My Moon hoax

By Phil Plait | August 27, 2011 7:57 am

In February 2011 I did a live web video interview with Andrew Shaner of the Lunar and Planetary Institute where we talked about the Moon Hoax. It was a lot of fun!

Andrew just did something great for kids: he took some of the better moments of the interview, along with those from Paul Spudis, a lunar expert, and created a web page called Conspiracy Showdown. It takes some of the more widely-known claims of hoaxery and sets up short clips debunking them. Here’s an example with me, talking about why the Soviets didn’t blow the whistle:

Yes, for some reason he has a guy in a squirrel costume introducing the clips. It’s for kids, so don’t ask. If a quadrilateral sponge can live in a pineapple under the sea, a squirrel can wonder about the Moon Hoax.

Anyway, I think this is a fun thing for schoolkids, if the question of the reality of Apollo ever comes up in the classroom. And who knows? You might like it too.

Related posts:

My Moon webcast is now online
Moon Hoax: why not use telescopes to look at the landers?
Moon Hoax +10
Moon in the mirror
Mythbustin’ the Moon Hoax Part V: The Review

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Debunking

Comments (39)

  1. Jerry

    While I in no way believe it, how does pretty much saying “it’s stupid” really debunked the premise? I totally agree it’s stupid, but in a serious debate just laughing off someone’s point doesn’t really make it “busted”. In fact, if anything you sort of give it some sense of credibility by saying they were indeed having food problems.

    Just saying… I don’t think it’s a good example for kids on how to counter someone’s statement you disagree with.

  2. Pat Myers

    That squirrel is nuts. But not as nutty as the fox playing a saxophone on a street corner I saw last week on my way to the store.

  3. Dennis

    Schools should teach kids both theories and let them decide for themselves.

    ; P

  4. Wayne Conrad

    Jerry @1 is correct: Ridicule does not equal debunking.

  5. Eddie Janssen

    There are still moon-hoaxers?!
    Just slightly off-topic: Are there Mars-hoaxers?

  6. Chris P

    Yeah, love you and all Phil, but that wasn’t really debunked :(

  7. DrWho10

    Seriously, Phil? This kinda sucked from a skeptical pov. Don’t be a dick!

  8. DrFlimmer

    Hm. I don’t know. If I were still a kid (let me think… I am an astrophysicist… I am sort of a kid 😉 ), that squirrel would scare the cr*p out of me! It reminds me of the “bunny” from Donnie Darko.

    And yeah… debunking is sadly something else. You could have at least said something like: “The revelation of the hoax would have been far more advantageous for the Soviets than just being paid with wheat.”

    But that’s not your own fault, Phil. Actually, since this was “taken out of context”, you had no chance to make it better…..

  9. Techskeptic

    Have to agree with above. Not really a debunking is it.

    Seems like in the same time you could have asked why soviets didn’t start spilling the beans when their food supply was stable. Or if we threatened wheat, why didn’t the just threaten oil? Or any of a hundred reasons why it’s a dumb premise without limiting the rebuttal to “that’s dumb”

  10. Mark O'Leary

    The video does indeed ridicule the (ridiculous) wheat hypothesis, but the obvious question–so obvious you should have been asking it yourselves–is “How do you KNOW the USA blackmailed the USSR with wheat? What is the source of this, besides a fertile imagination?” Nixon was madly recording every bowel movement in the White House in 1969, so where is the tape of the call to Brezhnev about the wheat? Seasoned skeptics were asking this question while Mr. Squirrel was still talking. Does Phil really have to do all your work for you? He only gets 40 seconds in this clip.

  11. Rich

    I would direct the reader to the introduction clip where Phil explains that there are claims against the science that can be debunked on the technical merits, while there are what he called “societal” claims. The wheat claim cannot be debunked on the evidence, because you can’t prove its non-existence. What should be said is that yes, we shipped wheat to the Soviets, but you haven’t proven your claim that it was done to hush up the moon landings, or that it was a condition of the shipment. Require the claimant to show his proof. The Soviets documented EVERYTHING, so if the proof hasn’t surfaced yet, then your claim is false until it does.

  12. We found out a lot of the secret goings on in the Soviet Union when it broke up. You’d think the moon hoax would have been one of the block buster things revealed. They just didn’t change administrations like we do every four or eight years, but they completely changed countries.

