Hello folks, how are you doing? How’s your English coming along?
This is not a full episode, more of an update and a chance to tell you about some things you could listen to, specifically a couple of appearances I made on other people’s podcasts recently.
I’ve been preparing lots of premium episodes for this month. I’m halfway through series 13. Parts 1 and 2 of this series have been published and they deal with lots of expressions with prepositions, specifically prepositions of place and movement combined with little verbs like get. As usual there are tests and pronunciation drills. Parts 3 and 4 will arrive this week.
If you want to hear all the premium stuff, get the LEP App from the app store then go to teacherluke.co.uk/premium to sign up and get started, use your details to sign into the app to access the premium content. PDF worksheets are all available too.
Other People’s Podcasts
Now then, if you’re looking for stuff to listen to other than the podcast episodes in the archive and the premium content, here are a couple of things you could listen to in the meantime. Here are my recent appearances on other people’s podcasts.
Living Through Comedy – James’ new podcast
1. I was interviewed on my brother’s podcast. It’s called Living Through Comedy and it’s all about my time as a comedian, including how I got into stand up, what my influences were, my experience of developing my act and also some stories of good and bad gigs. There are several other episodes of Living Through Comedy too that you might like. Both feature conversations about comedy, doing stand up and life in general. You should be able to find Living Through Comedy on iTunes, but if you can’t you can listen to it on the page for this episode.
So that’s nice. About an hour of conversation between James and me, on his new podcast.
Somewhere Else Dreamin – ExPat stories with Noman Hosni (video)
2. I was interviewed by Noman Hosni for Somewhere Else Dreamin’, his new YouTube series which is all about interviewing people (comedians usually) about their experiences as an ExPat – that means someone who is living in another country. I suppose it’s a nice way to say “immigrant”. And because I am an immigrant, living here in France and I’ve spent time in Japan too, Noman decided I would be a good person to interview.
Noman Hosni is a very funny professional stand up comedian here in France. I interviewed him on the podcast once. He is doing very well as a comedian in France, but he has decided to move to LA in order to pursue his career there. Before going he is working on his English and also finding out about people’s experiences of moving to different countries.
I love hanging out with Noman and in this interview I tell a few stories including the time I got sick in Japan (which I spoke about in a podcast a few years ago) and my experiences of English teaching and moving to France. Check it out!
It’s available on YouTube “somewhere else dreamin luke thompson” and embedded on the website here, but also it’s on Spotify in audio format. It’s a YouTube video and you’ll see me and Noman talking, but Spotify has the audio version.
I’m doing a lot of premium content this month, but I also have some free episodes in the pipeline including some more stuff about British comedy and an episode about Queen, the rock band, which has been requested many times by listeners, so it’s nice to finally be getting around to talking about Queen on the podcast after 600 episodes. There are still many more topics and things to talk about on this podcast.
No episodes for a little while – I’ve got limited internet access.
This is not an audio or video episode – it’s a letter from me to you.
Hello dear listeners,
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!
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.
What’s the difference between an asteroid and a meteor, a comet and a shooting star?
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.
Shootingstar = 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.
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 – Death by Meteor
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
Jimmy Carr talks to Prof Brian Cox about asteroids. Brian talks about Apophis
(Wikipedia) 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.
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.
This is an announcement to let you know that LEP Premium is now ready to go.
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.
All the usual episodes of LEP, sometimes with bonuses if you’re using the app, (obviously).
Minimum 2 premium episodes per month (MINIMUM – probably more) + various bonuses
Premium episodes will be primarily focused on teaching you language. Helping you to develop your vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation with a special interest in looking at how English really sounds vs how it is written. It’s all about decoding language, helping you realise how it really sounds as well as how it is structured.
Pdfs with transcripts, vocab lists and notes for each P episode – available in the app or downloadable online.
