Co-host of The View doesn't know if Earth is round or flat (video)

The View co-host Sherri Shephard told her other co-hosts that she does not believe in the theory of evolution. Whoopi Goldberg then asked her if she thought the world was flat. Here's the transcript of the conversation that followed.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Is the world flat?

SHERRI SHEPHERD: Is the world flat? (laughter)


SHEPHERD: ...I Don't know.

GOLDBERG: What do you think?

SHEPHERD: I... I never thought about it, Whoopi. Is the world flat? I never thought about it.

BARBARA WALTERS: You've never thought about whether the world was round or flat?

SHEPHERD: I tell you what I've thought about. How I'm going to feed my child-

WALTERS: Well you can do both.

SHEPERD: I'm going to take care of my family. The world, is the world flat has never entered into, like that has not been an important thing to me.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: You'll teach your son, Jeffery, right?

SHEPHERD: If my son, Jeffery, asks me 'is the world flat,' I guess I would go...

JOY BEHAR: You know, didn't some person already work this question out? I mean, why are we doing this again? (laughter, applause)

Link (Thanks, Rene!)


  1. And these people have the right to vote. Wonderful.

    Nothing pisses me off more than New Earth creationists. Little Jeffery probably doesn’t know the world isn’t flat, but I can guarantee he knows that evolution is a lie, gays are evil, and science shouldn’t be trusted!

  2. “Didn’t some person already work this question out?”

    If that meant what I think it meant, she’s my new hero. (Ie. “The world is round, you’re a moron for not knowing it, let’s move on,” but in a much more awesome way.)

  3. Barbara Walters makes some kind of bizarre statement about “babies being born in sperm” too. Just when you thought she was the informed one.

  4. You would think the co-host of “The View” would make enough money that feeding her child would not really be an issue –

  5. “Nothing pisses me off more than New Earth creationists. Little Jeffery probably doesn’t know the world isn’t flat, but I can guarantee he knows that evolution is a lie, gays are evil, and science shouldn’t be trusted!”

    Here here!

    The worst part about the people who believe in those unbelievable things is that they’re so concreted in their beliefs. They refuse to accept any other possible reasoning (Which is actually ironic because they’re not exactly following reason themselves) because God, the little invisible man in the sky who had some people write a book in the bronze age, told them so.

  6. If anything, it’s an incredible testimony to how sheltered this person’s life must be– I can’t imagine how she could have failed to encounter this fact at numerous times in her life, without even trying. Another good reminder of the pointless programming available on television…

  7. Zyklon sez: “The worst part about the people who believe in those unbelievable things is that they’re so concreted in their beliefs. They refuse to accept any other possible reasoning”

    That’s what is so frustrating about trying to reason with people like this. In fact, they are impossible to educate on the topics that they believe their religion has the exclusive explanation. So despite high school diplomas, college degrees, and (unfortunately) high office, they remain ignorant.

    My favorite story is the one that Stephen Hawking tells at the beginning of his book, A Brief History of Time:

    A well-known scientist (some say it was the philosopher Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

    At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”

    The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?”

    “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

  8. Now now…

    Would you believe your own, fallible eyes over the revealed Word of God?

    Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to: a choice of axioms, those statements which are the basis of reasoning. Now, different axioms lead to different conclusions — sometimes very different conclusions, as here. They may have different utility for achieving practical goals, or even paint different goals as desirable or undesirable.

    However, unless they’re technically deficient in some way (inconsistent, unintelligible), there isn’t really anything to prefer one set of axioms over all others.

  9. has anyone ever walked out of the audience and just slapped one of these people and said “BAD! BAD PERSON! LOOK WHAT YOU DID!”

    can you rub someones nose in an ideology?

  10. I agree, Sabik. The problem is that most religious folks are inconsistent. You can’t take the word of God as infallible and then ignore the parts of the bible you don’t like, like the parts that say slavery is acceptable, it is okay to sleep with your own daughter, woman should never cut there hair, and eating shellfish is a sin, or your axiom falls flat on it’s face.

    From an epistemological standpoint, there is a strong argument that no real axioms exist, because an axiom must be a self-evident truth upon which all other knowledge depends. Inductively, you can’t really prove any self-evident truths.

