It Is Not The Bishop’s Feet I Can Smell Here, But He Does Have Bad Breath

I would like to drag the reader back to a posting I put on the system on 5th October 2015 entitled “St Bede’s College in Manchester And All That”, where in the second half of that article I complained about Slater and Gordon’s handling of a case involving two old boys of St Bede’s and the way they had been shuttled through the legal system in Manchester without any care whatever to their emotional and mental status.
These lads, originally three, had independently approached Panone, the Manchester solicitors, supposedly renowned for their work in the field of personal injury claims. One of the three was ditched at an early stage and the other two were carried forward, neither knowing of the other’s claim and in a flash almost, after being told that the international law firm of Slater & Gordon had taken over Panone, were persuaded to settle their case with the Salford Diocese. I will go into detail about these two men later in this piece but I always wondered why the two men were pushed through with almost indecent haste; but now I think I know.
Word has reached me from possibly the far most reaches of the Bedian diaspora area, in fact from the mainland opposite the Great Barrier Reef in Northern Queensland in Australia. This is Slater & Gordon’s home territory where they made their name in pre-war Australia championing worker’s rights and taking on the asbestos industry. In recent times they have had intent in not just buying into the UK legal scene but in fact buying up the UK legal market, wherever there was a law firm who were big into personal injury, which most of them were, it being the flavour of the decade, Slater and Gordon bought it. Eventually climaxing this bold venture with the ill fated acquisition of a UK outfit Quindell in early 2015 for $1.2 billion, all raised from institutional investors ($900 million) and a syndicate of banks ($350 million). It is now pay back time but unfortunately the money ain’t there. Quindell was a company that had previously gone on an acquisition binge of their own and by imaginative accounting had seemed to be earning more money than in fact it actually did and it all went tits up a few weeks ago.
Slater & Gordon’s share price has dropped from a high of $8.00 closing at 94 cents on 26th November. In a news flash by the ABC network of Australia it said that Slater & Gordon are in a real danger of going broke. “Lawyers who have left (the firm) speak of being pressured to settle cases, against the interests of the client, to bring early cash in the door”
Now without Quindell’s imaginative accounting, Slater & Gordon for years having themselves been on the acquisition trail have also been guilty of the same nefarious practices and are being investigated by the Regularity Commission in Australia, but this double whammy as really kicked them where it hurts. If they do go broke and it is highly likely according to ABC, the implications will be dire and wreak havoc in the legal systems of Australia and the United Kingdom.
But the above explains a lot as to why they behaved in such a way with my Bedian friends and at this point I would just like to rewrite part of that article “St Bede’s College……All That”. I got it slightly wrong but will now correct my mistake having interviewed one of the now 72 year old boys.

Boy A having read the Bishop of Salford’s half-hearted apology regarding abuse at St Bede’s in the Manchester Evening News on I think the 13th March 2011 decided to go legal with his experiences and approached Panone. He had had a lifetime of hardships after his two years of sexual abuse by Duggan when he was 14 and 15 in 1958-1959. Divorced from his family and eventually three wives, his life was a mess, unable to maintain intimate relationships and suffering from periods of deep depression.
So Panone welcomed him into their fold but did not tell him about the other two victims and to this day he knows nothing about the other fellow (Boy B) who eventually went forward as well. Boy A secured legal aid for his case and after psychiatric examination he was really looking forward to having his day in court, when two weeks before the case was to be heard Slater & Gordon’s solicitor (Panone having been acquired by S & G) came to him and said their barrister thought there was little chance of them winning in court and would he accept the £25,000 that the Diocese are offering to walk away. He was deflated and at the same time suffering from a severe bout of shingles which impaired his reasoning process he agreed. Four or five days later the solicitor was back and said the Diocese had dropped that offer of £25,000 and were now offering £10,000 and as the case had no chance in court would he accept the lower offer. Taking their advice and at a very low ebb he reluctantly agreed and three days later he received a cheque from Slater & Gordon for £10,000.  S & G fees obviously being sourced from the legal aid fund.   Undue haste is my reading on this process. Old Bishop Brain would not have had chance to sign his name on a cheque in so short a time and most importantly Boy A was never asked to sign a gagging order, the normal stipulation in these cases of settlement. Something smells rotten here and it ain’t the Bishop’s feet.
Boy B whose abuse from Duggan was probably classed as not as severe as Boy A but bad enough to have the same effects on his life, slipping into depression, alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, with an inability to sustain relationships and had sought out psychiatric help from the age of 23. Boy B did not get legal aid but the same steps applied as with Boy A, he eventually agreeing to a settlement of £5,000, so I am told, of which he received some weeks later a Slater & Gordon cheque for £300. Slater & Gordon had deducted their legal fees from the so called settlement.
The psychiatrist who had examined both of them had recommended a course of treatment for both but this was soon forgotten about as they were bundled off by Slater & Gordon as mere stooges in this legal game they were playing. After the trauma of their witness statements and against the advice of the psychiatrist, no counselling was offered, no advice given on how to control their feelings. Can I just remind you here what the Australian news agency said in their piece on the likely demise of Slater & Gordon.
“LAWYERS WHO HAVE LEFT (Slater & Gordon) SPEAK OF BEING PRESSURED TO SETTLE CASES, AGAINST THE INTERESTS OF CLIENTS, TO BRING CASH IN THE DOOR.”
Enough said. What a stinking rotten system we have to live with and rely on.

