Talkin’ to Penn, Schoolin’ Joe Rogan Part II

By Phil Plait | February 6, 2007 10:27 pm

In Part I of our saga, I talked about being on Penn and Teller’s Showtime program debunking the Moon Hoax. While at that meeting, Penn asked me if I knew who Joe Rogan was. Well, duh: comedian and host of "Fear Factor". Then Penn informed me that Joe is a nutzoid conspiracy theory freak who thinks the Moon landings were faked! (By the way, I am paraphrasing, but only slightly, what Penn said).

Then Penn laughed, and said how cool it would be to get Joe and me on his radio show together so we could duke it out.

And thus we come to Part II of our saga.

First, I’ll cut to the chase: I did the show with Joe Rogan. We got along great; Joe is funny, smart, quick-witted, and in fact a nutzoid lunatic — something I’m sure he’d agree with — and really wrong about the Moon Hoax… but I like him! We had a lot of fun on the show together.

Penn has it up as a podcast now, so you can hear it for yourself.

Stick through to the end when Joe goes ballistic; Penn and I were laughing our heads off. Joe is really funny.

So while you’re downloading that, here’s the back story.

At TAM 5, Penn invited me again to be on his radio show. I gave my Moon Hoax talk on Saturday, and right afterwards I was whisked away to Penn’s house, called The Slammer — he has his radio studio there. If you haven’t seen The Slammer (it’s been featured in more than one TV show) it’s based on a prison house. When you get there, you have to be buzzed in through the gate. You go through the gate, and are stopped by another gate. You have to wait for the first one to close before the second will open (an obvious security feature at prisons).

Once inside, well, it’s like a funhouse. I could have spent days there poking around, but we were short on time. Still, I did a smart thing. Right after my talk at TAM I had to go to the bathroom, and I was going to use the hotel facilities when I was struck with a thought: I bet Penn’s bathroom is a whole lot more interesting than the hotel’s!

I was right. It’s done up just like a prison bathroom, with stainless steel everywhere. The fixtures were a lot nicer than a prison bathroom (I assume) but otherwise it was convincing– in fact, I was told some of Penn’s friends won’t use that bathroom due to "bad memories". Draw your own conclusions. Anyway, the toilet seat was what made me laugh out loud: it’s made of transparent plastic, and there is razorwire embedded in it. Here’s proof:

So we get to the studio, and things started up. Joe called in, which is perhaps all for the best– Penn told me a couple of harrowing stories about how Joe treats hecklers at his comedy gigs. I will absolutely NOT repeat them here, but if you ever meet me in person, ask me. I’m sure Joe would like to have his rep enhanced, so I’m happy to relay the stories.

I have to add that the table in Penn’s studio at which we sat had a laminated top, and underneath was arrayed a whole slew of vintage nudie playing cards. I was immediately reminded of my dad’s old Playboys from the 1960s. Concentrating became difficult.

Still and all, the hour went just beautifully. I was nervous about how it might go, but Penn is the consummate host — he was very outgoing, and said several times that he had been expecting great things from the show, but the actual event exceeded his hopes. Joe and I sparred a little bit, but just a bit. He really is extremely well-versed in the Moon Hoax theories, and knew his stuff. I think he really does think it was faked, but I also think he is still open to good arguments. Well, some– he didn’t buy everything I said (which is fine) and we had several moments of confusion over the dust disturbances left by the landers on the Moon, but overall it went really well. In fact, I would say I kicked Rogan’s backside all over the studio.

OK, maybe that’s unfair. But as I’ll get to in Part III of this tale, Rogan turns the tables and I find myself, well, not doing so well when we have our rematch on Penn’s show. But with that we will deal when the second show goes on Penn’s website. Soon, my young paduwans, soon.

In the meantime, check out Penn’s pictures of me, Joe Rogan, and other guests. Here’s mine of us (click it for a bigger version):

And finally, Esquire magazine has a great interview with Penn and Teller. It sums them up pretty well.


