Exposing PseudoAstronomy

March 16, 2013

Podcast #68: Expat in Hoaglandia – A Fantasia of NASA Conspiracies


This episode is just 6 seconds short of a full hour. I interview Expat – who was my first guest ever back in Episode 10 – about numerous political and technological conspiracies of Richard Hoagland as generally applied to NASA. I learned quite a bit during this interview, and I hope that you do, too, and find it interesting as well.

There’s a quick New News item at the end, but all the other segments are skipped so as not to detract from Expat.

Upcoming episodes that I mentioned at the end include: the True Color of Mars, the Ringmakers of Saturn, 2012 Doomsday Revisited, a Young-Earth Creationist suing NASA, and a Nancy Leider clip show.

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June 23, 2009

The Apollo Moon Hoax: An Overview


Introduction

Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a post … sorry folks, I’ve been busy with work and vacations and other stuff. But enough with excuses! In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landing by the lunar module “Eagle” piloted by Neil Armstrong and also manned by Buzz Aldrin, I am going to devote the next month of postings to a series that debunks the Apollo Moon Hoax.

In other words, the direct goal of these postings is NOT to prove we went to the moon, landing 12 men on the surface and bringing them successfully back (along with a load of lunar science). Rather, I will pick through the main hoax claims and show why each of them, in turn, is flawed.

The specific purpose of this introductory post is to discuss the hoax in general and why I will be debunking it as I state above.

All posts in this series:

Why the Hoax?

There is a small group of people who have made propagating the idea that the US government hoaxed the moon landings a significant part of their life’s work. In name, the four main people with whom I am familiar are Bill Kaysing (now deceased), David Percy (along with Mary Bennett), Ralph Rene, and Bart Sibrel. The two most active people in the “field” today are Rene and Sibrel, with Sibrel being the most visible.

One may ask, “Why do you think this was a hoax?” I cannot read these peoples’ minds, and I do not want to be accused of libel, so I am stating up-front that I do not attribute any of these reasons directly to any of those people. That said, in general, people like conspiracies and mysteries. It almost may seem anti-climactic to those Generation X and Y folks who were born over a decade after the landings that, “Yeah, we went to the moon.” It’s much more interesting to think that there is something else behind it. In addition, there is almost always an inherent distrust of “the Official story” and especially if that Official story comes from the government – a body that almost no one really trusts anymore.

But besides my attempt to psychoanalyze the conspiracy theorist mindset, there is a more direct, more visual reason: Anomalies. Anomalies are the conspiracy theorist’s bread and butter, the sustenance upon which they build their upside-down pyramid of cards.

Anomaly Hunting Defined

So that we’re all on the same page, I will define “anomaly hunting” for purposes of conspiracy theories: Anomaly hunting is searching for something – anything – that does not make sense to you within the context of the broader picture.

An example from the 9/11 Conspiracy is that when the Towers 1 and 2 collapsed, the debris/rubble only reached a few stories high, despite the skyscrapers originally reaching 110 stories high. How could they possibly have so little debris? There must have been something else going on – right?

Another example, this time from the JFK Assassination Conspiracy, is that the 6.5 x 52 mm Italian Carcano M91/38 bolt-action rifle that was used to shoot the president could NOT have been fired 3 times in the supposed 5.6 seconds that it was fired in (even though the Warren Commission found that it could have been up to 8 seconds). So there must have been a second shooter – right?

Well, to answer both of these … NO. These are apparent anomalies. They seem to make perfect sense when you present them at face-value because they appeal to general common sense. But there are really mundane explanations. First, for the Trade Towers, the explanation is that when one owns a building, they make money off of the empty space inside the building that people can then use for businesses (or living). The Trade Towers were up to 95% empty space by volume, and so when they collapsed, only the structure was what remained.

As for the speed of firing the rifle, it was only the first attempted reenactment by the Warren Commission that failed to duplicate the speed of firing. Since then – including CBS’s 11 volunteers in 1967 – many people have shown that it is a relatively easy task to shoot the rifle 3+ times in the time allotted, even if the minimum of 5.6 seconds is that time. A visual example of this was shown on Penn & Teller’s ‘Bullsh-t’ show, season 3 episode 3, where Penn successfully fired it 3 times in the space of 3.45 seconds.

Why Conspiracies Rely Upon Anomaly Hunting

So one may legitimately ask, “Why are conspiracies built upon anomalies?” The answer is because apparent “common sense” does not always apply. It is a very simple thing for me to look at a picture, hear about someone’s observation, or examine a video and see something that seems to defy what I expect to happen during a circumstance.

This is especially true when one talks about the environment of space, off Earth’s surface. Our every-day experience does not prepare us in any way for what to expect if we are in near-Earth orbit, on the moon, or elsewhere. The lack of air, the different gravity, lack of water, and other environmental factors change how things act and interact, giving rise to apparent anomalies.

Almost every single Moon Hoax claim deals with an apparent anomaly. From a lack of stars, to the C rock, to radiation belts, to the computer technology at the time, hoax proponents have come up with dozens of different anomalies within the Apollo program footage, photographs, statements, mission profile, and pretty much everything else that surrounds the program.

Final Thoughts

The next logical question may be, “Do conspiracy theorists have a coherent story, then, of what actually happened?” The answer may surprise you: No.

In general, the Moon Hoax evidences are almost all anomaly pointing-out from the Apollo program. Beyond that, each conspiracist has their own idea of what “really” happened, though they really do little to promote it when compared with how much work they do to find apparent flaws with the official explanation. And not all of their anomalies actually fit into their view of what happened, with many anomalies pointed out by other “researchers” contradicting their own ideas.

This is why my approach to debunking the Moon Hoax is to go through, claim by claim, and show why they are as they are. Once that is through, the conspiracists have nothing left to stand on because all observations can be explained by the “official” NASA story that we actually went to the moon.

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