The Grey Lady takes on the Moon hoax

By Phil Plait | July 14, 2009 11:04 am

Yesterday, the New York Times published a short piece on the Moon Hoax. It’s a decent write-up of the situation; I’ve read about a million others just like it at this point so nothing really leaps out at me… except they quoted me in it! That was cool. Now the Fox network has two reasons to hate me.

Actually, there were a couple of things that made me smile (besides also quoting My Close Personal Friend Adam Savage™). They talked to one conspiracy theorist from Argentina:

… he said that the political corruption during the years of dictatorship in his country shaped his thinking: "I started to realize how political corruption operates and how it is the interests of a few in power that really governs our world."

Yes, paranoid conspiracy thinking is a good thing to extrapolate from one venue to everything else in the world. [Insert rolleyes icon here if you will.] Look: that sort of thing is not a worldview; it’s an excuse. If you use it as a way to live your life, then everything is a conspiracy. The light turns red when you get to it? Zionists! It rains when you want to take a walk? Illuminati! Your cat pukes up hairballs after cleaning herself? Big Pharma!

The other bit that made me smile was this from none other than Bart Sibrel:

"I have suffered only persecution and financial loss," he said. "I’ve lost visitation with my son. I’ve been expelled from churches. All because I believe the Moon landings are fraudulent."

Oh, poor, poor Bart! After all, he’s such a noble man, hiding in the bushes to jump out at astronauts to make them swear on a Bible that they walked on the Moon, lying to get into their houses and accuse them of faking the landings, and harassing and intimidating Buzz Aldrin so much that the second man to walk on the Moon had to punch Sibrel to get him to back off.

Hey Bart: it’s not your beliefs that open you to ridicule. It’s you.

I’ll note that the NYT article doesn’t go into any real detail on why the conspiracists believe such nonsense — except to dismiss them — which is fine. There are copious places where they’re enumerated, and they do link to my debunking of the hoax nonsense. So all in all, it’s a good read, but let me remind you — the real news here is that it’s been 40 years since we sent humans to the Moon. Let’s concentrate on putting them back there once again.

Tip o’ the spacesuit visor to ilikeportello.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience
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Comments (76)

  1. I laughed when they recounted the tale of Buzz Aldrin’s Mighty Punch. The video is absolutely hysterical; Mr. Sibrel definitely deserved that fist to the face.

    Try as I might, I just can’t wrap my head around their idea that we never went to the moon. That sort of lie is breathtaking in its scope, insisting that thousands of men and women are all in on a giant conspiracy and that people died for a good TV show. Staggering that anyone could actually say that with a straight face, let alone really believe it. Good thing we’ve got those things called “Science” and “Evidence” to debunk their insane claims.

  2. Charles Boyer

    Sibrel and his like make up stories to flesh out their paranoid little fantasies and in so doing spit on the good name of tens of thousands of people who worked day and night to make Project Apollo ultimately succeed.

    I once asked my grandfather about moon hoaxers, and he just shook his head. Being one of the key telemetry people at NASA at the time, it was inconceivable to him that people could actually believe that his work was all a fake. What he called them is not for polite company, but I am sure anyone can guess what it is.

  3. Keith

    I suppose it makes sense to just dismiss them nowadays. There’s so much evidence out there you can’t waste time on it. I would say dismissing them would just let them think they’ve won but they do that anyway.

  4. IBY

    Mr. Sibrel’s highest point of his career happened when he got a well deserved punch in his face. Probably one of the funniest and most bizarre thing I have seen. I guess afterwards, it all went downhill. Not that he was at a high point, cause he was already at a low point.

  5. What bugs me about “everything’s a conspiracy” people is they make anyone who even comes near to what they think seem as loony as they are.

    You mentioned ‘big pharma’. I’m distrustful of corporations in general and, because of their ‘pusher-man’ tactics (you should not have to ‘ask your doctor about’ a drug. Your doctor, as a professional, should tell you), very distrustful of ‘big pharma’.

    So, should I be lumped in with the likes of Jenny McCarthy, even though I feel that she is a credulous idiot who is doing a great deal of harm.

  6. Still my favorite moon conspiracy video:

    Ancient Structure On The Moon Filmed By Armstrong, 1969

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWkGTJEK0Mc

    Obvious fake. Looks like CGI or a video game and the astronaut at the end has BLACK SHOES!!!
    Read the comments. I think this guy has all the negative ones moderated out and only the space cakes left in.

  7. The government can’t find it’s ass with both hands, let alone pull off a conspiracy involving hundreds of thousands of people that lasts over generations.