    As far as the Mars hoax goes: I really don’t miss the “When Mars hits your eyes like a big pizza pie” email this year. Oops, wrong song. But you get the idea. And today’s the day (August 27th too).

  13. Georg
  14. noen

    I get this when I open the video on youtube

    “This video is unlisted. Only those with the link can see it.”

    If they want more people to see it they’ll have to make it more widely available.

    “There are still moon-hoaxers?!”

    While I am not 100% sure… the Tea Party/Patriot/Oath Keeper crowd believe (more or less, in general) that 911 was an inside job, fluoride is government mind control, they’re putting chips in vaccines, the government can control your PC by sending signals through your electrical system to the lights in your house which are picked up by your web cam which then sends video on you back the the CIA, that chemtrails are “the Globalists” attempt to poison us, that HAARP is mind control, that Bin Laden’s death was a hoax, that all terrorist acts are secretly controlled by the New World Order, that the recent earthquake on the East Coast and indeed all modern earthquakes are trigged by New World Order technology, that the murders in Norway are really a false flag operation meant to discredit good patriots, that all economic crisis’ are manufactured by the Builderburgers, that the globalists want to collapse the US and unite North America under one government and issue the amero as currency….

    Did I forget anything? I listen to these kooks on occasion. If you want to know what insane conspiracy will pop up next in the GOP it will be on Alex Jones first, then Glenn Beck, then Fox News. Though Beck is less influential these days.

  15. It does appear that the moon hoax stuff has died down lately, though obviously there will be a small group of crackpots that can never disappear.

  16. Chris

    A little disappointed, Phil. Saying (or implying) it’s silly is not a defense. That’s what the creationists say about evolution and the Earth being billions of years old. Bring some facts to support your claims.
    By the way I do agree with you, just you set a high standard for yourself to live up to and you seem to be taking the easy way out here.

  17. Muzz

    Fascinating to think that in the hue and cry over Afghanistan, which at the time people thought might spark ww3, the entire polit bureau were going to sit back and respect the wheat deal and not use it to score any points.
    Hated and feared enemies are always so honourable in their dealings with each other, after all.

  18. Have a look at the bottom of this page. It says:

    Powered by: NASA Science Mission Doctorate

    So basically the site is sponsored by NASA, who faked the moon landings in the first place. Therefore we must not believe anything they say in the site, and can go on believing knowing (I say knowing, because we base our claims on scientific fact) the moon landings were faked.


  19. Messier Tidy Upper

    @5. Eddie Janssen : “There are still moon-hoaxers?!”

    Pretty sure Bart Sibrel still spouts his conspiracy theory BS at every opportunity – although haven’t seen or heard from him for ages.

    I think the Moon Hoax Conspiracy Theory is a lot less common and a lot more fringe than it used to be and is dwindling away into well-deserved obscurity.

    Just slightly off-topic: Are there Mars-hoaxers?

    Yup. Hoagland and the “pyramids of Cydonia & face on Mars” crowd. Long & repeatedly debunked but again, still around somewhere I suspect – although again been a long time since they’ve had much publicity / attention.

    Plus as (#12) MrEphemeris noted there’s the “Mars as big as a Full Moon” emails which do the rounds every once in a while and have done for ages despite being utterly false.

    @14. noen :

    I get this when I open the video [13. Georg’s] on youtube
    “This video is unlisted. Only those with the link can see it.”

    Funny. I saw it straight away no probs. It’s ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look – Moon Landing Sketch’ one.

  20. Messier Tidy Upper

    See :


    for the latest things I can find on Sibrel and the Moon Hoax Conspiracy Theory Believers. (MHCTBers) They haven’t seemed prominent for at least a couple of years from what I can tell although the BA might be able to elaborate further and no doubt tracks them more closely than I do.

    I think the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images of many (all?) of the Apollo landing sites such as those featured here :

    frex must have dealt their always feeble & fevered “arguments” a death blow. At least for most people.

  21. Messier Tidy Upper

    Although as the BA notes here :

    The title of that says it all really – some folks will never be convinced of reality no matter what the evidence says.

    Also the sketch (#13) Georg linked to is this one :

    if that helps any.

