Conspiracy theories: Cracked

By Phil Plait | August 3, 2009 11:00 am

I’ve linked to in the past, because it’s funny and relevant and skeptical and drills through a lot of nonsense despite of (or because of) an, um, irreverent modus operandus.

But how can I not link to them when they post wonderful stuff like this? takes on the Moon Hoax

Click that to go to their site and read the accompanying text. They pretty much nail it.

Tip o’ the tin foil beanie to SpaceWriter and AstroPixie.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Humor, Skepticism

Comments (63)

  1. Terry

    i dunno, cats are pretty reliable. maybe it’s a translation problem.

  2. Mchl

    ‘Yaissid’?? What’s that? (To the right of NASA logo)

    Ok.. cyrylic literacy boasting… check


  3. The existence of both YouTube and cats is a myth.

  4. But my cat said that hoomins can’t be president, no matter where they are born. I can believe that, right?

  5. ND

    Is it me or does the Chinese space agency logo look very star trekky? Looks like a combination of the Federation and StarFleet.

  6. What!? Cats?! Well that’s just silly…but if a burning bush had weighed in against the landings…

  7. DrFlimmer

    If “HIS DOG” would lie as well, the balance would actually tip over 😀

  8. Hahahaha, that is priceless! Just hilarious.

  9. Joe Meils

    I’ll have to remember the “Rambo” comment… too good!

  10. Grizzly

    “Yassid”? Do you mean the “Russia” in fake Cyrillic script?

  11. По-русски


  12. Mchl

    @Grizzly: Yup. Thats more or less how would it sound if you tried to read it as Cyryllic. The actual translation has been given by TexasOdysseyCoach above (bottom line).

  13. BW

    “Modus operandi”, not “modus operandus”?

  14. Mike

    The funniest thing I heard concerning the moon hoax (can’t remember where I heard it) was the claim that the Apollo 1 fire was NASA’s way of knocking off Gus Grissom. Apparently, Gus was about to spill the beans.

    Funny in a disgusting kind of way, mind you, but it does speak to how over the top these people are.

  15. По-русски


    This. Ever since I learned the Cyrillic alphabet it’s been encoded in my mind even though my Russian isn’t that great. I can’t help but read the “я” as “ya”.

  16. Chris

    you can’t beleive anything a cat tells you. they lie like rugs.

    on rugs.

  17. Bigfoot

    Best part: “PEOPLE WHO CAN READ”

  18. Pretty much nails it. Cracked has some other really fantastic skeptical pieces too, like this that they posted today:

  19. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    “Conspiracy theories are like homeopathy: the less evidence there is, the more it is believed.”

    I think that’s the gist of it. Who was it that said that? Oh, right, that was me. (I probably even paraphrased myself.)

  20. Keith

    I loved the fact that the MythBusters were mentioned on that chart.

  21. Alexander M

    i like to point out to people that try to claim this kind of bull that the easiest and cheapest way to fake a moon landing is to actually land on the moon.

  22. Gary Ansorge

    20. dysomniak:

    Yeah, the cancer scare BS has been going on for a long time. It’s really funny that people grab for anything they can to explain rising rates of leukemia but then forget the most likely cause of such increases, which is that for nearly a generation we were doing atmospheric nuclear testing that raised the world back ground radiation count by an order of magnitude and the effects of that are likely still being felt(though I note that leukemia rates seem to be trending back down now). Of course, we can’t do anything about that testing because we ALREADY DID.

    I expect the worst effects of that testing have already dissipated and over the next 40 years it will decline even more,,,unless N.Korea and Iran start such tests up again,,,

    Gary 7

  23. DLC

    Sorry Gary, but you’re wrong. background radiation is about 2.4 millisievert per year, with roughly 0.7 microsievert from all man made nuclear sources combined.
    You can sift the numbers out of the wikipedia article here:

    And Anyway, we all know the background radiation is merely a front that They use to keep us from noticing the pollution of our Precious Bodily Fluids!

