30 votes

Flat-Earther ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes dies in rocket ride above California desert

26 comments

  1. [17]
    rkcr
    Link
    Every time Mike Hughes comes up there's a bunch of "hurr durr, dumb flat-earther" talk that comes up. But I am extremely skeptical that Hughes was a flat-earther. IIRC, he was trying to build...

    Every time Mike Hughes comes up there's a bunch of "hurr durr, dumb flat-earther" talk that comes up. But I am extremely skeptical that Hughes was a flat-earther. IIRC, he was trying to build rockets before he declared any allegiance to the cause and realized that he could use the flat-earth angle to raise money from other flat-earthers to build his rocket.

    22 votes
    1. [6]
      Seven
      Link Parent
      I mean in my opinion, it doesn't really matter what he actually believes. He's promoting the same nonsense as the rest of them, so the effect is the same in my eyes.

      I mean in my opinion, it doesn't really matter what he actually believes. He's promoting the same nonsense as the rest of them, so the effect is the same in my eyes.

      29 votes
      1. [5]
        PendingKetchup
        Link Parent
        Not being willing to believe the testimony of others and demanding to test a theory with your own observations is exactly what science is all about. Most people who believe that the earth is round...

        Not being willing to believe the testimony of others and demanding to test a theory with your own observations is exactly what science is all about. Most people who believe that the earth is round do so for the same reason that people used to think it was the center of the cosmos: someone they trusted told them so.

        6 votes
        1. nothis
          Link Parent
          I don’t quite think that argument works. It basically lets you dismiss all science that you’re not personally an expert in. What does work for me is treating flat earthers as mostly harmless as,...

          I don’t quite think that argument works. It basically lets you dismiss all science that you’re not personally an expert in.

          What does work for me is treating flat earthers as mostly harmless as, ultimately, they can’t harm anybody. But I’ve seen arguments against that claiming these types of conspiracy theories are gateway drugs to anti-vac or climate change denial type believes. In any case, I recommend watching the Netflix documentary “Behind the Curve”. It’s eye opening especially since it digs deep into the psychology of the people who get drawn into it. I now think it’s mostly about wanting to belong to a special club.

          17 votes
        2. Death
          Link Parent
          Scepticism isn't the same as contrarianism or paranoia though. And more often than not flat-earth (and conspiracy theories at large) fall into this trap, to a point where they refuse to believe...

          Scepticism isn't the same as contrarianism or paranoia though. And more often than not flat-earth (and conspiracy theories at large) fall into this trap, to a point where they refuse to believe their own observations when they confirm the theories they disbelieve. That is not the scientific method, biologists do not re-test every chemistry theory they come across, physicists do not keep testing mathematical proofs until it confirms what they want to believe.

          10 votes
        3. NaraVara
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          This is really not what science is "all about." Scientists take expert testimony all the time. The scientific establishment as a whole tests theories out, but not everyone can be an expert on...

          Not being willing to believe the testimony of others and demanding to test a theory with your own observations is exactly what science is all about.

          This is really not what science is "all about." Scientists take expert testimony all the time. The scientific establishment as a whole tests theories out, but not everyone can be an expert on everything and most interdisciplinary studies involve taking on faith that the experts in other specialties know when they tell you what the consensus within their field is.

          In fact, you tend to get a lot of major howlers when people from one discipline just ignore consensus in another and end up saying a lot of stupid things. Physicists and economists, in particular, are a bit of a running joke among academics for their tendencies to either "discover" stuff that has been known for decades already or for just being completely out of left-field with no evident understanding about how things actually work.

          7 votes
        4. gpl
          Link Parent
          If every scientist had to reproduce results or experiments in order to believe them, the modern system of science would quickly collapse. Results must be reproducible in principle, but blind...

          If every scientist had to reproduce results or experiments in order to believe them, the modern system of science would quickly collapse. Results must be reproducible in principle, but blind skepticism / contrarianism is not what science is about.

          6 votes
    2. gpl
      Link Parent
      From a recent Buzzfeed article on his death:

      From a recent Buzzfeed article on his death:

      On Saturday, a public relations representative disputed Hughes' flat Earth beliefs, telling BuzzFeed News that the argument had helped Hughes raise money, but that he didn't actually believe it.

      "We used flat Earth as a PR stunt. Period," Darren Shuster told BuzzFeed News. "He was a true daredevil decades before the latest round of rocket missions. Flat Earth allowed us to get so much publicity that we kept going! I know he didn’t believe in flat Earth and it was a schtick."