    If the government could pull off the ‘moon hoax’ then the stimulus package might have actually stimulated something other than the wallets of a few campaign contributors.

  8. This could all be a brilliant scheme on Bart Sibrel’s part. Maybe he’s hoping to get NASA so exasperated with him that they’ll bring him along on a new moon mission and show him the Apollo landing sites. I think I’d try that too if there were an actual chance it would work.

  9. The Doctor will help! See here:

    “The Doctor Lands on the Moon!” — New Doctor Who short story

    10th Jul 2009 news at BBC site:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/s4/news/latest/090710_news_01

    It begins publication on Wednesday, 15th July.

    [“Children of Earth” was excellent, by the way.]

  10. Chip

    The New York Times moon hoax piece which mentions Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy and the Myth Busters also appeared today within a larger multi-page section devoted to remembering the moon shot as well as plans for the future. Comments from people of different walks of life (including Ann Druyan) are included. Overall a pretty good article.

  11. Re: Romeo – No. I became acquainted with Mr. Sibrel when we did a show together in Nashville. He is utterly sincere in his bizzare delusion about the Moon landings. He also at the time preferred an abundance of mushrooms on his pizza. The “church” he got thrown out of is very likely the Nashville Church, associated with the ICOC cult, which Mr. Sibrel was a member of when he was stalking Aldrin (hence, the Bible and the swearing thereupon). How whacked out do you have to be to get a cult to throw you out?

  12. Jack Edward Alexander

    You might make light of the people like myself that don’t believe the moon walk but there are some facts that remain:

    Today we fly a space shuttle and it doesn’t go very high in altitude since the radiation from the sun over extended periods would severely effect the astronauts health. For this reason they fly the craft with the bottom up so that the tiles made of a special mud or soil, will absorb that radiation. They learned from the Soviets during the cold war that a layer of soil a mere 18 inches thick would protect items from radiation during an atomic attack. (We also got car-pool lanes from them too.)

    The other thing that has an effect on a space traveler is the fact that during extended weightlessness neurons are lost in the brain and explains why we haven’t sent anything other than robots to other bodies in the sky.

    I for one will believe the story when I actually see, through a telescope, the debris we supposedly left on the moon: Seeing is believing, and no, I’m not from Missouri, but they have a good motto…

    It might be a good idea, if Bart is up to it, to send him to the moon and then I will listen to him. I haven’t trusted the government since the JFK assaination (and his brother’s-I shook his hand 24 hours before he was killed by CIA operatives from Cuba). Anything that comes out of Washington these days I consider pure bunk. 911 was an inside job, Iraq did not have the weapons and Iran is not trying too make nukes, but they do need nuclear power and isotopes for medicine…

    It’s a shame so many of our countrymen (and women) have their heads shoved where the sun doesn’t shine. Question Authority-At all times! They are working for themselves (and special interests), but not for you…

  13. Brian D

    arkonbey: I recognize the problem. There’s a distinction between being skeptical of claims made by vested interests (i.e. “big pharma”) and being certain they’re in on a big conspiracy to [insert pharmacological claim here]. I’m similarly distrustful of corporate agendas (and indeed pretty much any nontransparent process), but it takes substantial evidence to convince me there’s conspiracies involved (i.e. the tobacco legacy library, the Luntz memo). The best thing about this approach is that this is evidence admissible in a court of law. As a BA reader, you’re probably in a similar boat.

    Observation: I live in Canada, where we have socialized health care. Recently I visited Florida for a few weeks. The stark difference in raw amount of pharmacological advertising is shocking, and it’s easy to see how that would reaffirm any anti-pharmacological sentiment (be it skepticism or conspiracism) far more than our system in Canada would. Has anyone looked into how anti-pharmacological sentiment varies across countries with different degrees of privatized medical / pharmaceutical processes?

  14. It’s obvious that the video on the moon was filmed in 2 sound stages that were in supersonic jets 8.3 kilometers wide (so they could get the horizon correct).
    This jet simulated the Moon’s gravity by doing parabolic arcs and switching feeds from one jet to the other so they always had video of the Astronauts walking at Moon’s gravity.
    They flew these jets in a secret location so very few people noticed jets with 40 kilometer wingspans flying over head.
    They contacted the few 1,000 people who saw these jets and asked them not to tell or the Ruskies would win.
    Naturally even after 40 years no one would say anything out of fear the Ruskies might win.

    How come when I try to pick on the Moon Hoaxers I always come up with more plausible ideas than they do?

  15. Jeff

    “Yes, paranoid conspiracy thinking is a good thing to extrapolate from one venue to everything else in the world. ”

    Oh, so no conspiracies exist in the world?

