The Life and Times of the Moon Hoax Conspiracy
Yes, it’s a 3-part Skeptoid episode, the first one ever, and it took more than 500 episodes to get me to finally address the moon landing hoax conspiracy. To those who follow science, the claims that we never went to the moon are the most tiresome and foolish of the conspiracy theories; but to those who believe them, they are absolute religion, and the ultimate token of their conviction that anything coming from official sources is a lie. Today we’re going to begin our in-depth analysis of the Moon Landing Conspiracy, of those who believe in it, and a survey of the facts and figures of the basic narrative.
Today we’re going to talk about the history and cultural impact of the claim; next week we’ll go into the most popular evidentiary claims said to prove that we never went to the moon (hopefully including some you haven’t heard before); and in the final installment, we’ll look at the hard physical proof that we did go.
The basic narrative of the Moon Truth conspiracy theory, as you probably know, is that NASA faked the Apollo missions and nobody ever actually went to the moon. As with most conspiracy theories, there are all sorts of variations on the claims of what actually did happen, while the only thing they have in common is that no men actually landed on the moon. Some believe the Apollo missions orbited the moon but did not land; some believe they never went farther than Earth orbit; some believe the Apollo spacecraft flew but were unmanned; some believe they never launched anything at all. The astronauts performed their moonwalks on a movie set, and fake transmissions were provided to the TV networks for broadcast. The reasons given for why the government would have gone to all this trouble range from simply distracting Americans’ attention from the unpopular war in Vietnam, to fooling the Soviets into thinking they lost the Cold War, to protecting NASA’s budget by appearing to spend it on something supremely impressive.
A big question we have to answer is what’s the point of even talking about this? The people who believe it have already heard the science-based responses to their claims a hundred times, and rejected them a hundred times. Their minds are riveted shut to anything but their preferred narrative. We’ll not be changing any of their minds today. And the rest of us aren’t in denial, and aren’t asking these made-up, shoehorned questions that try to raise doubt where none exists. So who is this episode for, nobody?
Well, maybe for somebody. Polling data has, for decades, consistently shown that some 6-7% of Americans believe the moon landings were faked; and even scarier, about four times as many Europeans agree with them. That’s a lot more people than the hardcore YouTube-obsessed serial conspiracists; it includes tens of millions of ordinary folks who are otherwise as rational as you or I. It seems there must be something deeply compelling about this odd belief.
The Internet is polluted with craziness, and there is no better example than YouTube. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen when you give everyone on the planet the power to show everyone else on the planet their innermost thoughts, desires, and insane ramblings, you need only look at YouTube.
One of the biggest offenders of incoherent ramblings is the subject of spaceflight. Simply search ‘space shuttle’ on YouTube, and you’ll find accusations of the crew of Columbia being abducted by aliens. Crazy, incoherent, and somewhat insulting. Accusations of a moon landing conspiracy are unavoidable in the ‘related videos’ section and are similarly filled with videos from people with either a tenuous grasp of reality or too much time on their hands.
A broken clock is right twice a day, a broken calendar is right every twenty-eight years or so, and every once in a while, simply from the volume of videos on the subject, one conspiracy theorist will present a new and novel idea. Here we present perhaps the only moon landing conspiracy theory that makes sense, is consistent with physical laws, and that may actually be true.
Comparing other government conspiracies
One of the best ways to figure out what it would take to pull off a project is to compare it to earlier, similar projects. If you’re building a 100-storey skyscraper and need a good idea of how long construction will take, just look at how long it took to build the last 100-storey skyscraper. If you want to build a dam and wonder how much it will cost, just look at earlier, similar dams that used the same construction methods and materials.
The Apollo moon landing conspiracy contends that 400,000 government workers and contractors would need to keep quiet, and no inquisitive journalists would be out in the trenches, digging for the truth. This government conspiracy would ostensibly be headed by none other than Richard Nixon, and fortunately we have a pretty good analog to compare a moon landing conspiracy to other Nixon-era conspiracies. Watergate-gate, with far fewer people involved, was found out. It strains credibility that a conspiracy many orders of magnitude larger would not be uncovered.
Additionally, there are many other nefarious activities sponsored by the US government that have been made public. The MK Ultra experiments dosed hundreds of people including Ted Kaczynski and Sirhan Sirhan with LSD. Not all of the records were destroyed, though, and the entire experiment was disclosed in 1977 with a FOIA request. The US Public Health Service infected people with syphilis, and the CIA is responsible for overthrowing dozens of governments around the world. All of these conspiracies were eventually found out. The very idea that researchers, academics, and journalists are unable to pierce the veil of a moon landing conspiracy over forty years strains credibility.
