Hall of Fame: Debunking the Moon landing hoax hoax


Apollo 14 on the moon - Alan Shepard?

Photo from Apollo 14 Moon Mission

 

In a classroom discussion of “how do we know what we know” about history, another student brought up the allegations that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) faked the manned Moon landings. That makes about a dozen times this year a kid has mentioned this claim (who thinks to start counting these things?). The kid was pretty unshakable in his convictions — after all, he said, how can a flag wave in a vacuum?

I usually mention a couple of things that the fake claimers leave out — that dozens, if not hundreds, of amateur astronomers tracked the astronauts on their way to the Moon, that many people intercepted the radio transmissions from the Moon, that one mission retrieved debris from an earlier unmanned landing, etc. Younger students who lack experience in serious critical thinking have difficulty with these concepts. They also lack the historic background — the last manned Moon landing occurred when their parents were kids, perhaps. They didn’t grow up with NASA launches on television, and the whole world holding its breath to see what wonders would be found in space.

Phil Plait runs a fine blog called Bad Astronomy. Five years ago he got fed up with the Fox Television program claiming the Moon landings were hoaxes, and he made a significant reply that should be in some hall of fame for debunking hoaxes. Since the claim that the Moon landings were hoaxes is, itself, a hoax, I have titled this “Debunking the Moon landing hoax hoax.”

In any case, if you’re wondering about whether the Moon landings were hoaxes, you need to see Phil Plait’s post. Phil writes:

From the very first moment to the very last, the program is loaded with bad thinking, ridiculous suppositions and utterly wrong science. I was able to get a copy of the show in advance, and although I was expecting it to be bad, I was still surprised and how awful it was. I took four pages of notes. I won’t subject you to all of that here; it would take hours to write. I’ll only go over some of the major points of the show, and explain briefly why they are wrong.

Also, consider these chunks of evidence, which Phil does not mention so far as I know:

First, the first Moon landing left a mirror on the surface, off of which Earth-bound astronomers may bounce laser transmissions in order to measure exactly the distance from the Earth to the Moon. The American Institute of Physics has radio stories about the research results. Those who claim the landings were hoaxes have never been able to explain this mirror to my satisfaction — ask them how it got there if it wasn’t delivered by Apollo astronauts.

Second, Apollo 12 astronauts retrieved parts of the unmanned lunar probe Surveyor 3, which had landed on the Moon in 1967. That would be impractical to fake. It’s possible, I suppose, that someone could have conceived of the hoax a decade before it was necessary, and made a duplicate probe — but it defies all logic and history to claim that NASA undertook Surveyor 3 solely to provide physical evidence to claim a lunar landing that didn’t happen. A simpler explanation is that the Apollo 12 astronauts really landed and really retrieved the parts from Surveyor 3. A side note: My recollection is that a mold was found inside a camera recovered, indicating that molds can survive trips through the vacuum of space, and the temperature extremes for at least three years on the Moon. I’m not sure a hoax inventor could have conceived of that little bit — it’s too fantastic, and as Twain noted, in fiction one must stick to the possibilities.

Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.  Really.

NASA itself has a fine article debunking the hoax claims.

Jim Scotti’s site refutes the claims of hoax.

Photo above from Apollo 14, Alan Shepard’s “golf shot” trip.

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18 Responses to Hall of Fame: Debunking the Moon landing hoax hoax

  1. […] at the Bathtub: “Hall of Fame:  Debunking the Moon landing hoax hoax,” and “One more way to know Apollo 11 landed on the […]

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  2. […] There are a lot of ways to know that Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.  Among other things, students could talk to people alive at the time who have the slightest bit of technological savvy:  With lots of other people, I tracked part of the trip with my 6-inch reflecting telescope.  Ham radio operators listened in on the radio broadcasts.  And so on. […]

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Apollo 8 was the first manned space mission to go through the Van Allen radiation belts. Astronauts wore dosimeters, and those measurements showed that the radiation was nominal — no great problem:

    It was also the first time for sailing through the Van Allen radiation belts. Because of worries about how much radiation the astronauts would receive, they all wore personal dosimeters, with fresh data sent back to mission controllers at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Their dosage levels were about one-and-a-half times that of an x-ray. (However, long-term space radiation exposure does have health consequences, with cosmonaut Valentin Lebedev now claiming that his 221 days aboard Salyut-7 are causing him to go blind.)

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  4. Ed Darrell says:

    So whats the deal buddy?

    I had mistaken you for someone genuinely interested in the facts.

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Howcome people doesnt die when the sun hits the moons surfice creating maximum surface temperature 123°C and when it is not shining making minimum surface temperature -233°C.

    Insulation and air conditioning. Each astronaut carried his own air conditioner (which is one of the reasons the suits weighed more than 100 pounds).

    Have you checked the NASA sites?

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  6. Van Allen says:

    “I think you’re assuming a degree of radiation that is higher than what actually exists.� Have you evidence that radiation levels are incredibly deadly?�”

    I believe that your first post went like this

    “I think you you may want to look up the Van Allen Belt — it is a product of our magnetic field, which is the thing that protects us (some) from solar winds.”

    So whats the deal buddy? First saying this and then saying something against it?

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  7. Van Allen says:

    Just answer this.

    Howcome people doesnt die when the sun hits the moons surfice creating maximum surface temperature 123°C and when it is not shining making minimum surface temperature -233°C.
    Oh and by the way because there is no air in moon and walking with a tinfoilsuit in a vacuum where 123°C temperature IS. it creates a termostad like conditions inside the suit where you just keep on getting hotter and hotter and even the small amount of cooling water that nasa had would boil there!

    oh yea really trusted website you found. Is that your own blog ?