35 Responses to It Is Not The Bishop’s Feet I Can Smell Here, But He Does Have Bad Breath

  1. Linda says:

    Paul, thanks for that piece. I have no way of making an independent check on any of this, but what you say all seems to fit together so well that I don’t doubt your conclusions.

    Perhaps you missed your way in life. You have the right combination of intelligence and determination to have made a good investigative journalist.

  2. paul taylor says:

    Remember Paul, nobody ever uttered these immortal words, unless it was in jest

    “Trust me, I’m a lawyer”

  3. PaulMalpas says:

    I was talking to Bill Maloney yesterday, that well known film-maker and paedo hunter and he told me that over 90% of cases against institutions are settled out of court. Every victim of institutional sex abuse wants their day in court but has the time nears they are persuaded by unscrupulous lawyers that on legal grounds their case is dodgy and it would be wise to accept the offer put forward by the said institution. That way the institution has no bad publicity, everything is still rosy in the kitchen and the abuse continues. Somehow or other we have got to persuade victims to come forward and then persuade them to last the course and ignore the advice of the bloody lawyers, most of whom are up to their oxters in the vile game they play with their friends the institutions.

  4. Linda says:

    Suggesting to them that they read your blog, including the relevant historic posts, might be a good way to start.

  5. Ken says:

    Well written Paul. Why is Linda always the doubting Thomas? The S&G Mob are notorious in Australia for covering up endemic Union Corruption through their methods and stand over tactics. In Australia, people in the know say “Oh yes, S&G The Criminal Lawyers” meaning of course literally that! “Shonky” Lawyers is the word often used to describe S&G and other like MB (Morris Blackburn)and there are many more of the same ilk.

  6. PaulMalpas says:

    Ken,
    Linda is a good girl really and she wants real proof all the time. This I cannot understand because she is an academic who has been fed perceived and warped proof throughout her education. I keep asking her to question everything she reads or has been taught but she is bound up in the straight-jacket of academia, big pharma et al, but she is slowly getting there.

  7. brian lefley says:

    Slight digression. Did anybody listen to BBC radio 4 prog on St.Ambrose case -8pm last Monday?

  8. PaulMalpas says:

    I didn’t, We in Ireland are forbidden to listen to English filth but I would if I had a television set or radio. Anyway what could the BBC tell us about St Ambrose’s abuse. You would get a better picture of it all if you read my blog “Tip of the Iceberg” and especially all its hundreds of comments from Old Ambrosians round the north of England.

  9. brian lefley says:

    G.M.P.did a thorough job.Modus Operandi was more Perve Scoutmaster rather than Duggan’s creepy familiarity. Diocese gave standard “Shame/Regret” formulae non-apology.

  10. Linda says:

    Ken, I question things because I was trained as a scientist. One of the things you learn in science is that it is easy to be misled by appearances, and that it is safer to seek evidence before reaching a conclusion. Once I can see good evidence in support of a particular viewpoint, and no good evidence against it, I will come round to that viewpoint. Not before.

    Remember that it is absolutely “obvious” that the earth is flat. So obvious that for centuries no-one doubted it. But the evidence, when enough of it accumulated, told us otherwise.