There is one government project on the scale of the Apollo moon landing that was, for a time, secret: the Manhattan Project. With perhaps 300,000 people involved in the creation of the first atomic bombs, it is the only secret government project with the same scale as NASA in the 1960s. Here, history tells us that secrets that big don’t stay secret for long, with the Soviet Union receiving plans for atomic weapons before the end of the war.
In comparing the scale of an Apollo moon landing conspiracy to other, real conspiracies committed by the US government, the argument completely falls apart. The Tuskegee syphilis experiments involved perhaps a few hundred people. The MK Ultra experiments perhaps a few thousand. Watergate-gate involved less than one hundred. An Apollo moon landing conspiracy would involve nearly a half million over the course of ten years, yet moon landing conspiracists say the largest conspiracy of all time would be the one that succeeded. It doesn’t strain credibility – it completely destroys it.
Supporters of conspiracy peddler Alex Jones are FURIOUS that I dared to note his dismissal of the Apollo 11 mission. Talk about a lunatic fringe.
The worst thing about being a moon landing denier is, apparently, the part where reporters call you out for labeling Apollo 11 as some kind of false flag operation.When I wrote a story about Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s relationship with his father—and the impact it might have on his chances of getting the Republican presidential nomination—I expected some pushback. But not like this.
My characterization of radio host Alex Jones (a frequent promoter of the Pauls) sparked outrage among his devotees. Specifically, they got all rage-y because I referred to Jones as a “moon landing denier.” A weird thing to quibble about, considering he is a moon landing denier.
Alex Jones, I wrote, is “a noted conspiracy theorist who spreads his message on his syndicated radio show and on his website, Infowars.com. Jones is a moon landing denier who believes the government acted as a guiding hand for the September 11 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing, buys into the New World Order—the theory that a group of so-called elites are conspiring to form a singular, totalitarian global government has accused American pop stars of being purveyors of Illuminati mind control.”
.@Olivianuzzi, in your hit piece, you label Alex Jones a “moon landing denier,” when he has repeatedly said the opposite….1/2
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 29, 2014
.@Olivianuzzi what makes you believe you can get away with such brazen dishonesty?
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 29, 2014
.@Olivianuzzi your job is to make up shit to smear people, I hope the Daily Beast pays you well to make up for the cost to your conscience.
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 29, 2014
@PrisonPlanet—aka Paul Joseph Watson—is editor-at-large of Infowars.com, Jones’ site. There is rich irony in having the editor of Infowars.com charge that your job is to “make up shit.” Infowars.com, for the uninitiated, is a very special place where ideas like the Super Bowl halftime show is an illuminati ritual, and that President Obama has called for a New World Order, are welcome. The website even sells iodine drops, called “Survival Shield,” at their official store.
In legal parlance, a conspiracy is when two or more people form a plan together to engage in criminal behavior, but in modern days, a “conspiracy theory” has come to mean an alternative explanation for the accepted consensus of a controversial or unusual event or belief. Most proponents of these often easily debunked plots are eccentric and harmless, but a few go beyond the boundaries of free speech. The behavior of these dangerously obsessed few ranges from the merely criminal to the outright deadly.
10 • Jim Garrison Conducted A Witch Hunt Against Clay Shaw Over JFK
Whatever truly went down at 12:30 PM CST on Friday, November 22, 1963, the movie JFK made a hash of it. One thing it didn’t get wrong, though, was its portrayal of Jim Garrison as an obsessive, increasingly paranoid demagogue who bullied witnesses, harassed “suspects,” and conducted a full-on witch hunt in the city of New Orleans.
Garrison’s list of transgressions is too long to fully detail, but the worst of his behavior was the way he almost destroyed the life of Clay Shaw, a respected New Orleans businessman. Garrison publicly outed him as gay (which could have had serious consequences in the 60’s), accused him of CIA connections, and of course, accused him of one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century, all on the flimsiest of evidence.
Many accounts of the trial have downplayed the homosexual element, but there is plenty of evidence that Garrison actually believed in some kind of rainbow-colored plot, attributing the assassination to a gay club thrill kill. He named a total of six people whom he believed were “in on it” as homosexuals, including Jack Ruby and even Lee Harvey Oswald himself. In an interview with James Phelan, Garrison called Oswald a “switch-hitter who couldn’t satisfy his wife.”
It took almost two years for Garrison’s case against Shaw to go to trial and another three weeks of testimony and arguments before a jury acquitted Clay Shaw of all charges after less than an hour of deliberation. Shaw himself ably deconstructed the JFK “conspiracy” in a 1967 interview.