More phrasal verb episodes – New ones :)
Video versions of LEP Episodes sometimes (not every single episode, but when possible)
Invitations to live YouTube streaming events – e.g. live podcast recordings or online workshops & Q&A sessions – only for premium subscribers (arrange a date, tell them you’ll send the email 30 mins before the live stream, set up the live stream as unlisted, send the email with link, start)
All content in the app and online
So the podcast will continue as normal with normal episodes being free, but premium subscribers can access all this other stuff too.
Premium Episode content
Every premium episode will primarily be about teaching language to you. Grammar, vocab or pron.
Episodes will be either:
Language Reviews focusing on English which has come up naturally in normal episodes of LEP (e.g. unpacking the grammar, vocab or pron in conversations or monologues). Learn real English as it is spoken by my friends and guests.
Language Lessons focusing on grammar, vocab or pronunciation (similar to recent grammar lessons). I’ll pick useful, important or requested areas of language and analyse + explain them in proper detail.
You might think – what’s the difference between premium and normal?
Normal LEP episodes can be divided into 2 functions:
To give you listening practice. Exposure to plenty of spoken English is vital for developing proper English skills. Listen a lot and you learn language as a consequence. Sometimes I explain things as I go in order to help make things clear and because as a teacher for over 16 years, I’m always teaching you language, even if that’s not the primary aim of the episode. The primary aim of episodes like this is to explain a topic to you, to teach you about culture, tell you stories, make you laugh, interview people and generally encourage you to listen to English as it is spoken naturally. Language learning happens as a consequence, and you can push it further and more effectively by using the transcripts and notes that I publish free on my website.
To teach you language directly, rather than just giving you listening practice. I pick certain language points and explain them explicitly with definitions and made up examples. Or I pick out language that has come up in conversation and teach it back to you, helping you to notice features of natural speech. I’ve been teaching English for over 16 years. I’m well-qualified and experienced. I have a particular set of skills for teaching. I can use those skills to explain, define and demonstrate aspects of English directly to help you learn directly. This is about focusing on language from the bottom up.
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.
Jack 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:
Minimum 2 premium episodes per month (MINIMUM – probably more)
Pdfs with transcripts, vocab lists and notes for each P episode – available in the app or downloadable online.
More phrasal verb episodes
Video versions of LEP Episodes (not every single episode, but when possible)
Invitations to live YouTube streaming events – e.g. live podcast recordings or online workshops & Q&A sessions
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.
www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium to get started
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.
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.
It’s a language-focused episode all about prepositional phrases, which are really useful chunks of language that you can add to your sentences to make your English sound really natural and to add more detail and nuance to the things you say.
The episode includes explanations and examples of various phrases that might go at the start or end of a sentence. Here’s a selection:
At a loose end
At a loss
In mint condition
In the beginning
At the beginning
At first glance
On closer inspection
Just in time
In the nick of time
On second thoughts
On the one hand and On the other hand
At the end
In the end
And more… with explanations of the differences in meaning and use, funny examples, and all that sort of thing…
That is now available only in the LEP app, where you’ll see all the notes, a transcript and vocab lists in the show notes.
Yes – I am trying to encourage you to become an app user, but it’s not an evil plan or anything – this is just the sort of thing I have to do to get you to use my app and I’m just working on delivering more content via that platform, and that includes LEP Premium episodes which should arrive soon.
I want to give you an idea of what LEP Premium episodes will be like. That’s why I’ve uploaded this episode exclusively in the app.
LEP Premium hasn’t arrived yet, but when it does it will be available in the app, or online. Yes – LEP premium episodes will be available on a computer via a webpage, but to listen on your mobile you’ll need the app.
So, get the LEP App, check out this new app-only episode about prepositional phrases and the library of other app-only episodes which are in there too
Remember to use the categories on the side menu of the app – that’s where you can see LEP Episodes, App only episodes, videos, phrasal verb episodes, music and jingles and so on. Become an app user and then you’ll be ready to sign up for LEP Premium when it arrives, before too long.