  11. PaulMalpas says:

    Linda, forgive me if I appeared paternalistic in my reply to Ken but I did it to elicit a response from you but I got something entirely different, which opened up another chain of thought that I had been pondering over for some time. If the world is not flat, what is it? Why do planes fly over the North Pole (my perceived centre of our planet) but not the South Pole. Perhaps somebody with a better brain can help me with my ponderings and that could well be you Linda. This is a far better line of conversation than the smell or otherwise of the Bishop’s feet.

  12. Katy says:

    Linda, can you prove the earth is a sphere?

    If the curvature of the earth is 8″/mile2, how is it you can see the Isle of Man from the Fylde coast on a good day?

    Have you ever seen a round earth apart from the one picture NASA ever released in 1972 which is easy to fake.

    You are a scientist who needs to see evidence with her own eyes. Prove to me with such evidence that the earth is a sphere?

  13. brian lefley says:

    Don’t tell the Papacy its an Oblate Spheroid.Didn’t Alfie Hines tell you !!

  14. Linda says:

    There are many lines of evidence, but since I have no wish to write a textbook I will just give you just five.

    (1) Look at the shape of the shadow that the earth casts on the moon during a lunar eclipse. Then try to explain that on a flat earth model. (This was actually one of the lines of evidence that suggested to a few thinkers in ancient Greece that the earth might not be flat).

    (2) We know that the stars are VERY far away (from basic trigonometry). Yet if you change your latitude, the altitude in the sky of the stars changes. (Just think of the Pole Star if you want to keep this simple). Those two facts are inconsistent if the earth is flat. But they are easily compatible if the earth is spherical (or something like spherical).

    (3) In the days of sailing ships, sailors often noticed that the top of the masts of a ship came into view before the rest of the ship. That is easily explicable with a round earth but not explicable at all for a flat earth. (You can get the same thing today, when are on a plain and you can see the tops of a distant mountain range, but not the lower slopes, and the lower slopes only come into view when you approach more closely. This is perhaps less obvious tan the sailing ship example because there aren’t many places where you have an extensive flat plain immediately adjacent to high mountains.) This was one of the arguments that Galileo used.

    (4) If the earth is flat then either it goes on for ever or it has an edge. We have explored everywhere we can get to, and the earth certainly does not go on for ever. And never in the course of that exploration has anyone come to the brick wall at the edge of the earth, or fallen off the edge.

    (5) If you fly at high enough altitude on an airplane you can actually see the curvature of the earth. It is barely apparent on ordinary commercial airliners (which get up to about 40,000 feet), but passengers on Concorde (60,000 feet) could see it.

    Of course, us round earthers are then faced with the embarrassing question of why the Australians don’t all fall off. I’ll leave it to better minds than mine to struggle with that one. Hypotheses non fingo.

  15. Katy says:

    Linda. In an age of misinformation, trolls, government lies, manipulative media and an education system that inhibits rather than encourages critical thinking, it becomes apparent that really the only things we can truly believe in are those we can see with our own eyes.

    I am not saying that the earth is flat but I am presently going through the exercise of proving to myself beyond doubt that the earth is a sphere and to be honest I am having some difficulty.

    Thank you for your five lines of evidence but they are prima facie and here are my attempts to rebut them.