    Plus see :

    among other places for more Hoagland~wise. :-)

  22. Keith Baker

    I think that there is NO point at all to “beating the dead horse”. It will never pull your cart again!

    It has been debunked and re-debunked and …..till infinity. Then why, I ask all those that critisize this fun poking for educational reasons, would you for heavens sake do it all over again, in the knowledge that the idiots just find something else irrelevant to complain about?
    In the end the only thing that remains for us to do is to ridicule them into oblivion.
    Good on you Phil, it should be done to all those that keep meddling with the brains of the less gifted, just so they may have some audience (or some market to sell to…..???)

    With regards to this latest global crisis being orchastrated by the Bilderberger group, I did not hear it being debunked …..yet!
    Don’t forget that if you cannot win but you can make everybody else loose, you still won!

  23. SlyEcho

    Did I hear the Wilhelm Scream in there?

  24. Georg

    “”I get this when I open the video on youtube””

    @ 14 noen:
    Why don’t You just click on the link?

  25. ntsc

    Re squirrels

    During the Eisenhower administration, Edward R. Murrow interviewed a White House squirrel on Person to Person.

  26. James

    I recently had a bit of an epiphany about the whole moon hoax thing… they don’t believe we went at all because we stopped going.

    If there had never been a second satellite after Sputnik, they would claim Sputnik was a hoax.

    If we’d kept going and gone to Mars… once… they would claim that was a hoax.

    I just discovered a conspiracy theory that claims nuclear weapons are a hoax… Why?
    -Because they have only ever been ‘deployed’ (as opposed to tested) ONCE!

    After all, when asked who discovered America, you don’t say “Eric the Red”
    (Vikings discovered America, but didn’t come back)

  27. …and the Brits were paid off with coal due to industrial unrest in the late 60s/70s and to pay for the BBC coverage by James Burke and Patrick Moore! (only joking!)

    Seriously it would indeed be interesting to interview one of these deniers and ask them what their take on MGS, MRO, Vikings 1 and 2, MERs, Phoenix, Sojourner and Curiosity is. Perhaps they ‘believe’ all of these landings on the Red Planet were and are still done in a film studio too. And all those lovely HiRISE photos were done using CGI software.

    And what about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images of the Apollo landing sites with the astronaut footprints and lunar rover tracks? But there again, they must believe that LRO was a hoax too…

    And I won’t speculate about what they must think about those wonderful Hubble images, the Shuttle and the ISS (presumably through Soyuz the Russians are taking part in this gargantuan hoax too along with all the thousands of NASA employees and contractors both past and present).

    There’s plenty wrong with human societies across the globe. But if this preposterous hoax hogwash wasn’t so offensive it would be hilarious… the total audacity of an ignorant section of society who despite overwhelming evidence insist on continuing to denigrate what to this day is still mankind’s greatest achievement… our footprints on another world.

  28. Ray Martin

    I think it’s abundantly clear that the squirrel is part of the conspiracy. 😀

  29. Messier Tidy Upper

    26. James :

    I recently had a bit of an epiphany about the whole moon hoax thing… they don’t believe we went at all because we stopped going.

    That makes more sense than anything else Moon Hoax Conspiracy Theory~wise.
    I can sorta appreciate – if not agree with – that way of thinking. It seems so incredible that we could land on the Moon (six times at that!) do so much and go so far – and then just stop and abandon all that got us there & never go back. :-(

    I just discovered a conspiracy theory that claims nuclear weapons are a hoax… Why?
    -Because they have only ever been ‘deployed’ (as opposed to tested) ONCE!

    They hadn’t heard about Nagasaki even!? 😮 :-(

  30. DennyMo

    For a second there, I thought BA had taken to wearing a really ugly earring in his right ear. Thank goodness it was just a doorknob in the background…

    (Nothing wrong if he wants to wear an earring, but an ugly bauble like that dangling from a anyone’s ear would just look stupid.)

    And yeah, snarky dismissal is hardly “busted”. Maybe BA said more that got left on the cutting room floor?

