Flat-Earthers Conclude That Australia is Just a Hoax

Published: Oct 13, 2023

From 9/11 “Truthers” to QAnon devotees, millions of people worldwide either believe in conspiracy theories or are fascinated by them. Interestingly, if you’ve been convinced by one conspiracy theory, scientists have found that you’re far more susceptible to others. That is, perhaps, why people come to believe in truly bizarre propositions like the Earth being flat. 

Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, and despite the fact that humans have known Earth is spherical since at least the 5th century BCE, Flat Earth theories continue to gain traction. You may even have heard their rumor that Australia is a hoax invented by NASA to convince people of the Earth’s spherical nature. Could anyone really believe such a proposition? Let’s explore the facts to find out. 

The Internet Rumor Mill

Conspiracy theories pre-date the internet. From Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning all the way back to prehistory, there’s evidence that crisis situations inspire humans to come up with all manner of wild theories. 


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Of course, the internet makes it easier than ever to get even the most outlandish theory into the minds of others. From the “lizard overlords” discussed by David Icke to the crisis actors promoted by Alex Jones, the internet amplifies all manner of out-there ideas. 

Outlandish Ideas

As mentioned before, it’s generally crisis events that inspire conspiracy theories. A strong of related examples include the assassination of JFK, the mysterious death of Marilyn Monroe, and the tragedies that plagued Jacqueline Kennedy after the tragic death of her husband. 


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Flat-Earthers are a little different. No one tragedy catalyzed this movement. Instead, the International Flat Earth Society was quietly launched in 2009 by an American chap named Daniel Shenton. While this forum-based society of skeptics may seem benign, it appears they had an impact. By 2018, the national YouGov survey found that only 84% of Americans were confident that the Earth is spherical. 

Skepticism About the Shape of the Earth

Among the doubters, 5% claimed to simply be skeptical, while 2% were firm in their belief that the world is, in fact, flat. As you can see from the image below, Flat Earthers think the world is a flat disc surrounded by a wall of ice. 


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Perhaps the most disturbing finding from the YouGov survey was that the largest proportion of skeptics and Flat Earthers fell in the 18 to 24 age bracket. From this statistic, we can gather that skepticism about the shape of the planet is growing.  

The Shape of the Earth

Around the 5th century BCE, we find the earliest evidence of humans understanding the spherical shape of the planet. However, our knowledge of the shape of the Earth may pre-date these documents from the Ancient Greeks.


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Around 500 years ago, Nicolaus Copernicus (pictured above) proved this proposition. Since then, it has been considered common, undisputed knowledge. However, in the age of fake news and distrust in leaders and academic institutions, it seems humans are willing to doubt anything. 

Why is the Flat Earth Movement Popular?

People have many reasons for believing wild theories. However, in the case of Flat Earth, celebrities have been responsible for adding weight to the movement. For example, basketballer Kyrie Irving promoted the idea during an interview in 2017. Why anyone would take scientific advice from an athlete is beyond us, but there you go. 

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Like many conspiracy theorists, Irving claimed he was just asking questions and seeking to start a conversation. Of course, everyone should be able to ask questions and learn about science. However, as a basketball player, he’s hardly qualified to be leading such a discussion. 


Celebrity Support for Flat Earth Theory

Rapper B.o.B. (aka Bobby Ray Simmons Jr.) also spoke publicly about the Flat Earth movement. In 2015, he tweeted, “No matter how high in elevation you are… the horizon is always eye level. I’m going up against the greatest liars in history. You’ve been tremendously deceived.”

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To his credit, Simmons was interested in seeing the evidence. He actually started a crowdfunding project with the aim of funding a rocket mission during which he would see the shape of the planet for himself.


The Growth of the Flat Earth Movement

As it gained attention from such celebrity endorsements, the Flat Earth movement grew. By 2018, they were hosting international conventions, with the first one taking place in the UK. Though the turnout wasn’t huge (they had around 200 people show up), it’s still wild to think that anyone at all wanted to discuss the idea that we might be living on a flat disc surrounded by a mysterious ice wall. 

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It’s hard to say how seriously the organizers took the event (or the theory itself). They sold merch, including disc planet maps and “Flat Power” shirts. Could it all be a cynical cash grab? 


The First Flat Earth Convention

We must admit, some of their maps are quite beautiful – easily debunked, but beautiful nonetheless. The style of the attendees at the first convention was equally surprising. From off-grid environmentalists to slick corporate professionals, the crowd featured an eclectic mix of personalities. 

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If you were to go back in time and chat with these people, you would find that they shared one thing in common – sincerity. Regardless of whether the organizers took this theory seriously or not, the attendees certainly did. Among the conspiracy theories on the table for discussion was the idea that gravity is a lie.


The Electromagnetism Theory

Fans of the YouTube channel Professor Dave Explains may be familiar with the Flat Earth idea of an electromagnetic universe. The channel’s host, Dave Farina, has spoken at length with Flat Earth proponents about this theory, successfully debunking the pseudoscience that underpins it. 

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Still, many Flat Earthers cling to this shaky theory, and it remains a prime topic at their conventions. The theory suggests that gravity does not exist. Instead, its force can be explained by electromagnetism – the one “true” force of the universe. 


Do Flat Earthers Think Australia Is a Hoax?