    1) The shadow of the earth on the moon. If the earth were flat and round as opposed to spherical and round, the same effect could be had. In any case lunar eclipses never made much sense to me as they are supposed to happen when the sun, earth and moon are in perfect alignment yet the sun and moon can often be seen in the sky at dusk before the eclipse occurs. Many people have written about this conundrum.
    2) There is nothing basic about trigonometry in my view! But in any case, can you let me know what this trigonometrical formula is so I can test it myself? You raise the interesting point of Polaris. NASA cannot work out how far away Polaris is and estimate it to be about 2 quadrillion miles away give or take a few hundred trillion miles. Maybe you could send your basic trigonometrical formula to the guys at NASA so they can be a little more specific. (Sorry, don’t want to sound facetious.) What is more, how is it possible for Polaris to remain in perfect alignment with the North Pole at all times? Think about it, the earth is spinning at 1000mph on its axis and orbiting the sun at 67,000mph. At the same time, we are hurtling to the outer edges of the galaxy at 500,000mph. How can Polaris at 2 quadrillion miles away keep up? So perfectly?
    3) Hulls of ships. Well, I have never stood and observed the hull of a ship myself so am having to rely on other people’s witness (and remember, the whole point of this exercise is to prove with one’s own eyes that the earth is a sphere). However, if I were to go out and look at a ship sailing away for ages and the hull disappears, surely the Law of Perspective would explain this away. Everything vanishes at some point. Samuel Rowbotham did an interesting experiment with ice skaters who from far away appeared to be skating on their limbs with no feet and skates. Once he observed them again through a telescope, he could see their skates.
    4) Quite clearly we have not explored everywhere on earth. The Antarctic remains a mysterious and undiscovered place. No plane has ever flown over it. Why not? It is estimated to be the same size as Australia. It would be possible. Admiral Byrd led a series of expeditions to the Antarctic from 1928 to 1956. He went on television explaining how much resources have been discovered there: masses of oil, minerals, precious metals. And then in 1959 the Antarctic treaty was signed which put the kybosh on any independent exploration of the continent. It is now cloaked in secrecy and there are no-fly and no-sail zones. Why? Nobody (that we know of) has ever got to the edge because in the past it was too inhospitable and now that we have the technological capability we are simply not allowed to.
    5) Again, this is hearsay as I have never flown at 60,000 feet and neither, I suspect, have you. My husband use to fly fighter jets for the RAF at high altitude and when I first started discussing with him this subject he said that he has seen the curvature of the earth. And then I said, “Have you? Have you really?” He was then forced to admit that he wasn’t really sure if it was curvature or the way the window curves like a fish eye lens as they do on planes both in the cockpit and the fuselage. There are pictures taken from high altitude weather balloons which are 20 miles high that clearly show a flat horizon.

    To bring it back to what one can perceive with one’s own eyes, I have stood on the Fylde coast line on a crisp autumn day and I have seen the Isle of Man some 116 miles away. If the curvature of the earth is 8”/mile squared then I should only be able to see things over 9000 foot high on the island. The highest point on the island is Snaefell at 2034 foot.

    Riddle me that one.

  16. PaulMalpas says:

    What oh, this battle of the ladies, this great attritional battle of the intellects is well under way. Can I just say here that I know the two protagonists well. One a swimmer in the Cam, the other a floater on the Isis, the two great universities of our one time green and pleasant land. There is more intellect coming out of the sweat of these two ladies than as ever be put on these pages before. Are we to go for the beautifully plump and rounded breast of Linda’s Mother Earth or should we favour the flat as a witch’s version that Katy espouses. Personally I favour the pancake version as the rounded plumptiousness only came about with the rise in International Jewery 150 years ago and of that movement I have little or no joy. What do they know that is in Antartica that we do not? Fire away girls and let the best man win metaphorically speaking of course.

  17. brian lefley says:

    Meanwhile……..”we’re all DOOMED!

  18. Linda says:

    Katy, I’m just about to head out into the snow (yes, it does snow in Greece, in the mountains) to reach the nearest town for my dancing lesson, and since I can’t give you an adequate reply in 10 minutes, it will have to wait until tomorrow. If you don’t hear from me again it probably means I have fallen off the edge of the earth, in which case you can conclude you have proved your point.

  19. Katy says:

    OK Linda. You won’t fall off the earth in Greece. In the meantime, take a look at this curiosity.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3270382/Caught-camera-amazing-moment-woman-gives-birth-premature-baby-girl-30-000ft-Taiwan-Los-Angeles-flight-crew-passengers-helping-out.html

    So this woman gives birth on a plane travelling from Taiwan to Los Angeles across the Pacific. The plane is forced to make an emergency landing in….

    …Alaska.

    When you see this on the conventional map this makes no sense. But if you look at the Azimuthal Equidistant map (Google to see it), it makes absolute perfect sense as the plane would fly over China, Mongolia, Russia and then Alaska and the west coast of America.

  20. Linda says:

    Hi Katy,

    Happily, I didn’t fall off the edge of the earth, though I did nearly come off the edge of the road. Some of the bends were very slippery.

