There are those among us who believe nearly everything is the result of a conspiracy. All of it.
They don’t believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, don’t believe we ever landed on the moon, believe our own government orchestrated 9/11, and believe Bill and Hillary Clinton are murderers. They believe the food we eat, the medical treatment we receive and climate scientists are all part of grand conspiracies designed to somehow do them wrong.
More troubling is a subset of this group that has convinced themselves nearly all mass shootings are hoaxes perpetrated by shadowy, unnamed groups trying to upend the Second Amendment. They claim there are no victims, just “crisis actors” trained to pretend they’re victims.
The leader of this pack has been Alex Jones, a radio host and creator of the infamous web site, Infowars. Jones uses both platforms to spew conspiratorial nonsense about mass shootings.
He referred to Sandy Hook, where 20 first-grade children and 6 adults were massacred, as a “complete fake” and a “giant hoax.” He’s claimed the parents were actors and fakers. He’s been singing the same rancid song for years.
Now, two sets of parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook have had enough. After years of harassment, intimidation and even death threats generated, at least in part by Jones’ accusations, they’ve sued him and others for propagating this defamatory foolishness.
(It should be noted Jones, three days after the lawsuit was filed, finally acknowledged the Sandy Hook murders did occur. His attorney said his previous comments were “misunderstood” or “misrepresented.”)
Mr. Jones and his co-defendants will now hopefully have the opportunity to explain to a civil jury how he arrived at his conspiracy theories. It should be interesting hearing him tell us how dead people aren’t actually dead. If he could present just one of the hundreds of mass shooting victims still alive it would certainly be an eye-opener.
No such revelation is forthcoming because these horrors that keep repeating themselves are not hoaxes at all. Nobody is pretending to be dead or pretending to grieve a lost loved one. Any other notion is absurd.
Maybe some common sense is in order here.
Talk about voxels and cones too dry to pique your interest in real-time lighting tech? Then have a peek at this re-creation of the lunar landing from last week’s GAME24 livestream, which convincingly proves that man actually did set foot on the moon.
Total sarcasm. This video is based on a real conspiracy that i just had to mock. I hope you enjoy it.
Watch this video ONLY if you want to HEAR the TROOF! This is absolute, undeniable pwoof the Apollo moon landings were hoaxed. This evidence is incontrovertible. Share this video!!!
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.