Comments (67)

  1. Only half-way through it- but it’s nice to hear the BA debating a ‘honest fool’ rather than a deceitful liar.

  2. Joshua C.

    That was a great show. Rogan is the first example of a “moon-hoax believer that actually listens to reason” I have ever heard of. It’s refreshing.

    I just wish it would have lasted more than 45 mins. But that’s commercial radio for you, I guess.

    That interview was just as entertaining and interesting as Rogan’s article debunking Carlos Mencia’s ‘comedy’ act.

  3. Rockingham

    “a couple of harrowing stories about how Joe treats hecklers at his comedy gigs” – The mind boggles.

    Oh, and to be a really pedantic geek, the word is padawan…. I”ll get my coat.

  4. Can someone provide a link to video of the ‘double speed’ astronauts mentioned in the podcast? It’d be fun to watch.

  5. Tensor

    It’s really interesting that you put this out today. I am getting ready to leave for the airport in about an hour. My wife and I are going to Las Vegas and one of the shows I will be seeing is Penn and Teller. Maybe I’ll drop your name at the meet and greet afterward Phil. 😉

  6. Can’t some one use a telescope to take a photo of the remains of the lunar lander on the surface of the moon, to put this to bed once and for all?

  7. MaDeR

    This will NOT put this to bed. HB always can say that these photos are faked, too.

  8. Gerrsun

    This picture of course is obviously hoaxed and perhaps implicates NASA in a grisly murder.

    Either it is of a landing, in which case, how was there someone there to take the picture?

    Or it was of a take-off indicating that NASA deliberately left a man there to take pictures to be picked up by later missions.

    The only other alternative is that it was aliens but there is no sign of a purple squamous appendage in the corner of the picture so that supposition is right out.

    ((Also, I dont know if there is a rule for link posting in the blog. Feel free to holler at me if this is not ok.))

  9. Grand Lunar

    Just listened to this online.

    Sounds like you had a lot of fun with this, Phil. Good to see, also, the public ear getting this too.

    The close out was hiliarous! “We haven’t gotten to the juicy stuff yet!”

    Looking forward to the rematch as well.

  10. DennyMo

    I’m just wondering how concerned we should be about someone who takes a camera into the bathroom with him…

  11. Beren

    It’s quite obvious, Gerrsun. The photo you present was taken when the lander lifted off, by a robotic camera that was left behind to gather further data when the astronauts were gone.

  12. The Tarrkid

    That was great.

    When we finally get back to the moon, we should have one mission take all the nutjobs (and Joe, too) up there, we’ll land ’em near one of the sites, let ’em see the footprints, etc. Give them the grand tour.

    Then, if they’re still unconvinced, we can just leave them there, and wish them luck hailing a taxi for the ride home. 😉

  13. The Tarrkid

    (OK, just so I don’t appear like I’m endorsing the abandonment of fellow human beings on the moon, maybe the lander just takes a quick orbit around the moon, then comes back for them.)

  14. Nashville Guy

    Wait — what’s this about you not faring so well in the rematch? It just can’t be! We DID land on the moon, right? :)

    Have to say I’ve really come to enjoy Penn’s radio show via podcast — which in a slightly roundabout way I came to because of your blog and your descriptions of TAM5, Phil — so it was a great treat to hear you when I was listening online yesterday. I thought you acquitted yourself well, although even the geek that I am was looking at the ime toward the end of the radiation discussion.

    I’m hoping that if I lead a good, clean life, I’ll get to TAM some day —

  15. MichaelS

    I have a couple of questions about this Moon Hoax thing. First has NASA come out and rebuked any of the evidence that has been presented? I am asking because I would love to read or listen to it. I have been watching a bunch of videos like if you google “What happened on the moon” and watch video 1 and 2.

    I want to believe that we went to the moon I think that it is the most important moments in our space program. But the photography and video anomolies and inconsistencies alone is pretty damning. That is why I am asking if there is any kind of responces by NASA other than the one in this one sided video on Google.

    I am new to the whole “Moon Hoax” theory. And I am not taking the side of the theorists I am just to both sides of this.

  16. Be careful of all the “rematch” talk. Rogan’s in deep with the Ultimate Fighting Championship people plus heres a vid of him choking out a host. WARNING The adds on this site are NSFW.