  31. CB

    I love that “That Mitchel and Webb Look” Moon Hoax sketch. It’s one of my favorite sketches of theirs just from the humor standpoint, and it brings up a really good anti-hoax argument that I had never thought or heard of before:

    Whatever else could have been faked, you can’t “fake” a rocket launch. A Saturn V took off with an very large payload on it, and indisputably had the power to do what it was tasked to do for the lunar mission. We did build the rocket, we did launch it… why not use it to go to the moon?

    This argument is the only one I’ve ever used that gained any traction with a moon hoaxer. He really stopped and thought and said “You know, that’s a good point…”

    Amazing things can happen, people. Don’t lose hope!

  32. Nick

    Here’s a link to the story on the wheat sale in 1972. It uses the word secret sale, which could be misinterpreted as a government secret. I don’t know how they’re tying this to the space race though, other than the fact that it involves the two countries in the space race. Shoddy reporting and correlation without causation.,3572128&dq=congress+wheat+soviet+union&hl=en

  33. Nick

    I just want to reiterate that I know we did land on the moon. I’m just trying to find out what their sources are to see what they were thinking. This article has a more us propaganda tone to it.,3046123&dq=wheat+soviet+union&hl=en

  34. Nick

    Another article indicating that wheat sales have “quietly” come to an end. I can see how they are seeing more than what’s there.,324658&dq=wheat+soviet+union&hl=en

    The best part is at the end indicating that the soviet union bought wheat from Canada and other countries. I guess Canada wanted to keep the Soviet Union quiet about their faked moon landings too…

  35. Nick

    “Significantly, the Soviets did not make a direct offer to Washington to buy wheat, but first sent feelers to farm representatives. This apparently was because Moscow feared an official U.S. rejection”

    BAM that’s why the deal was referred to as “secret”.

    (From the second source).

  36. rdbob

    Why after 45 years has NASA never proved all the disbelievers wrong? NASA has at its disposal the technology to show actual proof 30 years ago. If NASA had gone to the Moon common sense dictates that NASA would have long ago given factual, undeniable proof of having done Moon landings. Since NASA has had the ability to show undeniable, irrefutable, and concrete proof for over 35 years, and refuses to show undeniable proof that NASA went to the Moon this is concrete and conclusive proof NASA never sent men to the Moon. Anyone that could conclusively prove a fact to stop all the disbelievers would have by now done so. Please do not say those stupid LRO pictures. The LRO pictures are more conjecture. Show a single picture of anything left on the Moon that cannot be denied would be concrete proof. NASA in 45 years has done absolutely nothing to refute positively all the disbelievers. The fact that NASA refuses to show conclusive, concrete, and undeniable proof is proof of itself that NASA never went to the Moon.
    To have technology to show light years away of rocks and sand of other galaxies and planets and not show the Moon 240,000 miles away is proof NASA never made any Moon landings. People that accept at face value that NASA sent men to the Moon are absolutely ludicrous or they work for NASA as dis-informers, making anyone that questions or that wants positive proof look foolish. This is not debunking this is NASA’s way of making non-believers appear foolish to the general public.

  37. rdbob

    Reply to #14 Noen

    Well Noen, it don’t take a whole lot of intelligence to show proof so here it is. 911 was done by our government, not some stupid Arab on dialysis (that was the new Oswald patsy). Prove this statement wrong. Name one fire anytime in the history of mankind that totally dissolved, disintegrated, pulverized human flesh. No fire on earth has ever blown bodies into disintegration.
    Research on kidney dialysis here in the U.S.A. has conclusively proven out of 1,000 people in the study everyone on kidney dialysis dies after 2 years. Osama Bin Laden lived over 20 years on kidney dialysis.
    IT IS A FACT BODIES WERE DISINTEGRATED ON 911. Now this is a fact only 2 things absolutely known to man will disintegrate human flesh.