With the background information covered, we can now dive into our main topic for today – do Flat Earthers really believe that Australia is a fictional place made up by NASA? We can confirm that there is a notion out there that this southern-hemisphere country isn’t real. We’ll get to whether Flat Earthers genuinely believe it in a moment. 

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For now, it’s true that someone made a lengthy post claiming that the world’s sixth-largest country – all 2.9 million square miles of it – is a hoax enacted by NASA and endorsed by every government, politician, and scientist in the world (not to mention all the actors hired to pretend to be Australian – what a job!). 


The Original Post Claiming Australia Isn’t Real

The first mention of the Australia hoax came on Facebook in March 2017. A woman by the name of Shelley Floryd went into great detail in her claim that Australia is a made-up place. In Shelley’s words, any proof of Australia’s existence is little more than “well-fabricated lies and documents made by the leading governments of the world.” 

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At this point, many people began to suspect that Flat Earthers were just trolls messing with scientists. Surely, no one could believe that an entire country is fake. However, Shelley dug in, insisting people who call themselves “Australian” are actually “actors and computer-generated personas.” 


The Australia Conspiracy

Australians obviously argued for their veracity, but then paid actors would do that, wouldn’t they? In response to the many questions she received, Shelley explained that pilots and flight attendants are in on the hoax, as are newscasters and anyone else who claims to come from Australia. 

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As for those who think they’ve visited Australia, well, we’re sorry to say that they’ve been duped. Shelley insisted that no one has ever been “down under.” Instead, visitors to Australia were simply taken to an island on the disc world. 


Mass Murder By the Brits

Shelley claimed that the powers that be had more than one reason to invent Australia. In addition to supporting the “fake” idea of a northern and southern hemisphere, she insisted that the invention of Australia was a way for the Brits to cover up the mass murder of convicts. 

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She explained that when Britain claimed to be moving convicts to Australia, they were really sending them out into the ocean to be drowned. In conclusion, she declared it to be “a cover-up for one of the greatest mass murders in history.”


Alternate Histories

It’s true that the British have been responsible for an astonishing number of atrocities over the years. So, Shelley didn’t think it unreasonable to add one more to the mix. She declared that Australia is simply “a codeword for the cold-blooded murder of more than 100,000 people.” Point made, she encouraged people to “stand up for the truth” and spread the word. 

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The problem is that such claims conflict with the true atrocities the Brits were responsible for in Australia – the mass slaughter, rape, and inhumane treatment of the indigenous people. Indeed, the ramifications of the actions of the British in Australia are still causing pain to this day. 


The Hoax About Australia Being a Hoax

Thankfully, it turns out that Shelley wasn’t truly convinced that Australia isn’t real. Instead, she created her post as a pointed joke – one aimed at highlighting the absurdity of the Flat Earth movement and its beliefs. 

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While Shelly Floryd may have been joking, the fact is that Flat Earth theory does call into question the existence of Australia and the entire southern hemisphere. So, this apparent joke has real-world connotations for those who hold to the theory. 


A Joke That People Believe

If you explore Flat Earth forums and dig into their outlandish literature, you will find that many people genuinely think Australia might be a hoax. However, this is one of their shakier beliefs as it would involve a global conspiracy of an impossible magnitude with millions of people involved and not a single whistleblower lending their voice to the “debate.”

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As far back as 2006, you can find discussion on the concept that Australia might not exist. In these Flat Earth forum threads, people discuss the potential benefits of making up a continent and the logistics of maintaining the lie for so long. 


Doubting Everything

One poster wrote that “the Australia conspiracy is much bigger than the flat Earth conspiracy.” Clearly, this is where Shelley drew her inspiration in creating her “Australia is a hoax” post on Facebook. 

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While many people believe in ridiculous ideas – like the concept that the Sandy Hook school shooting was faked and that all the grieving families are crisis actors – the “Australia isn’t real” theory appears to be a step too far, even for those who doubt everything. Indeed, discussion of the idea on social media has been hilarious. 


Australians Chime In

Obviously, Australians and those who know people in Australia have had a lot to say. Below a Guardian article about the phenomenon, one user wrote, “If Australia doesn’t exist, a good number of my relatives have been very successful at hiding from me.” 

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Meanwhile, on Twitter, one Australian claimed that “It’s true… NASA pays me 100k a year to pretend to be Aussie.” They sarcastically continued, “We all live in a big beer can floating out here in the middle of the Pacific.” 


The Aussie Sense of Humor

Thankfully, Australians are known for their laid-back attitudes, so they weren’t too miffed about the ridiculous theory. In fact, it tends to inspire plenty of sarcastic posts and hilarious quips every time it resurfaces on social media. 

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For example, a Scottish YouTuber named RagReynolds began claiming that Australia wasn’t real. His angry, rant-filled videos include claims that Australia is “no more real than Narnia.” As you can imagine, the comments on such videos are a goldmine of clever comebacks from Aussies. 


What About Australian Flat Earthers?

We can kind of understand how a Scottish shut-in might doubt the existence of Australia. After all, it’s easy to doubt the presence of a place you’ve never visited. However, you have to wonder how on Earth someone who lives in Australia could entertain Flat Earth Theory. 

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If you know you’re not a paid actor, and you understand that you live in the southern hemisphere, how can you believe in a disc world that doesn’t have space for you? It’s a mystery we may never solve.