able to get:
Any questions, let me know at email@example.com
There will also be at least one page on the website where you can leave comments for premium content.
First thing, get your premium profile set up and get access to about 3 episodes which will be available in the next couple of days.
Then look forward to regular content coming in – language reviews of conversations with guests, grammar and pronunciation lessons – all the things you need to progress in your English with Luke’s English Podcast.
In the app you sign in in the settings page.
I hope you’re as excited as me to really dig deep into British English and learn the same stuff that people actually say on a daily basis, rather than just some words on paper or in a book which look nothing like the way they sound when people speak.
teacherluke.co.uk/premium to get started
Speak to you again soon.
Help me build my pod-castle!
Click the link and search for “luke’s english podcast”
Thank you to everyone who’s already voted.
Fingers crossed! 🤞🤞🤞
Vocabulary in this Mini Episode
Check out the new episode in the LEP App to learn some really useful prepositional phrases & have some common doubts answered, like “on time vs in time vs at the beginning vs in the beginning vs at the end vs in the end” & more.
I want to share something really interesting that happened to me recently. I got into a debate with some ‘flat earthers’ – guys who believe that the earth is flat. It was pretty intense, and you can listen to it all here on this page.
What you’re listening to (and reading) now isn’t an episode of Luke’s English Podcast, it’s some website-only content – a post on my website with two bits of audio: Audio 1 (my introduction and comments) and Audio 2 (an episode of someone else’s podcast). I’m going to explain everything here and the script of what I am saying is provided on this page, just below the two audio players that you can see.
Hello, you’re listening to some website-only content on teacherluke.co.uk
I want to share something really interesting that happened to me recently. I got into a debate with some ‘flat earthers’ – guys who believe that the earth is flat. It was pretty intense, and you can listen to it all here on this page.
What you’re listening to now isn’t an episode of Luke’s English Podcast, it’s some website-only content – a post on my website with two bits of audio – Audio 1 (what you’re listening to right now) and Audio 2 (an episode of someone else’s podcast). I’m going to explain everything in this recording and the script of what I am saying is provided on the page, just below the two audio players that you can see.
Do you remember when I recently talked about flat earth conspiracy theories on my podcast? It was in episode 476. I talked about how some people think the earth is flat and rambled on about it for a while, considering some of the suggestions and theories, like the idea that the world is a flat disc or plane, that we don’t orbit the sun, that the moon isn’t what we think it is, that satellites aren’t real, that the international space station is fake and even that our idea of gravity is either completely wrong or is a deception and that the governments of the world are all lying to us about the earth being a globe. I said that although I hadn’t looked into it fully, I thought it was impossible and ludicrous, ridiculous. I believe the earth is round.
After uploading that episode I was contacted a few days later by one of the hosts of The Flat Earth Podcast – a podcast produced by two guys in USA, Jay and Dave, who are convinced that the earth is flat, and not a globe. They told me that I was wrong about what I’d said in my episode, that the earth is not a globe and that they wanted to talk to me about the whole subject.
In fact, this is what Dave wrote in the comment section of episode 476.
Hi Luke. You said it yourself, you really haven’t looked into it that much. We would like to invite you on an episode of THE FLAT EARTH PODCAST to discuss your thoughts on the subject. We are not dogmatic flat earthers or the type that go into a Starbucks and disrupt people. We have answers to all the misconceptions that you have stated on your show. Please reach out to us…
I thought, “why not let them try to convince me that the earth is actually flat? I thought it could be interesting to have that conversation and perhaps have a friendly debate about the subject.”
I got back in touch with Dave and said, “OK, I’d be happy to talk to you, let’s do it.”
They were serious about it.
Then we fixed a date and a time that would work for all of us – Me, Dave and his co-host Jay, in different timezones. Them in different parts of the US and me at home in Paris.
I was curious and interested but also a bit nervous about it, because I thought that their audience might be angry with me because of the comments I’d made about flat earth on LEP. I had at one point said I thought it was “a load of bollocks”. Yes, I did use the word “bollocks” but I might have got away with that because “bollocks” is not a word they’re that familiar with in the USA, except that it’s on the front cover of an album by The Sex Pistols, which works in my favour if anything.
But, I was a bit nervous nonetheless, but also quite excited at the prospect of actually debating with people who thought or think that the earth is flat. (Think – because they still think it! I didn’t convince them of course! Spoiler alert!)
In any case, I really wanted to have a respectful and grown-up conversation about it with Jay and Dave. That’s why I agreed to talk to them.
Then, a few weeks ago we called each other on Skype and had a conversation about whether or not the earth is flat or round.
You can listen to what happened in that conversation by using the embedded player at the top of this page.
Let me continue talking about this story.