    Oh and… Ceiling Cat knoes Obama wuz Boarn here

  24. It’s really funny that people grab for anything they can to explain rising rates of leukemia but then forget the most likely cause of such increases, which is that for nearly a generation we were doing atmospheric nuclear testing …

    That, and maybe because more people are living longer, hence a greater segment of the population is reaching the age where death by cancer/other nasty diseases becomes a more likely possibility?

  25. Apparently girls born now in Japan have a realistic chance of seeing the 22nd century.

    I don’t know what that says about radiation.

  26. Jason

    I’m not a conspiracy-theory type of person, but there are some really, really weird pictures that I can verify came from a page.

    This is kind of OT, I guess, but still conspiracy-theory related. I’m ridiculously skeptical, but as a skeptic, I’m always open to new data as it comes available.

    Anyways, I’ll post them if there seems to be interest in the subject.

  27. CapnHulk

    Speaking of conspiracy theories, check this out. I think everyone will get a kick out of it.

    Also, is it just me, or are all conspiracy theorists inherently angry?

  28. Gonzo

    Conspiracy theorists believe the world is run by schizophrenic shadowy organizations who – despite conspiring with millions in perfect silence – can’t resist putting clues in things like major public monuments and every note of currency ever printed. Making the average Batman villain look like Professor Moriarty.

    One of the funniest things I have read in quite awhile.

    @Jason (#29): Post away, it is more than likely that the regulars around here have the explanation you seek.

  29. sophia8

    So, Jason, what’s stopping you from posting a link to the NASA page that these “weird” pictures came from?
    Post or get off the ‘puter, as the saying nearly goes.

  30. Jason

    See links below, since they seem to work.
    Sorry about that, photobucket was sluggish and I wanted to make sure I saved a copy first.
    I’m already -1 cred. :(
    But srsly, what is that?

  31. Jason

    A little background: I was on a forum where the OP was going on some alien-conspiracy rampage. Somebody posted that the following images and linked to the above sources.
    I’m a little stumped, but then again, I’m not nearly anywhere as versed on this sort of thing as Phil (or any of you, probably). I come here for the atheist/alt med debunking/etc posts and while astronomy is freaking cool as hell, I’m hardly any authority on anything when it comes to that.

  32. Jeff

    don’t lump all ct under one tin-foil hatted group.

    Separate them out.

    Some ct are legitimate and well researched in scholarly fashion

    some are looney tunes

    you’ve got to apply standards of evidence and logic to all phenomena before claiming a conclusion on whether a particular ct is nutty or not. It’s a logical fallacy to lump them all together.

    study history. CT are as common as ants in CT from Julius Caesar and Brutus right on down.

  33. John

    Argument: If it’s not true then billions of people must be lying, ergo it must be true.

    Tell that to Richard Dawkins.

  34. Stan9FOS

    Possibly OT, but Cracked also has probably the best article on the WTC CT movements. The history of the Loose Change video, touted by so many as “proof positive!” that 9/11 was an “inside job” is a fascinating history of how these things often spiral out of control. It’s also a masterpiece of logical thinking, and, like the moon hoax article, a funny & entertaining read.

  35. ND


    Where be these pixors you speekz uv?

  36. Gary Ansorge

    26. DLC

    The increase in background radiation due to these tests peaked in 1963 at about 0.15 mSv per year worldwide, or about 7% of average background dose from all sources. The Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 prohibited above-ground tests, thus by the year 2000 the worldwide dose from these historical tests has decreased to only 0.005 mSv per year

    Yeah, I read that however, in 1963, the discussions attending the atmospheric testing ban included statements from Concerned Scientists that we had raised world averages 10 times. Of course, short term radio-nucleotides (half lives of minutes, hours, etc) figured prominently in those statements and are no longer a consideration. Eh, I was 19 at the time, so what did I know of politics or spin???

    (the curse of a good memory is sometimes remembering BS)

    Tanks for the update. Now I have to do a memory over write,,,

    Gary 7

  37. Jason

    ND @ Post 27:
    They are above, post #33.

  38. ND


    Ah. I can’t see them yet. They must not have passed moderation yet. I’ll wait.

  39. Peter B

    John @ 34 said: “Argument: If it’s not true then billions of people must be lying, ergo it must be true.”

    It’s not the number of people. It’s the quality of their evidence.