By the way, if you’re concerned that I’m going to stop uploading normal LEP episodes – don’t worry. Normal LEP episodes will continue to be uploaded across all platforms – perhaps slightly less frequently – but the free podcast will continue.
However, to get absolutely all of my output from now on you should get the app.
Search the app store for Android or iOS for Luke’s English Podcast app. Download it free and Bob’s your uncle.
By the way there are no ads in my app or anything like that. It’s not one of those apps that’s going to bombard you with advertising. It’s free, I want it to be genuinely useful like everything I do, it’s supposed to be your home for LEP on your mobile and that’s that. It’s already getting good reviews on the Android and iOS platforms, which is great. So, join in and get the app today.
So, to sum up:
There’s a new free app-only episode available now about prepositional phrases.
LEP Premium is coming soon to the app and online.
Normal LEP episodes will continue with a new one coming out later this week.
That’s it for this message. You can now head over to the app and listen to the full episode that I’ve just uploaded there. It’s in the app-only episodes category.
You know Amber from my podcast of course, and you might also remember Sarah Donnelly because she’s been featured in a few episodes as well.
Amber & Sarah have recently joined forces to work on a comedy project called Becoming Maman. It’s a comedy stage show and a podcast, and it’s all about their experiences of becoming a mother in France, where you’re not mum (UK) or mom (USA) but maman.
Maman is the French word for mum but really it’s far more complicated than that, and that’s exactly what Becoming Maman is all about – exploring the complex differences between parenting in France and parenting in the UK or USA, and then making it into comedy.
I saw the first performance of Becoming Maman on stage a couple of weeks ago and it was very funny indeed. Amber and Sarah work really well as a double-act and as I have recently become a parent here in France too, the show really struck a chord with me.
Apparently, being a maman involves quite a different set of challenges to being a mum or a mom and Amber & Sarah have managed to capture those challenges very well in the form of their comedy show which contains plenty of jokes, sketches and stories that made me laugh all the way through the performance.
On the Becoming Maman podcast they chat together about different aspects of being a maman and in this particular episode they chose to talk to me about my experiences of becoming a dad, theories about how children learn languages and also a quick test of my knowledge of French baby words.
You can find all the episodes of Becoming Maman on their podcast website, or on iTunes. Becoming Maman should also be available from all other good podcasting services or apps.
Check out the Facebook page for Becoming Maman, where you can see some short videos and get news about their next performances and upcoming episodes of the podcast.
In an upcoming episode of LEP you’ll hear me interviewing Amber & Sarah about Becoming Maman and all about how being a maman is really quite different to being a mum or mom. That episode is coming soon. Also, the subject of raising bilingual children is one which I intend to cover in more detail on LEP at some point.
But for now, I hope you enjoy listening to my interview on Amber & Sarah’s podcast. Thanks for reading! Speak to you soon – bye!!
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.
Audio 2 – My appearance on The Flat Earth Podcast – my part begins at 19mins
Transcript for Audio 1 starts here:
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.
What were my expectations ahead of the interview?
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!
What was the conversation like?
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.
What were the objectives of the conversation for you and them?
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.
What was the outcome? How did it go?
You’ll have to listen to it and decide for yourself! You’ll see the episode embedded at the top of the page where you found the audio that you’re listening to now.
Have I had any reactions from people?
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.
Hi Luke! 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. Much Respect,
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 ! Best regards.
Did they convince you that the earth is flat?
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.
I’m going to ramble on about this a bit more because it made me think about things, like how difficult it is to argue using logic and to be sure about the nature of reality itself, just that kind of thing…
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.
