There is another point, contained in the documents that led to the provisional meter [32,14], that has puzzled us. Why did they not provide their `best value', that included the best understanding of Earth flattening? As we have seen in footnote 34, the flattening correction to the meter is about two parts in ten thousand. If applied, it would have changed the provisional meter from 443.44 lignes to about 443.36 lignes. A little difference, but still relevant, if compared with the significant digits with which the provisional meter was given. We are not arguing on the base of after-wit arguments (the present best value of the 1/10000000 of the quarter of meridian is 443.3975 toises, right in the middle between the two values). Our question is only why they did not report the `best value' -- and they knew that 443.44 lignes was not the best value deriving from their status of knowledge, because that value assumed a spherical Earth, an hypothesis already ruled out by theoretical considerations and experimental results.
The simplest reason could be they considered that value good enough for practical applications and, since the provisional meter had to be most likely revised, it was not worth applying the little correction that was of the same size of the expected error. But then, why to state that ``its error does not exceed one tenth of ligne'', if the error due to the omitted correction counted already by about 0.08 lignes? (We understand that statements concerning errors have always to be taken cum grano salis, but the expression ``does not exceed'' is quite committing). Frankly, we do not see any plausible and consistent explanation, other than the somehow malicious guess, to be taken with the benefit of inventory, that they wanted to have some room to modify the provisional meter after the end of the new measurements, in the case the new result would come very close to the old one. That would have justified the expensive enterprise.