9 • Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, Enacted AIDS Denial As Policy
Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, is almost certainly the AIDS denier who has done the most direct harm in the world. In a 2008 study, a team of Harvard researchers estimated that as many as 330,000 people died needlessly because of Mbeki’s policies.
Mbeki didn’t start out as a denier. His views hardened after a complex series of political and economic negotiations. They were further solidified by the bogus claims of an African university about having discovered a cure, prompting hope for an African solution to the problem, and the discovery that the apartheid government had conducted germ warfare tests that included searching for killer bugs that targeted specific ethnic populations and the state-sponsored spread of AIDS via black prostitutes. Negotiations to bring AIDS medications into South Africa at prices the poor could afford were marred by suspicions of conspiracy between Western governments and drug manufacturers.
By the mid-1990s, Mbeki had fallen under the influence of prominent AIDS denier Peter Duesberg. He even invited Duesberg to be part of a conference on the AIDS problem held in 2000, much to the outrage of the rest of the conference. Later that year, he publicly denied the scientific consensus that AIDS was caused by a virus. Instead, he claimed the disease was the result of a combination of general bad health, lack of nourishment, and poverty. Thanks to international pressure and the work of AIDS activists and NGOs, the situation did improve, but Mbeki’s delays caused many unnecessary deaths and condemned many children to live shortened lives.
8 • Bart Sibrel Confronted And Harassed Buzz Aldrin
In 2002, Bart Sibrel lured former astronaut and American hero Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, to a Beverly Hills hotel for an “interview.” When Aldrin arrived on the scene with his stepdaughter, Sibrel revealed his true colors. He was a proponent of a long-standing conspiracy theory that claims the Apollo 11 Moon landings were faked. Proponents of the theory claim that the landings were produced in a Hollywood studio to fool the Russians into believing that the US had won the space race. This is one of the most laughable and easily debunked conspiracy theories out there, but Sibrel was working on a documentary that he believed would prove his case and wanted to include a confrontation with Aldrin in the film.
What happened next is as infuriating as its conclusion is satisfying, and it was all caught on film. When Aldrin realized the real reason he was brought to the interview, he got up to walk out on Sibrel, who then became aggressive, taunting the national hero who took time out of his busy schedule to see him. He followed Aldrin, calling him a “thief, liar, and coward,” thrusting a Bible into Aldrin’s face with demands that he swear upon it.
Finally, after every one of Aldrin’s attempts to leave peacefully had failed, Sibrel started poking him and his stepdaughter aggressively with his Bible. That’s when Aldrin lost his patience and punched Sibriel right in the jaw. Aldrin never faced any criminal charges, and if he had, no jury in the world would have convicted him.
There are a lot conspiracy theories out there, most of which have no evidence to support the claims made, either because whatever evidence that has been put forth has been debunked, or no evidence has ever been put forth in the first place.
In fact there are some conspiracy theories that have no reason to continue to exist, or have no reason to exist in the first place, such as:
Perhaps one of the older conspiracy theories out there, there are a lot of people who do not believe we went to the Moon, and that all of the videos (the hundreds of hours worth) and photos (the many thousands of them) taken from the Moon were all done on a sound stage.
The reasoning behind this is that it is believed by people who claim we did not go to the Moon that we did not have the technology to go to the Moon.
The problem with this argument is that we actually did have the technology to get to the Moon. Also, as surprising as this may sound, we actually didn’t have the technology to fake going to the Moon.
There is also a ton of other evidence that says we did in fact go to the Moon, such as several tons worth of rocks and dirt that were brought back, the fact that not one of the hundreds of thousands of people who worked on the Moon landing project has ever said we didn’t go to the Moon, or that the Soviets never said that we didn’t get there, or the fact that the landing sites have been photographed by satellites orbiting the Moon.
9/11 conspiracy theories
Ever since that tragic day over 12 years ago there have been multiple conspiracy theories put forth concerning what happened that day, and while all of them tend to be different (from both who did it to how it was done) they all have one thing in common: They have all been debunked.
I know, a lot of people in the 9/11 “Truth” movement will say otherwise, and will claim that they have “evidence” that backs up their claims, the facts are is that when this so called evidence has been examined it’s been shown to be either incorrect, or completely false, and it is now seriously considered by skeptics and debunkers that the only reason why anyone would continue to make these 9/11 conspiracy theory claims is that they are either self deluded, or mentally ill, or they are lying.
