Knowledge is hard to come by, particularly when you stop to think about how short a time man has been around in the grand scheme of things. We have made great strides to understand the mysteries around us, such as the shape of the Earth and how continents shift and mountains and canyons form. Of course, like everything else, getting to this point takes a lot of trial and error. Here is a list of some truly of the wall theories about the Earth that, believe it or not, some people still believe.
We’re going to focus mainly on Lemuria here, but it’d be foolish not to mention both of the so-called “missing continents” that people have theorized for years simply must have existed because—well, we’re not entirely sure why. Either way, just like Atlantis, Lemuria was said to have been a giant landmass located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in both cases one of the primary reasons for the creation of the theory of these lost continents was to explain how similar species could exist on two landmasses so far from one another.
In the case of Lemuria, it basically all comes down to a guy named Philip Sclater, who found himself puzzled as to why he was finding lemur fossils on the island of Madagascar and India, but not Africa or the Middle East. According to Sclater, the only possible explanation was that there simply must have been a giant landmass connecting the two nations, and he decided to name it after the glorious lemur itself. Over the years people have pretty much dismissed the notion that Lemuria ever existed, but the myth has continued thanks largely to some pretty batty writers, such as Helena Blavatsky, who wrote about the Occult, so you know she’s a trustworthy source.
Don’t look now, but according to some, we are living on the back of a giant turtle. We might also be living on the back of an elephant or a serpent, but let’s stick with turtles for now, because the Cosmic Turtle is the most widely recognized “belief” in this particular category.
The Great Turtle myth was first brought to the public’s attention in the 17th century, after a man named Jasper Danckaerts learned of it from several tribes of Native Americans he encountered. The Native Americans, however, are not the only ones who believed that the world rested on the shell of a giant turtle, as the myth is also prevalent in Chinese and Indian culture. All we know is that if we have to live on the back of a giant turtle, we hope he’s got a lot more Michelangelo in him that Raphael, because sure, he’s cool, but he’s also just so rude.
Unlike other theories on this list, which are meant to explain the Earth itself and the various events that have taken place over the millennia, Tectonic Strain Theory sets out to explain something other-wordly. Namely, UFO sightings throughout history. Not only UFOs, mind you, but also ghosts, spontaneous combustion, and basically anything else that are thought of as otherwise inexplicable events.
Tectonic Strain was theorized by Professor Michael Persinger in 1975, and suggests that every UFO sighting and basically unexplained phenomena people claim to have seen can be explained away by electromagnetic fields that occur when the Earth’s crust strains near seismic faults. According to Persinger, these EM fields create hallucinations, which are based on images from popular culture. That sounds like a really roundabout way of blaming something on TV, if you ask us.
Contracting Earth Theory, or geophysical global cooling if you want to get all science-y about it, was a theory before the idea of plate tectonics ever came about that said the Earth is actually getting smaller over time, and the shrinking Earth is what causes natural disasters as well as the natural wonders of nature, such as mountain ranges.
The idea is that the Earth consists of molten rock, and as the interior of the Earth cools and contracts, so too does the surface, leading to mountains springing up left and right, often turning into volcanoes when the planet needs to vomit up whatever it can’t keep down in its own Earth version of a stomach. The theory has in fact been used in real, bona fide scientific research, notably by a guy named Professor Edward Suess in order to explain an earthquake. We know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no, that’s not the same Dr. Suess, because the name is spelled differently, and also because the guy who wrote Green Eggs and Ham couldn’t have possibly been that dumb.
On the flip side of the Contracting Earth Theory is the Expanding Earth Theory, which is exactly what it sounds like. It was believed by some that the Earth is ever-expanding, just like the universe it occupies, and fortunately since people started to realize that plate tectonics are a thing that happen they’ve more or less rejected either of these two asinine theories.