    The question of how we know what we know (or think we know, or what other people claim we know) is an excellent one, and one that is usually not given the attention that it deserves. Partly that is for practical reasons: it doesn’t take long to tell someone that the universe is expanding, for example – and it undoubtedly is expanding – but it takes quite a long time to explain how we know that, and the person receiving the explanation has to know some physics to understand the explanation. A real sceptic, who wanted to “see it for myself”, would have to go find a large telescope, attach a good spectroscope to it, take lots of spectra of distant galaxies, analyse the emission lines in those spectra, note that they are red-shifted compared to what we see on earth, calculate the corresponding recession velocities from the Doppler shifts, and draw the appropriate conclusion. It would take several years of hard work. You could do that sort of thing to establish one or two points that really interested you, but life is too short to do it for everything. For many things we have to take a less direct approach. Basically it involves trusting the work that other people have done, for the most part, but also using our brain to see whether all the information fits together coherently. If it does fit together, the most sensible course is to accept the conclusions. If it doesn’t fit together well, that strongly suggests that something is wrong somewhere.

    If you were starting from scratch and trying to establish a cosmology you would probably come up with the one that the Sumerians developed around 3000 BC. We live on a flat earth, over which is the hemispherical dome of the sky. When you think a bit more, you realise that there is water above the sky (how else can you explain rain?) and water below the earth (because you find it when you dig wells, or go down to the sea), so obviously we live in a hemispherical void in a universe that is otherwise made of water. This cosmological view neatly explained a lot of observation – the Sumerians were not stupid. It was not without its problems and loose ends (e.g. What happens to the sun at night? Or do we get a new sun every morning.), but it was good enough that it lasted a long time. It was still in favour when the Book of Genesis was written (about 6th century BC): just read Genesis 1: 6 – 7.

    Replacing it with our present view was a long process. That was because, in the distant past, there was not any single, clear-cut, decisive observation you could easily make that clearly showed that it was wrong and that some other view was preferable. (Spacecraft, and ease of travel over long distances, have changed that, of course.) It was one of those cases where, as the evidence built up piece by piece, the old view came to appear increasingly strained and artificial – and eventually implausible. Science is often like that, and not nearly as tidy as the textbooks would have you believe. Other examples like that include the theory of continental drift (now usually called plate tectonics) in geology, or the idea of evolution and natural selection in biology. They are supported by a mass of interlocking facts, rather than by a single, decisive piece of evidence.

    There are sometimes clear-cut observation that kill an old theory. From the 17th century onwards scientists argued about whether light was formed of particles (Newton’s view) or of waves (the view of Huygens). Eventually someone realised that if it is a wave, then a point source of light will cast a shadow behind a circular disc (no surprise there) with a bright spot at the centre of the shadow (big surprise!!). (To explain why would need a long digression into the physics of diffraction.) Obviously that doesn’t happen if light is formed of particles. The experiment is difficult to do, because the disc must be precisely circular, the alignments must be perfect, and the bright spot is tiny, but the experiment was eventually done in the early 19th century. To most people’s astonishment, the bright spot was observed, and instantly the Newtonian idea was dead.

    Lets get back to the shape of the earth. Start with lunar eclipses. These happen when the earth casts a shadow on the moon. Obviously, that requires the sun, earth and moon to lie on, or almost on, a straight line. (That is why you only get a lunar eclipse at a time of full moon.) It would be possible, during a lunar eclipse, to see the sun right on the horizon and the moon right on the opposite horizon (sun, earth and moon would still be in a straight line). But atmospheric refraction can change the apparent position of things seen near the horizon (to explain this properly would, once again, need a long digression into physics), so it would be possible for the sun to appear slightly (a degree or two) above the horizon and the moon slightly above the horizon, giving the misleading impression that the sun, earth and moon were not quite aligned.

    The shadow cast on the moon by the earth has a border that is circular, or almost circular. You won’t see the shadow of the entire earth in any single lunar eclipse, but you will see the shadow of different parts of it at different eclipses, and the border of the shadow is always the arc of a circle. Two obvious possibilities are: (1) the earth is spherical, (2) the earth is a circular disc. (Those are not the only possibilities. For example, an elliptical disc, oriented appropriately, could cast a circular shadow. But let’s stick to the main line of argument.) These observations conclusively rule out one possibility: that the earth is flat and goes on for ever.