      9 votes
    3. [2]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      I'm not sure if "He's not a sincere Flat Earther, he's just a con-man who was cynically taking advantage of gullible people" is much of an exoneration.

      IIRC, he was trying to build rockets before he declared any allegiance to the cause and realized that he could use the flat-earth angle to raise money from other flat-earthers to build his rocket.

      I'm not sure if "He's not a sincere Flat Earther, he's just a con-man who was cynically taking advantage of gullible people" is much of an exoneration.

      4 votes
      1. rkcr
        Link Parent
        I'm not trying to exonerate at all - it's more that I get irritated when people call Hughes and his rocket project stupid because he's a flat-earther. There are plenty of reasons to call his...

        I'm not trying to exonerate at all - it's more that I get irritated when people call Hughes and his rocket project stupid because he's a flat-earther. There are plenty of reasons to call his project foolhardy (especially now!) but you should judge his rocket-making abilities, not his ability to fundraise via pandering.

        2 votes
    4. [2]
      Litmus2336
      Link Parent
      He also told them to investigate 9/11. If he was just in it for the money why would he do that?

      He also told them to investigate 9/11. If he was just in it for the money why would he do that?

      1. AugustusFerdinand
        Link Parent
        Because there's money in conspiracy theories and 9/11 is just another one with people lining up to fork over cash to someone that will confirm their delusions.

        Because there's money in conspiracy theories and 9/11 is just another one with people lining up to fork over cash to someone that will confirm their delusions.

        2 votes
    5. knocklessmonster
      Link Parent
      That's actually an interesting perspective.

      That's actually an interesting perspective.

      3 votes
    6. [4]
      Turtle
      Link Parent
      Honestly... good for him. I totally approve. RIP

      Honestly... good for him. I totally approve. RIP

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        cfabbro
        Link Parent
        Good for him for taking advantage of vulnerable, delusional people? That's not admirable in any way, shape, or form, IMO.

        Good for him for taking advantage of vulnerable, delusional people? That's not admirable in any way, shape, or form, IMO.

        13 votes
        1. [2]
          vakieh
          Link Parent
          Better he have their money than they have it, they've proven themselves too stupid for it.

          Better he have their money than they have it, they've proven themselves too stupid for it.

          2 votes
          1. Keegan
            Link Parent
            They don't know any better, just like elderly people who get scammed through phone calls and the like.

            They don't know any better, just like elderly people who get scammed through phone calls and the like.

            4 votes
  2. [8]
    joplin
    Link
    I can already see the conspiracy theories from a mile away. That's unfortunate. Normally, I would say "props to him for wanting to see for himself," but after seeing flat-earthers reactions to the...

    I can already see the conspiracy theories from a mile away. That's unfortunate.

    Normally, I would say "props to him for wanting to see for himself," but after seeing flat-earthers reactions to the overwhelming evidence, it's unlikely that seeing it for himself would have actually convinced him.

    13 votes
    1. [7]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      The crazy thing about most conspiracy theorists is that their thinking is not evidence-based to start with, therefore no evidence in the world will ever change their minds. I would never say...

      The crazy thing about most conspiracy theorists is that their thinking is not evidence-based to start with, therefore no evidence in the world will ever change their minds.

      I would say "props to him for wanting to see for himself,"

      I would never say anything of the sort about these individuals. I find them pitiful, that is all.

      11 votes
      1. [3]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Pitiful indeed. Lonely, scared, paranoid people, clinging desperately to a delusion that not only makes them feel special for being able to see through the "ultimate conspiracy" that everyone...

        Pitiful indeed. Lonely, scared, paranoid people, clinging desperately to a delusion that not only makes them feel special for being able to see through the "ultimate conspiracy" that everyone around them firmly believes, but also gives their life purpose by trying to prove it. Add in finding a strong sense of community and friendship with others that share the same delusion, in a world of increasingly prevalent social isolation and growing uncertainty, and it's no wonder that so many find the flat-earth delusion so hard to shake, and also why their numbers appear to be growing as well.

        10 votes
        1. [2]
          mrbig
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I have a neighbor who's a schizophrenic. He's actually one of my best friends. Regardless of the limitations of the disorder, in the last 10 years, he managed to become a very important person in...

          I have a neighbor who's a schizophrenic. He's actually one of my best friends. Regardless of the limitations of the disorder, in the last 10 years, he managed to become a very important person in my life. In his own way, he showed me affection and helped me through some tough times.

