You may think it’s a fringe idea that the entire moon landing in 1969 was faked in a movie studio, despite the fact that it was televised live, you can go talk to Buzz Aldrin about it right now, you can go see moon rocks and an actual Saturn V rocket at Kennedy Space Center today if you want to, and countless people watched Saturn V rockets launch first-hand who are still around. Believe me, if you’ve seen a large rocket launch (I have,) it’s not something you can forget, and it’s not something you can fake. And getting something that large to escape Earth’s gravity is the hard part.
Yet a 1999 Gallup poll showed that about 6% of Americans believe the moon landing was faked – and the evidence is the numbers have increased greatly since then, as more people have been born after it happened. A poll from last July showed that 52% of British people surveyed believe the moon landings didn’t happen – and it’s the 25-34 year olds where most of this support exists. This same poll also showed that 64% believe dinosaurs never existed. I take solace in the fact that this study had a relatively small sample size of about 1,000 people, but it’s still deeply disturbing.
Here’s the thing with conspiracy theories – you can’t disprove a negative. For example, you can’t prove that I’m not an evil shape-shifting alien lizard who is part of this whole moon landing conspiracy. Yet, 4% of Americans believe exactly that (see question #13). Or maybe you’re part of the 28% who believe Elites like me are part of some evil group planning to create a New World Order (question #4). You can’t prove we’re not!
The polarization of society and “fake news” isn’t helping, either. The surge of moon landing hoax support is coming from the InfoWars website, which I won’t reward with a link. The founder of InfoWars has been promoting the idea that maybe we did go to the moon eventually, but that first landing was staged. InfoWars, if you don’t know, is a leading “alternative” news source. But calling them “fake news” is ineffective, because they’ve trained their readers to believe that real journalism is the “fake news” and they’re the only ones who have access to the Truth.
It also plays into the temptation to not believe anything you haven’t seen with your own eyes – although somehow Deities get a pass on this test. By that logic, Donald Trump doesn’t exist, since I’ve never seen him myself. Hmm….
No! Let’s not go there.
The important question that’s relevant to Frank’s Geekery is what to do about this. Unfortunately, these sorts of worldviews are often so deeply entrenched I don’t think reasoning will get you anywhere. I think there are only a couple of approaches here:
– Bring your favorite moon landing hoax believer to meet Buzz Aldrin and watch Buzz beat some sense into him.
– Shock and awe him with an abundance of physical evidence and debunking of the various hoax theories.
Since the former is of questionable legality, let’s go with the latter.
Let’s start by debunking all the “evidence” that the landing was faked:
The fluttering flag with no atmopshere! There was a wire inserted at the top of the flag to keep it taut, the “fluttering” resulted as the wire was adjusted.
But the radiation! They’d all be dead! No, the astronauts passed through the Van Allen radiation belt in about 4 hours, and received no more radiation than you get in a chest X-ray.
But shadows are going in different directions! That’s because they were on a hill, and the contours of the terrain caused the shadows to look that way. Without any atmosphere, there is no skylight on the moon, so you don’t have the usual visual cues you’d have on Earth about the shape of the terrain.
Film couldn’t survive on the moon! Yeah, it gets really hot on the moon when it’s in direct sunlight. But they landed during lunar dawn and dusk to avoid that problem.
How can you leave footprints on a moon with no water in the soil? Go dump some dry talcum powder on the table and walk your fingers through it, and get back to me.
Why don’t you see stars in the sky in the photographs? Go outside on a clear night, and take a photo of something illuminated by a spotlight (much like the sun on the moon.) The short exposure needed to capture the foreground isn’t enough to capture the stars.
There are countless examples of “evidence” from the moon landing conspiracy folks beyond these – but a quick trip to Wikipedia is all you need to debunk them.
Furthermore, around 400,000 people were involved in the Apollo program. That’s an awful lot of people to successfully keep a secret for this long, isn’t it?
Plus, there’s plenty of physical evidence of the moon landing. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took photos of the landing sites just to shut everyone up (but they’re still going.) They even imaged every US Flag planted that’s still standing. (Unfortunately, the Apollo 11 flag was blown down by liftoff exhaust according to Buzz Aldrin, fueling the conspiracy theorists who believe that only that mission was faked.)
Maybe you trust the Mythbusters more than me. Go watch their episode on the moon landing, which they’ve made freely available just to shut everyone up. Or are Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman also shape-shifting lizard aliens?
At the end of the day, you can’t disprove a negative. But there is no valid evidence for the positive assertion that any moon landing, including Apollo 11, was faked. What you can do is educate yourself about the moon landing conspiracy theories so you can discuss them when the occasion arises, and hopefully bring someone around that you know.
Image credit: NASA/Neil Armstrong