The media’s influence on moon landing conspiracies, and other human foibles

The new documentary Apollo 11 is hardly going to cause another moon landing conspiracy to be floated. By the review of Apollo 11 I read, it’s as a straightforward account of the moon landing as you’ll get. However, conspiracy theorists have screeds of counter claims backed up by the so-called evidence so won’t be worried. 

July 20 was the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon. The moon landing is portrayed in last year’s drama First Man, and this year’s Apollo 11, which has been rolled out to theatres all over the world since March.

In New Zealand, the documentary was first played on the day of the anniversary of the moon landing, at the New Zealand International Film Festival. This is a significant date to show the film as it coincides with the anniversary, which reminds me that the showing of the film was like that of a world premiere. At least, a very special showing, indeed.

The landing has long accepted by the majority, but there are those who have long contended that it never happened. In the vein of never disproving a claim before one can counter it evidentially, hoax theory debunkers have rose up to successfully answer the conspiracy theorists. But the theorists still maintain their stance, even in the light of the vast majority. The new films add to the consensus.

Aren’t we told that the majority could be wrong? That the minority voice may hold the truth? This is where the evidence comes in and this blog post isn’t going to explore the evidence as this has been well covered elsewhere.

There are those who hold to the genuinely held belief that it didn’t happen. I, for one, am uncomfortable with the idea that the moon landing didn’t happen. It’s nonsense.

But I’ve come to see that conspiracy theories are to be expected. According to some, the media have fueled conspiracy theories of the moon landing for those so willing to entertain the idea.

Recently deceased folklorist Linda Dégh said “The mass media catapult these half-truths into a kind of twilight zone where people can make their guesses sound as truths. Mass media have a terrible impact on people who lack guidance.” (Wired magazine, September 01, 1994)

And that says it nicely. I would add that maintaining a belief in a conspiracy is a human foible.

The guy who was adamant that something sinister was going on behind everything backed up the idea with what he had watched and couldn’t see he was displaying a belief in a conspiracy, but that it was true, so he said.

Here’s NASA’s report on the moon landing

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