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  8. Ed Darrell says:

    So how can a 1mm 60’s alumiumfoilsuit protect people from having serious radiation poisoning even without staying long in the moons surfice?

    Any thickness of any substance offers some protection — paper can work against alpha and beta radiation, for example. (Have you studied radiation and radiation shielding? I don’t gather from your question that you fully grasp the issue.)

    To be honest, I don’t know for certain what the Moon suits were (are? they still exist . . .) made of. There was a lot of rubber, and cloth, and perhaps some aluminized stuff like mylar. In any case, it’s simply inaccurate to suggest it was aluminum foil. [Oh, wait — here: They were made of “Beta Cloth,” fiberglass and teflon.]

    I think you’re assuming a degree of radiation that is higher than what actually exists. Have you evidence that radiation levels are incredibly deadly? Have you looked at the research on the Moon suits to see whether they were inadequate to block significant radiation?

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  9. Van Allen says:

    And btw Van Allen belt ends in 200 000km and moon is at 400 000km

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  10. Van Allen says:

    Quote from varies websites:”Radiation comes from many sources. Light from the sun produces a range of wavelengths from long-wave infrared to short-wavelength ultraviolet (UV). Background radiation in space is composed of high-energy X-rays, gamma rays and cosmic rays, which all can play havoc with the cells in our bodies. Since such ionizing radiation easily penetrates spacecraft walls and spacesuits, astronauts today must limit their time in space(means time spend inside the Van Allen Belt). But being in outer space for even a short time greatly increases their odds of developing cancer, cataracts, and other radiation-related health problems.(meaning time spend out of the Van Allen Belt).

    The solar energy reaching the periphery of the earth’s atmosphere is considered to be constant for all practical purposes, and is known as the solar constant. Because of the difficulty in achieving accurate measurements, the exact value of the solar constant is not known with certainty.

    The degree of absorption of solar radiation passing through the outer atmosphere depends upon the component rays of sunlight and their wavelengths. The gamma rays, X-rays, and ultraviolet radiation less than 200 nm in wavelength are absorbed by oxygen and nitrogen. Most of the radiation with a range of wavelengths from 200 to 300 nm is absorbed by the ozone (O3) layer in the upper atmosphere. These absorption phenomena are essential for living things because prolonged exposure to radiation of wavelengths shorter than 300 nm destroys living tissue.(this is all inside the save shield known as Van Allen belt)”

    So how can a 1mm 60’s alumiumfoilsuit protect people from having serious radiation poisoning even without staying long in the moons surfice? Howcome people doesnt die when the sun hits the moons surfice creating maximum surface temperature 123°C and when it is not shining making minimum surface temperature -233°C.
    Oh and by the way because there is no air in moon and walking with a tinfoilsuit in a vacuum where 123°C temperature IS. it creates a termostad like conditions inside the suit where you just keep on getting hotter and hotter and even the small amount of cooling water that nasa had would boil there!

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  11. Ed Darrell says:

    1. The Van Allen Belt’s radiation was not a serious threat to astronauts passing through it — at least, NASA determined that the risks were acceptable. I think you you may want to look up the Van Allen Belt — it is a product of our magnetic field, which is the thing that protects us (some) from solar winds. The capsule itself provides a great deal of protection from alpha and beta particles, and significant protection from x-rays and other cosmic rays. Dangers from radiation are not so severe that it would prevent an astronaut from extra-vehicular activies.

    2. Radiation from Chernobyl, close in, was several orders of magnitude higher. An astronaut, in full Moon suit, would have been subject to a great deal of radiation had he or she been near the damaged reactor at Chernobyl — the suit would not have provided protection from harmful radiation.

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  12. Van Allen says:

    Have you ever heard a magnetic field called Van Allen belt? The belt keeps us ‘Humans’ secured from the harmful solarwinds and other forms of radiation which is much dangerous to Humans than nucler radiation. Funny thing that the Van Allen belt doesn’t reach to moon, but still astronauts with alumiumsuits on are not affect of the radiation? And to my knowledge if Nasa would have created such things in he 60’s which could keep humans out of harmful radiation why would they used it in Tsernobyl after the explotion?

    Please reply if someone has a real answer to it! If something you have believed in isn’t suddenly real don’t be blind of rage and stupid, let’s share our opinions and see which is more logical to be true.

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  13. […] There are a lot of ways to know that Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.  Among other things, students could talk to people alive at the time who have the slightest bit of technological savvy:  With lots of other people, I tracked part of the trip with my 6-inch reflecting telescope.  Ham radio operators listened in on the radio broadcasts.  And so on. […]

    Like

  14. […] There are a lot of ways to know that Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.  Among other things, students could talk to people alive at the time who have the slightest bit of technological savvy:  With lots of other people, I tracked part of the trip with my 6-inch reflecting telescope.  Ham radio operators listened in on the radio broadcasts.  And so on. […]

    Like

  15. […] Hoax: How do we know what really happened? This is a rerun of a post from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, originally posted in 2006 – with explicit permission of the […]

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  16. xscorpionx says:

    Excellent post on what is without a doubt one of the more disturbing trends in recent history, the doubting of one of the greatest human achievements of all time. The fact that a good chunk of people were actually dumb enough to fall for the hoax claims just goes to show that no matter how much mankind learns and accomplishes, there will always be those who just don’t have the mental capacity to move into the future with the rest of the human race.

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  17. Juan Rico says:

    “how can a flag wave in a vacuum?”

    http://astroprofspage.com/archives/162

    Like

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