None of this, however, will probably change the minds of people who live in a parallel belief universe where NASA faked the Apollo moon landings.
The moon hoax isaclassic 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.
In response to a query from The Washington Post, NASA spokesman Allard Beutel issued a statement saying there is “a significant amount of evidence to support NASA landed 12 astronauts on the Moon from 1969-1972,” and specified some of that evidence: NASA has “842 pounds of astronaut-collected Moon rocks studied by scientists worldwide for decades; you can still bounce Earth-based lasers off the retroreflector mirrors placed on the lunar surface by the Apollo astronauts; NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter imaged the landing sites in 2011 . . . ”
And so on. But it’s a tough situation for NASA.
The evidence that the moon landings were real is exactly what a conspiracist would expect to be manufactured by an agency committed to hoodwinking the public. This is the eternal conundrum for debunkers.
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