Autism – MMR vaccine connection
Ever since 1998 when Andrew Wakefield wrote and published a “research” paper in The Lancet that concluded that there was a “connection” between the MMR vaccine and autism (research of which has since proven to be both unethical and fraudulent and resulted in both the research paper being formerly retracted and Mr. Wakefield’s name being removed from the General Medical Council, which is the British equivalency of having one’s medical license revoked) there has been a conspiracy theory going around concerning the alleged connection and vaccine manufactures trying to suppress such information.
Besides the fact that none of this “information” has ever been suppressed, it has been proven by multiple scientific and medical research institutions that there is no connection what so ever between any vaccines and autism, and that all of the claims made by the anti-vaccination movement are wrong and false (and dangerous).
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… 9/11 Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… Bizarre Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- Five Kennedy Conspiracy Theories Debunked by JFK: The Smoking Gun (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Conspiracy Theories that would be easy to prove (illuminutti.com)
- If the Government is shut down, then who is paying the shills? (illuminutti.com)
- 6 Conspiracy theories that make people paranoid (illuminutti.com)
- Pakistani satire of Malala conspiracy theories taken as real conspiracy theory (washingtonpost.com)
- If You Distrust Vaccines, You’re More Likely to Think NASA Faked the Moon Landings (motherjones.com)
Through my studying of conspiracy theories I have found that many of them are easy to dis-prove. In fact some of them are so easy to dis-prove that it’s actually kind of shocking that anyone believes in them.
Now despite the fact that most conspiracy theories are quite easy to dis-prove, a few of them could actually be proven, and quite easily at that, if a conspiracy theorist was willing to spend the and money to try to prove what they believe is real.
The following is a list of five different conspiracy theories that I feel could be easy to prove:
The Moon landings were hoaxed.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that the moon landings did happen and that we really did send 12 men to the surface of the moon and back between 1969 to 1972, many conspiracy theorists still insistence that the landings were all faked, and that they were all filmed on some movie set in on a military base in the middle of the desert.
Despite the multiple pieces of “evidence” that they believe prove that the moon landings were faked, they have not produce one shred of evidence that hasn’t ended up being debunked.
Now, despite the fact that all the evidence that they claim proves the moon landings were hoaxed have been debunked, there are actually a few simple (but expensive) ways for them to prove the moon landings were hoaxed:
First, they could build their own telescope that is powerful enough to see close up to the surface of the moon, and look at the moon landing sites to see if anything is there.
Second, build your own satellite and rocket that can travel to the moon and photograph the sites where the moon landings were suppose to be.
Third, build a space ship that can actually get to the moon, land at the sites, and see for yourself if anything is ther. Oh, and here is the bonus part about this one: If it turns out that you’re right, and you prove that the moon landing were faked, “you” become known as the first person to walk on the moon!
Among some conspiracy theorists there is this belief that the government is using aircraft to spray the population with chemicals to either dumb us down, or make us sick, or make us infertile (assuming it’s not for geo-engineering like other chemtrail conspiracy theorists are insisting).
Of course there is no evidence what so ever to prove these claims (despite what they insist) but, there is in fact a very easy way for them to prove that chemtrails are real.
All they would have to do is get a plane, attach a scope or two to that plane (be sure they are the types that remotely open and shut in order to avoid contamination) fly through an alleged chemtrail (actually you might want to do this several times in order to collect several samples, just to be sure) take the samples you’ve gotten, and have them tested to see whats in them, and how high the concentrations are (because that plays a big factor too).
Now, if this is done, one of two things will happen: You and many other conspiracy theorists will be proven to be right, and all skeptics will have to eat their own words (during the revolution that would most likely follow) or, you will be proven to be wrong, and it will be shown that chemtrails are in fact nothing more than water vapor.
- Why do people lie about their belief in a Conspiracy Theory? (illuminutti.com)
- What is a Sheeple? (illuminutti.com)
- 7 Reasons why Conspiracy Theorists get their videos and pages removed from Youtube (illuminutti.com)
- HAARPing mad – an assessment of the HAARP conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists. (illuminutti.com)
- Michael Hastings: 5 Conspiracy Theories That Didn’t Pan Out (illuminutti.com)
- Conspiracy theories: the science behind belief in secret plots (secularnewsdaily.com)
- Conspiracy theories: The science behind belief in secret plots (theguardian.com)
via How Stuff Works
Ever since NASA broadcast its visits to the moon between 1969 and 1972 to millions of people around Earth, conspiracy theorists have debated endlessly over photographs and video of the journey. Judging by the dedication some have to the cause, the subject of whether or not the moon landings were a hoax rivals only the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the presence of Area 51 in popularity. The Fox Network even aired a television special in 2001, nearly 30 years after the last Apollo mission, titled “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?”
