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.
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.