As I said, I was concerned their audience would be angry with me or at least unfriendly and a bit aggressive.
Although they seemed very friendly in the emails I thought they might give me a ‘slapdown’ – which means an aggressive response designed to put me in my place.
I wondered if I would be able to have a proper debate with them because it’s hard to talk to people about this kind of thing, especially when they’re convinced of their position. You need lots of specific data and scientific knowledge and also you have to be quite careful about the things they say. A lot of their ideas need to be fact-checked or at least considered very carefully to make sure the evidence they talk about is valid or reliable, to make sure the quotes they use are not taken out of context, and that the logic they’re using is clear and solid. So, I was wondering if I’d be able to keep up with their ideas or if I’d simply be unable to debate with them at all.
Having said that, I was also thinking about how I could find holes in the things they would say, because, you know I think they’re wrong about the earth being flat. So I did quite a lot of thinking about their arguments and the things they would say. I listened to a few episodes of their podcast, watched a video called the 21 Questions and really considered the points they were making, because I am open to the idea that the world is flat.
Imagine, for example, if all the things they said were genuinely true and that this small group of guys had really stumbled across a global conspiracy, and that their internet research and testing had uncovered evidence that was irrefutable. We shouldn’t be closed to the idea that they’re right about this. My position was – ok guys I’m not going to tell you that you’re crazy. I’ll believe it if you really convince me and I find your points utterly watertight. I’m open to it, let’s go.
Imagine if they are right though. Would they be under threat? If there’s a conspiracy to keep this thing under wraps, are they in danger? We know that when big secrets have to be kept that people get killed. People disappear, they get murdered to cover up big secrets, like government corruption or organised crime.
If these guys are right, they could be in mortal danger. If they’re right. But I suppose that they believe that there’s a plan in place to deal with this, that there is disinformation spread around that makes most people just think these guys are ridiculous, and that’s what prevents this idea from really posing a threat to whoever is keeping this secret.
I wonder if my open-minded approach to their ideas could somehow put them in danger. Imagine, if nobody thought their ideas were ridiculous and this whole concept started gathering genuine momentum, that the powers that be might want to take action and silence them.
I’m being hypothetical here, but when you take these ideas seriously, you end up considering all sorts of possibilities. Jay and Dave don’t seem to be paranoid guys to me. The impression I got was that they’re really inquisitive and enthusiastic about this subject. Hopefully they have no real reason to fear for their safety. I think they don’t, because I don’t believe that there is a cover-up going on. I think they don’t pose a threat really. That now sounds bad, saying that they’re harmless. I don’t mean that, but… I don’t know, it’s complicated.
You can see why this is quite fascinating when you think about it – it’s all about people’s belief systems and also about how to argue your point and how to prove something as true.
It’s essentially a philosophical debate, and I love philosophical debates – I mean, I got a D at A level in philosophy at college! Not a good grade, but I did study philosophy for two years between the age of 16 and 18! I like philosophical debate and I’m really happy that these guys are essentially engaging in quite a profound debate about the nature of existence, and questioning the world around them. I’m happy about that. I think it’s good to be curious and independently minded, but I do think that there are issues with their reasoning and with the evidence they propose, and the way they apply the mathematical theories that have been used to understand the way the earth works. I’m impressed by their rigorous approach and their devotion to the truth, but I am not convinced by the argument – yet! I say yet because we’ve got to keep an open mind, right?
I was thinking lots of these things, but mainly, I was concerned that I was being set up for a smackdown!
It was actually really enjoyable. Dave and Jay were hospitable to me. They gave me quite a flattering introduction, joking that they would sound like stupid Americans compared to my British accent and that it would be difficult to debate with someone who sounded so intelligent and articulate. I assured them that it’s all just a trick – that I’m actually not very intelligent at all and I only sound clever because of my accent. We laughed.
They were very reasonable with me, in the way they treated me I mean. They told their audience that they’d probably hate me but to give me a chance, and that at one point all of them had been sceptical like me. They’d all at one point thought that the theory was ridiculous too.
They were nice, but of course they were! These guys aren’t crazy or anything and they’re not mean-spirited. They’re basically just normal guys who have good intentions. As far as they’re concerned they’re working for truth and justice – both quite respectable things, right? It’s not fair or helpful to brand them as weirdos or nutters or things like that. Saying that is both unhelpful and rude.
We should focus on the things they’re saying not the people they are. They really think we’re being lied to on a grand scale and they want to prove it. I don’t think they are proving it, in my opinion, but they genuinely believe it and I don’t think they’re motivated by hatred or malice or anything. So I was very happy that we all could take part in the conversation in a respectful manner and after all that is a basic foundation for this kind of thing. In an argument or a debate or disagreement – the moment that you lose your temper or start throwing around insulting comments or insinuations, you have lost the debate in my opinion.
