Flat-earther Mike Hughes dies in rocket stunt filmed by "Science" Channel

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/24/flat-earther-mike-hughes-dies.html


I seem to recall that he wasn’t very much a flat-earther until he discovered that they would give him money for his rockets.


They are a perfect target for grift. An entire comunity of idiots ready for fleecing.


I think if someone kills themselves in a stunt like this, that’s pretty much evidence this wasn’t a grift but instead a True Believer in Stupid.


Whatever he actually believed, this happened because he was into doing dangerous stunts, not because of his views on science. Nothing about flat-earthism makes it an obvious choice to launch yourself on a home-made rocket.

If he died doing something he loved, it seems a little mean to turn that into a parable about what a deluded boob he was. Unless your beef is with the concept of daredevilry in general (which there is a case for).

I’d say, it’s a shame his stunt went wrong; and I hope he enjoyed his life of stunts; but it also happens to be a shame that he embraced toxic anti-science views.



I wonder if he was aware that there are light aircraft that can exceed 5,000 feet?


I’m sure he was, but the rubes that funded him might not have been.


As with any death, it’s just sad.

Flat earthers are an extra level of sad. People who take up these bizarre causes do so because it lets them feel like they’re accomplishing something in a world that’s otherwise ignoring them. Mike had no education, and knew he was never going to contribute to a scientific endeavor. Flat Earth societies or other “belief-based” groups let people like Mike have a tiny bit of power, enough to call out “look at me, world, I’m here and I’m doing stuff!” Right or wrong isn’t what’s important. Making a statement is.

Discovery Channel is partly to blame, as they help fund many “reality shows” that include people taking risks; they clearly gave him the exposure he needed to get enough money together for his final “rocket”, which he probably couldn’t have funded without them. But this guy was already on his own path long before the producers and cameras arrived.


To be fair this flight was just one in a series that would have eventually gone higher. He didn’t think this one would show whether the Earth was flat or not.
Spoiler alert: It isn’t.

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Indeed. Mike was no more a scientist than Evel Knievel was. His kickstarter got him $200, but the flat-earth gofundme got him a rocket (which also made no claims to science, but only the dimensions of the advertising space their sponsorship bought them).

He was just a daredevil. He found his limits, he pushed his limits, and unfortunately, he finally passed his limits. It truly is a shame, but it’s also the nature of the game, as I’m sure he was well aware.


I don’t know if he demonstrated or not that the Earth is flat, but he definitely is flat now.

He became what he was seeking.

And now flat-earthers around the glove mourn his sacrifice.



Hell, there’s ground that’s a lot higher than 5000ft. Why not a balloon, they’re a hell of a lot safer.


I absolutely agree, but I blame the Internet.

The Internet allows groups of isolated, lonely individuals to form into self-supporting groups that provide a community of individuals that can bond over their shared eccentricity. Sadly, it fails to differentiate between groups I care for (like Earthbound-ers, the groups of friends my son made around a video game released before he was born) and groups I don’t (like Flat-Earthers).

Darn Internet.


He died doing what he loved.



Not sure he was loving it during free fall


I guess we’ll never know for sure.


“Conspiracy” societies existed long before the Internet. There were groups dedicated to fighting the Illuminati, groups who searched for cryptids, groups who searched for Atlantis, etc. Tech certainly shares in the blame, of course: social media helps scientifically illiterate people find each other; sites like GoFundMe made fund raising easier; GoPro cameras made filming videos of dangerous things accessibly cheap; YouTube made the ability to publish videos of dangerous things easy; and Google lets people easily search for dubious instructions on how to build dangerous things.

Ultimately, I think it’s otherwise powerless people who do these things, and who share their false hopes with others. Tech just helps.


Seems worth noting that 1) most of the scientific beliefs that individuals hold are not arrived at by direct experience, but instead imparted by a perceived authority and that everyone is capable of adopting erroneous views in the course of learning; 2) it is fundamental to science to challenge perceived authorities and to seek out empirical evidence in order to revise/discard established beliefs; 3) no one deserves to die.

Which is to say that this guy was probably closer to doing science than most people. And if you’re using the fact that his hypothesis was misguided to justify his death, you’re being a huge dick.