    The moon hoax : this one is a ridiculous idea, always was. There is simply too much evidence that men went to moon.

    Other conspiracies: not so fast. If you want to claim nutjob country, then you have to argue each and every one of these main ones out: point by point. Phil’s blog isn’t the place for these other ones, so we’re left with labelling. It’s a logical fallacy to lump all disparate conspiracies together under one tin-foil hatted umbrella: I know people do that, but it is incorrect formal logic.

  16. ZERO

    More conspiracies? Haven’t they already debunked it, a long time ago?

    Or are those dumb-dumbs’ cogs too rusty in their heads? >:-(

  17. @Jack Edward Alexander

    Sorry no troll food here.

  18. Adam Savage is trademarked? Wow. Maybe I should have intentionally misspelled his name so as not to accidentally misrepresent his personal branding. Uh-oh. 😉

  19. Get out the “Troll Repellent”!

  20. I would not be so quick to dismiss the Argentine fellow with an eye-roll. You talk about him “extrapolat[ing] from one venue to everything else in the world”; but the Argentine dictatorship was, in practice, his whole world, for much of his formative years.

    Among the many reasons to oppose dictatorships and nontransparent power structures is this: they give rise to a mindset that accepts conspiracy theories relatively easily. After all, if the government and everyone in the press tell you that the glorious people’s state is reaching new heights in food and steel production, and yet it’s clear from your personal experience that everyone you know is starving and broke, then you come to doubt the things that anyone in a position of authority says, and that includes scientists talking about science.

  21. Bart Siebrel’s masterpiece is on Youtube. It’s really kooky.

    I love the way he pulls out bible quotes, films of Hitler and rocket explosions and claims Humanity is one great failure. Then the BBOOORRRIIINNGG LLLOOOONNNNGGGG descriptions of how they faked the image of full Earth through the window with a slide and forgot to turn off the camera while they were doing it.

    Here’s part 1 of 5. The rest are on the side.
    Enjoy! Save yourself $29.99.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOMHSgQuuiw&feature=related

  22. @jea
    LOL, well I’ve got a bridge and some swamp land to sell ya because obviously you’ll believe any foolish nonsense.

  23. Apocalypse Cow

    tiles made of a special mud or soil

    This honestly made me laugh out loud.

  24. TK

    Bart Siebrel the scary stalker. I can accept he truly believes what he says, just as other stalkers delude themselves into thinking that the object of their obsession really does love them.

  25. Jack Edward Alexander

    @ Apocalypse Cow: The mud is mined by 3-M in Minnesota and is prepared in ovens to make the tiles on the bottom of the craft. That mud comes from only one river in the U.S. and it is in MN.

    For those who call me a troll: I feel sorry for you since aren’t very well read or educated (14 years of higher education here. A good deal of it in the earth sciences, physical science, health, and astronomy).

    I suppose it would be easier for some to just live life thinking shallowly and not examining life beyond our personal little bubbles. Such a shame. And we wonder why we are falling as a nation from being the center of the Earth/Universe…sighs…shrugs.

  26. IVAN3MAN

    Jack Edward Alexander:

    … they fly the craft with the bottom up so that the tiles made of a special mud or soil, will absorb that radiation.

    Yeah, and like, err… this is the ‘specialist’ in "Minnesota" that makes them:

    Mud Brick Industry in India

    :roll:

  27. IndiaMudMan

    @IVAN3MAN
    No, it’s made from Troll mud!

    @Jack Edward Alexander
    I got me some 15 years of higher edjumakation, that makes me smarterz than yoo!

    @All
    Eh, let the troll have his say; his lack of supporting evidence will probably degrade into pointless insults.

  28. Quiet Desperation

    The government can’t find it’s ass with both hands,

    Well, that doesn’t bode well for health care. 😉

  29. arkonbey said,

    “You mentioned ‘big pharma’. I’m distrustful of corporations in general and, because of their ‘pusher-man’ tactics (you should not have to ‘ask your doctor about’ a drug. Your doctor, as a professional, should tell you), very distrustful of ‘big pharma’”

    That’s a very good point. What do you think about “Big Vitamin,” the milti-billion dollar industry selling sugar pills that do little of what they say. Or what about “Big Homeopathy,” selling millions of dollars of “alternative medicine” that does not require FDA approval?

    Your advice is valid. You shouldn’t have to ask your doctor if you need a pill. On the other hand, what should you do if your doctor DOES recommend a commercial drug for your treatment? What if you take it and it actually works?

