Today is the 40th anniversary of man's first landing on the Moon, a great technological achievement. Unfortunately, public discussion of the Apollo program also exemplifies the problem of widepread belief in ridiculous conspiracy theories. In the United States, only 6% of Americans believe that the Moon landings were faked, with 5% saying they are not sure, though Fox claimed to have data showing that the figure increased to 20% after they aired a 2001 documentary promoting Moon landing conspiracy theories. Abroad, belief in Moon landing conspiracy theories is more common. For example, some 28% of Russians and 25% of Britons deny that American astronauts ever landed on the Moon.
Belief in Moon landing conspiracy theories is probably not as dangerous as other irrational political beliefs, such as the widespread view that the 9/11 attack was an "inside job," that "the Jews" (perhaps as part of a Jewish conspiracy) are responsible for the financial crisis, and so on. These are just a few of many conspiracy theories that have gained widespread adherence in the United States, and elsewhere. In many countries, far more people believe that the 9/11 attacks were a conspiracy perpetrated by the US government than realize that they were in fact carried out by a Muslim terrorist group.
Belief in Moon landing conspiracy theories may not be completely harmless. For example, it could diminish support for future space exploration efforts. In any event, it is yet another example of widespread political ignorance and irrationality.
UPDATE: I suppose I should clarify that my original post was not intended to express undifferentiated support for all government space exploration efforts. Some such efforts are worth the cost; others are not. Rather, I merely wanted to make the narrower point that public debate over the space program would be better if it were not influenced by belief in ridiculous conspiracy theories.
Related Posts (on one page):
- Buzz Aldrin on the Need for Private Property Rights in Space:
- The Moon Landing and Belief in Political Conspiracy Theories: