Reasons people believe we never landed on the moon

Whether it's the assassination of JFK, or, ahem, Joan Rivers, Americans love a good conspiracy theory. But none has captured the imagination quite like that time we faked the moon landing. Yup, that's right, we never landed on the moon. Is your mind blown? Well, it shouldn't be, because of course we landed on it, dummy. Still, according to a 1999 Gallup poll, 6% of Americans thought the moon landings were fake, and 5% said they weren't sure. 

So what gives? Why would otherwise normal, critically thinking adults believe that we faked the most monumental achievement in human history? What sort of nonsense could they have read to wash their brains so thoroughly? Let's take a trip to the dark side of the moon and find out all the bananas theories these Lunar Truthers have been spewing. 

Where did this nonsense come from?

President Kennedy first implored America to land on the moon in 1962. But by the time Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for mankind, Richard Nixon was President, and the country was neck deep in a war that looked to have no end. Perhaps it's no shock that, with confidence in our government fading, some folks chose to believe we weren't capable of this monumental feat. And they weren't shy about sharing it, latching onto every inconsistency and odd fact they could get their hands on. 

Bill Kaysing, the father of the moon hoax movement, even wrote a book, We Never Went to the Moon: America's Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, helping to formalize what had, up to that point, been the whispers of kooks and crackpots. Now, thanks to self-publishing, the kooks had a voice! So what kind of evidence did Kaysing and his ilk hold up as proof that our trip to the moon never happened?

The best conspiracy $30 billion can buy

Bill Kaysing, along with a growing number of skeptics, questioned whether astronauts could survive traveling through the Van Allen radiation Belt, a collection of charged particles gathered in place by Earth's magnetic field. (Hint: We can.) They claimed that crosshairs in the astronauts' camera lenses, used to help estimate size and distance, appeared behind objects in the developed photographs. (They didn't. That only happened in low-resolution copies of the originals.) They claimed there were artificial sources of lighting that made no sense. (Um, there weren't.) They claimed that the landing craft left no blast crater when it landed, (it didn't…because physics), that the letter C was visible on a rock (someone lost a hair when making a copy), and that the planted flag was actually flapping in the wind (it wouldn't extend all the way, so it looked weird). All in all, they picked apart every image, every recording and every anecdote to make their case. 

There's still one big question, however, that the moon-truthers have yet to adequately explain: why bother faking the moon landing at all? 

Did the Space Race force us to do it?

Well, the general answer to the question of "why bother" seems to be that we were in a Space Race against our greatest foe, the Soviet Union, and we were losing.  Russia launched the first successful satellite, Sputnik. Russia launched the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin. It was Russia that first landed a foreign object on the moon, the robotic probe Luna 9. We needed to change the narrative in a big way, and if that meant committing the greatest lie in the history of humankind, well, who could blame us?

But the Soviet Union wouldn't just roll over while we tried to prank the planet. They would have been watching our space program like a communist hawk, and triple-checking that everything was on the up and up. Exposing us as liars could have been a decisive Cold War victory, so the fact that it never happened should tell us everything we need to know. 

And yet, this isn't where the explanations for why we'd fake the moon landing end…not by a long shot.

Is it because the world is actually flat?

The earth is flat. Just ask NBA superstar Kyrie Irving. Or, if he's busy, Charles K. Johnson, former president of The Flat Earth Society. According to him, "nobody knows anything about the true shape of the world…The known, inhabited world is flat. Just as a guess, I'd say that the dome of heaven is about 4,000 miles away, and the stars are about as far as San Francisco is from Boston."

Okay, that checks out. But if the world is flat, then the space program doesn't make much sense, does it? What are the astronauts orbiting, and why aren't our spaceships just crashing into Heaven all the time? 

"You can't orbit a flat earth," Mr. Johnson once said. "The Space Shuttle is a joke — and a very ludicrous joke."

Yup, that's right. According to the society, NASA are all a bunch of big fat liars. And, even worse, they conspired with Walt Disney, Arthur C. Clarke, and Stanley Kubrick to fake the moon landing. Open your eyes, people! There was no Space Race. No John Glenn orbiting the planet. And, most importantly of all, no Apollo missions.  

And, in case you don't believe this wild theory, take a look at the documentary Room 237, which lays out the elaborate theory that Kubrick used his movie The Shining as an extensive, veiled admission that he faked the whole thing. Still not sure what Eyes Wide Shut was admitting, though. 

Is it because Nazis are on the Moon?

One group of very dedicated, and very paranoid, conspiracy nuts have figured out a reason we actually may just be avoiding the moon all together. Nazis! That's right, astronauts may have skipped out on their space trip because they hated those darn Nazis. Just like Indiana Jones.

And while the idea of Nazis on the moon sounds laughable, there are elements of it that make some sense. Nazis, after all, were pioneers in jet propulsion aircrafts and rocketry, and had begun exploring spacecraft technology. Wernher von Braun, the father of the American rocket ship, was a Nazi scientist, after all, and was a proponent of space travel his entire life.

