$34,357
pledged of 275.000 $pledged of 275.000 $ goal
36
backers
3days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, September 25 2018 6:00 PM UTC +00:00.

Bob EnyartBy Bob Enyart
First created
Bob EnyartBy Bob Enyart
First created
$34,357
pledged of 275.000 $pledged of 275.000 $ goal
36
backers
3days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, September 25 2018 6:00 PM UTC +00:00.

About

In the U.S. 34% of adults 18 to 24 years old reject or are unsure about the world being a sphere, with nearly three million of that group actually claiming that the earth is flat. (See the age chart at ScienceAlert.) The April 2018 YouGov study also found that a significant, though lower, percentage of older Americans claim the earth is flat or say they're unsure.

We've designed a journalism project to combat this global epidemic. (Ten percent of the French, for example, believe the earth may be flat.) With you and Kickstarter, the hosts of Real Science Radio (Denver, Colorado) want to purchase a ticket aboard a Virgin Galactic flight for one of the leading flat-earthers. (Or aboard a comparable competitor like Blue Origin.) This proponent, whomever he or she will be, must agree to publicly report on the experience beginning from the acceptance of the space offer, including at least one report on the day of the launch during or shortly after the flight, and at least once a week for a month afterward.

In 1973 scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky in his iconic paper, "Nothing in Biology", made a prediction that eventually failed. He identified a particular Arab sheik, Abd el Aziz bin Baz, who had recently insisted that the earth was flat and that the sun orbited the earth. (Geocentrism often accompanies belief in a flat earth.) Dobzhansky predicted that it would be useless to present evidence to those who “fear enlightenment” asserting that the sheik was “so hopelessly biased that no amount of evidence would impress him.” However, in 1985 the U.S. invited Prince Sultan bin Salman to fly aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Later, hearing a firsthand accound of the evidence from the future crown prince, a source that he trusted, bin Baz changed his mind, thus falsifying Dobzhansky’s prediction. It is possible that the firsthand experience of actually flying into orbit, something that is unlikely to ever occur apart from your help, may humble even a determined flat-earth proponent. And if this author reverses himself, this may help to bring hundreds of thousands of people back to scientific rationality.

The Real Science Radio team will identify the top five flat-earth authors via an analysis of Google and Amazon rankings. (None of these authors have or have had any relationship with RSR.) These Kickstarter funds will be used to purchase a ticket aboard Virgin Galactic, currently priced at $250,000. (Or a comparable competitor like Blue Origin.) This ticket will be awarded to whomever among the leading flat-earthers is selected, who will agree to the simple requirements of this journalism project. This author's written (and/or audio & video) reports will be published at rsr.org/flat-earth and at other willing media outlets. The author will be responsible for other expenses including travel to and from Spaceport America, New Mexico.

If more funds than needed are raised, all of the additional funds available through this project will be used to purchase telescopes (or telescope time at professional observatories) for the use of students in grades 9 through 12 who are studying astronomy. One of the world's leading telescope designers, Jim Burr, has volunteered his time to help adminster this project and we're being advised by others in the aerospace industry.

Risks and challenges

Even with the full funding of this project, "Launch a flat-earther into Space", there is a chance that all of the top five "flat earth" authors may refuse this opportunity. Such an outcome itself would be educational and may speak volumes to the millions of young people and others, both in the U.S. and abroad, who have been convinced by these authors.

In that case, all funds (minus a maximum of 1% for administrative fees) that become available through this project will be used to purchase telescopes (and telescope time at professional observatories, via itelescope.net) for students in grades 9 through 12. We are being advised by others in the aerospace industry including Jim Burr, world-class telescope designer, who has agreed to help administer this Kickstarter project including by determining the process whereby worthy students will be selected. David H. Levy, one of the discoverers of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, has written in Sky & Telescope a glowing review of Burr's work. (See skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-blogs/a-serious-binocular-telescope.)

Another risk is that a leading flat-earth proponent may take the flight into space but then (not surprisingly) still reject that the earth is a sphere. Afterall, the flat earth claim is not a hypothesis; it's a symptom. When someone goes from "there's are a lot of lies out there" to "almost everyone is lying about almost everything" they cross over into paranoia. However, thanks to a flight offered by NASA to a Saudi crown prince, the flat-earth Sheik bin Baz (as discussed in our Project Description) was convinced of the truth! Thus, regardless of the antagonism between the sides, this Kickstarter project inherently confers a degree of respect toward the flat-earth proponents in its hope that there will be sufficient integrity to respond with humility and honesty when being brought into the center of it all and actually being launched into space!

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    The reward? Just the satisfaction of launching a flat-earther into space and also getting timely briefings via conference call and email on the progress and the outcome!

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