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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Hollow Earth theory In 1692, English astronomer Edmund Halley, after whom the famous comet is named, suggested the possibility that the Earth is hollow and that other civilizations might live there. The famous New England witch-hunter Cotton Mather, no genius by any standards, defended the Halley idea in 1721. It was developed further by John Cleves Symmes in 1818, and by a mechanic named Marshall B. Gardner in 1913. Gardner thought that the Earth was hollow, with a second sun inside to provide illumination.

A diagram illustrating the idea of how the Earth really is, according to the Hollow Earth theorists. A doubtful theory.

      As bizarre as this idea was, it was improved upon (?) by Cyrus Reed Teed (1839-1908) in 1870. He was convinced that not only was the Earth hollow, but that we live on the inside of it. There is nothing at all outside, he said. The sun at the center of the Earth, said Teed, is invisible, but we see a “reflection” of it, and it is half dark, half glowing. Thus he explained day and night. The planets are  

      spheres of substance aggregated through the impact of substance through the dissipation of the coloric [sic] substance at the opening of the electro-magnetic circuits, which closes the conduits of solar and lunar “energy.”

      Teed founded the town of Estero, Florida, and predicted he would fill it with eight million believers; he attracted two hundred. Since he had promised to rise from the dead and take the faithful to heaven with him, when he was killed by a Fort Myers marshal during an altercation, his disciples refused to bury him. After a week, when it began to be very evident to the senses that the man was not going to rise again, health officials insisted upon proper burial. His tomb, along with Teed, was later washed away in a hurricane.
      During the Nazi rise to power in Germany, Teed's absurd idea attracted much favorable attention and was known as the Hohlweltlehre. There are numerous supporters of this idea, even today, in Germany.

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