    Anyway, good stuff as always Phil.

  17. Zero

    Christian Burnham: Here’s a couple of youtube videos of the sped up moon rover and astronauts:
    7- and 9-second clips aren’t really that much to judge from anyways, but sure doesn’t look natural to me. BTW, linking youtube videos on the moon landing hoax reminds me of

  18. Moose

    MichaelS: A few years ago, NASA was paying James Oberg (who used to post regularly to the old BABB’s moon hoax forum) to write something (I can’t remember exactly what it was, bigger than a pamphlet but smaller than a full book) debunking the moon hoax. They’d reconsidered it after a few months because they felt it wasn’t worth the time and money to dignify (and potentially legitimize) something as offensive as the hoax claims with a response.

    If you haven’t seen it already, JayUtah’s Clavius Moon Base site is well worth reading. It’s the highest quality debunking I’ve seen yet. In any case, good information stands on its own, no matter who it’s from.

    Dan Glastonbury: First off, even if we did take photos of the landing sites, it wouldn’t convince the hoax proponents. They’d simply say the photos were forged just like the original missions. It would be a colossal waste of money to do something like that, even if we could (I’ll get to that in a second), if it’s not going to do any good anyway.

    The other thing is that we simply can’t. There are no telescopes with sufficient resolution, not even the Clementine lunar satellite, that can resolve something that small.

    That Clementine may have resolved the scattering of dust on the lunar surface caused by the LM’s descent engine is amazing. But that scattering may have a radius of 100-200 yards, if that. Currently, IIRC, the best photos we’ve got of the moon have a resolution of about 100 yards per pixel. That means each dot on the photo is a hundred yards wide. The LM isn’t ten yards across.

    We’re still a full order of magnitude away from having any chance at all of seeing the LMs.

  19. Zero

    Doh. Remove the dot to get that xkcd link to work, or click this one:

  20. MichaelS

    Thank you I will check out that website.

  21. Dave

    Gross. That toilet needs cleaning.

  22. Irishman

    MichaelS, NASA has generally taken the opinion that we went, they provided all sorts of proof like photos and live TV coverage and interviews with astronauts and oversight by the Government Affairs Office. They feel the proof is out there, and it isn’t worth their time and money to respond. A few years ago, they got wind of all the internet and cultural popularity of the question, and someone thought it might be worthwhile to do something, they set up a book deal with Jim Oberg. When that got announced on the evening news as “NASA is a frakkin’ idiot for paying to prove they went to the Moon”*, they rescinded the book deal.

    Still, there are plenty of resources to address the Moon Hoax claims.

    Start here:
    (Hey, there’s a site connected to this blog!)

    Phil’s page above has a list of links to more coverage, but these are the most thorough. If you read the above and still have doubts about the quality of the evidence, head on over to the BAUTForum and check out the “Conspiracy Theories” forum. There are a kazillion threads already dissecting just about any claim you can imagine. There are also plenty of resources to actual technical data.

    You might also want to check out the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal:
    That site has transcripts of all Apollo moon missions, as well as copies of all pictures taken on the Moon. And lots of other stuff.

    There are plenty more resources if you ask at either the BAUTForum or the Clavius web forum.

    Let me just say in brief response to your comments about the video and photography anomalies, what are claimed to be anomalies are easily explained and in most cases the claims are misrepresentations of what you should see and are dispelled with demonstrations you can do yourself. Also, there is a glaring tendency to use fuzzy jpeg copies of images and call them “NASA originals”.

    * Paraphrased of course.

  23. Zoot

    Very refreshing to hear a debate without the typical thinly veiled hostility. I’ve been hanging out on evolution vs creation sites a bit lately and those debates tend to go into a very adversarial space.

  24. Rick

    Hey Phil

    It seemed to me that the largest conflict was that both you and Joe seemed to not be getting on the same page of the landing site photos. Joe’s argument was that when you look at the moon images you don’t see a blast crater and it all looks white but when you look at the Clementine images you see a dark smudge as if something rocketed out of there burning the ground behind it.