Poring over every single detail for inconsistencies and potential government tampering, people who buy the moon landing conspiracy theory strive to prove NASA never went to the moon — instead, they believe the organization filmed a series of fake moon landings in a studio, complete with props, astronaut costumes and intricate lighting setups.
But why would NASA and the U.S. government pull off such a strange stunt? The moon landings took place during the Cold War and a tense point in the nuclear arms race, an era in which the two world superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union (or what is now Russia), competed for technological superiority. Some believe that because sending astronauts into outer space and onto the moon would be incredibly expensive, the U.S. didn’t have enough money to complete the project. According to the conspiracy theorists, faking the moon landings would be much cheaper — if it were convincing enough, it could still send a message to Russia that the United States had the better technology.
What are some of the claims by the moon landing conspiracy theorists? What have they pointed out, and do their arguments have any validity? And what do scientists have to say about these conspiracy theories? To get answers to these questions and more, put on your tin foil hats and read the next page.
The Moon Landing Hoax Evidence
So what sort of evidence have conspiracy theorists gathered that might suggest the whole event was a fake? Nearly 40 years of research has given them some interesting points:
1. There aren’t any stars in the background.
One detail doubters often point to is the background of many of the NASA photos. In pictures of the moon’s landscapes, there aren’t any stars in the sky — it just looks like a big, black void of space. Since the moon has no atmosphere, shouldn’t there be millions of stars dotting the background of these photos? If the landings were faked on a studio stage, did the photographers make a huge mistake and just forget to “turn on” the stars?
Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists, the nature of photography strikes down their argument.
- “Moon Hoax Not”: Short Film Explains Why It Was Impossible to Fake the Moon Landing (openculture.com)
- One small step for man, requires one giant leap of faith (bizgovsoc6.wordpress.com)
- Fake moon landings, Lib Dem Kool-Aid and my row with Peter Hitchens (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Short Film Explains Why It Was Impossible to Fake the Moon Landing. (thetruthiswhere.wordpress.com)
- Why the Moon Landing Could Not Have Been a Hoax – It Wasn’t Technologically Possible to Fake It (scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org)
- Why a Moon Hoax Would Have Been Impossible (disinfo.com)
This video is so good, so incredibly brilliant, solid and simple, that you will want to paste it all over your Facebooks and Twitters just to piss off all the IMBECILES who still claim that the Moon landings were faked (those idiots exist, yes). The reason is simple: the technology to fake it didn’t exist.
It’s a very simple argument. It’s not about showing how ignorant the hoaxers demonstrate to be with their idiotic “proofs”, which actually show they don’t know anything about physics, photography or even perspective. Or the fact that simple there’s tons of physical proof that we were there. Or the fact that the Soviet Union was monitoring it too and accepted the American victory in the Space Race.
No, it’s something even more obvious. This video explains why there was absolutely no way to fake it at the time. Even the cameras needed to fake it didn’t exist back then.
It’s completely convincing and undeniable argument and worth watching from beginning to end. I enjoyed it so much that I was giggling at some points. Especially one of them: we have gone from a world in which we couldn’t possibly fake a landing on the Moon but we went there for real to a world in which we are no longer going to the Moon but we can easily fake it.
OH. YOU. IRONY. [Thanks Karl!]
- Why the Moon Landings Could Have Never EVER Been Faked: The Definitive Proof (gizmodo.com)
- Top 5 Reasons Why People Think the Moon Landings Were Faked (techeblog.com)
- Remembering the Apollo Moon Landings (researchsupporthub.northampton.ac.uk)
This belief exists despite the fact that there is plenty of third party evidence that claims that we did indeed land on the Moon, and that none of the 400,000 people who worked on the Apollo project, including the 12 men that actually walked on the Moon it self, have ever said that the Moon landings were faked. This includes Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the Moon, who believes the the US government is covering up the existence of aliens. If anybody in the whole group would have admitted that the Moon landings were faked, it would be him.
Oh and lets not forget the over 900 pounds of rocks, dirt, and dust, collected from the Moon, and the huge amount of money we spent getting there. Also, if you have a powerful enough telescope, you can actually see the landing sites.
So why do people still believe we didn’t land on the Moon?
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: 9/11 Controlled Demolition (illuminutti.com)
- Why People Believe Conspiracy Theories (scientificamerican.com)
- 15. 8 Moon-Landing Hoax Myths – Busted (12160.info)
- XKCD debunks claims of the Moon landing hoax (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: The Government Kills Conspiracy Theorists (illuminutti.com)