  40. Jason

    Hmm, hopefully the Bad Astronomer lets it through, otherwise, he’s part of the conspiracy!!!11!!11 :-p

    I’m not sold on this “aliens are visiting earth” thing, but those images are pretty wild.
    Meanwhile, this topic has me wandering around YouTube. I found a video of an Air Force “Sergeant” who was shown images where there are structures and bases on the moon, and a base on the dark side of the moon.

    So frustrating. I’m in the Air Force and I can say that there are many, many people serving who are not sufficient sources of rationality.

  41. Carlos

    I almost wish the hoax was true! It would be a much more interesting and challenging accomplishment involving control of psychology and human nature previously unseen.

  42. Lawrence

    Looks like either satellites or bits of space debris to me.

  43. ND


    I looked at the first 4 pics or so and it looks like some sort of debris. It’s very irregular in shape. You should look up what they did on shuttle mission STS88. That might give you a clue. I don’t have the time right now.

    Also, did you get to these images from a page? Was there a caption or description on that page?

  44. Colin R

    A similar breakdown of the Barack Obama birther conspiracy:

  45. Apollo roll call

    The names of the Apollo astronauts who are being slandered & insulted as “liars” by the Moon Hoax Conspiracy “theory” Believers – for those who don’t already know :

    (Brackets indicate number of Apollo mission eg. Apollo 12 was Pete Conrad’s flight.)


    Neil Armstrong (11)
    Buzz Aldrin (11)

    Pete Conrad (12) (RIP)
    Alan Bean (12)

    Al Shepherd (14)
    Ed Mitchell (14)

    David Scott (15)
    Jim Irwin (15) (RIP)

    John Young (16)
    Charlie Duke (16)

    Gene Cernan (17)
    Harrison Schmitt (17)


    (Who circled the Moon in the Command & Service Module while their Companions landed. Had the LEM failed these “lonliest men in human history” would have had to return alone.)

    Michael Collins (11),
    Richard Gordon (12),
    Stuart Roosa (14),
    Alfred Worden (15),
    Thomas Mattingly (16)
    Ronald Evans (17)

    APOLLO 13

    NASA’s finest hour & the greatest space rescue & survival story so far.. They circled the Moon & the edge of catastrophe too.

    Jim Lovell
    Jack Swigert
    Fred Haise

    (BTW. Was that a hoax too? What the Dickens?!?)

    The Tests & Rehearsals:

    Apollo 1 – Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee & Ed White (RIP –killed by fire during test 204.)
    Apollo 7 – Wally Schirra (RIP), Don Eisele & Walter Cunningham
    Apollo 8 – Jim Lovell, Frank Borman, & William Anders
    Apollo 9 – James McDivett, David Scott & Russell Schweickart
    Apollo 10 – Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford & John Young

    (My apologies – and please let me know – if any of these names or details are incorrect. I’m pretty sure I’ve got them all right. Yes, Aldrin’s first name is officially Buzz – he changed it by deed poll from Edwin.)

    Now, according to the Moon Hoax Conspiracy “Theory” Believers *all* of these brave and honourable men (& many hundreds even thousands more) who have all have different characters, abilities and backgrounds, who have written, painted, and talked about their lunar experiences are consistently and continually lying.

    Moreover, the MHCTBers would have us believe that all these men ( & many hundreds more involved in the Apollo program )who have been interviewed, studied, debriefed and questioned are *perfect*, flawless “liars” who have never once “slipped up” and accidentally revealed “the secret!”

    Not to the media, not to their partners, not to their kids, not once, ever.
    Yeah, riiiight. :roll:

    Given human nature and fallibility, I think the Lunar landing is far more plausible than that dumb, ridiculous and offensive “moon hoax” alternative.

    I also strongly think that all of these men ( & the many others involved in the Apollo program) are owed an apology by the MHCTBers.


    NB. If this looks familiar, well, yes, you may have seen a version of this before on other old Moon landing related threads. I hope that’s not too much of a breech of “netiquette” & if so my apologies but I do think this point (& these peoples names) bears repeating for those who may have missed it.

  46. Petrolonfire

    @ 31. Gonzo Says:

    Conspiracy theorists believe the world is run by schizophrenic shadowy organizations ..