  11. SHEPHERD: I tell you what I’ve thought about. How I’m going to feed my child–

    Not terribly lavishly, I would expect.

    If your education never made it past the basic shape of a planet, your earning power is probably such that you’re better off just keeping your legs together.

  12. @Pork Musket: The standards you’re trying to apply are themselves based on the axioms (and/or rules of inference; shouldn’t forget those) which belong to the evidence-based worldview. They may or may not be applicable to a faith-based worldview.

    I’m pretty sure a reasonable system could be constructed accounting for the de-emphasis of some verses and re-interpretation of others and all the other things that go on in a real faith. It’d probably be fascinating to construct (or read; odds are somebody’s already done the actual work). It might or might not be pretty, and it might or might not have unrestricted modus ponens, but neither of those are a requirement.

    As for the existence of axioms, one generally believes in their truth not because it would be self-evident, but because the consequences are intuitively appealing :-)

  13. Watching the video on YouTube, I’m pretty sure the second-to-last sentence should be “You know, didn’t Columbus already work this question out?”

  14. They need to add a definition to my dictionary, where ignorance is defined only as a noun.

    Because for some people, it’s a verb: they actively choose to ignore the facts. And for other people, it’s even more active: they invent new “facts” to maintain their ignorance. As: the pictures of the Earth from space must be faked.

    The bigger question: what encourages people to actively ignore mountains of evidence? To openly defy centuries of study? To huddle together in ignorant defiance?

  15. In the interest of full disclosure, I am what I would consider to be a “thinking man’s Christian”. I do believe in evolution, but I also believe in God and I believe that the Bible is a fallible document, since it was compiled by human beings, who are inherently fallible.

    Now here’s where I have the biggest problem with what Shepherd was saying in this video: She’s contradicting herself right there in the course of less than a minute. She states that she believes with absolute certainty that the world was Created (capital C), and got cut off before she was about to say “in Seven Days” (my guess, even though technically it should be SIX days… most people don’t make the distinction, though). But then she takes the things that were said about the Earth being round and backpedals, saying that it must be “one of those markers”.

    Excuse me?

    The Bible says that the earth is flat. It also says that it has “pillars” and “corners”. So right there, she’s obviously picking and choosing what to believe.

    I have never understood why people can say that obviously PARTS of the Bible are wrong (the parts that deal with slavery, for example), but other parts are right, and yet be the same people who say that they believe “every word” that’s printed in it. Not to mention the fact that the FIRST TWO STORIES IN THE BIBLE contradict one another.

    Yes, that’s right, ladies and gents: the first two chapters in the Book of Genesis are COMPLETELY CONTRADICTORY stories of Creation:

    (taken from

    Here is the order in the first (Genesis 1), the Priestly tradition:

    Day 1: Sky, Earth, light
    Day 2: Water, both in ocean basins and above the sky(!)
    Day 3: Plants
    Day 4: Sun, Moon, stars (as calendrical and navigational aids)
    Day 5: Sea monsters (whales), fish, birds, land animals, creepy-crawlies (reptiles, insects, etc.)
    Day 6: Humans (apparently both sexes at the same time)
    Day 7: Nothing (the Gods took the first day off anyone ever did)

    Note that there are “days”, “evenings”, and “mornings” before the Sun was created. Here, the Deity is referred to as “Elohim”, which is a plural, thus the literal translation, “the Gods”. In this tale, the Gods seem satisfied with what they have done, saying after each step that “it was good”.

    The second one (Genesis 2), the Yahwist tradition, goes:

    Earth and heavens (misty)
    Adam, the first man (on a desolate Earth)
    Eve, the first woman (from Adam’s rib)

    So how, exactly, can a person claim to believe what is so obviously a MYTH (in the same vein as the great Myths of the Greek gods), and is told not once, but TWICE, and in a contradictory manner? It’s logically impossible to say that you believe “every word” in the Bible.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t valuable lessons in it. The Bible, at its core, is a strong philosophical document, even if not a truly historical one.

    I do believe in God. I always have. I believe in God because I can’t honestly conceive of a universe in which He doesn’t exist. But why is it so hard for people to accept that maybe, just maybe, the people who compiled the Bible and told stories over six thousand years ago were possibly trying to just figure it out, just like we are today?