    8)

  30. rcseefeldt

    Even if we suspend our incredulity at the flaunting and flogging of fact that defines this or any other conspiracy theory, we’re left with one impossible scenario: we’re to believe that countless people at every level of the government and private sectors, from executives to administrators, from astrophysicists to model makers and custodians, would be privy to evidence of the conspiracy but, despite the allure of the instant fame such high-profile whistle-blowing would surely bring – or of landing a sweet book deal, or of simply doing the honorable thing – each and every single one of them would choose to hold their collective tongue for forty years or more?

    At its core, conspiracy theory smacks human nature, and not Evil Government or Big Business, in the face.

  31. M31

    The government can’t find it’s ass with both hands,

    Well, that doesn’t bode well for health care. 😉

    Our cure rate for cancer of the ass will be excellent!

  32. Charles Boyer

    The government can’t find it’s ass with both hands,

    That’s pretty funny, considering that this thread is talking about six successful lunar landings, all operated by….

    …you know who…

    …those guys who can’t find their rear ends with both hands…

    THE GOVERNMENT!

    ta da!

  33. What really grinds my gears is that in order to believe that going to the moon was a hoax, one has to basically call the entire space program a hoax.

    And in doing that, they have insulted the brave lives we lost on the launchpad (3 from Apollo 1), during the launch (7 aboard Challenger), and during re-entry (7 aboard Columbia), not to mention the lives of the fallen Cosmonauts over the past 40 years. It is offensive to me for anyone to dishonor some of humanity’s greatest explorers in such a way, and I am not easily offended.

    8)

  34. Ad Hominid

    Ever notice how often and how prominently conspiracy advocates cite their own credentials, provable or otherwise? Conspiracy theorists are not challenging authority per se, they are trying to substitute their own authority for the perceived authority of someone whom they resent. This is their own appeal to authority, and just as fallacious as any other.
    Among UFO bleevers, “He seems credible” is practically a mantra, often used like a standard post-script on claims.
    The over-riding importance of authority in conspiracist thinking is also reflected in one of their most popular strawmen, that of representing opponents as uncritically accepting the authority of the government or the scientific community.

  35. Thanks for the great science in your interview, Mr. Plait. It’s amazing that after 40(!) years, people will still bring up debunked “facts” like they’ve discovered Jeebus Almighty hisself. Oh, well, if it works for iD, right? The theme is that everyone likes to feel special and different, it seems. But if it keeps our secret lizard overlords content, then we ignorant ones can give them that feeling.

    @Greg In Austin – Great points, but you forgot Big Chiro & Very Big Anti-Vax, which brongs in millions to help kill our kids.

  36. Jeremy Henderson

    You know Phil, I was with you right up until that last sentence. But I have to ask, at this point is there any real reason to send astronauts back to the Moon? Until we’re ready to establish a permanent base on there, which could be used as the springboard to missions further into the solar system, couldn’t the real science be handled by unmanned probes and robotic rovers? We’ve had cute little solar-powered skateboards wandering around Mars for year, why not on our closest celestial neighbor?

  37. I'd_rather_be fishin'

    Jack Edward Alexander:
    “since the JFK assaination (and his brother’s-I shook his hand 24 hours before he was killed by CIA operatives from Cuba).”

    I didn’t know that the Cuban Intelligence Agency killed Kennedy. Wouldn’t they just tender the job out to the Bulagarians and use Po-210 or ricin? Much classier.

    “911 was an inside job,”
    Yeah, we all saw the planes enter the towers and the joy in the streets of Washington when the towers fell: wait that was much further east…

    ” Iraq did not have the weapons”
    nuclear weapons yes, nerve gases, just ask the surviving Kurds and marsh Arabs

    “and Iran is not trying too make nukes, but they do need nuclear power and isotopes for medicine…”
    One of the largest producers of oil needs nuclear power now. Sure it does. Isotopes for medicine, shouldn’t they worry more about antibiotics and clean drinking water first?

    Damn. I MUST remember my dad’s rule about engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent…

  38. CoffeeJedi

    I’m gonna call Poe’s Law on Jack there…. there’s just something not quite right about his rant. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s just a little “off” in that it’s almost too perfect for a conspiracy nut.

    As for the government being incompetent, that’s just politicians. Now if we put the NASA engineers in charge of the legislative and executive branches, you better believe stuff would get DONE.

  39. I'd_rather_be fishin'

    @38. CoffeeJedi Says

    “As for the government being incompetent, that’s just politicians. Now if we put the NASA engineers in charge of the legislative and executive branches, you better believe stuff would get DONE.”

    yeah, and not at the lowest possible bid, but on the best design or plan.

  40. Davidlpf

    Jack do you know anyone named Neil?