    You mentioned that clementine’s imaging took mineral photos. Wouldn’t that explain why in one (at the landing site) photo everything is all bright and white, but in the other image (Clementine) everything looks all dark and smudged? In one you are looking at visible light, while the other is in another wavelength detecting the different minerals now revealed because the dust has been disturbed. To the eye the minerals look white, but to clementine they look dark. People see these 2 different images and immediatly call foul when in fact its like taking a picture of a human face with a normal camera and then taking one with an infrared camera and saying one of the images is false because they don’t look the same.

  25. Quiet_Desperation

    I’m sorry, but I refuse to put “smart” and “moon hoax believer” in the same sentence. It’s a principle thing.

    I suppose it doesn’t help that the one time I tried watching Fear Factor I was driven away from the pure, concentrated annoyance. For example, they’d promise that *something* BIG would happen, and it did… six commercial breaks later.

    Reality teevee is another symptom of the further dumbing down of the country.


    Oh, and UFC is a wimpy, commercialized version of the real fighting matches where you had to know the right people to attend (or even know it was happening), and the currencies of three dozen nations would flow back and forth in smoke shrouded wagering.

    OK. I’m done. :)

  26. Geoff

    I thought the halo effect was really interesting and I have seen that on grass with dew. I thought Phil did a pretty good job of explaining considering he didn’t have photos.

    PS. Joe Rogan and a Heckler (the poor drunken soul)

  27. BJN

    That’s only barbed wire, not razor wire BTW. Does he have an electric chair hair dryer? Har har.

    When it comes to Penn and Teller, I’d much rather listen to Teller. Penn’s smart and he’s usually right but he’s too much like a 13-year-old prick to my ears. When I was 13, I would probably think living in a prision house was cool, but actually living in a joke would get very old, very fast. But hey, maybe he he has a prison fetish and this is a healthy alternative to actual encarceration.

  28. Brandon Behr

    I thorougly enjoyed that. It kind of upsets me that he believes in the hoax, but it was entertaining to listen to.

  29. Quiet_Desperation

    BJN said, “Penn’s smart and he’s usually right but he’s too much like a 13-year-old prick to my ears.”

    I’ve felt that way for a long time. Their Showtime show made me cringe even as I agreed with it.

    I have personally weaned five people off of Sylvia Browne, and I didn’t have to call anyone a m*****f***** at all.

  30. Bravo!

    I was in the Moon Hoax / NASA Censorship camp for a while,
    until, revealingly, I dealt with some serious health problems
    and intelligence issues. I’m not saying everyone who believes
    in a “conspiracy” is sick (there are real conspiracies), but I do think many of these people need our help (I know it sounds
    patronising, but I’ve been there!). I have a few friends on other
    forums who staunchly believe that NASA are cynically withholding
    data from us…but they seem to be unaware, and never seem to discuss
    things like the Hubble shot on your other blog entry (for example).

    I find this very sad, and I can only thank my lucky stars that
    I woke up to discover “all the Heaven and Glory” as the
    Way of the Dragon qoute goes…

    “It is like a finger pointing a way to the Moon.

    Don’t concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all
    the Heaven and Glory!”


  31. Bryan D.

    Boy Joe doesn’t seem to want let the idea go that there is a big difference between “Disturbed Soil” and a “Crater” :)

    It’s like the difference between combing your hair and getting shot in the head. :)

  32. Reuben

    Phil, regarding the “crater” that you were arguing about, what about the crater from leaving the moon?
    It seems like this is a pretty good argument to explain extra “disturbed” dust. There’s even a video of all kinds of stuff blowing around outside the lander when it is taking off.

  33. Phil,
    Great job! I enjoyed the podcast. Since hoaxers can switch between perceived anomalies faster than the truth can be explained, how about going on the offense sometimes? For example, what about the retroreflectors left at several landing sites. Any observatory with suitable equipment can beam a laser at the moon, and only if they hit one of the landing sites they detect the returning beam. This enables precise measurements of the distance from the measuring site to the Apollo landing site. Isn’t this enough proof to give Joe something to think about? How much more do they need?