  16. I can see two ways of looking at it.

    “Poor Barbara Walters” is my first impression. They keep pairing her up with freaks because I guess ABC thinks that good, honost journalism isn’t entertaining enough and they need a Rosie or a Sherri in there to spice things up and pump up the ratings.

    On the other hand, the radical Rosie and the lives-under-a-rock Sherri are, sadly, representative of not-insubstantial amounts of the population, and that’s what The View was trying to originally do: represent multiple viewpoints, from different generations and walks of life.

    So maybe Sherri is doing her job. She’s representing that part of the population that has no interest whatsoever in even the most basic scientific principles. It’s good to know that people like this exist, because it lets us know exactly how much work we still need to do.

  17. Shepherd is jaw-droppingly stupid, but sheesh, that opening bit from Whoopi (note that it’s not included in the transcript) was a bunch of hand-waving gibberish. She’s previously said things like “people are free to believe whatever they want about religion” (fine) but at the same time, she loves to take any opportunity to make members of an organized religion (especially Christianity) look stupid (and unfortunately there are plenty of opportunities). I almost wish she’d just come out and say “I think that many Christians are deluded idiots” and take the heat, rather than this self-serving mix of pseudo-tolerance and sarcastic condescension.

  18. I bet she refused to answer because she wasn’t 100% positive what her bible-thumping target audience would want her to say.

  19. People ARE free to believe whatever they want about religion — but that doesn’t mean they’re not idiots if they refuse to think about it.

    big props to andrewjc for having the contrarian-balls to speak up in generally-religion-bashing thread.

    The problem isn’t religious people, the problem is religious idiots and religious nuts (not sure if these are separate groups). Sadly, the latter outnumber the former.

  20. Sabik (10), yes, there is: some sets of axioms produce better results and have greater predictive power than others. Furthermore, my faith-based worldview says it’s a sin to ignore the scientific data. Man made the book, but God made the world.

    AndrewJC (19): Also, the chronologies of the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John don’t match. And that’s just for starters. You may enjoy the Song of Songs, illustrated for literalists.

    TheCynic (20), I’m with Doggo on the subject of Sherri Shephard: the word for that performance is disingenuous. Every little kid in this country think about whether the world is flat the way it looks, or round the way they tell us it is. If Shephard’s ever traveled any great distance, she has to have come up against the question, since airline travel paths don’t make sense in a flat world. And she can’t have lived as many years as she has without seeing globes, images of the earth from space, and other models that imply a round earth.

    I expect she was dodging the question because it’s an embarrassment to Biblical literalists. That’s not a crime, but it is disingenuous.

  21. The rampant stupidity of my fellow citizens never fails to astonish me. Let’s not mince words here, this woman is ignorant. She doesn’t belong on television, she doesn’t belong at home with her family, she belongs in an elementary school getting the education that she somehow missed. Stupidity is a disease, and she’s spreading it to her children.

  22. Neither round nor flat, more… wing-shaped! Because God was a Bird who created Darwin from a fish (possibly a flying fish at that) who informed the world that it is indeed wing-shaped and we’re all idiots… round? BAH!

  23. “radical Rosie” (#20)

    I think we’re misusing the term radical, here. She’s a lesbian and she hates Donald Trump and his ilk, and she’s outspoken and doesn’t feel she has to tiptoe around the right-wing neandertals that make up the American “center,” and that makes her radical? “Sadly,” there aren’t more people out there like her.

    Per Whoopi’s “self-serving mix of pseudo-tolerance and sarcastic condescension” (#23): where is it written that believing that people have a right to their opinions means you have to think those opinions are smart?

    And if she “loves to take any opportunity to make members of an organized religion (especially Christianity) look stupid,” how is she being dishonest about how she feels? Because she’s using humor and sarcasm to make a point? This is far more effective (and entertaining), than saying, “many Christians are deluded idiots.”

    Which they are. So there! (Sticks out tongue.)

  24. This shocked me at first, but then it occurred to me that several of the Republicans running for President of the United States profess not to believe in evolution. That’s scarier than some TV personality making ignorant remarks that were probably planned in advance to draw viewers. Maybe some of the presidential candidates think the world is flat, too.

  25. Ok, I’ll bite.

    Are we forgetting about the requisite fallibility that Science asks of us?

