Open Thread: 50 Years of Apollo 11 Conspiracies

I’m as big a Fortean as you’ll find outside an academic instituion, but sometimes I feel like Buzz Aldrin had the best response. Joel Achenbach, in the Washington Post:

The moon hoax is a classic conspiracy theory — elaborate, oddly durable, requiring the existence of malevolent actors with a secret agenda. The moon-fakers are allegedly so competent they can fool the whole world (but not so competent that they can actually put humans on the moon).

Researchers suggest conspiracy theories are spreading more easily in today’s information universe, with the Internet functioning as a superconductor. A growing science of conspiracism seeks to understand who these people are, why they embrace such ideas, and whether there is anything that can dislodge a really magnetic conspiracy theory from the mind of a true believer.

Polls show that about 5 or 6 percent of the public subscribes to the moon-hoax theory, former NASA chief historian Roger Launius said. That is a modest number, but these folks showed up reliably whenever Launius gave a lecture on the topic: “They’re very vocal — and they love to confront you.”

As NASA celebrates Apollo 11, the space agency must decide whether, and how, to respond to the moon-hoax conspiracy theory…

A more direct response came from Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin when he was hectored by conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel outside a Beverly Hills hotel in 2002.

Sibrel, brandishing a Bible and asking Aldrin to swear on it, said, “You’re the one who said you walked on the moon when you didn’t. . . . You’re a coward and a liar and a thief.”


Aldrin decked him with a right cross….


47 replies
  1. 1
    germy says:

    BREAKING: Investigators are executing search warrants at Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron's insurance company, Universal International Insurance Agency, in downtown Murfreesboro.— WSMV News4 Nashville (@WSMV) July 17, 2019

    Ketron was previously a state senator. He once noticed a newly-installed knee-level faucet at the Tennessee state capitol, which janitors used to rinse out their mop buckets. He demanded to know why the building had added a Muslim foot-washing station.— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) July 17, 2019

  2. 2
    mrmoshpotato says:



  3. 3
    Chip Daniels says:

    The best comeback to the moon hoaxers is to admit that yes, the landing was filmed by Stanley Kubrick, but he was such a perfectionist he demanded they shoot it on location.

  4. 4
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @germy: Throw the book at him!

  5. 5
    Brachiator says:

    The “moon landing was a fake” conspiracy theory is by far the most perfectly AMERICAN conspiracy theory in history because it only works logically if there are actually no other countries other than the USA, which 90% of Americans functionally believe

    Yep. This nonsense drives me crazy. Scientists all over the world would have to participate or be bamboozled, including those at tracking stations, etc.

    And I could never understand if it were only all the moon landings which were faked or all space exploration, including the launching of various probes and satellites.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    Jay says:

    For entertainment purposes only,

    Footage: Buzz Aldrin Punches Moon Landing Denier Bart Sibrel

  8. 8
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @Brachiator: But 3-5 million undocumented immigrants made Dump lose the popular vote! *slams head into table*

  9. 9
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Chip Daniels: Heh heh heh, I love that. I look forward to trotting that one out someday and watching some beefwit puzzle through the implications.

  10. 10
    Brachiator says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    The best comeback to the moon hoaxers is to admit that yes, the landing was filmed by Stanley Kubrick, but he was such a perfectionist he demanded they shoot it on location.

    Yes! Very good.

  11. 11
    mrmoshpotato says:


    For entertainment educational, instructive purposes only,

    Footage: Buzz Aldrin Punches Moon Landing Denier Bart Sibrel


  12. 12
    J R in WV says:

    Anyone willing to believe in a Flat – Earth theory is logically bound to believe all those Apollo missions were filmed on Australian sound stages. There is no Moon in the Flat-Earth world, it’s just another picture on the ceiling. Right? And tides, that’s just the flat bathtub ocean sloshing a little bit.

    And flying at 35,000+ feet from Atlanta to Johannesburg — has to be flat, otherwise you couldn’t steer??? I dunno, those guy seem to be defective to me, I can’t even make up stuff as crazy and they claim to believe. IIRC one of the chief flat earth conspirators is hosting a cruise around Antarctica to prove the world is flat… supposedly the eternal round ice wall at the edge of the earth… but wouldn’t that run a whole lot farther than the coast line of Antarctica??? See I can’t even.

    Same for Moon Shot crazies. Now the aliens in NM and NV, that’s a whole ‘nother story.!!!

  13. 13
    AThornton says:

    66% of Americans reject the Theory of Evolution.

    57% of Americans don’t think their precious little rug rats should be forced to learn arabic numerals and 14% Don’t Know.

    24% of Americans think the Bible is the literal word of god.

    Only 5 to 6 percent thinking the moon landings were faked is pretty good. Actually.

  14. 14
    Jay says:

    Von Braun was one of the many “Operation Paperclip” scientists, who brought Nazi Science to the West,

    And it wasn’t just the “science” part.

  15. 15
    Jay says:

    @J R in WV:

    CBC’s the Debaters covered the issue from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where one would think there would have been more support for a “Flat Earth”,

  16. 16

    The Washington Monument is a fake. Where are the stars?

  17. 17
    NotMax says:

    To this day one can bounce a laser off the mirrors placed on the lunar surface by astronauts.


    Goes back a couple of decades, but remember a survey reporting something like 25% of Americans believe the Sun revolves around the Earth.

  18. 18
    greenergood says:

    Sorry, I believe in evolution, I’m not a biblical literalist, I believe the Earth is round not flat, and that people landed on the Moon, but I still believe 9/11 was an inside job …I try not to reveal this to people who know me personally …

  19. 19
    Jay says:

    “You can buy a map of the Flat Earth on Amazon for $10.99,

    A standard School Classroom Globe is $199.99,

    Follow the money, sheeple,

    Big Spherma doesn’t want you to know,…..”

