Saturday, October 14, 2017

Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? (2001)

There are a lot of different conspiracy theories.  One holds that the Earth is flat.  Another would have us believe that Elvis didn’t die of an overdose.  There’s no shortage of theories surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy.   One of the more prevalent is that we didn’t really land on the moon.  Instead of sending astronauts to our only natural satellite, NASA sent three people up only to bring them back down and subsequently broadcast footage from a soundstage.

This so-called documentary is sort of a primer on all of the evidence people bring up when trying to support the claim of a hoax.  For instance, there are no stars in the background of any of the pictures.  If you’ve ever tried to take a picture at night, you may or may not get stars, mostly because stars require a longer exposure to show up.  NASA had the exposures set low, meaning that stars weren’t going to show up.  Another claim is that details can be seen on surfaces that fall in a shadow.  Any good photographer knows how to play with the settings to get this effect, with or without additional light sources.

I don’t really want to go into all of the evidence people use to call the moon landing a hoax.  There are sites that can go into greater detail and list everything.  I’d be here all day responding to everything.  Instead, I want to focus more on the actual program.  As I said, it’s more of a few basic questions the producers would have you ask.  Some of these come from a lack of understanding of things like physics.  For instance, why would a flag wave in an environment that lacks an atmosphere to blow it around?  While planting the flag, the astronaut imparts momentum.  The lack of an atmosphere means that there’s nothing to stop the flag from moving around.

Some of it is convincing at first glance.  It’s pointed out that several pictures have crosshairs that aren’t fully visible.  People have taken this to mean that photos were altered.  This is explained as the emulsion bleeding between two highly contrasting colors.  Another point is made that two mountains are very similar, despite being several miles apart.  This could be a trick of the eye.  The lunar surface doesn’t have the same variation Earth does.  Very similar doesn’t mean the same.

The thing is that there’s never been any hard evidence.  There were hundreds of thousands of people involved in the mission, either directly or indirectly.  It’s also been almost fifty years.  You’d think someone would have noticed something revealing.  Someone would have come forward and said something.  Given the scope of the mission, there would be something incontrovertible.

I’ll admit that absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.  Is it possible that the mission was faked?  I can’t prove otherwise.  However, I don’t think this documentary was meant to persuade anyone.  It seems more like it’s meant to pander to those who already believe it.  Instead of presenting something convincing, we’re instead asked how to explain what many people would perceive as an inconsistency.  (It‘s along the lines of, “Oh, yeah? Well, how do you explain this?”)   The fact that any evidence is so easily refuted would have me side with NASA not having faked the moon landing.

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