    I believe that the Earth is a spheroid, with a very high degree of confidence. But, I could be wrong. To be anal about it, I don’t know that the Earth is not flat.

    I am open to a new theory of everything. What’s a fact anyway?

    Thomas Kuhn’s model of scientific revolution rings true with me.

    1. 1. Consenus
    2. 2. Anomaly
    3. 3. Crisis
    4. 4. Revolution
    5. 5. Paradigm
    6. 6. GOTO 1

    So where’s the anomaly? Visit the Mystery Spot near Santa Cruz, California.
    You’ll see some unexpected gravitational aberrations. I was mystified because I experienced it firsthand. ( Or is it one of those replicant-style artificial-memories? )
    Maybe it’s a little-known side-effect explainable within the current Physics paradigm.

    This is something I’ve meant to follow up on for a while. I’d want to study some more physics. Then go pitch a tent near the Mystery Spot, and conduct experiments.

    Can anyone please shed the light of science on this “anomaly”?

  26. Are you serious about the mystery spot?? Its so obvious that they come right out on TV and explain it for people. Everything is built on an angle, pictures are hung at an angle, and there is nothing you can see thru the window to give it away. How can any educated person actually believe this is real?? Its just an illusion.

    How did Barbara Walters end up with this idiot Sherri? What an embarassment. Did she not make it through nursery school? I knew when I was 3 that the earth was round. And she doesnt care. No wonder the country is in such a crisis about science literacy. Walters should just let the show degenerate into a Jerry Springeresque thing. She needs to keep this idiot, bring Rosie back, along with Ann Coulter, and the last spot can be alternated between OJ and Michael Vick. It will be great.

  27. I am quite serious about the Mystery Spot. It’s more than just a house built at an odd angle. That much is clear to a casual observer.

    The mysterious phenomenon is observable outdoors, on a level concrete slab. They even provide a bubble-level that you can use to verify that the slab is level.

    I’m not ruling out a hoax at all. They could be using rigged bubble-levels, on an uneven plane.
    They could be using any number of perceptual illusions to their advantage.

    They invite you to bring your own bubble-levels or other instruments. You really have to see it for yourself.

    Please, un-educate yourself! There is little consensus among “all educated people”. Is education a status symbol? A rubberstamp of approval by the mainstream, that lets me close my mind with scoffing cliches like “how can any educated person…?” ?

    It is precisely because I’m educated (to a little extent) that I raise difficult questions instead of being content with textbook answers.

    “Spirituality” and science are both considered approaches to knowledge. The difference is, science has to rigorously prove itself. In spirituality, vague, subjective feelings are acceptable means of knowing.
    For this reason, I like Science! Of course, scientists use intuitive insights to solve problems. However, they always have to verify intuitions rigorously.

    As for the Mystery Spot — don’t take my word for it. Go see it for yourself. Please come back with a scientific explanation and enlighten us all.
    Inquiring minds want to know!

  28. Actually, regarding “Didn’t Columbus work that out?”, the usual belief that Queen Isabella thought the world was flat is a crock. What *really* happened:

    Columbus and Queen Isabella both knew that the Indies were some 9,000 miles *east* from Spain. Columbus thought that the world was about 12,000 miles in circumference, and thus a 3,000 mile voyage *west* would get him there. Isabella knew quite well the correct value was 25,000 or so miles (a number known since the ancient Greeks), and that ships of the day couldn’t carry enough supplies for a 16,000 mile voyage. So she sent him off to sea *anyhow*, managing to get rid of this pesky idiot, 3 leaky ships, and a whole mess of convicts out of the local prison.

    And sure enough, Columbus got about 3,000 miles west, and would indeed have run out of supplies some 14,000 miles short of his destination, if he hadn’t hit a previously unknown island…

  29. Well, technically the Earth is wider at its equator than at the poles, due to the fact that it’s spinning and it has a liquid core. At least, that’s the way I remember it. So it’s not spherical. It’s more like an, um… ellipsoid would be the word, I guess?

  30. yes, the earth is actually ellipsoid, bulging at the equator. Back to the mystery spot. I cant believe how naive people can be. It is a trivial explanation, but people want so badly to believe in kooky things. Use your brain to ask simple questions. It is an optical illusion, whether you are gullible enough to believe it is up to you. Its not a hoax, it is an illusion. And yes, I have been there, I live in SF and have friends who went to graduate school in SC.

