Neil Armstrong Never Went To The Moon. Or Did He? Arguments For And Against The Hoax Of A Generation.

Man on the moon. For real.
photo: NASA

The death of Neil Armstrong is being viewed, by most people, as the national tragedy it rightfully is. The man was an amazing scientist and engineer who spent his life avoiding the limelight and refusing to capitalize on the commercial success he could have had as the first man to walk on the moon. Think about it. The guy was easily the most famous man on the entire planet for quite some time, and did he run for office, start a company or make "Elvis Goes To Vegas"-style movies? No. Other than one (Yes, ONE) commercial for Chrysler in the late '70s Armstrong stayed out of public view and taught aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

And this is the first piece of evidence conspiracy theorists point to about the hoax of the moon landing. It is also among the hardest to refute because it deals solely with a man's character and our inability to see beyond the worst in people. After all, hoax supporters argue, isn't it human nature to try to capitalize on the successes in one's life. Particularly something as momentous as walking on the moon? Why did Armstrong spend the rest of his life denying requests for interviews on the subject? This makes a great piece of conspiracy evidence because it is impossible to prove or disprove. No one except Neil Armstrong can know why he stayed silent on the subject.

Armstrong is not the only public figure that theorists tie to the conspiracy. Beyond the usual suspects of astronauts and government officials, theorists point to Stanley Kubrick and his film "The Shining." They argue that Kubrick used the film to reveal, very subtly, that he was involved in the fake moon landing. They argue that his motivation was to put something in the public eye that he would shield him from the government, should it decide to eliminate the famed director to keep him silent about his role in the hoax.

They argue there is symbolic evidence in the characters in the film, Jack and his son Danny. Jack represents Kubrick's practical side, Danny his artistic side. The exposition of the film features Jack (Kubrick) making a deal with the manager of the Overbrook Hotel (America) to protect it during the winter (Cold War.) then there are the specifics. The haunted room in the film is 237, but in the Stephen King novel the film was based on, the haunted room is 217. Why the change? Because 237 is believed to represent 237,000 miles, the distance the moon is from Earth. In this room Jack says to Danny "It's just like pictures in a book. It isn't real." Another deviation from the novel, the creepy twin girls. In the novel, there's only child. In the movie, there's two. They're twins. Theorists believe Kubrick was referencing the Gemini program. Also, Danny is wearing an Apollo 11 sweater in the scene. Which is a reference to ... Apollo 11. Sorry conspiracy theorists, but this is just straight-up conjecture. It's a film and it can be interpreted any way you want. Just ask the folks who think the whole movie is about childhood sexual abuse.

Beyond trying to identify the parties involved, theorists also point to a mountain of physical evidence from the footage that they claim proves it is fake. For example, the flag in the footage is seen rippling. But there's no wind on the moon, therefore it's a hoax. Not exactly. The rippling is caused from the vibrations of the flagpole being implanted, as well as slight bends in the rods that hold the flag in place.

Another big piece of evidence used to support the conspiracy theory is the lack of a landing crater underneath the lunar module. Why isn't there a blast crater from the landing similar to the one created on Earth during test runs? The answer is quite simple. There is no crater because the thrusters were throttled back before touchdown. Phil Plait of the Bad Astronomy website said it best, "When someone driving a car pulls into a parking spot, do they do it at 100 kilometers per hour?"

Many, many other arguments dissecting moon landing footage exist including claims that the shadows aren't black enough, that light is reflected in inconsistent ways and that there should've been no lunar dust to leave footprints in. Many of these arguments fail to consider the fact that the moon is an alien environment and things like light and gravity don't behave the way they do on Earth. Why aren't the shadows a darker black? Because the lunar surface reflects light the way dew on grass does. It's also why strange light patterns appear in photos and footage. Lunar dust was scattered when the module touched down, yes, but it resettled around the site in large enough quantities to leave footprints.

And then here are the moon rocks. Conspiracy theorists point out that lunar rocks have been found on the Earth, especially in Antarctica. Wehrner Von Braun, the famous NASA rocket scientist, allegedly took a trip to Antarctica to collect the samples that were to be distributed as proof that we went to the moon. The rocks were then doctored to appear to be moon rocks. This claim is nonsensical for the following reasons: A. Why send a rocket scientist to do a geologists job? And B. Why give fake moon rocks to the Soviets to study?

That's right. The U.S. gave moon rocks to every country on the planet. The moon rocks the U.S. collected were studied by Soviets and found to be genuine. So, if the U.S. faked the moon landing to beat the Soviets in the space race, why would the Soviets go along and pretend our moon rocks were real? Wouldn't it have been in their best interest to prove they were false? For that matter, why didn't they just fake a moon landing first?

Because the moon landing happened. Neil Armstrong really went there, and spent the rest of his life not being a dick about it. That alone makes him a man worth remembering.

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