    If you prefer the flat earth viewpoint, you need to explain why no-one has ever come to the brick wall at the edge of the earth (or whatever it is that exists at the edge). You also need to consider the thickness of your flat earth. Our deepest mines go very deep, and some oil wells go even deeper, but they have never come out the other side of the disc. Why not?

    While we are on the subject of the moon, take a look at a good, high resolution photo of it. You will see how craters near the centre appear circular, whereas those near the limb appear elongated. Why? The simplest explanation is that the moon is spherical, not flat, so we are seeing craters near the limb somewhat edge on. Otherwise, you have to claim that the moon just happens to have elongated craters near its limb for no obvious reason. And if the moon seems to be spherical, then perhaps all astronomical bodies, including the earth, are also spherical.

    So far we have not proved conclusively that the earth is round. A sceptic could still insist that the earth is flat. But although the flat earth hypothesis has not been completely ruled out, it is starting to appear a bit strained and uncomfortable.

    Now let’s move onto the stars, and kill the flat earth hypothesis. Dead.

    You can actually measure the distance to the nearer stars directly, but it involves first accepting that the earth goes round the sun. You may not wish to accept that, so I’ll give you an alternate argument that does not depend on that. You can bounce radar beams off the moon and, just as an airport control tower uses radar to measure the distance of aircraft in its vicinity, radar gives us a direct measurement of the distance to the moon. It is about 240,000 miles (varying by a few percent because the moon’s orbit is not perfectly circular).

    When the moon passes over a patch of sky where a star is, the star always disappears from view. In other words the star goes “behind” the moon, i.e. it is further away than the moon. We never see a star pass in front of the moon. In other words, stars are more than 240,000 miles away.

    Now think back to your geometry classes at school (if you can bear to!). If you know the length of the base of a triangle, and you know the two angles at the base, then the size and shape of the triangle are completely determined. You can easily calculate the third angle (because the three angles add up to 180 degrees), and using trigonometry you can calculate the lengths of the other two sides.

    For simplicity of exposition, I am going to assume that the position of the Pole Star is fixed in the sky. (In fact, because it is about two-thirds of a degree away from the pole it is not quite fixed. That would affect the details slightly if you were to make the calculations I describe, but only slightly. It is not fundamental.) Go outside on a clear night and measure the angular altitude of the Pole Star above the horizon. I will assume, following the hint from Paul M, that you are in Oxford. You will find that the Pole Star is about 52 degrees above the horizon. Now travel south, let us say to Oran in Algeria which is on roughly the same longitude, and repeat the measurement. In Oran you will measure an elevation of about 35 and a half degrees. The distance from Oxford to Oran is about 1500 miles.

    If you assume a flat earth, you now have a triangle with a straight line base that is 1500 miles long, an apex at the Pole Star, and you know the two basal angles. You can then calculate the distance to the Pole Star. I have just done those calculations, and the Pole Star turns out to be about 3070 miles from Oxford and about 4160 miles from Oran. But we know that stars are much further away than that. So the flat earth hypothesis is in direct conflict with observation. It must be wrong. The flat earth hypothesis is dead.

    The round earth hypothesis has no difficulty explaining the observations. The “base of the triangle” is not a straight line, so I can’t apply simple trigonometry.

    (If you know your astronomy you will object that the moon’s orbit is such that it never passes over the Pole Star, so there is a logical gap in my argument. That is true. But we can repeat calculations of the kind I have outlined for any star. They are more complicated, as we have to measure direction as well as altitude, and we also have to ensure that measurements at the two points on earth are made simultaneously. You finish up with a problem in 3D geometry, rather than 2D geometry. But nothing important changes. You still conclude that the stars are just a few thousand miles away.) The flat earth hypothesis remains dead.