Of course, the "Moon Nazis" theory gets basically nuts after that. Some believe Hitler fled after World War II to a moon base, where he oversaw a growing Nazi army. According to this theory, the UFO phenomena that occurred in the 1950s was actually the result of Nazi technology, and not alien visitors.

Now, if Nazis were on the moon, chances are we wouldn't want to bother them, right? Isn't it possible we abandoned our lunar missions, or maybe never began them at all, to avoid starting a war with these Fourth Reich Moonies? 

When you think about the fact that we haven't been fighting armies of Moon Nazis since the '60s, the whole "we faked the moon landing" thing starts to make a little more sense, right? No? Yeah, no.

Does Alex Jones have a take on this?

Oh, you better believe he does. Alex Jones, the conspiracy-loving hedgehog who somehow got his own radio show, believes in a lot of weird, and awful things. For instance, he's certain 9/11 was an inside job and that chemicals in the water are turning frogs gay. So it shouldn't come as a shock that he has some rather interesting ideas about the moon landings. 

While a guest on the podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, he explained that he had it on good authority from Raymond Teague, who he claimed was involved with the original NASA mission control, that there wasn't one, but two Apollo missions to the moon: a real one, kept from the public's eyes, and a staged one meant to satisfy and misinform us. According to Jones, NASA has always been about 50 years ahead of what we think of as modern technology, so there's no way they were going to show us what was really going on out there. They even had an alternate crew orbiting the Earth, in case something went wrong. 

Oh, he also claims that Buzz Aldrin himself confirmed there's an obelisk on the moon, just like the movie 2001, which is tied to aliens and the ancient Egyptians, or something, ignoring the fact that Aldrin said nothing of the sort. All in all, much like most of the ravings from Jones, the theories barely line up with each other, much less reality. 

What about aliens?

You can't have a moon conspiracy without bringing up aliens. So: are they on the moon, and have they kept us from landing on it?  No? Well, according to UFO-ALIENS.co.uk, the "pro-NASA fraternity" is determined to cover-up documented evidence at any cost. As they see it, there's a good chance the Apollo missions never left the Earth's orbit, and part of the cover-up involved erasing all signs of UFOS from official photographs. Donna Harre, a former NASA contractor, even claims she was told that what looked like a UFO would have to be airbrushed out of a photo before being released to the public. 

David Icke, a former English footballer and online conspiracy theorist, has an even bigger claim. NASA isn't just covering up that there are bases on the moon, he's claiming that the moon itself is an alien base, hollow on the inside, and designed to carry an entire civilization for hundreds of thousands of years. If that were the case, obviously the Apollo missions would have to have, in some part, been faked, because we don't remember little green men coming out to greet Neil Armstrong. 

Wait, is there a Moon at all?

There's a theory out there that the moon is a hologram, being projected from a satellite orbiting Earth. Dave J, an online moon truther, is ardent in his belief that "the moon is a projection and it's being projected from this thing, and I'm calling it the satellite Dave J." And, in case you doubt him, he makes sure to explain that, "there is absolutely zero proof that I am a liar because I have not lied to you about a thing." So there. 

The folks at revisionism.nl have their own take on this, the greatest hoax in history. According to them, the moon "could be a hologram, projected from various government installations throughout the world. It could be a large, crudely painted balloon, held in place by helium and propelled by tiny sails and rudders…Or, most likely, it could have been different things at different times and different places, depending on the technology available to the conspirators and the culture and beliefs of the population being deceived."

So why fake a moon landing? Well, it may have been a ploy to bankrupt the Soviet Union, by pressuring them to take part in the supposed "Space Race." The problem is, at least according to revisionism.nl, that "once the government of the United States had sold its soul to the moon conspiracy, they could hardly back out, even once their aims were achieved…As a result, the government of our country is now a full partner in the lunar hoax."

So, how do we debunk this once and for all?

Now, you may be asking yourself, how does anyone know we didn't fake the moon landing? We faked The Joe Schmo Show, and even Kristen Wiig was in on that. So, why not the moon? 

Well, the answer is, it would be very, very hard. Like harder than actually going to the moon hard. According to Oxford University physicist Dr. David Grimes, who worked out an equation to figure out how unlikely a conspiracy was to remain quiet, the more people involved in a cover-up, the quicker it is to be revealed. To fake the moon landings, you'd need a whole boatload of people. By his calculations, faking the moon landings would have required 400,000 people, and would have been revealed within four years. 

Thankfully, math isn't the only way to prove the doubters wrong. There's also science! Rocket science! That's right, there's a mission being planned to prove we did, in fact, land on the moon. A German Lunar X-Prize is sending two mobile probes to the lunar surface to inspect the rover left behind by the Apollo 17 mission…or are they? Maybe we'll never really know. Someone call Moon Hitler.