    Wayne Reed

  34. Chip

    Great job Phil. Will these Moon hoaxers never give up? I have an otherwise rational and intelligent ham friend who has three versions of the “moon hoax” videos and is absolutely convinced that the CT woos are on to something, the flag was blowing in the breeze from an open door, yadda, yadda. He and I will soon have a long talk. (I’ll see if your “belt demonstration” from TAM5 is of any help.)

  35. There is a NASA LINK that cover some of the Moon Hoax. I still like the National Geographic Channel program, which I will keep an eye open for on the upcoming listings. It did run about the same time as The Bad Astronomer (Sorry, but I keep wanting to hit someone in the nose with a rolled up newspaper whenever I hear that) was on another program… which I did watch.


  36. xav0971

    I don’t understand why everyone is picking on the historical fact that we went to the moon. Why do so many people doubt this great American achievement. Why not the holocaust or the civil war or dare I say Jesus (whether he existed or not)? Why pick on NASA?

    On a side note: Hey Phil, you need to start debunking the global warming deniers. Its much more important than the moon landings.

  37. Phil, what is the issue with dust disturbances? I’ve been working on lunar dust issues for the last couple of years. It’s a hot topic at NASA now that they’re planning on sending people back for longer stays. The lunar dust was a major nuisance for the Apollo astronauts.

  38. My biggest suprise from Joe’s arguments is that:
    We haven’t been back since Apollo, therefore we never went to the moon.
    What sense does that make?? He seems like an intelligent guy on other subjects, yet he makes a comment like this?

    Everyone who lived through the era of lunar exploration had to deal with the fact that our government only funded this great exploration because of the Cold War with the USSR. Once we had beaten the Soviets, the public wanted to solve world poverty, hunger, etc, throwing away the momentum and expertice our scientists and engineers had developed. It was heartbreaking to witness at the time, but now that we have solved all earthly problems, WGB wants us to go back to the moon (like all other presidents since Apollo, without funding).

    Joe Rogan may be too young to have experienced this history himself, but he should be aware of it (unless all of us that lived through this period are in on the conspiracy).

  39. Irishman

    Just listened to the program. Gotta say that Joe sounds like a lot of reasonable people. They get presented some plausible statements and look at some pictures pointed out by someone else, and they think the claimant has a point. What they completely miss is that (a) they had to have this stuff pointed out to them, or they wouldn’t have noticed; (b) the claimant often distorts or misrepresents reality and rely on “the conditions on the Moon are different” without actually explaining how that difference is relevant; (c) often the claimant sees something that appears odd and they rattle off the first idea that pops into their head without bothering to consider if their explanation would even cause the effect seen (i.e. multiple light sources and diverging shadows, rather than multiple shadows); (d) the claimants are good at dressing up the claim to sound convincing, especially when not matched with informed scrutiny; (e) many claims rely on intricate or technical details that are easy to gloss over but important to actually understand to see what’s real.

  40. Irishman

    Wayne Reed, the problem with the retroreflectors is that the Hoax proponents just claim they were placed robotically. It’s a part of the overall picture, but unfortunately a “plausible”* alternative explanation keeps it from being the trump card.

    * Plausible is in the eye of the beholder.

  41. Buzz Parsec

    Early in the podcast, you (BA and JR) discuss the non-parallel shadows, and BA mentions the effect of perspective. Far more significant, to my mind, is the effect of a non-flat surface. Even a slightly undulating surface will cause shadows to point off in all kinds of unexpected directions, especially when the light source is low above the horizon. Anyone who doesn’t live in Kansas can go outside any day it isn’t overcast either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and see this for themselves. (Sorry Kansas, try not being so flat nest time :-)

    All the Apollo landings took place in “early morning” local Moon time, a few days after sunrise. The long shadows made it easier to see rocks, craters and other obstacles while landing. They could also have landed shortly before sunset, but then if something went wrong and they had to stay an extra couple of (earth) days on the surface to sort things out, they might have had to take off in darkness and cold. I don’t know how long the lander could survive in the dark, it was designed for more-or-less continuous solar exposure.

  42. bassmanpete

    MichaelS, probably the greatest proof (if proof were REALLY needed) is that the USSR abandoned its attempt to get to the Moon. The whole Space Race was driven by politics/ideology largely in an attempt to impress & gain influence in the non-aligned nations ie “Look what we can do. We’re better than the other lot.”

    To think that the USSR would have given up if there was the slightest whiff of a hoax is just plain DUMB! They had tracking stations, they must have been picking up the transmissions from the Apollo missions in transit to & from and on the Moon. They must have known where the signals were coming from.

    So to propose that the Moon landings were all hoaxes is to also propose that the Soviets were in on it and the whole of the Cold War was also a hoax. To any “the Moon landings were faked” believers out there I would say either grow up or get a brain transplant :)

  43. skeptigirl

    I am so jealous!

  44. Grand Lunar

    I’ve been thinking about the conversation, and realized something that may help with the hang up on the Clemintine image:

    It seems to me that Clemintine’s imaging system was designed to be sensitive to areas of disturbed moon dust, yes? Therefore, it could detect what the eye (and standard film) cannot. Therefore, the disturbance in the Apollo photos are there, they’re just not visible.
    I wonder if Joe would understand that science-y stuff.

    As for Joe’s wires claim, I recall discussing this with another, more closed minded (if not entirely closed minded) hoax believer.
    On the moon, whether in person or in watching footage of moonwalks, you must think differently; you have to distinguish between mass and weight.
    The astronauts weigh less, but their full mass is still there (not to mention the added mass of the PLSS). So, the astronauts interia comes into play a lot, hence giving the appearence that wires were used. Of course, you never see wires. Plus, the wire theory doesn’t hold to scrutinization when you watch the hours of footage during the moonwalks.

    Oh, Joe says he looked at all the pictures. Somehow, I doubt he examined all 14,000 or so photos of the Apollo astronauts.

  45. Underdog

    It seems to me that a good explanation for the disturbed dust would be to describe space weathering and to use the example of crater rays. Tyco would be a good start, it’s well known and visible and it’s young for a crater but it’s still millions of times older than the Apollo sites. So you can say “look at Tyco, it’s a 100 million years old and the soil it disturbed is still obviously ‘fresh’. Why shouldn’t we still be able to see the Apollo dust disturbance only 20- years later?” It also demonstrates that the Clementine image isn’t visible light, my understanding is that lunar soil shows as lighter when disturbed not darker. I haven’t been able to find it online for sure but my guess is that the Clementine image is IR or UV or some other non-visible wavelength.

  46. Irishman

    For the rovers kicking up dirt, here’s something to consider. He notes how the dirt goes up and falls parabolically. Now a dirt road on Earth typically kickes up not only a similar pattern of larger dirt/rocks, but also a fine dust cloud that spreads out and floats in the air for some time. Try driving behind someone on a dirt road and you will know what I mean. 😉

    However, something to consider, what happens if the dirt is wet? Doesn’t the water keep the dust from separating and floating? So the problem we have with the rovers is the assertion that the dust is dry. But could it have been faked, by using wet dirt?

    Well, what other ramifications are there? Think about what happens in mud. Try walking in mud, your feet get stuck, and it really takes effort to step. But the astronauts lightly glide along the surface, kicking loose dirt around. That would be difficult if the dirt were significantly wet. So is there a zone between mud and dust where the dirt would not cloud but wouldn’t clump the feet down? Hmmm.

    Regarding the astronauts “on wires”, this is the type of thing I think he’s talking about:
    The first segment look how light and off-balance he looks through the whole thing. Look at how he hops up from his knees, despite wearing all that heavy gear. He must be having assistance, right? Actually, between the slope of the terrain (uphill away from the camera toward the left) and the balance point on the suit with the 80 lbs or so on his back, it makes sense that he leans a bit forward, especially while running. The other thing is that the 80lbs worth of mass still affects his balance because his own weight scales with the suit weight, but because of lower gravity he can more easily lift the weight (1/6th weight), so it isn’t difficult to pop himself upright with both legs. Also, he’s using the suit balance to help him right himself.