    For anyone who doesnt know what it is:

  31. I’m not talking about the silly tilted cabin. That is an illusion by design.

    How is the outdoors concrete slab an illusion? You can even check it with a bubble-level. It looks horizontal.
    People standing normally on a horizontal concrete slab shouldn’t tend to lean in any one direction.
    So why is there a leaning tendency?

    I don’t particularly want to believe kooky/non-kooky things. I want a scientific explanation.

    In a Gravity Hill optical illusion, the ground appears horizontal to the eye, when it is not.

    At the Mystery Spot, we have empirically verified that the ground is horizontal. So it’s not a “Gravity Hill” illusion.

  32. Its been many years since I was there and I dont remember seeing that particular concrete slab. If it is in fact level, then its an illusion based on the angle of tree growth and the shape of the slab. One thing I can guarantee you is that it is an illusion. I will bet ANY amount of money on it. For one thing, if it was really a gravitational anomaly, you think it would be a tourist attraction? Hell no. It would be a research station for UC where physicists would be studying (but not a single one ever has bc its nothing out of the ordinary) or it would be owned and protected by the department of defense for their own research. It would NOT be a tourist trap for gullible tourists.

  33. The Torah is purposefully internally inconsistent. It’s not meant to be literal in the sense of a narrative description of events. It’s meant to be a history and laws that inspire thought.

    Contradiction spur discussion. Study and discussion of the Torah is a great thing, and is a great mental exercise that teaches you how to question and debate. The various people who based Christianity on the Old Testament don’t have the foggiest notion of what its purpose was – the respect doesn’t come from the infallibility of the document, but from the millennia of experience on how to structure a society that’s in it, and the study, debate, and refinement of those perspectives from the past.

  34. Typically the Earth’s shape is referred to as an “oblate spheroid”, which is what you get when a sphere is deformed so that it’s polar axis is shorter than it’s equatorial diameter.

    I knew I retained something from physics class.

    Note too that if you consider the oceans to be a component of the shape, then you must add tidal bulges, along the Earth-Moon axis. Thus, even conceiving of the rotating body as an oblate spheroid, you must consider that body stretched along a (constantly changing) equatorial axis due to this tidal effect. I don’t recall if the Earth itself is deformed by it’s tidal lock to the Moon. If so, it’s a very small effect, whereas the Moon must be deformed so, structurally, which is the cause of the moon’s tidal lock.

    I only recently learned of the idea of Gauss’s geoid, which describes the earth’s shape as sort of surface averaged irregular body. It’s another interesting data point.

  35. AFAIK, the Torah is a historical document, a work of literature from a particular tradition.

    As far as using it as a koan, the same is true of any document whatsoever. Here’s how:

    1. Take a document, any document. It could be the collected works of Shakespeare, or “Scroogled” by Cory Doctorow. It could be “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights”. It could be a soup can. It could be an anonymous, random printout that you found in the street.

    2. Somehow, get yourself to believe that the document you have is holy, important, special, the word of god, to be revered. Now, it’s not just a document. It’s the document , pondering which will unlock secrets of the Universe for you.
    It is not enough to say that you believe this. You must actually believe it. Now, your chosen document is scripture.

    3. Hyperfocus on this scripture. Analyze it. Take it apart. Decode it. Parse it. Observe it closely, forward and backward. Be able to quote it. Appreciate it deeply. Search for hidden meanings. Find poetic beauty, and metaphysical truth in the document. If you happen to have somehow picked lyrics to Rammstein’s self-titled song, or a random page of the Wall Street Journal, or a copy of Scientific American or Mad magazine, or the lyrics to Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic”, no worries — there is truth and beauty there too. Believe it!

    4. Keep at it. Continue till the rational mind is exhausted, and the irrational mind kicks in.

    5. Now that you’re enlightened, send $100 to: 951-2, Old County Road, PMB 380, Belmont, CA 94002.
    Please specify whether you’d like Enlightenment Vanilla ( $500 ), or Moksha Deluxe ( $2000 ).

    That’s how scripture works, in a nutshell, IMHO.

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