    No, no, no its NOT “shadowy organisations” its dem ebull reptiliean ALIENZZ from ZETA RETICULI!! 😉

    Itzz true, reeelly! Just ask Ed Mitchell … :roll:

    (Yeah, Mitchell was a great astronaut – once. Then he kind of went off the rails .. :roll: )

    (To the tune of “John Brown’s Body” w apologies to its composer.)

    Poor Edgar Allen Poe
    Lies a-rollin’ in his grave

    Poor ole Edgar Allen Poe
    Lies a-rollin’ in his grave

    His name too oft taken and it gets abused in vain
    But the net goes spoutin’ OOOO-onnnn …!

  47. Petrolonfire

    Again @ 31. Gonzo Says:

    Conspiracy theorists believe the world is run by schizophrenic shadowy organizations ..

    BTW. Schizophrenic people aren’t so good at keeping secrets or organising anything much let alone ruling the planet through “shadowy secret organisations”. They tend not to agree on much – not even who they actually are. Too many Napoleons always spoils the broth! 😉

    The World Society of Schizoid & Other Mentally Ill patients has yet to take over the small hamlet of Pigsbuk, Idaho, let alone a real town, city or nation!

  48. toasterhead

    34. Jason Says:
    August 4th, 2009 at 5:56 am

    EDIT: Direct links to images, to ensure truthiness:

    Ok, that’s interesting. If you go to the root of the ftp server and look around, there are some more interesting ones from STS-088 in a few prior orbits. I’m tempted to say it’s just a bit of space debris, but I can’t identify what it is. Very odd…

  49. toasterhead

    2. Mchl Says:
    August 3rd, 2009 at 11:21 am

    ‘Yaissid’?? What’s that? (To the right of NASA logo)

    Ok.. cyrylic literacy boasting… check

    Ooo that always irks me, and I don’t even speak Russian. I remember grumbling at the “BORDT” posters when the Borat movie came out a few years ago.

  50. ND


    Maybe it’s one of those blanket heat shields on the shuttle. If so that’s pretty bad they come loose.

    Or simply something from the cargo bay. On one of the Hubble servicing missions when they replaced the solar panels, they simply let them go and they floated away from the shuttle.

    If there are several clear shots of an object in orbit and it clearly doesn’t look like an spacecraft, you can probably rule out ET 😉

  51. Nigel Depledge

    John (38) said:

    Argument: If it’s not true then billions of people must be lying, ergo it must be true.

    This is a strawman.

    THe argument goes more along the lines of “If it’s not true, then billions of people are lying, have lied and seem likely to continue to lie; not one of whom has ever felt sufficient guilt or remorse to step forward into the public eye, and neither has any of them tried to make a quick buck by spilling the beans to the tabloids; furthermore, many of these alleged liars have a vested interest in stopping the lie. Therefore the proposition that there was a conspiracy of silence is simply implausible”.

    Do you see the difference?

  52. ND

    Found it!

    It’s space debris. Nothing wild.

    Btw, the site has all sorts of pictures taken by astronauts by hand held cameras. Selectable by mission or by an area of earth.

  53. Buzz Parsec

    Looks like a crumpled up tin foil hat to me.

  54. wjv

    Man no can haz moonbuggy, Moon iz lazr pointer on canvas

  55. Smarter Than You

    If you understand the “Turd in the Punchbowl”, you would understand what mind-controllling propaganda this is. The idea of Conspiracy Theory is a Conspiracy Theory and therefore cannot exist in a world absent of tinfoil hats.

  56. Gods IT Man

    Ha that was funny.
    but as always the anti-conspiracy people are just as moronic as the moon-hoax people. It only takes a few top people to pull off a stunt…
    Example (not what happened): the astronauts go into earth orbit (or simply bussed to alternative location at the very last minute from an empty launch pad), and telemetry is broadcast from earth based locations. Only a few people would know its going on.
    When you watch the news do you check the video is actually coming from the claimed place. Of course not. In fact you probaly dont even have that ability. So you arent part of the conspiracy. Even if you go around swearing that alternative views are false.

    Life is more complicated than most people realise.


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