I had no plans to do that, and I was really pleased that they didn’t either. I think they might have been annoyed at my position and the things I’d said but they didn’t make a big deal about it, and in fact were totally cool all the time and I had a good time on their podcast. Also, I should say that the podcast is well made. Good sound quality, well-edited, well presented. On that level we had a lot in common and just as podcasters I think we shared some mutual respect. I also think they’re probably around my age, and it’s always cool to make contact with people of your age who live in a completely different country to you.
So they treated me well and that was nice, but again – I was a bit nervous about how the conversation would go. I was worried that I would not be able to argue with them effectively, or deal with certain details in their arguments.
They did bring in another guy called Jerun who, as they put it themselves, is deep inside the rabbit hole. He’s gone really deep into flat earth theories and has been making loads of videos about the subject, and as they put it – he has answers to everything. So, I felt a bit like “Uh oh, they’re bringing in this guy Jerun too so it’s 3 against 1!” I felt a bit outnumbered.
I decided that I’d just let them try to convince me. My thinking was this.
I believe the earth is round – but I’m not blindly married to the idea. Obviously, I grew up within this paradigm but I am definitely capable of questioning it. The reason I believe it is because I think the evidence for it is better than the evidence for flat earth – and I don’t hide from the arguments of flat earthers. In fact I’ve been actively seeking them out, looking for ones that I think are really solid and watertight.
I am ready to be convinced that it’s flat. However, I’m not just going to accept arguments without giving them full scrutiny. We need to be careful of confirmation bias – on both sides. This means interpreting evidence in a way that confirms what you want to believe and may involve jumping to conclusions. If they’re arguments are more watertight than the arguments for round earth, I’ll be convinced.
That’s what I was thinking, and I think it was their objective to try to convert me to flat earth because they wanted to get me on their team.
When the podcast episode came out I was a bit worried that I’d get some hatred from the flat earth community. I prepared myself for some possibly hateful responses in my inbox or in the comment section of the website. But I’m glad to say that I’ve had none, and I really am glad to say that – just because I can’t stand seeing that sort of thing. There’s plenty of blind hatred on the internet these days, particularly in the comment section of YouTube videos and so on. So, it’s quite refreshing not to have had any of that sort of thing. Touch wood. (What is this mysterious power that wood can have?)
But I did get a couple of nice responses.
From what I assume is a flat earther who just appreciated the fact that I was polite.
I just listened to your interview on the Flat Earth Podcast and wanted to say “thank you” for being so open-minded and you were so polite. My first impression of you is that you are a very ‘reasonable’ person. I hope you continue to look into what the guys were saying and make up your own mind.
And from someone who apparently listens both to my podcast and to the flat earth podcast (as a sceptic) as well, which I found to be quite a coincidence – but maybe not considering how this is the sort of thing I’m interested in.
I sometimes listen to your podcasts, and I recently also came across to the flat-earth podcast, with your contribution.
I’d like to congratulate you for your calm and polite chat with the flat-earthers.
I am an amateur astronomist, and of course a “glober” as they say. In the past few weeks I started listening to the flat-earth podcast, with a high interest in how a false idea can spread among people, in spite of evidence. Flat earth stuff is the more obvious example, but I realized that a lot of other false ideas happen to be more and more widely accepted.
Anyway it was a pleasure to listen to you politely standing in front of them. Sometimes you lacked the precise answers, and I tried to whisper some to you, but you did a really fair job !
Nope, I’m still not convinced but I admit that I didn’t conclusively “win” the debate by any means. There were plenty of things I couldn’t really answer. For example, there were certain quotes I couldn’t check, certain mathematical equations I couldn’t really follow and certain claims that I couldn’t be sure of. I didn’t have all the answers to the questions they asked me. But I think I can say that I really considered the things they had to say and I continue to be curious about the subject in general. I’m not just ignoring it all or name-calling or labelling these guys as crazy. Like before, I am still ready to believe it and only a truly stubborn and closed-minded person would refuse to even consider the other arguments.
I was also happy to spend time with Jay, Dave and Jerun and I think I actually got on with them pretty well. I was relieved about that. By the end of the conversation I would have enjoyed going for a beer with them if we’d had a chance.
But having said that, at the moment I still think that they’re wrong about the earth being flat. Guys if you’re listening to this or reading it – you still haven’t got me yet – but I guess there’s still time! I think Dave told me it took 6 months for him to turn from being a round earther to a flat earther. So who knows where I will be in 6 months time. I guess you’ll have to watch this space.