  47. paladinsmeg

    Phil, great show, you showed quite a bit more patience than I think I could have mustered- Joe’s fevered protestations started to really grate near the end, but I think if there was enough time in the universe to sit down with him and go through each point in excruciating detail he would come around. =)

    The biggest problem debunkers have is that one claim can be usually expressed in a single, simple sentance, such as “The radiation in the van-allen belts would have killed the astronauts.”. A nice, bite sized chunk that can only be debunked by explaining what is actually quite advanced scientific concepts. Most average Joes then just tune out and take the “blah blah blah” explanation as scientific double talk rather than what it is.

    The Moon is NOT the Earth, people. Understand that things don’t always work the same way on the Moon! 1/6G, no air- it’s an alien environment to us- one in which is outside of our experience (except for the Apollo ‘nauts of course).

    Also, just to complete my rant I have 2 words to any “hoxers” out there who are in doubt: “moon rocks”.
    I’ve seen one in person. It ain’t from Kanzas let me tell ya. Explain their 4.6 billion year age and non-terran characteristics (did someone say isotopes?). Can’t?. Didn’t think so. It *might* just be, just maybe, that some astronauts went to the Moon a few decades ago and picked them up and brought ’em back…

  48. I listen to the Penn Jillette podcast every day driving to work and this is the first time that someone spoke more than Penn.

  49. Stephanie

    Fantastic debate – you’re my hero now! I listen to Penn every day on podcast (so I’m always a couple days behind) and I think this was the best show yet. I was so excited to hear there’s a part two – I can’t wait!

    The best part was finding out about the Clementine images, I hadn’t heard about those (not being into the moon hoax stuff, I guess). I’ve spent so many hours at the telescope peering at those apollo landing sites, trying to pick out details, seeing that Clementine photo was pretty dang cool.

  50. BigJohn

    I think that the appearance of being suspended by wires could be explained by calculating the center of gravity of the astronaut in the lower moon gravity. I have no data, but it seems to me that the spacesuit, backpack, and all could have altered the astronaut’s CG sufficiently to result in the suspended appearance when he fell.

  51. Irishman

    That, and being able to jump back up to his feet from the ground wearing that huge backpack.

    I’ve seen video where one astronaut fell backwards. He places his feet on the ground and in two or three tries rights himself from his back. Bouncing around like that screams to the eye that he has to have assistance, because nobody could do that on Earth. Oh wait, now I see the problem. 😉

  52. hale_bopp

    I just listened to it today and it was a lot of fun. I think Rogan is an “average Joe” hoax believer and not the hardcore type. As someone said, he has heard some things from others that might sound plausible until you stop to think about them.

    A few years ago when I was teaching high school, I had a couple of really annoying hoax believer students. I decided to mess with them (yeah, I am a bad teacher!) They went on about the shadows not being parallel. The next day, I gave one of them a digital camera and told the to go take a picture of the fieldhouse. I knew it had lots of lightposts in front of it and they would be well illuminated with nice shadows. When they returned, I uploaded the pictures to my computer. I then went on a yelling tirade asking them how stupid they thought I was…that these pictures were obviously faked, and they were being reported to the academic council. Just as I thought one of them was about to lose it, I pointed out that the reason I knew they were faked was the converging shadows. They actually laughed when they realized it was a set up and we had a great discussion of the shadow issue.

    I am so surprised I was never fired for some unorthodox lessons!

  53. Stever

    I just listened to this today, and it was much fun! But I was really frustrated at the moondust / no crater discussion. Again, this is a simple optical difference problem.


    You have a large clean carpet.
    You vaccuum a 1 foot square, perpendicular to the direction it is normally vaccuumed.
    Look at the carpet. Like the view from space, looking down on the area shows a clear difference where the disturbance was.

    Now… equip a few ants with tiny cameras, and set them down in the 1 foot area.
    Have them take good clear pictures in all directions.
    When you develop those pictures, no matter how high-def the cameras were, there will be no evidence of the disturbance.

    No crater in the in-the-middle-of-it pictures.
    Clear smudge when viewed from a distance above.

