Una serie de acotaciones al margen a medida que voy leyendo algunos libros... A series of annotations whilst reading interesting books... A collection of notes on books about science, SciFi, history, others topics... Una colección de notas sobre libros de ciencia, ciencia-ficción, historia, otros...

26 April 2013

Moon Landing Hoax, or when you are surprise by it

So you are giving a presentation on Yuri Gagarin, the Space Race and the Cold War, and of course you have to go to the point that at the end the USA won it because they were the first to put a man in the Moon. And you get the questions:
* Do you believe that the Americans landed in the Moon?
* I think that everything was staged in a Hollywood set, don't you?
* It was fake, wasn't it?
Put this clear and straight: rejecting or getting into the conspiracy is rejecting good science (in this case rejecting the Moon Landing).
I'm usually stopped in my next thoughts with this type of questions. Basically for me is like someone that ask me do you believe the Earth is round? we know it is flat, and I overflow with different thoughts. some very disrepectful, others of totally atonishent, and stunned on how to answer the obvious. [the Earth is not round but kind of an spheroid to be precisely annal]

How to answer in real time?

To be honest no idea. I'm not good for sharp, incisive, quick and on the spot answers. But I'm good at preparing scenarios and work then on that.
One good advice in those situations is to assume that most people do not care about Space Exploration, but heard about the Moon Hoax (today with Internet is very easy to get into this kind of crap) and they are trying to make a conversation funny at the expense of you. You can bet that few people are hard core conspirationists or deniers. At least is a good thought for me in order not to boil and just explode in a torrent of arguments.
Answer directly and honestly to the questions done:
  • No, I do not believe. I know by facts that they landed in the Moon
  • No, I do not think so. It will be a horrible expensive movie, and there is no way of keeping actors silent about it
  • No, it wasn't fake
Ask some rethorical questions:
  • Malta temples, Egypt Pyramids, the Great Chinese Wall, Mayan Piramids, Machu Pichu, who do you think have built them?
  • If they are true conspirationists they will answer that Aliens, the Heeches, or some kinda-Prometheus extraterrestrials did them. And I have no more tips on how to deal with them in real time. Rest of the blog is not for confronting this type of people. Sorry.
  • If they shrug, or answer of course humans and we all agree that the Homo Sapiens have been the culprits of those amazing structures. And also that Homo is incredibly resourceful, shows a lot of ingenuity and have built and builds surprising stuff (add Suez and Panama channel to the list) against all odds (Malta temples), you can continue reading
  • Why do you deny the creativity and ingenuity to put people on the Moon, but accept the others?
Setting the boundaries for a more rational conversation, then you can ask what specifically have read or watch, or specifcally what makes them think the landing was a hoax.
Usually what follows is a rough memory of something they had read like the flag is moving in the pictures (or more related to the pictures, if someone picked on some more deep argument -rare- maybe they will point that there are grades of shadows and with no atmospherem no difraction, so no grades of shadow. Most of the arguments that can put you in an akward situation (basically you have no idea and the objection looks reasonable) follow a pattern of God in the Gaps, or more appropiatte, Gaps in your Knowledge (and in the proto-denier in front of you). Most are frankly weird and totally illogic (like the movie thing) that argument against that is a waste of time: just go back, think carefully and rationally and come back. If not Death Star is real and in a galaxy far far away Yoda is awaiting you.
All of the conspirationist's arguments have been debunked and I will only point to this excellent article by Phil Plait in Bad Astronomy: Fox TV and the Apollo Moon Hoax. Just read it and be ready to calmly debunk your proto-denier that she/he is just bored and seeing the opportunity of making some hotly debated at your expense.

Taking the attack not seriously

The Moon Landing Hoax conspiracy is ... nonsense, so it is good to make some ironic, fun of, and intelligently mock it. Dean Burnett has a very good article (and serious when you read 2nd time): The moon landings were faked (and other science confessions).

"Yes, the moon landings were faked. You can take my word on this, I'm a scientist. A scientist who wasn't even born at the time and who has no official connection to space travel or any space-based discipline, but you know us scientists, we're all in on it together"

"...the whole moon landing saga was just realistic CGI. That's right, all the footage you've seen of the supposed moon landing is entirely computer animated. The USA had access to computer technology decades ahead of what was normal in the 1960s in order to do this..."

"...so now that I've let the cat out of the bag with regards to the moon landings, it's only a matter of time before the true extent of the deceptions carried out by the scientific community come to light. So, in the interests of transparency, here are some other conspiracies and outright lies that science has been feeding people..."

"Although rational types have been decrying antivaxxers for years, unfortunately they are correct. Vaccinations are unnecessary; they're a cover for the true nature of disease. It was discovered long ago that all diseases were actually spread by the Dodo. Upon this realisation, scientists decided to initiate a brutal extermination campaign, which lead to their apparent extinction. However, racked by guilt over their actions, the science community concocted the whole vaccine story to explain why people weren't getting so sick anymore, and have persevered with it to this day."

"The theory of relativity is, as many have guessed, made up. It doesn't make any sense when you think about it, time slowing down as you go faster? Gaining mass as you approach light speed? It's all based on an incident Einstein experienced when on a particularly long train journey where his watch was broken and he went to the buffet car a few too many times."

"THE WORLD IS ROUND = It isn't I'm afraid. It's flat. But it's not static, the land is constantly moving across it like a supermarket conveyer belt. Hence we get night and day, night is when the belt is on the underside of the Earth."

Enjoy it!


I asked myself this questions many times. People regards basic facts as lies and create a increasingly unattainable position disguised as (conspirative) "theory". I didn't read it, but Michael Shermer's book Why People Believe Weird Things maybe have some very good insights into this.
Also a shorter paper by the UWA Cognitive Science Laboratories: NASA faked the moon landing-therefore (climate) science is a hoax: An anatomy of the motivated rejection of science is a great source for start wondering about this phenomenon.

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