They did say that if I became a flat earther that I would lose a large portion of my audience. So, does this mean that if I continue to be a round earther it’s only because I want to keep my audience? Could it not also be true that I will just think the earth is round? I mean, if I wanted to get a bigger audience I could say all sorts of things to appeal to people’s desires. I could be making all sorts of big promises about English or about how you can make money by following my steps, or I could be attracting the attention of certain religious groups by talking about religious ideas. I don’t do those things, even though doing them would increase the size of my audience. So, increasing my audience is not the only thing that motivates me. So, if I don’t come out as a flat earther, it might just be that I am still not convinced by the arguments. But, as I said, who knows where I will be in 6 months.
By the way, I’m aware that by talking about this and presenting this on my website to my audience that some of you might get converted to flat earthism. That’s up to you. Just remember – if you consider yourself to be open-minded, you’ll be open-minded about both sides. Being open-minded is not just the preserve of one side of this argument.
Debating flat earth with the guys from the podcast made me think about philosophical arguments, logic and how we talk about and argue about the truth itself. It’s a really complex business and it’s actually very difficult to do properly without falling into certain “thinking holes” or fallacies of logic.
There are various “thinking holes” or logical fallacies that are very easy to fall into when talking about this subject, or any philosophical subject for that matter. These are problems with logic or just problems with thinking. Anyone can fall into these traps – not just flat earthers, anyone.
But here are some of those issues that I have noticed when looking at not just flat earth theories, but also “bad science” or pseudoscience, and I admit that some of these points could also be applied to my position, which just shows how tricky it is, from an armchair position, to prove beyond doubt that something is really true.
As I said, some of those points could be applied to my position too, or any position including scientific ones. These are issues that anyone faces when attempting to argue a complex position. Conventional scientists are subject to things like confirmation bias and other issues too, but that doesn’t mean that all conventional or mainstream science has to be rejected completely.
I think it comes down to a question of trust. Do you trust what you’re told? And who do you trust? NASA scientists or Dave and Jay? Your own senses? Or the complex things that we’re told by various scientists and teachers.
If you listen to this episode of the flat earth podcast, let me know what you think. It’s quite long – we talked and talked for ages and we could have gone on much longer, but there’s no end to this debate when we’re essentially discussing the nature of truth and reality. But let me know what you think if you listen to it, and I’ll let you make up your own mind about the shape of the earth.
One thing I’d like to ask from you though – if you consider making a comment on Dave and Jay’s episode, please be respectful and friendly. Dave and Jay were both very polite to me and I think it’s only fair that we return the same courtesy to them, even if you really don’t agree with their position. As I said, one of the things I liked about this experience was that we were friendly and civil with each other and I want to keep it that way.
Also, Dave, Jay and Jeran – if any of you are listening to this, I’m sorry that I haven’t been converted to the flat earth position yet – but who knows I might change my mind if I feel like it’s really what’s going on, and I hope you feel I’ve been fair because I’ve made an effort to be.
At the end of the day (or at any time of the day) whatever the shape of the earth, we still have to go to work every day, still have to pay the bills, we still fall in love, we make friends, we laugh about stupid things and we look after our loved ones, and I think we all have these things in common.
Thanks for listening to this and reading it too, and if you’re a flat earther – Do you fancy a pint? Let’s go to the pub and have a friendly chat about it all. I’ll buy you a drink, how about that? In fact, if you’re not a flat earther you’re welcome too. Let’s all go to the pub and have a drink and some peanuts, and if the night goes well we could end up in karaoke. I’ll sing “Around the World” by Daft Punk (it’s easy) and you can sing Man on the Moon by REM.
This is a LONG musical mix using James’ vinyl record collection. Think of it as Jim & Luke’s Rock Radio Show with a history of British pop.
Website only – no download available, but you can listen using the Mixcloud app.
We decided to do this mix (with comments) featuring key moments in British pop and rock music only using the records in James’ vinyl collection, starting in 1961 and ending in the mid-nineties.
Please enjoy this musical journey through British history, with some commentary by James and me.
There are so many other tracks we wanted to play but couldn’t because there wasn’t enough time. Maybe one day we can do this again! Leave your comments below to tell us which tunes are your favourites! Thanks for listening. :)
Only available on the website, here is a Star Wars DVD commentary by James and me.
Warning: Contains swearing – Not suitable for children!
This episode is full of rambling, comedy sketches, impressions and descriptions of what happens in Star Wars Episode 4 A New Hope, the original Star Wars film.
Get yourself a copy of the Special Edition version, on DVD or on iTunes and get ready to watch it with us. It’ll be just like you’re sitting there with us, watching this classic movie.
If you’re not watching Star Wars while listening, perhaps we can just keep you entertained for the next two hours!
Unfortunately, this episode is not available for download, but you can listen to it on the Mixcloud app, or at the top of this page. :)