    Let me say a few words about the matters you raise in your point (2). The earth rotates on its axis. On timescales of interest to our present discussion, the direction of that axis is fixed: it always points in the same direction. (On a timescale of many thousands of years it does change, very slowly, for reasons that would take too long to explain here. That is what is called, for historical reasons, the “precession of the equinoxes” – and you can thank an ancient Greek for first spotting the phenomenon.) If you watch the stars at night, they appear to rotate about a point in the sky. If you were at the North Pole, that point would be directly overhead. The Pole Star is not quite at that point, but it is very close to it, so its position in the sky does not vary much. (It rotates about the fixed point in the sky, but the radius of the circle it follows is only two thirds of a degree.) The way you measure distances to the stars (or at least to the nearer ones) is a more sophisticated version of the “triangle method”. But your base line is not a line from Oxford to Oran, it is the position of the earth at two points in time 6 months apart, i.e. when it is at opposite ends of a diameter of its orbit. That gives you a base line of about 186 million miles, rather than 1500 miles. That turns out to be enough, with careful measurements of angles, to calculate the distances to many stars. It was first done in the 1830s by a German astronomer named Friedrich Bessel. It has been repeated may times, most recently and accurately by the Hipparchus satellite. The Pole Star was much too far away for the technology of Bessel’s time to cope. It is just about accessible to the technology on Hipparchus, though the uncertainty is the measurements is fairly large. Its distance is about 400 light years, give or take a few tens of light years. (For stars much more distant than that, other methods have to be used. I could explain – but this post is already too long. Read an astronomy textbook if you are interested, especially the bits about Cepheid variables.)

    The “hulls of ships” argument works, but since neither of us has ever watched a sailing ship carefully, let’s skip that one. What is basically the same argument can be presented in different forms, but it would take more time than I want to devote to it.

    “No plane has ever flown over [Antarctica]”. That is just plain wrong. When I was an undergraduate I seriously considered a career in glaciology with the British Antarctic Survey. At that time (1970s) one of the hot research topics in glaciology was radio echo sounding of the antarctic ice cap. The basic idea is that you fly a plane on a known trajectory over the ice cap, and regularly send a radar pulse downwards. Some of the pulse is reflected off the top of the ice, but some penetrates the ice and is reflected off the rock at the base of the ice sheet. Put the pieces together, and you can calculate the thickness of the ice sheet at that point. With measurements from enough points you can map the thickness over the whole of Antarctica. There were hundreds of flights carried out to do this. I have seen maps with all the trajectories plotted, and pretty much the whole of Antarctica was criss-crossed with lines. I have also spoken to the people who were involved in that research. If you claim that they were all liars then I have to choose between two hypotheses: that my respected colleagues were all liars or that you are a lunatic. Which do you think I will choose?

    Curvature viewed from high altitude. The simplest way to resolve this is to go to higher altitude, where the effect is larger. Hundreds of people have visited the International Space Station. Why don’t you ask one of them? But you could do it from the altitude of a modern fighter jet, if you took the trouble to make careful observations and saw to it that any source of artifacts was eliminated. If you claim that optical artifacts are distorting the result, you need to explain why ALL those artifacts give us a horizon that curves downwards at the edges. Wouldn’t you expect some of them to make it curve upwards? But apparently it never does.

    I will just mention briefly one other line of evidence. (You may have to read around the subject to fill in any bits you don’t understand.) You can measure the mass of the earth fairly easily. It was done in the 18th century, using the mountain Schiehallion in Scotland. The technique is accurate to about 20 %. You can measure the strength of materials, including rocks, in the laboratory. You can easily measure the strength of gravity. Put those pieces together and you can calculate that a body the mass of the earth MUST be very nearly spherical. If it was not, gravity would deform it until it was. In fact any rocky body more than about 400 miles in diameter must be spherical, or almost so.

  21. Paul Taylor says:

    To all.

    the Article on Radio 4 re St Ambroe’s, transmitted on 6 Jan 2016, is currently available on i-player.

  22. Katy says:

    Linda, I thank you for you very thorough and well thought out piece which I look forward to dissecting as soon as possible. As you have given so much food for thought there, I cannot promise anything immediately. And I look forward to having it proved that the earth is a sphere, because that is what I originally started out doing. I thought flat earthers were mad but when I looked into it, the question threw up more questions about my own education than I cared to realise. I am not a scientist though I am very interested in science. On initial read there are a number of things that I can gainsay straight away, and many more that have made me think – which is what the whole purpose of this exercise is! A la prochaine!

  23. Paul Taylor says:

    To Linda

    Very impressed here, praise due to you here from a fellow escapee from Blackley, although I occupied the Higher position geographically,north of Rochdale Road, living there for all of my time I was at Stalagluft 17B. I’ve drifted even further north in later years, now residing in leafy Whitefield since 1984.

