Why do some people believe the moon landing didn't happen?

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The other educator has outlined many of the beliefs posited by conspiracy theorists about the moon landing, but there are others:

  • Many theorists thought that the quality of the photographs taken were far too good to be captured on the moon. NASA counters that many of the photographs snapped at the landing were indeed of poor quality, but that the ones shown to the public were selected because of their clarity and quality. 
  • Theorists believe that the background featured in photos which were seemingly taken miles apart is identical and, thus, fake. They believe that a painted backdrop was used to stage the landing. In reality, it is very difficult to judge distance in photographs taken on the moon due to the lack of landmarks which could help measure where one object is in relation to another. The lack of an atmosphere makes it seem that some objects are nearer than they really are. The backgrounds of these photos are, thus, not identical--only very similar. 
  • Theorists have pointed out the a "C" appears to be printed on the ground and on a rock in some photos, leading to the further reinforcement of the belief that the landing was staged; they claim that the "C" is a label from a studio which must have lent its props to the staging. However, the "C" does not appear on the original film, which means that it must have arisen from an error in printing. 
  • Finally, perhaps the kookiest theory is that Stanley Kubrick helped stage the moon landing and then alluded to this great deception with various hints in his movie adaptation of The Shining. This theory had been de-bunked by Kubrick's daughter, who firmly states that her father would never betray Americans by participating a government coverup. 

Again, a lot of these beliefs stem from non-conformist political attitudes, distrust of the government and of authority figures, and attraction to fringe communities as a safe haven for illogical ideas. While it's funny to mull over these ideas, such constant, non-scientific dissent can also thwart real progress and make those who do have a vested interest in keeping scientific and governmental figures in check seem crazy. 

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The moon landing conspiracy involves the belief that American astronauts (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin) never landed on the moon in 1969. Instead, conspiracy theorists believe that the men only acted out their moon landing on a set somewhere.

The main reason some people don't think the moon landings happened is an ideological distrust in authority. These people have lost faith in the institutions they were taught to trust. Conspiracy theorists extrapolate that they have the facts to back up their claims of government malfeasance. First, they assert that there are no stars in any of the moon landing photographs.

Conspiracy theorists believe that set designers simply "forgot" to include the stars. The reality is a little less exciting: the immense light of the sun hitting the surface of the moon probably blocked out the stars from human vision. Next, conspiracy theorists argue that there is a stray rock in the picture marked with the letter 'C.' Scientists claim that the 'C' may have just been a photographic anomaly, possibly a stray hair or a piece of string.

Conspiracy theorists also argue that the shadows of the astronauts seem to be of different lengths, even when they are standing side by side. Scientists debunk this claim by arguing that the scientists were standing on hilly landscapes, and such irregular terrain is notorious for playing havoc with shadow lengths.

Not to be deterred, conspiracy theorists put forth the hypothesis that the flag in the moon landing picture appears to be flapping. They argue that since there is no air on the moon, it would be impossible for a breeze to disturb the flag in this way. However, scientists explain the "flapping" by pointing out that it was caused by the astronauts' rough handling of the flag as they planted it on the moon's surface.

Last, but not least, conspiracy theorists claim that NASA duplicated the astronaut moon walk by using wires and camera manipulations to make it appear as if the astronauts were on the moon. Meanwhile, scientists point out that the evidence does not support this claim. If the astronauts were on earth, clouds of dust would have formed as they disturbed the surface of the ground in the act of walking. In the NASA photographs, there is no cloud of dust that accompanies the astronauts' movements along the moon's surface.

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