One in six believe this was taken in a studio

Conspiracy: In 2001, Fox News broadcast a documentary called, “Did We Land on the Moon?”

Why are conspiracy theories so powerful? Despite all the proof that it happened, there are still thousands who are convinced that the Moon landing was a hoax set up by the US space agency.

Did humans really walk on the Moon? If so, why were there no stars in the pictures? How could the flag flutter in a vacuum? Whose hand held the video camera? Why does one of the Moon rocks look suspiciously like a prop?

Just a few of the leading questions at the heart of one of the most enduring conspiracy theories of all time — that the Moon landing was faked.

A recent UK YouGov poll found that one in six people believe that the Moon landing was staged.

“Moon-landing truthers” believe the Apollo 11 expedition was staged in a studio.

But their key suspicious are easily countered.

No stars show in the photo because the Moon’s surface is so bright.

The flag is not fluttering but looks crumpled because there was no wind or gravity to smooth it out.

The video camera was an external device attached to the landing craft.

People think one of the rocks is a prop because it seems to have a mysterious letter C carved into it. In fact, that is a tiny hair that got in the way when the picture was developed.

It is not just the Moon. Numerous recent studies have shown conspiracy theories on the rise about everything from the Holocaust to the 9/11 attacks on the USA. There are growing numbers who believe the Earth is flat.

Psychology or paranoia?

Conspiracy theories are part of human nature, argue some. They are an evolutionary product of the way our minds work — we are programmed to find answers and connect the dots, and often this leads us down false paths. We just can’t help being fascinated.

Others claim it more about our innate desire for safety and certainty. The fear of the unknown causes us to question all that seems unfamiliar. By rejecting “official” versions of events and creating our own stories, we get ownership of the narrative. This allows us to feel in control.

You Decide

  1. Are conspiracy theories harmless?

Activities

  1. Come up with your own conspiracy theory about an important historical event. Write a short description of your theory for a top secret government inquiry.

Some People Say...

“People would rather live in a community with unreasonable claims, than face loneliness with their truth.”

Bangambiki Habyarimana, Rwandan writer and blogger

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The Moon landing did, in fact, happen. The Apollo programme cost NASA almost $25 billion and, by 1966, NASA was using a huge 4.4% of the US budget. The size and scale of the Apollo 11 launch was immense and revolutionised NASA’s scientific impact.
What do we not know?
How many other conspiracy theories might be true. For example, in the 1960s, there were stories about Project MKUltra, also called the CIA “mind control” programme, which conducted illegal experiments on human subjects. This turned out to be true.

Word Watch

Vacuum
A space without matter or air.
Prop
Short for “property”, it is an object used in films, plays or adverts.
Enduring
Long-lasting.
Conspiracy theories
An alternative explanation of events, with sinister (darker) suggestions.
Narrative
Story.

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