  41. ben

    calling people conspiracy theorists is weak way to debate a matter, why dont you try to discuss the facts instead of trying to dismiss people that dont believe the hype

  42. Ian

    the real news here is that it’s been 40 years since we sent humans to the Moon. Let’s concentrate on putting them back there once again

    I can imagine it now: “That’s one small step for a man, and, erm… that’s it, really”!

  43. Davidlpf

    I’d_Rather_be_fishing
    “One of the largest producers of oil needs nuclear power now. Sure it does. Isotopes for medicine, shouldn’t they worry more about antibiotics and clean drinking water first?”

    Actually Iran wants to use nuclear power so the can sell more oil to the west and nuclear isotopes are used in different situations then autobiotics. This does not mean they are not planning to build the atomic bomb.

  44. Hey ben (#41) why don’t you actually read what I’ve written on the topic as well as the article I linked in the post, which discusses what I’ve written on the topic, before throwing around baseless accusations?

  45. Jack: Anyone not bright enough to know that the “special mud or soil” that you can make ceramic tiles from is called CLAY, is not dealing from a full deck.

    ben: If you believe in a conspiracy theory that means you are a conspiracy theorist. The definition of that term is pretty simple.

  46. Cindy

    Ben and others who deny that we went to the Moon,

    You’re insulting my dad who was one of the thousands of engineers who worked on the Apollo project. And no, he wasn’t “part of the conspiracy”.

    Besides, do you really think the Russians and the Chinese would have let us get away with faking it when they could have exposed us for frauds to the entire world? And why fake going to the Moon 6 times?

  47. 25. Jack Edward Alexander Says: “The mud is mined by 3-M in Minnesota and is prepared in ovens to make the tiles on the bottom of the craft. …For those who call me a troll: I feel sorry for you since aren’t very well read or educated (14 years of higher education here. A good deal of it in the earth sciences, physical science, health, and astronomy).”

    As one Jack to another, I don’t consider you a troll, just massively, almost criminally uninformed. Let’s see if my paltry five years of Berkeley Engineering education combined with 35 years of field experience (five of which is in various military space programs) can educate you a little more.

    The tiles on the shuttle are not made of mud. They are made of silica fibers (basically sand that has been melted and extruded) sintered together. This forms a substance that can not only withstand the 3,000 degrees of the reentry plasma without melting, but is excruciatingly slow at transmitting that heat into the orbiter’s structure. Also, they are only 3 or 4 inches thick, not 18.

    BTW, the shuttle’s flight attitude with the cargo bay towards the Earth has nothing to do with radiation from the sun. Well, not the kind you mean. It flies that way to keep the radiators on the inside of the bay doors in the shade. Rejecting heat towards the Earth is a lot easier than dealing with rejecting it into space (much colder) with the occasional blast by the sun.

    – Jack

  48. It is worth mentioning that the New York Times has Apollo fever, and is running all sorts of great articles about the launch, the program, and its wider impact on America and the world.

  49. 41. ben Says: “calling people conspiracy theorists is weak way to debate a matter, why dont you try to discuss the facts instead of trying to dismiss people that dont believe the hype”

    OK, I need you to present some facts here:

    1) Show me one piece of evidence of this vast conspiracy. Something this large could not be coordinated by phone calls and face-to-face meetings. There had to be letters, memos, phone messages, meeting agendas, reports to higher-ups, etc. Please provide me with even one scrap of paper along these lines. There must have been tons generated.

    2) Who was in charge of this conspiracy? How did it start? At what point did the realization take hold that it was impossible to send people to the moon when we already had put them in orbit? Who was it, specifically, that said, “yes, we know it’s impossible, but we can’t lose face internationally to the Soviets so let’s fool them. How did they know it was impossible if it had never been tried before?

    3) How far up the chain of command did the conspiracy go? Obviously the head of NASA had to be involved (which was who, by the way?) but what about Congress? The president? The next president? The president after that? (Apollo spanned three administrations.) No opinions, you need to provide evidence in the form of “facts” (hey, you started it).

    4) How far down did it go? NASA HQ administrators, obviously, but what about the research centers? The scientists and engineers working on the problem? The prime contractors? Sub-contractors? Vendors? Please provide evidence that these people were doing anything other than what they overtly said they were doing.

    5) Who was it that brought the Soviets in on the conspiracy? After all, the whole point was to fool the Soviets (see #2 above), so isn’t a little stupid to say “we can’t really do this, but we need your help in keeping the lid on since we know you can track the transmissions and they won’t be coming from the moon.” I mean, doesn’t that obviate the whole point of the conspiracy?

