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Spurred by the recent demise of Astronaut and First Man on the Moon Neil Armstrong, the old conspiracy theory that the lunar landings never occurred has resurfaced in several places on the web.

Whenever I see this, I usually refer to The Mad Revisionist’s website and his claim that we can’t have visited the Moon, since the Moon doesn’t exist – it is just a propaganda hoax!

The Moon

It doesn’t exist!

I have to admit he has some pretty good explanations for why the Moon doesn’t exist. Like other (more serious) conspiracy theorists he has seemingly plausible answers to everything and it will take a degree in physics to refute his argument that the Moon can’t cause the tides:

The tide myth is one of the oldest and most absurd lies that the Lunar establishment has tried to push on a gullible world.  Do they really expect us to believe that the moon – an object that allegedly resides at an average distance of 240,000 miles from the earth – has the power, from that distance, to lift how many billions of cubic meters of water?

Do an experiment: take a rubber ball and suspend it above a bathtub full of water.  Now slowly move the ball closer to the water.  Does the level of the water change?  Not even slightly.  So much for the tides myth.

Can you refute that? I can. But then, I have a bachelor in physics. I could prove that this argument is spurious but not to a layman. A clever demagogue could easily (seemingly) rip my evidence apart with plausible-sounding “evidence” that my proof is invalid, and then go on to claim that I am untrustworthy because I am part of the Moon conspiracy.

All typical of the average conspiracy theory. From the Kennedy assassination to the destruction of the World Trade Center to the death of Princess Diana to the lunar landings.

Of these four, the only one with some shred of credibility is the one stating that the CIA and/or FBI murdered President Kennedy, and that Lee Harvey Oswald was just the fall guy. The Kennedy assassination *could* have been carried out by a small group of people without (official) recognition from above. It might even have happened that way, though I don’t believe it.

The Apollo program is a completely different story. It lasted more than a decade, involved thousands of people directly and several thousand more indirectly and culminated in seven lunar expeditions (one of which failed but the crew survived). For each expedition we saw three astronauts enter a rocket in Florida, the rocket blasted off, and a week or two later we saw the same astronauts being picked out of the Pacific.

If the conspirationists are right, the rockets were launched without a crew, the astronauts were picked out of false command modules, and the elaborate footage from the Moon was shot in the Arizona or Nevada desert.

In order to carry out such a fraud, several thousand people would have to know what was going on – from the “astronauts” themselves to the command center in Houston to the launch crew in Florida right down to the cameramen who filmed the “astronauts” in the desert. Each and every one of them would have to know that the lunar landings were faked, and each and every one of them would have to keep silent about it for the rest of their lives.

Impossible? No. Improbable? Yes. If faced with the task of setting up and carrying out such a charade I would have chosen to simply build a rocket, train three astronauts, put them in the rocket, and send the rocket to the Moon.

The same goes for the September 11 attacks. This conspiracy involves planting explosives in the World Trade Center, finding a group of people to hijack four planes and use them for suicide attacks, killing themselves in the process, and then convincing the hundreds – if not thousands – of people “in the know” to keep their mouths shut for ever after, not even leaving letters behind to be opened after their death. It would be easier and safer to simply wait for a group of religious fanatics to hijack some planes and fly them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

I find it plausible that a group of people in the the U.S. government – possibly even people close to the President – could have known that something was about to happen, maybe even WHAT was about to happen. And that they allowed it to happen in order to use the attacks as an excuse to enlarge the government’s powers and (as some were itching to do) attack Iraq. (Since this is exactly what people close to the President did after the attacks.)

I even find it plausible that the government under George W. Bush and especially Dick Cheney would have carried out such attacks if they had expected an advantage to themselves, and had expected to get away with it.

World Trade Center

I suppose they didn’t exist either…

But I do not find it plausible that the same government that can’t police its own capital could pull off a stunt involving thousands of people and then make them shut up, now and forever, about murdering 3,000 Americans. It couldn’t get away with it, and even George W. Bush is too smart to realize this (or at least not dumb enough to not realize it).