  20. 20
    TenguPhule says:

    @J R in WV:

    Anyone willing to believe in a Flat – Earth theory is logically bound to believe all those Apollo missions were filmed on Australian sound stages.

    That can’t be right because according to that theory, Australia is on the bottom of the planet.

  21. 21
    Jay says:


    There not clear on that, some think that Australia exists at the bottom end of the flat plane just above the ice wall,

    Some think Australia doesn’t exist.

    On the other hand, none have seized on Mauna Loa, Surbury Ontario or Iceland, sites that were actually used for equiptment testing and training, for their “hoax” claims.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:

    Trivia: Kubrick admitted after the Apollo 11 mission that he got the color of the Earth as seen from the Moon wrong in 2001, that it should have been much more blue.

  23. 23
    M31 says:

    I saw this great video by a historian of TV and movie technology, and the video tech to fake the moon landings — astronauts jumping in low gravity being slowed-down video etc. — was actually not possible in 1969.

    Going to the moon was actually doable in 1960s tech, but faking low gravity on videotape? nope

  24. 24
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    @Chip Daniels: aaaand I’m beaten to it ….

  25. 25
  26. 26
    Dan B says:

    @Jay: Thanks, crying!

    Could see your dog run away forever…


  27. 27
    Jay says:

    @Dan B:

    Welcome. The Debaters and Laugh out Loud are must listen CBC Radio.

  28. 28
    Scamp Dog says:

    @mrmoshpotato: I was just about to post that video!

  29. 29
    Dave P says:

    Tom Lehrer’s 1965 “salute” to Wernher von Braun

  30. 30
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @Scamp Dog: Sorry! Haven’t seen you around in a while. How’re you and the pooch doing?

  31. 31

    Obligatory “Mythbusters” NASA Moon Landing episode.

    Albeit, I’ve always found the Kubrick quip to be pithier.

  32. 32
    Catherine D. says:

    Also obligatory: Nazi, schmazi

  33. 33
    joel hanes says:


    I still believe 9/11 was an inside job

    This is not a better-founded theory than the claim that the moon landing was faked.
    Why in the name of any deity do you cling to it?

  34. 34
    Aaron says:

    @AThornton: I call shenanigans. A Gallup poll from 2 years ago puts the number of Americans with creationist views at 38%. A Pew poll from this year suggests a number as low as 18% if the option “Humans have evolved over time due to processes that were guided or allowed by God or a higher power” is added.

  35. 35
    Redshift says:

    I seen to remember a major factor in the origin of the Moon landing conspiracy theory was the existence of Capricorn One. Somehow a movie about a faked Mars mission “proved” it was possible to fake a Moon landing, I guess because they think creating the footage is the hard part?

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    50 years ago yesterday, I saw Apollo 11 launch from my grandparents’ front yard in the suburbs of Orlando.

    Of course there’s no proof that anyone was on board that. It could have all been faked.

    My 12 year old self rejected that notion completely. My 62 year old self also rejects it completely, as the paranoid delusions of people who buy into Comet Ping-Pong but scoff at Epstein’s orgy palace.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Jay: “The Flat Earth Society has members around the globe.”

  38. 38
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Brachiator: Another good comeback to a moon hoaxer: Narrow your eyes and say, slowly, “So … you’re one of those people who believe there’s a ‘moon’?”

  39. 39
    Scamp Dog says:

    @mrmoshpotato: We’re doing fine! I will try to take some pictures of us (well, mostly Meeca, she’s cuter) to post on the blog. Her knee, surgically repaired with help of donations from Juicers, has healed beautifully. Thanks to all who donated and expressed their support!

  40. 40
    Gbbalto says:

    @Jay: sorry link does not work

  41. 41
    Anonymous says:

    I’m not an engineer, but…

    I saw live video of steel girders glowing a yellow-white temperature far higher than the highest temperature jet fuel burns at.

    Also, a building that wasn’t even touched by the hjacked jetliners fell down, an ATT switching center.

    There’s plenty of evidence.

    I also suspect JFK wasn’t shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, which is why Lee Harvey was then shot by Jack Ruby, a mobster with fatal cancer.

    I’ll stop now.

  42. 42
  43. 43
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Mike G: I remember thinking when those came out that they weren’t going to convince any of the conspiracy theorists, because frankly those LRO pictures would be way, way easier to fake than the original Apollo footage was in 1969.

  44. 44
    wasabi gasp says:

    This is like a phallicist’s double rainbow.

  45. 45
    sherparick says:

    @Brachiator: The global warming conspiracy theory, which is believed by considerably more than the moon landing conspiracy (although I expect those who believe the moon bullshit believe AGW BS) requires the same world wide conspiracy by hundreds of thousands of scientists (and when the whole financial interests of the fossil fuel industry exists to award someone who could really prove such an conspiracy exists). The whole Republican Party and its donor class consists of such idiots.

  46. 46
    Searcher says:

    The one conspiracy I kind of like is the claim I heard a few years back that the “extra shooter” in the Kennedy assassination was an accidental discharge from one of the Secret Service agents in the car behind, when it jerked suddenly after the shots were fired by Oswald. The cover-up, in this story, was just to keep from ruining the life of the guy who accidentally shot the President (according to this story, the bullet in the neck from Oswald would have proven fatal without the more spectacular bullet in the head from the accidental discharge).

    I’m not married to the conspiracy theory, but it’s fun as a sort of anti-conspiracy theory, in that while most conspiracies create an elaborate cabal secretly in control of everything, in this one, no one is control, everything is just terrible and random.

  47. 47
    JasonInVA says:

    Longtime lurker, I work for NASA, wish I had time to participate more. Here is the best logical proof of the lunar landing I’ve ever seen:

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