    6) And finally, just what is it that prevents us from going to the moon? We’ve demonstrated the technology hundreds of times that would make it possible. If you say “radiation” you’re going to have to support it. Show me the study that indicates that the astronauts would receive a lethal dose and that we couldn’t shield against it. Don’t hand-wave, give me numbers. Show me the number of rems each would receive and where it would come from. Give me doses and durations. You know, facts.

    – Jack

  50. To all of Phil’s regular readers:

    Yes, I know I’m guilty of feeding the trolls with my above two posts, but I need you to clip and paste them, especially the second one, for future reference. When you get into a dust-up with an MHB, you cannot win if you engage them on their own terms, which puts you constantly on the defensive. You need to go on the offensive and make them answer questions about their beliefs. If you get them to question their fundamental assumptions, maybe they’ll see the light.

    – Jack

  51. Hagerty, the burn in those two posts could have been used to achieve escape velocity. You can’t see it, but I’m applauding.

  52. 51. The Great Zarquon Says: “Hagerty, the burn in those two posts could have been used to achieve escape velocity. You can’t see it, but I’m applauding.”

    [Blush]

    “Facts are stubborn things” — John Adams

    – Jack

  53. Regner Trampedach

    49. Jack Hagerty, ad point 5)
    And what about all the HAM operators listening-in on the conversation?
    They were pointing their antennas at the Moon from all over (half of) the globe and receiving the signal, effectively doing an all-Earth triangulation of the distance to the Moon – that would be hard to fake from a soundstudio… Or you would have at least tens of thousands of people to keep silent for a very long while. The trips to-and-from the Moon were also followed.
    – Regner

  54. ~Straniero

    I think my favorite way of dealing with conspiracy theorists is to set them at odds with each other. In this case I would ask “If the moon landings were faked, then how did we get that footage of the alien ruins?”

    But still, let’s not have knee-jerk reactions. As a little exercise in maintaining objectivity, I invite you all to imagine that you’re living in East Berlin in the spring of 1961. You’ve heard rumors that sometime in late summer the Soviets are going to build a wall cutting Germany in half and surrounding West Berlin. Do you think there’s any truth to these rumors? Then congratulations, you are now a conspiracy theorist.

    Just sayin’.

    ~Straniero

  55. Nigel Depledge

    Jack Edward Alexander (12) said:

    You might make light of the people like myself that don’t believe the moon walk but there are some facts that remain:

    Today we fly a space shuttle and it doesn’t go very high in altitude since the radiation from the sun over extended periods would severely effect the astronauts health.

    This is nonsense.

    Shuttle doesn’t fly very high because it is too damned heavy and can’t carry enough fuel. I believe the highest it goes is to about 600 miles (for rendezvous with Hubble). The radiation in the Van Allen belts is mostly charged particles like protons and electrons, and the skin of Shuttle is a pretty good shield against that type of radiation.

    For this reason they fly the craft with the bottom up so that the tiles made of a special mud or soil, will absorb that radiation.

    Actually, they fly the craft with the bottom forwards, so it protects them from orbital debris (such as chunks of that weather satellite that the Chinese blew up a while back). The tiles are mostly made of carbon-ceramic composite, BTW, not mud or soil. The tiles that face the greatest heat stress are made of reinforced carbon-carbon composite. Go look this up on Wikipedia or something. Did you do more than 10 seconds’ research to reach your conclusion?

    They learned from the Soviets during the cold war that a layer of soil a mere 18 inches thick would protect items from radiation during an atomic attack. (We also got car-pool lanes from them too.)

    Nuclear weapons emit gamma- and X- radiation, which is far more penetrative than particular radiation such as is common on the Van Allen radiation belts. Hence the need for more substantial shielding.

    The other thing that has an effect on a space traveler is the fact that during extended weightlessness neurons are lost in the brain and explains why we haven’t sent anything other than robots to other bodies in the sky.

    Except that people have indeed spent hundreds of days continuously inhabiting space stations such as Mir or ISS without significant ill effect. The main reason we have not yet sent anyone to Mars (for example) is cost (there are also some huge technical challenges to be overcome but Apollo has shown that this is not insurmountable).

    I for one will believe the story when I actually see, through a telescope, the debris we supposedly left on the moon: Seeing is believing, and no, I’m not from Missouri, but they have a good motto…

    Then you’re a fool. What makes you expect that we have telescopes that are powerful enough to resolve, from Earth, artefacts on the Moon that are a mere 3 m square? From 240,000 miles away, that is very very fine indeed. The equation to determine the resolution of a telescope is freely available on the web. Go and do the calculations (first there’s a bit of trigonometry to work out the angular size of an object at a known distance, then there’ll be the calculation to work out the minimum necessary size of objective mirror for the ‘scope to resolve it).

