Rowbotham and his followers gained notoriety by engaging in raucous public debates with leading scientists of the day. One such clash, involving the prominent naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, led to several lawsuits for fraud and libel.
After Rowbotham's death, his thousands of followers established the Universal Zetetic Society, published a magazine entitled The Earth Not a Globe Review and remained active well into the early part of the 20th century. After World War I, the movement underwent a slow decline.
In the United States Rowbotham's ideas were taken up by a religious group, the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church.