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.
Yesterday, July 20th, was the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the surface of the moon, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first and second humans to walk on the surface of another world. This is, to be sure, one of the greatest achievements of the human species.
There are those, however, who claim that we never sent astronauts to the moon, that the entire thing was an elaborate hoax by the US, meant to intimidate our rivals with our spacefaring prowess. As is typical of most grand conspiracy theories, they have no actual evidence to support their claim. None of the many people who would have to have been involved have come forward to confess their involvement. No government documents have come to light, no secret studios have been revealed. There is no footage accidentally revealing stage equipment.
What the moon hoax theorists have is anomaly hunting. This is the process of looking for something – anything – that does not seem to fit or that defies easy explanation, and then declaring it evidence that the standard story if false. Conspiracy theorists then slip in their preferred conspiracy narrative to take its place. Sometimes they are more coy, claiming to be “just asking questions” (also known as jaqing off), but their agenda is clear.
Genuine anomalies are of significant interest to science and any investigation, no question. For an apparent anomaly to be useful, however, mundane explanations need to be vigorously ruled out (conspiracy theorists tend to skip that part). Only when genuine attempts to explain apparent anomalies have failed to provide any plausible explanation should it be considered a true anomaly deserving of attention.
At that point the answer to the anomaly is, “we currently don’t know,” not “it’s a conspiracy.”
The reason that anomalies, in and of themselves, are not very predictive that something unusual is going on, is that they represent one method of mining vast amounts of data looking for desired patterns. Conspiracy theorists, in essence, make the argument (or simply implication) that where there is smoke there is fire, and then offer apparent anomalies as the smoke. This is a false premise, however. If apparent anomalies count as smoke, then there is smoke everywhere, even without fires.
In other words, any historical event is going to have countless moving parts, curious details, apparent coincidences, and complex chains of contingency. Further, people themselves often have complex motivations contingent upon the quirky details of their lives. All of this is raw material for apparent anomalies. It would be remarkable if you couldn’t find apparent anomalies when combing through the details of an historical event.
Here are some of the alleged anomalies that moon hoax conspiracy theorists have pointed out over the years.
You know how the world occasionally seems to pick a celebrity to project all its insecurities and collective insanity onto? Stanley Kubrick was that guy on steroids. Ever since his death in 1999, conspiracy theorists have been working overtime to implicate the portly genius in all sorts of shady shenanigans. We’ve already told you about the guys who think Kubrick faked the moon landings and hid clues in his film The Shining. Little did we know that was just the tip of the world’s craziest iceberg.
10 • His Films Are Warnings About A NASA Sex Cult
If you’ve never heard of the Saturn Death Cult, prepare to have your mind blown. A sort of hyper-evil Illuminati crossed with whatever it is David Icke keeps going on about, they’ve infiltrated every organization on Earth to prepare us for the next stage in interstellar evolution—an evolution they intend to bring about by having sex with lots of children. Sound insane? Well get this: Stanley Kubrick supposedly spent his entire life warning us about them.
The theory goes that while faking the moon-landings for NASA, Kubrick became aware of the fiendish, Saturn-worshipping sex cult at the heart of America’s space race. He then set about littering his films with coded warnings alerting us to their existence. 2001: A Space Odyssey was supposed to contain references to the planet Saturn before Warner Bros changed it to Jupiter; Eyes Wide Shut deals with an evil, worldwide sex-cult; AI was originally about the “sort of person” who would want to buy a non-aging, 12-year-old robot boy slave; Lolita warns us about the existence of a child-grooming network.
Sure, that last one was released years before Kubrick allegedly became aware of all this, but why bother with stuff like chronology when we’ve got a salacious cult on our hands?
9 • The Shining Is About Abandoning The Gold Standard
The film Room 237 recently made waves by exposing a whole host of the crazy conspiracy theories focused around The Shining. But there were a couple of theories too insane even for a documentary about insanity. Our favorite is the theory that the entire film is a secret mockery of Woodrow Wilson for abandoning the gold standard.
