When I entered college, I expected to be surrounded by well-educated students knowledgeable about math, science and history. During my first semester, however, I was stunned to hear a student state that he did not believe America landed on the moon. I was dumbfounded by his comment. The missions to the moon are historical facts.
A trio of conspiracy theorists has fed this hoax to a public all too willing to believe it. Bill Kaysing — a cat sanctuary proprietor — has written a book on the subject. Ralph Rene — a college dropout — has also written a book on the topic and another on 9/11 conspiracies.
Thus, books like We Never Went to the Moon and NASA Mooned America! were published. The most famous of these hoax-theorists is perhaps Bart Sibrel. In 2002, Sibrel confronted Apollo 11’s Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, calling the former astronaut “a liar, a coward and a thief.”
However, the evidence that theorists claim “proves” the lunar landings were a hoax is as laughable as those who believe in it.
One of the most common claims I’ve heard is that there are no stars in the background of the photos. Anyone who has gone to a stadium at night and looked up knows that you can’t see the stars in the glare of the stadium lights. Replace those lights with the glaring lunar surface — end of argument.
I’ve heard that the shadows don’t follow straight lines, which shows that there were multiple light sources. Not so, my astute friend. Neither the earth nor the moon are flat. Therefore, the shadows roll with the surface. Both Mythbusters and the National Geographic channel crushed this argument.
And, of course, the most popular theory of all is that the flag “waves” in the photo. As the Mythbusters crew proved, with no atmospheric resistance the flag will wave easily for some time.
To understand how this argument was born, consider the era in which it started. The 1960s were a turbulent time in American history, and a time of strong anti-American feelings. The evidence proving the moon landings to be true is so watertight it destroys the argument of non-believers.
For starters, the Russians tracked the Apollo astronauts every step of the way. If the Russians had had the slightest inclination that we were faking, they would have nailed us.
Next, there is dirt. That’s right, dirt. Dirt and rocks in the unforgiving environment of the lunar surface change in ways impossible to recreate on earth. Moreover, the soil samples were examined by scientists across the globe — including our enemies.
Finally, follow the laser. Scientists wanted to measure the exact distance between the moon and the Earth. Therefore, the Apollo astronauts left behind reflectors that continue to be used to this day. From Earth, scientists shoot lasers at the reflectors, which allows them to accurately measure the distance.
NASA plans to return to the moon in the 2020s. Will the return be questioned, too? Probably. Some even question the existence of the International Space Station.
In the end, it comes down to what you choose to believe. However, as we work toward our degrees, we should rely on provable historical facts — not fiction — to inform our beliefs. Most of us would rather know we live in a world in which we can do amazing things — and feel proud about them — than believe in one in which we can’t.
Jason Rhian is a senior majoring in mass communications.