          He never worked a day in his life, and never went to college. There are some things he just can't do. But he volunteers for so many things that I joke that, if one day he got sick, the neighborhood would come to a halt.

          When I met him, he was obsessed with extraterrestrials. He burned and distributed CD-ROMS with "evidence" (that he got on YouTube) on flying saucers and such. I liked the subject -- I believe in the hypothetical possibility of these phenomenons and the reports are fun to read. It took a while to realize how bat-shit crazy he was at the time. He kept showing me the same image of a "face" on Mars were I couldn't see anything.

          I realized there was something seriously wrong when he told me the FBI was after him (we live in Brazil).

          My talks with him at that time taught me a lot. I quickly realized reasoning was a dead end. His thoughts where circular. And even when I seemingly was able to convince him of something, it was only temporary.

          I changed gears and started encouraging him to seek professional help. I knew he needed medication, but the word "psychiatrist" was met with great opposition. A psychologist would have to do. Eventually, he went.

          To make things shorter: he accepted going to the doctor when he started seeing shit that scared him, like shadow people in the walls.

          Medication helped him 1000%, nowadays he's able to hold regular conversations without feeling compelled to say crazy shit all the time.

          In the end, from everything I did (there were obviously other major factors like his family suppport), I'm convinced our emotional connection helped him the most. Trying to convince him he was wrong was like adding to his self-doubt and low self-esteem. Everyone was already telling him he was wrong, in every conversation, every time he went out his forums, outside the protection bubble he made for himself. Sometimes he laughs and tells me, "Boy, was I crazy, remember?". Yes, I remember.

          NOW, I'm not saying all — or even the majority — of conspiracy theorists have mental illnesses. I'm just saying their irrationalism is sufficiently similar to what I once saw in my dear friend for the lessons he taught me to remain useful — with some adjustments.

          32 votes
          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            I read a study a while ago (caveat: one study doesn't make a fact) that schizophrenia symptoms manifest differently across cultures. In particular it pointed out that people East Asian cultures...

            In the end, from everything I did (there were obviously other major factors like his family suppport), I'm convinced our emotional connection helped him the most.

            I read a study a while ago (caveat: one study doesn't make a fact) that schizophrenia symptoms manifest differently across cultures. In particular it pointed out that people East Asian cultures with traditions around the existence of benevolent spirits tended to have more positive experiences with their delusions, often reporting their hallucinations as being encouraging or benign rather than paranoid, scary, or hostile.

            It seems like just not being pathologized into feeling like a weirdo or a freak has a big effect on helping people cope.

            6 votes
      2. [3]
        determinism
        Link Parent
        So why can't we steer them to believe things that are true?

        So why can't we steer them to believe things that are true?

        3 votes
        1. mrbig
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Among other reasons, unlike obvious falsehoods, things that are obviously true tend to be widely accepted, so believing in them does not grant conspiracy theorists the sense of uniqueness they...

          Among other reasons, unlike obvious falsehoods, things that are obviously true tend to be widely accepted, so believing in them does not grant conspiracy theorists the sense of uniqueness they desperately seek.

          This may sound corny, but I believe the key to change this is affection in addition to reason.

          At least in the first approaches, rational arguments are useless.

          And snide and mockery, while satisfying, only makes things worse.

          9 votes
        2. joplin
          Link Parent
          There's an interesting book on this called Why People Believe Weird Things. There are lots of different reasons, ranging from motivated reasoning (I like/dislike the consequences of X so I...

          There's an interesting book on this called Why People Believe Weird Things. There are lots of different reasons, ranging from motivated reasoning (I like/dislike the consequences of X so I do/don't believe in it), to confirmation bias (only noticing when X happens and ignoring when it doesn't), to selection bias (only asking people who experienced Y but not asking people who didn't experience it), to many other reasons. As @mrbig says, it makes them part of an in group, and no longer believing in it would force them out.

          2 votes
  3. knocklessmonster
    Link
    I honestly didn't see any other way for this to shake down if he actually got in the air. The parachute deploys immediately telling us they designed it poorly, and he likely wouldn't have gotten...

    I honestly didn't see any other way for this to shake down if he actually got in the air. The parachute deploys immediately telling us they designed it poorly, and he likely wouldn't have gotten anywhere near high enough to significantly see the curve of the earth with how long that steam jet ran.

    8 votes