Let’s back up and look at the clues. Several of The Shining’s key scenes are set in something called “the Gold Room.” In one such scene, Jack Nicholson tries to buy a drink from the bartender, only to be told his money is no good and it’s “orders from the house.” Colonel Edward Mandell House is the man who convinced Woodrow Wilson to drop the standard and make American money worthless. But wait, how do we know Jack is meant to represent Wilson? Simple: Jack has terrible typing skills and in 1913 the New York Times mocked Wilson for that very same defect.
But the real kicker comes in the film’s final shot. In a photograph dated July 4th, 1921, we see Jack Nicholson surrounded by people waving at the camera. July 4th, 1921 also happens to be exactly two months after Wilson retired, and the guy standing behind Jack in the photo looks just like Wilson (sort of, if you squint). There you have it: final proof that the Shining is really a satire on economics.
8 • 2001: A Space Odyssey Proves The Existence Of Aliens
For a film ostensibly about aliens influencing mankind’s development, 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn’t actually have much in the way of space creatures. But that hasn’t stopped some people from seeing it for what it really is. Far from being a seminal sci-fi masterpiece, 2001 is secretly proof of the existence of extra-terrestrials.
This particular theory is an offshoot of the “Kubrick faked the moon landings” one. Starting with the premise that Neil Armstrong was really bouncing around a soundstage somewhere, it asks why a great director might fake one of the most important events in history and comes up with a suitably bizarre answer—aliens beat us to it.
That’s right, the moon landings were really a reconnaissance trip to find evidence of alien tech, hence the need for a fake “public” version. We know Kubrick knew about this because 2001 is chock full of hidden references to alien abductions. The hyper-60s LSD trip taken through the monolith at the end is really a metaphor for people being kidnapped by space aliens, taken from government files which were still top secret at the time. Somehow (while faking the moon landings, no doubt) Kubrick got hold of these files and placed the experiences in 2001 as a “big reveal” for mankind. And we all thought it was just a revolutionary blockbuster.
7 • His Final Film Was Re-edited By Evil Cultists
When Kubrick died in 1999, he’d only just finished editing his final film. Released after his death, Eyes Wide Shut has gained a reputation as the “unfinished” Kurbrick film, despite its creator hanging on just long enough to oversee the final cut. Or at least he would have, if occult New World Order types in league with Warner Bros hadn’t secretly re-edited it after his death.
Yep: The slightly perplexing/disappointing film we saw at the cinema wasn’t Kubrick’s original cut. In scenes that Warner Bros now refuses to release, the director apparently expounded at some length on the existence of real messed-up cults just like the one in the film. To protect the nefarious leaders of these cults, Warner Bros quietly had the picture re-edited—and now denies this ever happened.
But what sort of crazy cult could wield its power like that? What sort of insane organization would be so precious over a simple movie? We’re glad you asked:
6 • Eyes Wide Shut Is About Scientology
We’re going to go out on a limb here and guess you’ve heard of Scientology. Hollywood’s biggest “religion” is everything a creepy cult should be: secretive, convicted of international fraud, and seemingly fronted by Tom Cruise. The same Tom Cruise who just happened to be the star of Kubrick’s final film.
Thanks to this Cruise connection, a lot of people are convinced that Eyes Wide Shut is really a thinly-veiled warning about Scientology. Aside from the film featuring a shady society of no-good rich types, there’s the fact that Kubrick himself had a personal interest in the cult—his daughter Vivian vanished into its clutches in 1998 and hasn’t spoken to her family since. In a long article on the subject, critic Laurent Vachaud has even gone so far as to say everything that happens in the film is a metaphor for Kubrick losing his daughter, right up to the apparent kidnapping of Tom Cruise’s daughter at the end of the film.
Unfortunately, the claims don’t stand up to much scrutiny. Vivian didn’t abandon her family until Eyes Wide Shut was already underway, far too late for major rewrites. Even then she was still in contact: Kubrick wanted her to write the score and she only dropped out at the very last second. It’s an interesting little theory, but a theory is definitely all it is.
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)