The ruling was based on technical stipulations outlined by Zen Garcia in his contest and does not suggest that the earth's curvature cannot be proven.
A post on Facebook claims that a court case from 2019 in Barrow County, Georgia, supports the renowned "flat earth" conspiracy theory. The post shares a video by well-known flat earth TikTok influencer @kaleb.fe, in which he claims that the final ruling of the 2019 court case "Thompson vs. Garcia” suggests that it is impossible to prove that the earth is round.
Far from proving the flat earth theory, the ruling is solely concerned with the fact that the plaintiff failed to satisfy the conditions of the contest as set by the defendant Zen Garcia. Garcia, a supporter of Flat Earth theory, hosted a contest in which he invited people to provide evidence of earth’s curvature with the stipulation that the evidence ought to be a physical, real-world experiment, model, or demonstration. William Thompson, the plaintiff in the case, submitted a computer-generated model of the earth designed to demonstrate the earth’s curvature and motion, and felt that he had met the requirements as outlined by Garcia. When Garcia disagreed on the basis of the "real-world" stipulations of the contest, Thompson tried to counter sue Garcia for $15,000.
The court did not rule in Thompson’s favor due to the fact that he submitted a computer-generated model, and Garcia rejected it because his contest agreement stated that he wanted "real-world" evidence. Thompson lost, tried to appeal a second time, and the judge threw it out. This ruling does not in any way suggest that there is merit to the flat earth theory. In Garcia’s argument, as given in the court documents, he emphasizes that the plaintiff did not meet the stipulations he outlined, and that this is why he should not be forced to pay the $15,000 sought by Thompson.
In the video shared to Facebook, @kaleb.fe takes this to mean that the fact that the earth’s curvature cannot be proven with "real-world" experiments, however this is demonstrably false. There have been many instances of "real-world" evidence of the earth’s curvature as people either side of the debate have attempted to prove or disprove flat-earth theory. One notable example can be found in the 2018 documentary "Behind the Curve," in which a flat earth Youtube channel host set up a camera, two styrofoam sheets with holes cut into them, and a powerful light at equal heights above sea level at significant distance from each other. The intention was to prove that the earth was flat by showing that if the light could be seen on camera through the styrofoam sheets, then there was no curvature to the earth. However, when the light was turned on on at the same height as the holes in the styrofoam sheets, it could not be seen on camera. Only when the light was raised further up –– compensating for the earth’s curvature –– did the camera capture it, proving the earth to be round instead of flat.
The court case does not in any way offer support for flat earth theory. The ruling was based on the technical stipulations outlined by Zen Garcia in the contest he set. This claim has been marked false.