Confirmation bias – Interpreting evidence in a way that confirms your world view. Interpreting evidence in a way that confirms the conclusions you expect or want. For example, looking at a mass shooting incident – a mass shooting can confirm several points of view. People who don’t like guns might say – mass shootings prove that we need to control guns or ban guns. But someone who loves guns might look at a mass shooting and conclude that we need more guns because good people need to be able to defend themselves against dangerous people. The same event can confirm several wildly different points of view. The people who love guns take it as confirmation that we need more, the people who hate guns take it as confirmation that we need fewer. By the way, I’m not getting into the gun control debate here, that’s not what this is about. That’s just an example. Confirmation bias is really common and I think affects many parts of our lives, and is something we must watch out for as much as possible, e.g. by constantly challenging our own ideas. We often interpret events in the way that suits our worldview. E.g. you can look at footage of the moon landing and be completely convinced that it’s proof that it actually happened, or proof that it didn’t happen, depending on how you feel about the thing in the first place. Everyone is vulnerable to confirmation bias, but especially groups like the flat earth community. One of the reasons I like Jay and Dave is that I think they’re aware of this and to an extent that’s why they brought me onto the podcast, so they’re not just in an echo chamber where everyone is constantly confirming each other’s views without challenging them. Maybe they invited me on because it’s healthy to have some debate. Respect to that. But I’d also like to suggest that they invite properly qualified scientists on their podcast for debates too – not just an English teacher comedian like me who has dabbled in scepticism. Maybe they need to speak to someone who works for a satellite company or a lecturer in astrophysics because that could lead to a genuinely open conversation. Even though they invited me on for a chat and I’m a glober as they put it I think that mostly they’re interested in challenging the round earth theory, and tend to have a very ‘open minded’ attitude to flat earth. ‘I am open minded’ can mean – ‘I am willing to believe this’. Obviously you need to be open to the idea that it’s true, but we have to be careful that ‘open minded’ doesn’t become a state of active confirmation of what we want to be true, for whatever reason. Being ‘open minded’ can be like opening the door to confirmation bias. Flat earthers might say that they’re challenging the round earth model, so they are being good scientists, but what they also do is jump to the conclusion that because the round earth model doesn’t stand up in their eyes, the flat earth model must be true by extension, but this is a whole other idea. Lack of proof for one thing is not proof of something else. E.g. If I’m trying to work out what my mum is going to cook for dinner and I can’t prove that my Mum is going to make chicken, it doesn’t logically mean it’ll definitely be fish. We just can’t be sure it’s chicken.
Unreliable evidence, false premises, unreliable sources or being unable to account for where evidence has come from. Some of the evidence which flat earthers propose is (I think) quite shaky and forms the basis of lots of other assumptions. If the foundation of your idea is shaky at the start, the logical steps from that point are likely to go in the wrong direction, ending up in a false conclusion. E.g. constructing a house on uneven ground. It might look straight at the beginning, but by the time the whole house is built, it could end up really wonky and even unsafe to live in. The roof might fall off or something. The foundation has to be absolutely solid.
The grey area between evidence and speculation First of all, talking about evidence – some of it shaky in the first place, and then moving seamlessly into speculation about things and those speculations becoming ‘theories’ which are considered to be as valid as other ‘theories’ such as gravity. E.g. Deciding that the earth must be flat because you don’t see how the round earth model can work, and then assuming that Antarctica is the limit of our world, and then speculating about what is beyond Antarctica. E.g. “It must be…”
Relying on first hand evidence – eg. human experience or what you see with your own eyes), or considering first-hand evidence to be the best, when actually it’s perhaps the worst kind of evidence. First hand experience as evidence is often the least reliable – e.g. the earth doesn’t look round to me. Why are the bottoms of clouds flat? The earth must be flat too. Why can’t we see the curvature on the horizon? Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Often we just don’t know what we’re looking at.
Jumping to conclusions – e.g. Some NASA photos of the earth are fake, therefore they’re all fake. Some scientists are motivated mainly by money or status, therefore they all are. Governments lie to their people and there is corruption, therefore they are lying about this.)
Cherry picking of evidence – Making the evidence fit the theory. e.g. picking out certain statements by scientists that seem to support the theory (e.g. moments when NASA astronauts say something that seems like a moment of truth – e.g. that they faked some pictures of the earth) So when the accounts seem to suit the flat earth theory NASA are leaking the truth, but when it doesn’t suit the theory NASA can’t be trusted.