Of course, we hesitate to really scoff too much at the people who have theorized that the Expanding Earth Theory wasn’t actually stupid and nonsensical, largely because one of the most noteworthy minds who put the theory to work was Charles Darwin himself, but thankfully he quickly realized that would make no sense and went back to doing what he did best: irritating the hell out of Creationists.
Also known as the geocentric model, the Fixed Earth Theory states that the Earth is, despite all evidence to the contrary, located at the very center of the universe, and the rest of the cosmos revolve around our very own planet. Though this theory was challenged by the likes of Copernicus and Kepler and has been generally accepted as being bull, some people have still refused to let go of the idea that anything but humans could be at the center of the universe.
Fixed Earth Theory was most notably argued by Ptolemy, and his geocentric model was used for astrological charts for 1500 years. It wasn’t until those guys we mentioned before, Copernicus and Kepler, along with Galileo, came along that people started to realize that maybe, just maybe, it’s actually the Earth doing the rotating, and the sun that’s located at the center of our universe. By the way, believe it or not people still believe in the Fixed Earth Theory. Those are the people you really want to avoid talking to at parties, and in fact, if they’re at the same parties you’re attending, you might want to rethink where your life went wrong.
Gene Ray is a little bit of a strange guy. We tell you this because, even as recently as 1997, he decided to ignore all facets of science and concoct his own theory called Time Cube, which states that what we think of as the rules of physics are completely wrong, and that each day is actually four different days all happening at the same time. Okay, then.
Basically, what Ray is suggesting is that the Earth consists of four equidistant “time points,” because we have such things as midday, midnight, sunup, and sundown. Clearly, according to Ray, the only logical explanation is that these are actually four days taking place at the same time, and have nothing to do with the Earth’s natural rotation and the fact that the sun hits different parts of the globe at different times. So adamant about his theory is Ray that he went to MIT and actually bet the professors there $10,000 that they could not disprove it. None took him up on the wager, either because he wasn’t worth their time, or because they don’t want us to realize the terrifying truth.
When you look up into the stars at night, you can pretty much be sure of a couple things. You’re looking up, you’re looking out, and you’re looking at a whole lot of empty space. However, in the 19th century there arose an infamous theory that continues to thrive today despite being utterly insane, and that’s that what you’re looking at is actually located in the center of the Earth.
That theory was brought about in large part thanks to John Symmes, a former captain in the US Army in the War of 1812 who believed that the Earth had a shell 800 miles thick, with openings at each magnetic pole and several inner shells that made up a series of concentric spheres, upon each of which people and animals lived. We’re not quite sure why this was called Hollow Earth Theory and not Russian Nesting Doll Theory, come to think of it.
An extension of Hollow Earth Theory popularized by Cyrus Teed, Cellular Cosmology proposes that, rather than the universe existing all around us, we live in an inside out universe that occupies a “hollow cell” of rock that is 8000 miles in diameter. And at the center of this hollow cell inside a giant rock is the sun, only in this case Teed believed the sun to be an electro-magnetic battery. Yeah, he was a little off.
Teed, a certified crackpot and alchemist who believed everything in the universe was made of the same substance. Oh, and we should also mention that he was told that the entire universe existed within the Earth was delivered to him by “The Divine Motherhood” and that he was a new Messiah. So we should probably take his ideas with a grain of salt. Maybe a few billion, really.
The most famous wacky theory about the Earth is also one that at this point is pretty much universally known to be completely, unequivocally untrue, yet believe it or not, there are some folks who have perpetuated the idea with Modern Flat Earth Theory. These people make up the Flat Earth Society, which came about in 1956 and actually still exists.
These are the people who believe that, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, the Earth is, in fact, flat. In 1980, a member of the Flat Earth Society named Charles Johnson actually managed to get an article published in Science Digest in which he claimed that the Earth must be flat, because otherwise there would be curvature on bodies of water like Lake Tahoe, and to the best of his knowledge, there was no evidence that the water was anything other than flat. Never mind photographic evidence from space showing the Earth to be spherical, a flat surface on a lake is enough evidence for us!