    There’s another aspect to this, of course. If you don’t believe the photographs that the astronauts took, why would you believe an image from a telescope? Large, expensive telescopes don’t have eyepieces you can look through – they have CCD detectors connected to computers.

  56. Nigel Depledge

    Jack Edward Alexander (25) said:

    For those who call me a troll: I feel sorry for you since aren’t very well read or educated (14 years of higher education here. A good deal of it in the earth sciences, physical science, health, and astronomy).

    Define “higher” education.

    In my mind, high school doesn’t count.

    By the way, if you have qualifications in the topics you list, how come you so obviously know nothing about radioactivity and radiological protection?

  57. Nigel Depledge

    Jack Hagerty (47) said:

    The tiles on the shuttle are not made of mud. They are made of silica fibers (basically sand that has been melted and extruded) sintered together. This forms a substance that can not only withstand the 3,000 degrees of the reentry plasma without melting, but is excruciatingly slow at transmitting that heat into the orbiter’s structure. Also, they are only 3 or 4 inches thick, not 18.

    BTW, the shuttle’s flight attitude with the cargo bay towards the Earth has nothing to do with radiation from the sun. Well, not the kind you mean. It flies that way to keep the radiators on the inside of the bay doors in the shade. Rejecting heat towards the Earth is a lot easier than dealing with rejecting it into space (much colder) with the occasional blast by the sun.

    Oops, I spoke too soon. Looks like some of what I said (54) isn’t quite right. Maybe I shoulda read the whole thread before commenting.

  58. Laurel

    Moon landing deniers, today’s XKCD is for you:

    http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/sheeple.png

  59. Jeff

    @Jack Alexander:

    “For those who call me a troll: I feel sorry for you since aren’t very well read or educated (14 years of higher education here. A good deal of it in the earth sciences, physical science, health, and astronomy).
    I suppose it would be easier for some to just live life thinking shallowly and not examining life beyond our personal little bubbles. Such a shame. And we wonder why we are falling as a nation from being the center of the Earth/Universe…sighs…shrugs.”

    I’ve been a prof. 30 yrs. and couldn’t agree more. The quality of thinking in USA has declined in those years. People groupthink, not critical think. And those who call you troll are just labelling, not listening to your argument (with the exception of a couple posts here who rebutted your argument well)

  60. Will this never go away? Over here in the UK the Telegraph ran with:

    Moon landing anniversary:10 reasons the Apollo landings were ‘faked’
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/space/5780272/Moon-landing-anniversary-10-reasons-the-Apollo-landings-were-faked.html

    Or ’10 reasons the Daily Telegraph need a science writer’ if you ask me…

  61. PS. On the plus side, to add a bit of light-heartedness to the whole Moon anniversary, I’ve a daft question for you: What would you do with the moon?

    http://www.merseysideskeptics.org.uk/index.php/2009/07/question-of-the-week-what-would-you-do-with-the-moon/

  62. Markle

    Jack, Jack, Jack.

    How to tell it’s a troll. Hoaxers can generally manage to get at least one thing correct. There’s not a single thing about that post that is correct. Although trolls tend to stick around for the argument, sometimes they just pop in to sow discord. This can be as simple as initiating a pedant war.

    Another clue, unreasonable proof. The proof demanded is physically impossible with current technology. Even the original design OWL would have just resolved man made objects on the moon at perigee if we somehow managed to figure out how to remove the Earth’s atmosphere. I don’t think a prime focus cage for visual observations was planned in any case. 😀

  63. Markle

    Timed out on my edit

    @Nigel Dawes’ limit (R=11.6/D ; R in arcsec, D in cm) and the small angle formula (S=X * d/206265; S=linear size, X=angular size in arcsec, d=distance) combined with a perigee of ~360,000km is all you need for a sufficient approx. Simple arithmetic. None of that frightening trig needed. Comes to about 1.7-1.8m for a 100m telescope.

  64. Nigel Depledge

    Jeff (59) said:

    I’ve been a prof. 30 yrs. and couldn’t agree more.

    I think there’s more to critical thinking than academic qualifications. A person can have a Nobel prize and still be wrong (e.g. Einstein and his rejection of quantum theory). Conversely, a person can have very little academic education and be right. I try to judge a person’s argument by its own merits, not by how many letters they have after their name (BTW, I have plenty letters after my name, but I try not to use them to make my argument sound more impressive than it is).

    The quality of thinking in USA has declined in those years.