    I think you could devise a similar explanation demonstration in a large field of sand, or flour. The disturbed area is clear from a distance, but non-existent up close.

  54. reggie

    Joe Rogan says he stumped you several times on the first show and that you admit being owned on the second show.

    Maybe you’re not making break-throughs like you thought?

    “We talked for over an hour about the moon landings. It was word deleted by The Bad Astronomer fascinating. He brought up some really interesting facts, but I have to say that I stumped him on quite a few things.”

    “Well, even he admitted that I owned him the second time around.”

    So much for playing the “nice guy” game.

  55. reggie

    I listened to part 2 of the debate. Rogan used the typical “it’s possible therefore there’s reason to doubt” conspiracy theory argument. However the real question is whether or not it’s actually probable rather than possible. Anything is possible. It’s possible the Boston Celtics never lose another game. Dennis Johnson died recently and that’s going to fire them up. That dude that won the slam dunk contest brought back some Celtic pride. It’s possible this is all they need to get them over the edge.

    The second round sucked because for most of the time he took the debate away from science and towards vagaries in history that only he had researched about at the time. I think you should learn how to steer the debate back towards science, because that’s what you’re an expert in. His points against the space program were basically an hour long ad hominem attack rather than dealing with any science.

    His argument was: Scientists and government have an agenda and the tragic events that happened have been orchestrated by the men-in-black. It’s possible, you cannot deny it.

    Look, just say your a scientist, if he wants to debate history have him debate history professor who specializes on the space program. That or you can look up the specific part in history he wants to debate and talk about it next time. Then make him discuss the science behind the moon rocks. When he does that, his argument fall flat. Every time, focus the debate back on science and get him to focus on the science. That and explain Occam’s Razor to him whether he knows it or not every time he throws out 2 or 3 theories to explain one event. It’s good for the audience. When he talked about where the moon samples came from he needed at least 3 events to be true. One, that we never went to the moon, two, that a Nazi (Einstein was a Nazi working too, btw) working for NASA collected samples from Antarctica, three, that unmanned space flights brought back any samples that cannot be explained by meteorites crashing in Antarctica. You can believe all that or that the samples actually came from the Apollo 11 mission.

    Anyway, there needs to be round three because it is a lot of fun and you can make your points better.

  56. Here’s a short YouTube video about a cosmonaut who claims he was the first man to land on the moon – pretty funny stuff:

  57. Casper Larsen

    I have great respect for Joe, his standup and his look on life in general. He is actually a very intelligent man……But i personally believe that the US landed on the moon(That it was a terrible waste of time and money is another thing) but I think the debate was funny, and informative. I know that Joe is aggresive but even Phil has to give him probs for taking the debate and listening to what he had to say….

  58. Hazzel

    the links to the mp3 do not work (at least not anymore), were can I find it?

  59. Nate

    For anyone looking for the shows, the original links have gone dead, but you can find archives of all the shows here:

  60. Nate

    They were the February 5, 2007, and the February 23, 2007 shows, fyi. Here is the link again:

  61. Joe is a perfect example of why I’ve stopped trying to debate people, because I hate when people think they have you cornered and start being overly aggressive. Debate is about the aquisition of knowledge, and I’m afraid that Joe Rogan, like most people, assume that it’s all about winning. There’s no call for that.

    I used to believe in the moon hoax, too. But what I’ve learned is that bad arguments that are hastily-conceived often require very long explanations to refute. When you’re making a scientific response, you can’t just do it in a sound byte. I don’t think Joe Rogan understands this, and this is where his aggressive tactics betray him. He basically cheats himself out of a greater understanding.

    I agree that Rogan’s entire argment on the second show was basically one big ad hominem. I don’t think you really did that badly the second time around, Phil. What Joe basically attempted to do was to provide a wide enough margin for his moon hoax conspiracy to exist. But this is the fallacy of the argument from ignorance. One cannot hope to win an argument this way, and it’s only a matter of time before someone makes a complete fool of him for doing that.

    I think Joe would be in for quite a suprise if you were to challenge him to a formal written debate, where you have time to research his claims, rather than trying to respond to them on the fly.


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