That's fair, maybe I'm beating on 't Hooft a bit unreasonably, but his field is quantum gravity and particle physics. We've seen too many Nobel laureates start talking outside their field of expertise and turn all crackpot for me to feel like he's a reliable testimonial. It's not that his endorsement is evidence against this; I'm just not ready to trust that he's evidence for it either. His testimonial is, in my opinion, a wash.
Again, they've given no evidence that they are actually doing anything. Watch the video again. The only thing they have actually done, other than make this video and a crappy website, is...well here, let me quote the video: "Mars-One paid visits to major aerospace companies around the world. In these meetings, they confirmed to us that they can supply the required equipment." They say that the reality show will center around the preparations for it. So their plan to finance this mission is that somehow, they will convince the world to spend a decade watching them test rovers and send communications satellites on a reality show. That will get enormous ratings, I'm sure. This reality show scheme doesn't work. They need billions of dollars, which a single reality show will not generate, and they need that money now, not ten years from now when they finally bring astronauts into the picture. There's no show to watch, so how exactly is this going to work?
They haven't even started the preparations, and they want to build a settlement in less than a decade? MSL/Curiosity started development 7 years ago. In just under 8 years, they claim they will have a communication satellite, a supply mission, an even larger rover and the first settlement modules. They haven't built a single thing yet, as far as I can tell.
Read the FAQ on their website. It's nothing but non-answers. Their answer to questions about radiation consist of a high-school physics introductory paragraph on what radiation is, along with a vague mention of going into a reinforced area if there is a solar "explosion." Radiation is a huge technical challenge, but that's the best they can tell us?
As for asking for money, yes they are. Maybe not mine, but they are looking for sponsors. The nice thing about sponsors is that there are far more ways to avoid giving money back to sponsors than to investors.
There are three possibilities here: 1)This is legit, but they are terrible at presenting a convincing case, 2)this is a scam, or 3)these people think they're legit, and they have all the best intentions, but they have no idea what they're doing. I'm perfectly willing to accept 3. 2 seems slightly more likely to me, and 1 is a long shot until they can at least show me a test rocket or a revenue statement. I'd love to get excited about this, but what they've shown us is nowhere near enough for me to even believe it's real, much less get excited.