The footage of Neil Armstrong stepping off the Eagle of Apollo 11 and onto the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969 shook the people of Earth to the core. Today, conspiracy theorists believe the United States faked the event, filming it in a Hollywood studio, because the government was so worried the Soviet Union would beat them to the moon. They further believe one famous director was brave enough to tell the truth through symbolism in an iconic horror film. Of the conspiracy theories examined thus far, this is unquestionably the weakest.
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What evidence exists that the Moon landing was faked? That depends on your definition of evidence.
If you’re looking for what one might call “positive evidence” (testimony from Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, or other NASA personnel; testimony from a film director, gaffer, grip, or editor; an old script; a photograph of the movie set; internal government documents discussing such a hoax; etc.) you will be disappointed, for there is none.
If you’re looking for what one might call “negative evidence” (arguments that attempt to discredit the footage of the landing), that is not hard to find on the Internet, but may be hard to take seriously with even a half-hearted effort at critical thinking or willingness to learn scientific principles.
Questioning the Moon Footage and Photos
There are several details in the pictures and film taken during the moon landing that have bothered conspiracy theorists since the mid-1970s.
For instance, the American flag planted by the astronauts looks like it’s fluttering in the wind, when there is of course no atmosphere nor wind on the moon. So this must be an “obvious stuff up” unnoticed by the director, cast, crew, and government officials producing the farce.
However, scientists and science enthusiasts explain while there is no atmosphere or wind, there is also no friction, and thus the flag would continue to move for a significant spell after being planted on the lunar surface, due to inertia. This phenomenon is actually not difficult to replicate; any conspiracy theorist could conduct such an experiment.
Another criticism: “[I]n all of the photos taken during moon landing, you cannot see a single star. Not one.” This is would be another sign of unimaginable incompetence on the part of the filmmakers.
Rather than forgetfulness, anti-conspiracy types point out the lack of stars was due to the fact that astronaut cameras would need to increase exposure to capture a quality photo of the stars. But as the moon surface was reflecting sunlight (the spacesuits were designed to as well), increasing exposure would have washed out everything else in the photos or film. Capturing the stars would require pointing a camera in space (making stars the dominant light source in the frame) and taking long-exposure images.
(Speaking of cameras, some say photos of one astronaut showing the reflection of another must indicate this was all a hoax, since only two astronauts of the three walked on the surface of the moon at a time and the reflection doesn’t show an astronaut holding up a camera [see above]. In reality, the cameras were situated on the astronauts’ chests, which happens to be exactly where the reflected person has his hands. And might that shadow be that of the subject?)
Finally, conspiracy theorists question why photos and film show object shadows that are not parallel to each other, assuming the sun would be the only source of light on the moon. Multiple sources of light must suggest lights on a movie set.
This is another idea that can be easily tested by any conspiracy theorist. First, the terrain a shadow falls on changes its angle. Cast a single light source on objects on various terrain and you can see this. Second, there are in reality multiple sources of light on the moon. The sun’s light was reflected off the lunar surface (off ground and rocks of varying heights), off the earth, off the lunar module, off the spacesuits, etc. Thirdly, even if shadow lines are parallel, perspective can make them appear nonparallel.
There are more questions, easily explained. The astronauts would supposedly have been exposed to lethal radiation and never would have made it home alive…the same “fake” rocks used by those stupid filmmakers in multiple shots…no crater made by the lunar module…rocks with letters on them…no flames from the lunar module during takeoff back into space. All these have reasonable explanations when one asks scientists, even those independent of NASA and the U.S. government.
And, naturally, believing in the vast majority of them requires the belief that whomever was charged with creating the fake videos and photos (and whomever approved them for public release) was an imbecile.
This is quite incredible, considering who many think actually directed the Hollywood moon landing. (Or perhaps he screwed up on purpose, to let the truth be known?)
Stanley Kubrick and The Shining
In 2015, conspiracy theorists lit up the Internet upon the release of an alleged interview with famous director Stanley Kubrick (supposedly filmed before his death in 1999), who confessed to filming the fake moon landing.
Now this video turned out to be a hoax. “Stanley Kubrick” is played by an actor the filmmaker calls “Tom” and coaches between takes.
The idea that Kubrick, who directed 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968, directed the moon landing existed before this. Some conspiracy theorists even believe Kubrick was so burdened by this lie he helped create that he left clues in his 1980 horror film The Shining that reveal the truth.
Kubrick, theorists say, would have been the right man for the job after 2001, and they believe a lighting technique he used in that film (“front projection”) was also used on the fake moon footage.
In The Shining, Kubrick allegedly left these clues, among others:
- The boy, Danny, wears an Apollo 11 sweater
- Room 237 could represent the 237,000 miles from Earth to moon
- In the line “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy” the “All” looks like “A11” because it was created on an old typewriter
- Hexagonal patterns on carpets in the film look like launching pads
- 6 crates of 7-Up are in the film; Apollo had 7 missions but only 6 landed on the moon
- The character Dick comes from Florida, from which Apollo 11 took off
- The hotel owner has an eagle on his windshield
Obviously, this sort of analysis is not “evidence.” It is speculation, absurdity that is not hard to replicate. How difficult is it to do this with other films? Consider that in Rocky IV (1985):
- Fighters, Americans and a Russian, battle for supremacy
- Rocky’s best friend is named Apollo
- Apollo and the Russian box at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas; that’s the same MGM that operates its film studio in Hollywood, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
- First the Russian wins, then the American; Russia beat the U.S. to space, the U.S. supposedly beat Russia to the moon
- Rocky was born in July; the moon landing occurred in July
- The main character is called Rocky, though this is not his real name; the astronauts brought back moon rock, which conspiracy theorists denounce as fake
- The Russian has 9 lines of dialogue in the film; Buzz Aldrin was the backup pilot for Gemini 9
Was director Sylvester Stallone telling us he helped fake the moon landing? Any rational thinker could tear these things apart as nothing but coincidences, misread Cold War symbolism, or easily explained events (MGM produced Rocky IV).
It is not so hard to imagine something similar holds true with The Shining. Also, the average distance from Earth to moon is nearly 239,000 miles. Apollo 11 ventured 242,114 miles (389,645 km) from Earth.
The belief in a fake moon landing requires one to cast aside all the positive evidence for the actual landing:
The testimony of thousands of people who participated in the planning and execution of the mission.
The people independent of NASA and the U.S. government that observed and confirmed the landing (Bochum Observatory in Germany, Jodrell Bank Observatory in the U.K., a technician at a Kentucky radio station that picked up astronaut transmissions, the Soviet Union itself, etc.).
The samples of moon rock available to many for independent investigation regarding their authenticity and extraterrestrial nature. In 1970, President Nixon gave samples to all 50 states and 135 nations.
Finally, though conspiracy theorists may call them fake, we have images of the Apollo 11 landing site taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Likewise, though skeptics may say it was placed on the moon later on, the Apollo 11 astronauts left a mirror on the moon that can still be seen on Earth by firing a laser at it and waiting 2.4 seconds for a reflection.
Given the choice between strong positive evidence and weak negative evidence, the choice is not difficult.