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This Will End Well…

Today in “Not The Onion” via  WaPoThis man is about to launch himself in his homemade rocket to prove the Earth is flat:

Hughes promised the flat-Earth community that he would expose the conspiracy with his steam-powered rocket, which will launch from a heavily modified mobile home — though he acknowledged that he still had much to learn about rocket science.

That is the best paragraph I have read in some time.

And it all leads to this obscure pop culture reference:

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. MarkedMan says:

    But it always works so well for Wile E. Coyote…

  2. Bill says:

    This reminds me of Evel Knievel jumping the Snake River


    Evel’s parachute deployed right after takeoff which makes me think publicity stunt. It could be the same here.

  3. James Pearce says:

    Eratosthenes would explain a different– perhaps better — method. Of course, the result would be the same:

    The earth is round.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    Wouldn’t asking his mother to close the black-out drapes, and drinking a lot of Kool-Aid accomplish the same thing, and at much less expense?

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Saw the story, missed that it was steam powered. Why didn’t NASA and Elon Musk think of that?
    @MarkedMan: it does look like an Acme.

    I’m frequently reminded of a story I read in Scientific American, probably 20 years ago. Late 1800s, wealthy English eccentric offers a cash price for anyone who can prove to him the Earth isn’t flat. Couple of guys took advantage of an abandoned canal near the eccentric’s home to set up a simple demonstration. The canal was stagnant, basically a narrow still water pond straight as an arrow for miles. They set up a theodolite on a bridge over the canal. 1, 2, and 3 miles down the canal they placed flags on buoys with the flags the same height off the water as the theodolite. Looking through it they saw exactly what they expected. The first flag was slightly below level, the second even further below the second, and the third yet more under the second.

    In the course of setting up they’d gotten to know eccentric and liked him, so it was with some regret they asked him to take a look. He took a long look, stood up, and declared, ‘See, I told you it was flat.’ A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.

  6. Kylopod says:


    I’m frequently reminded of a story I read in Scientific American, probably 20 years ago. Late 1800s, wealthy English eccentric offers a cash price for anyone who can prove to him the Earth isn’t flat.

    I’m familiar with that anecdote too. I first read about it in a book, and also in a more recent Scientific American article. The person involved in taking the bet to prove the earth was a sphere was none other than Alfred Russell Wallace, the co-discoverer of natural selection, who basically got suckered into thinking he was dealing with rational people open to objective standards of evidence. What I find interesting about the story is that it’s an early example of the Internet adage “don’t feed the troll.”


    The flat earth movement is sort of like the scientific equivalent to Satanism: it’s something constantly being used as an analogy, where you’re surprised to discover it’s a real movement.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    The guy figures he’ll go 1800 feet in the air. He can go almost that high by going to the observation deck in the Willis Tower in Chicago or can best it by going to the deck at the Shanghai Tower. I would suggest a ticket up there would give him much the same proof as he hopes his rocket launch will provide, but I assume he doesn’t believe in skyscrapers either.

  8. Stormy Dragon says:


    But it always works so well for Wile E. Coyote…

    Actually, it’s the exact opposite. Wile E. Coyote’s plans depended on real physics and then disaster happen when cartoon physics happened instead.

    This guy’s plans depend on cartoon physics and disaster is going to happen when real physics happens instead.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: great comment

  10. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: My first thought on reading that article was that a local small airport would arrange a flight many times higher than 1800′. I personally suspect a hoax. But remembering that adage about never underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer….

  11. JohnMcC says:

    @JohnMcC: On re-reading: Heck, here in FL he could get many thousands of feet above 1800 and then JUMP OUT OF THE FREAKING PLANE!! He’d get a good look that way.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: Thank you. I had no idea it was Wallace, or that it was a set up. I either saw a much briefer account, or it’s a lesson in the unreliability of memory, at least mine.