    Way above most of my intellectual capabilities though, I’m a humble career analytical chemist who went to the University on the banks of the Irwell, not Cam, Nene or Isis.

    I did get to visit Cambridge on a visit last year, though, doing some work. The hardest thing was dodging all the bicycles, on both road and pavements.

  24. brian lefley says:

    “ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ……..”.Int Edukashion Great?

  25. PaulMalpas says:

    It is to those who can understand it.

  26. Ken says:

    Many years ago my wife and I flew from Australia to Paris. So what you say! Well we went with Japan Airlines from Australia to Japan and from there to Alaska. We went over the North Pole and down to Paris. It was a very long flight, but I do remember seeing the Northern Lights at some stage. In fact, only my wife and I saw them, the rest of the plane was sound asleep. I even took photos, but of course cameras were not so good as now. We just have half a dozen bleary views. I have to admit that the world looked very curved and round. On our return to Australia I resigned from the leadership of the Australian Flat Earth Society.

  27. PaulMalpas says:

    Yes Ken, it looks like the sheer perspicacity of Linda’s scientific knowledge has won us all over. Her incisiveness and broad intellect won me over months ago but it was devilment on my part that wanted a flat earth but I still do not understand, when were whizzing through space at 1000’s of miles an hour and at the same time spinning like the proverbial Dervish why we cannot feel a slight breeze round our nethers.
    It is a mighty thing this internet: you are sitting with your feet up on your verandha in the outback potting stray roos with your AK47 and me sheltering in my hut in the West of Ireland from snow, rain and austerity whilst we are both being taught of the wonders of astronomy by a young girl in the Greecian highlands. It makes me think that the world is only the size of a pea and we are only dots on it.
    Thank you Ken for your 1953 travelogue and you also Linda for coming up trumps.
    We have come a long way from the Bishop’s halitosis but at least it was educational.

  28. Paul Taylor says:

    I told you Linda was over resident genius here.

    Now perhaps it has been confirmed, beyond any reasonable doubt, I’d say.

  29. Ex 5m says:

    Breaking News –
    SLATER and Gordon, the Australian legal group which has been an aggressive consolidator in the consumer legal market, is consulting over the potential closure of two offices.

    The group, which employs hundreds of people in Manchester and Liverpool after buying long-standing North West firms including Fentons, Russell Jones & Walker and Pannone, is consulting over the closure of offices in Failsworth near Oldham and in Derby. More than 30 staff work at Failsworth and 20 in Derby.

    I feel for the people in Derby & Failsworth, legal clerks, ancillary staff but S&G – feck em…

  30. Ex 5m says:

    If the earth was flat like a rectangle or even a square then the sky would be a hemispherical dome above us all then presumably (on a clear night) then anyone can see any star – Then answer me this.

    Why can’t you see the Northern Star from Australia ?
    Why can’t you see the South Star from the UK ?

    Please !

  31. PaulMalpas says:

    Thank you %M you have just made my day.

  32. Linda says:

    Ex 5m, (1) You can’t see the “South Star” because there isn’t one. (2) You can’t see the “Northern Star” in Oz because you drank too much Fosters and are lying face down in the gutter.

  33. Paul Taylor says:

    Nice one Linda.

    But as any true Aussie will tell you, Fosters barely exists as a lager in Australia, it’s a minor brand Down Under.

    However, Castlemaine XXXX, Tooheys and Swan lagers, now that’s a bit more like it, they’re among the market leaders.

    See how a bit of advertising has convinced you Fosters is a premier brand in Oz, when in truth, it isn’t.

    Feel free to check this, I was surprised myself when I saw an article about misleading adverts. Fosters was given as a particularly good example.

  34. Linda says:

    Paul, I have never visited Oz, so am not well informed on what they drink. Thanks for the clarification.

    It’s a country I would have liked to visit. In fact I would seriously have considered emigrating there, if there had been enough opportunities in my line of work, the oil business. They do produce some oil and gas, but not much, so career prospects would have been too limited.

    The nearest to Oz that I am likely to get now is (re-)watching “The adventures of Priscilla, queen of the desert”. Highly recommended, if you haven’t already seen it.

  35. Paul Taylor says:

    I have, and it’s a great film.

    You can also add Victoria Bitter to your list of Oz’s top beers, it’s one of the best sellers.

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