    Well, that’s as may be, but be careful you don’t simply assume that all commenters here are USAians. As well as Canadians, there are several Europeans and Aussies who regularly comment here too.

    People groupthink, not critical think.

    I’m not sure to what you refer here. If you mean the instant dismissal of Jack’s comment, he’s only reiterating arguments that have been made (and refuted) several times before.

    If someone uses a set of arguments that you have heard 50 times and refuted 20 times to support an idea that you know to be wrong, would you be more inclined to simply dismiss them or would you address their argument point by point on the assumption that they are innocently misinformed?

    And those who call you troll are just labelling, not listening to your argument (with the exception of a couple posts here who rebutted your argument well)

    This remains to be seen. Jack posted a comment (#12) that has been soundly rebutted. If he is able to accept the rebuttal then I will condemn those who labelled him “troll”. If, however, he ignores the rebuttal (or at least, the bulk of it) and persists in supporting the moon hoax idea, then he will have proved himself to be a troll.

    In support of those who labelled him “troll”, there are some clues:
    (1) Jack’s comment shows a pitiful lack of research into manned spaceflight;
    (2) Jack’s argument shows a lack of understanding about some fundamentals of physics (in Jack’s case, different kinds of radiation and what is needed to protect against them);
    (3) Jack’s use of language suggests that his “14 years of higher education” were mostly spent in the bar, not in the library;
    (4) As Markle points out (#62), Jack’s standard of proof, while seeming to be reasonable, is ludicrous.

    Now, any one or two of these failings can be permitted the benefit of the doubt, but in combination it starts to get very hard to give him that benefit.

  65. Jack Edward Alexander,

    You first claim that you believe nothing that the government tells you. Then you claim that Iran only wants nuclear power, not weapons. That’s what Iran’s government has said. If you don’t believe what governments say, then shouldn’t you not believe what their government says also? Or is the disbelief limited to the US Government for some reason?

  66. @Romeo Vitelli,

    Sounds like a good idea, bringing Sibrel to the moon. Then we can tell him that the moon’s lack of oxygen is a hoax and he doesn’t *really* need a spacesuit to walk on the moon. 😉

  67. Zar

    33. Greg in Austin Says:
    July 14th, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    What really grinds my gears is that in order to believe that going to the moon was a hoax, one has to basically call the entire space program a hoax.

    And in doing that, they have insulted the brave lives we lost on the launchpad (3 from Apollo 1), during the launch (7 aboard Challenger), and during re-entry (7 aboard Columbia), not to mention the lives of the fallen Cosmonauts over the past 40 years. It is offensive to me for anyone to dishonor some of humanity’s greatest explorers in such a way, and I am not easily offended.

    Oh, they insult the brave lost lives even more, by claiming they were killed by NASA to avoid exposing the conspiracy. Ugh.

  68. 57. Nigel Depledge Says: “Oops, I spoke too soon. Looks like some of what I said (54) isn’t quite right. Maybe I shoulda read the whole thread before commenting.”

    Actually, Nigel, you were correct about the different composition of the tiles in different areas. The tiles in the highest heat areas (like leading edges of the wings) are a carbon-carbon composite. The highest heat area, the tip of the nose, is yet another composition, but off the top of my head I can’t remember what it is. On the X-20 (Dyna Soar) it was a silicon-graphite inner shell covered with zirconia ceramic tiles, but I don’t think the Shuttle is quite that exotic.

    The reason I left all that out is that I was just debunking the “Minnesota Mud” statement and there was no reason to go into such detail.

    – Jack

  69. 53. Regner Trampedach Says: “49. Jack Hagerty, ad point 5)
    And what about all the HAM operators listening-in on the conversation?”

    Not to mention the British, the French, the Germans and pretty much every nation on Earth with the capability of receiving radio signals and determining their direction.

    – Jack

  70. Christina Viering
  71. Nigel Depledge

    @ Jack Hagerty (68): Thanks!

  72. Apocalypse Cow

    One of the reasons I laughed out loud was that I’ve held a piece of tile from a space shuttle in my own hands, and it was incredible stuff, and certainly not made of “mud”. It was doubly incredible because I held the tile bit mere seconds after it had been under the full force of a blow torch for 2 minutes. It is simply astounding material.

  73. TJ

    As soon as I see a debate where one party calls the other a fool, it’s over. That’s not debate, that’s mud-slinging, and it’s the last resort of a scoundrel. *Mature* debaters refrain from unloading their emotional loads on others … and recognize that name-calling disqualifies them from further consideration.

    I think a healthy skepticism *which takes all the evidence into account* is great. But choosing your evidence to support your hypothesis is the opposite of science.

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