    1. Crematory burning one body at a time in an enclosed chamber for 2 1/2 to 4 hours at 2500 degrees.
    2. Nuclear bomb.
    Fact the Twin Towers burned for a total of 90 minutes each. 5,000 bodies of which 2500 were missing or in parts so small to be unidentifiable.
    5,000 people pulverized, disappeared, or disintegrated in each tower in 12 seconds per tower.
    This is an absolute impossibility with jet fuel or high octane gas of 190 octane. Which will not as of today totally disintegrate human flesh. Proof being that almost all bodies of plane crashes are recovered an identified.
    The intelligence of destroying the Twin Towers was of high military intelligence of which some stupid Arab on dialysis in a cave, in a mountain, on the lam could have ever had the technology to do this. Should Osama Bin Laden have had this technology then why when America was on its knees would any sane or insane enemy stop attacking, and having this powerful diesel fuel not hit every major city in America.
    Our president Bush and his Vice President Chaney, and out military are the real murderers of U.S. citizens.
    No force on earth can prove diesel fuel was the catalyst to disintegrate human flesh. It is an absolute impossibility. Prove me wrong.
    Our leaders are satanic evil demons that are in the process of destroying all humans.
    TRUTH is the mortal enemy of a lie and rogue governments.

  38. rdbob

    All you people that offer not a single piece of evidence except what ever the U.S. Government states happened is the truth and nothing but the truth. No one should question anything else, but what the government says period.
    You will never as long as the earth turns stop or disspell the truth no matter how much you try. The TRUTH can never be gainsayed.
    1st. Fact is you are against the Constitution and are Un-American, you are Communistic, and are part of the Government paid stoolies to make anyone that questions government’s authority or government’s statements to be insane or foolish that do not believe the governments lies.
    Conspiracies are alive because of LIES that do not meet even the least scrutiny by any sane person. Then to make anyone that questions these lies appear foolish or insane is further TRUTH of your Anti-American and Anti Constitution activities.
    If you were truly Patriotic, and truly Americans you would want an relish any question asked and not be satisfied until your government gave an undeniable response, that no one could even begin to believe was a false answer. Instead you are part of the problem.
    Tonkin Bay, Pearl Harbor, Viet Nam, 911 our government is full of satanic evil demonic spirits that are in unison to destroy the human race. All you that put down people like myself that question these lies are evil and belong to spiritual wickedness. I know you and will reveal you to the people for the evil you are. Truth shall never be stilled. Your evil and your lies shall be shouted from the rooftops your deed of evil done in darkness will be made known.
    Your days are numbered and soon people will see for themselves how evil and wicked you are for binding the truth.

  39. rdbob

    How can NASA say on one side we can view Mars, Jupiter, Saturn but we do not have the technology to view the so called Moon Landings with the same clarity of Galaxies and planets million of miles farther and light years away. Yet we are supposed to believe by the Moonies that we are the crazies we that ask say if you cannot show undeniable proof of the Moon Landing with a close up picture then it is absolutely a HOAX.
    These Bad Astronomy people are piad stooges of the Government and NASA to make anyone that asks a legitimate question to appear stupid, or foolish. This is real good Bad Astronomy you show the world how stupid we are for asking intelligent questions. Bad Astronomy put everyone down that does not agree with your insanity of accepting NASA’s statements as proof.
    We need undeniable, concrete, positive irrefutable, evidence. Bad Astronomy make us to be idiots , fools, morons, and of lower intelligence simply because we question???
    Below is how Bad Astronomy representative Fynnareno answers my question, not on the board but by e-mailing me in secret.
    Fynnareno has replied to your comment on Dark Mission 1 – NASA Moon Hoax – Analysis of the Lunar Photography:

    You are horribly misinformed, and the fact that you call people who know NASA landed on the moon ‘moonies’ speaks volumes.
    Yet it is perfectly acceptable for Bad Astronomy to call us conspiracy theorists, this is perfectly acceptable to label us.
    Why? Why do you ignore fact, do you think evolutio is a lie?
    This is how their representative Fynnareno makes fun of me as though I am a monkey.
    Young people wanting to get into Bad Astronomy
    Kids, Children young adults, all of you wanting to get into astronomy watch and look at the answers BAD Astronomy gives other that quest and want facts. Bad Astronomy will also persecute you if you ask or question anything that does not fit their lies. You young astronomers you to will be made fun of ridiculed because you want and thirst for real answers and truth.
    Is this the example Bad Astronomy wants to show young adults that have questions. Ask Bad Astronomy we will make you feel like a retard for wanting to know something. Bad Astronomy’s answers are our way or the highway.
    Thanks Bad Astronomy for the BAD TASTE in your responses.

    Still no evidence only conjecture. We are supposed to accept Bad Astronomers conjecture over absolute proof.
    Truth is the mortal enemy of all lies.


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