A Moment of Science

To the Moon… or Not?

Did we really go to the moon? "To the Moon... or Not?" on this Moment of Science.

You’ve heard the stories. America needed to convince the Soviet Union we were so far ahead of them in technology that the space race was already over. But NASA was nowhere near being able to actually send people to the moon. So they get this big hangar out in New Mexico, see, and paint the walls black, and fill it full of white boulders, see, and then they take these fake photos…

Okay, it’s a ridiculous idea, and folks who buy it probably think Nessie was dropped off a flying saucer piloted by Bigfoot. There couldn’t be more than a handful of loonies thinking the lunar lander was loopy. Right?

Think again. A nineteen ninety-nine Gallup poll showed six percent of Americans aren’t convinced we went to the moon at all. More recent polls claim that number is as high as twenty percent. These are enormous figures–it could mean one out of every five people you see today is a “Moon Hoaxer.”

NASA itself had fifteen thousand dollars slated in the fall of 2002 to run a publicity campaign with no other purpose than to convince Americans that we really have been to the moon. Why did they drop the idea? Moon Hoaxers jumped on it as more evidence that NASA is trying to hide something.

What is this strange unwillingness to believe that any of the seventeen Apollo missions were real telling us about ourselves, our generation, perhaps our fears? That’s a question psychologists and sociologists are trying to answer. And, while it may be perplexing, at least it isn’t rocket science.

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