For example, one of the arguments is – the NASA pictures of earth are fake. The reasoning is, that one NASA photographer admitted to using Photoshop to create a composite image of the earth from space, therefore this is proof that all NASA’s photos are fake. It’s true that some NASA pictures are made up – I mean, they are compositions made from a number of pictures, arranged together in Photoshop – because it’s hard to get a good-looking picture of the earth – it’s very big and you need to be quite far away from it to get a decent picture, so it’s necessary to take a bunch of photos, stitch them together and add layers of colour etc. So some NASA pics might be photoshopped, but this doesn’t mean that the earth is not round. It just means that some photos have been ‘edited’. This is cherry picking the evidence, or jumping to conclusions. E.g. some photos are fake therefore they’re all fake therefore the earth can’t be round.
Bad-faith representations of evidence. I don’t want to say ‘dishonest presentation of evidence’ because it might not be intentional to misrepresent something, it might just be confirmation bias that leads people to do this. E.g. presenting something as evidence of flat earth that isn’t really. E.g. mis-quoting someone, or quoting someone out of context and then using that as proof that they said the earth was flat, or presenting an old map that was created to help calculate time differences around the world and which appears to present a flat earth model, but it wasn’t designed originally as a flat earth map, it’s just a 2D representation, and presenting that as evidence of flat earth is to distort the original purpose of that map.
“If it’s old it’s true” – e.g. suggesting that ancient civilisations, medieval engravings, old buddhist texts or old maps seemed to show the earth was flat. Just because it’s old, doesn’t make it true. Quite the opposite probably.
Lack of evidence for one thing works as proof for something else. E.g. We can’t prove the earth is round, therefore it’s flat. E.g. I can’t prove that there is no afterlife, but it doesn’t mean that there is an afterlife, it just means that I can’t prove it. Lack of proof for one thing doesn’t give proof to something else.
Other fallacies of that nature: e.g. Einstein said that it was impossible to prove in a mechanical way that the earth is round, and that only theoretical or mathematical models could do it (which I think should be verified anyway). Therefore, the earth isn’t round. Or because only mathematical theories can be used to explain earth’s shape, all abstract theories become valid too, including the speculations that we’re making up.
Treating speculations as theories, or mixing up the words hypothesis and theory.A hypothesis is either a suggested explanation for an observable phenomenon, or a reasoned prediction of a possible causal correlation among multiple phenomena. But, a theory is a tested, well-substantiated, unifying explanation for a set of verified, proven factors. So, speculations about the shape of the earth are not theories until they have been really stringently tested again and again.
Not understanding the maths. – It’s quite possible that flat earthers don’t have the expert level of mathematical knowledge to understand the subject, and neither do I by the way – so I’m subject to this too. Now, either the mathematical theories are just wrong and the earth can’t be round, or these guys just don’t really understand the maths. Which one is more likely?
Trust and the belief in deception. A lot of this comes down to whether you trust ideas which you haven’t seen yourself, and when you believe there is a deception or a conspiracy going on. When you decide that there’s deception going on, it’s easy to just discount certain evidence as fake or part of the deception. E.g. “I think the earth is flat. Come on, prove that it isn’t. How about pictures of the earth? They’re fake. Satellites? Fake. International space station? Fake. But my brother went into space and saw it for himself. He’s been brainwashed, or he’s part of the conspiracy.” Perhaps these things are fake, or maybe it’s just a way to block out the evidence that disproves your theory. In the end, the conspiracy or the idea of a deception becomes a sort of tool (or maybe a trap) that erases the evidence that disproves your theory. The conspiracy is almost impossible to disprove because it relies on the assumption that information is being kept from us. We can only speculate on who is part of this conspiracy, and these speculations are presented as evidence, but where the hell is the information coming from?
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.
A Question of Trust
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.