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rkayser
2002-Jan-24, 10:52 AM
Does anyone know a good source about the history of the Moon hoax. Who invented it, how did it evolve...

I am writing an article about the Moon hoax for a swiss journal. My research turnes up a lot of material debunking the hoax, but few information about its history.

Greeting
Rainer

ToSeek
2002-Jan-24, 01:10 PM
This might be a good starting point:

http://www.redzero.demon.co.uk/moonhoax/proponents.html

My impression is that Bill Kaysing was the first of the hoax believers, back in the 70s. I would see what you could find out about him and also about Ralph Rene. Most of the other HBers are derivatives of them, though David Percy has made his own contributions, if one can call them that.

hullaballo
2002-Jan-24, 01:37 PM
I would guess it started about 15 minutes after Neil stepped off the pad.

JayUtah
2002-Jan-24, 04:12 PM
If one considers the moon hoax theory an isolated phenomenon, it originated in earnest with Kaysing's 1974 book, We Never Went To the Moon.

There is also William Brian's Moongate: Suppressed Findings of the U.S. Space Program (1982), which, in addition to the standard pseudo-scientific arguments regarding stars and flagwaving, makes the interesting proposal that the moon is far more massive than NASA claims.

Ralph Rene's 1992 book NASA Mooned America is essentially a rehash of Kaysing with a greater attempt at scientific rigor. Rene is the chief proponent of the claim that passage through the Van Allen belts is unavoidably fatal.

Mary Bennet and David Percy's book Dark Moon rehashes all these points, discusses what Percy believes to be impossible lighting in Apollo photographs, and then argues about alleged Mars structures.

In the video market there is Bart Sibrel's A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Moon which purports to expose "behind the scenes" footage which Sibrel claims proves the astronauts knew they were faking it.

There is Percy's What Happened on the Moon? a four-hour exercise in tedium rehashing his book.

There is James Collier's Was It Only a Paper Moon? in which he argues that the dimensions of the spacecraft did not allow astronauts in space suits to do what was claimed.

Most of these offerings spend about 70% rehashing Kaysing, whose arguments have been refuted for years, and 30% presenting some new unique material.

On the other hand, if you wish to consider the moon hoax theory in the larger context of anti-government conspiracy theories -- which is what most of their proponents do -- then it originated sometime in the mid 1700s. American democracy is predicated upon the distrust of government, and this has given rise to consistent criticism that the U.S. government has either perpetrated or suppressed the true nature of nearly every significant event in our history.

AstroMike
2002-Jan-24, 06:40 PM
I would guess it started about 15 minutes after Neil stepped off the pad.

My impression is this whole Moon hoax thing started before Neil stepped on the surface.

James
2002-Jan-25, 12:22 AM
On 2002-01-24 13:40, AstroMike wrote:
I would guess it started about 15 minutes after Neil stepped off the pad.

My impression is this whole Moon hoax thing started before Neil stepped on the surface.

I'd say it started after the Apollo 1 fire.

rkayser
2002-Jan-25, 05:31 AM
Thanks for all your helpful responses.

Good point, JayUtah, to put it into the larger context of conspiracy theories. From a European point of view, this seems indeed to be an American phenomenon. The Moon hoax never made headlines over here, as far as I know.

Rainer

James
2002-Jan-25, 12:42 PM
On 2002-01-25 00:31, rkayser wrote:

Thanks for all your helpful responses.

Good point, JayUtah, to put it into the larger context of conspiracy theories. From a European point of view, this seems indeed to be an American phenomenon. The Moon hoax never made headlines over here, as far as I know.

Rainer


Why don't you check the newspapers over there? I'm sure they had something on the moon landings. Something that major, and no mention of it? I'd be very surprised. By now, probably everything is on microfilm or in very protective bindings.

David Hall
2002-Jan-25, 02:33 PM
On 2002-01-25 00:31, rkayser wrote:

Thanks for all your helpful responses.

Good point, JayUtah, to put it into the larger context of conspiracy theories. From a European point of view, this seems indeed to be an American phenomenon. The Moon hoax never made headlines over here, as far as I know.

Rainer


I don't know if it's strictly American. It seems to me that a large number of conspiracy believers come from England as well. I believe one of the big names above, I think it's Sibrel?, is English. And on a more general note, I've seen quite a few Englishmen interested in conspiracies as a whole. One of my best friends is from England, and he's head-deep into "researching" the Kennedy assasination.

Maybe it's an English-speaking thing. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

ToSeek
2002-Jan-25, 04:25 PM
On 2002-01-25 09:33, David Hall wrote:
I don't know if it's strictly American. It seems to me that a large number of conspiracy believers come from England as well. I believe one of the big names above, I think it's Sibrel?, is English.



I think Sibrel is American. You might be thinking of David Percy, who claims expertise on the basis of being a member of the Royal Photography Society (which is kind of like my claiming expertise because I'm a member of the National Space Society).

JayUtah
2002-Jan-25, 05:27 PM
I don't know if it's strictly American. It seems to me that a large number of conspiracy believers come from England as well.

This is true, however a lot of what they're interested in are American phenomena which have been previously hyped by American authors.

I think it's Sibrel?, is English.

Bart Sibrel is American, from Nashville, Tennessee. As ToSeek notes, you're probably thinking of David Percy.

Maybe it's an English-speaking thing. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Sure, why not. Remember that the government Americans were most suspicious and distrusting of was the British monarchy under the house of Hanover. Hence their efforts to set up a government in which the opportunities for corruption were limited. In the larger sense, Americans were Britons dissatisifed with their government. They just chose a different way of expressing their dissatisfaction and distrust.

The notion of distrusting government is one reason why Americans (and Britons too) would fall in with the conspiracy crowd. But there are other reasons why people of different social backgrounds would also want to do it.

For example, it makes life a little more interesting. It's a kind of reality-based entertainment.

Or it satisfies a sense of elitism. The conspiracy theorist believes he is "on the inside," privy to far-reaching secrets and generally at a higher level of awareness than the rest of the public. In the case of the moon hoax, he believes he is possessed of a greater grasp of science and technology than the average person because he can see the "anomalies" and "inconsistencies" in the evidence.

In a strange sort of way, believing in far-reaching conspiracies makes them happy.

I prefer to examine the moon hoax in the context of the larger conspiracy movement because most of the hoax believers I've encountered don't believe in just the moon hoax. They believe in just about every controversial proposal that's ever been made: UFOs, mind control, the occult, crop circles, the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, etc.

The pattern of debate goes like this. The hoax believer states his conclusion. You ask for evidence, which he provides. You refute the evidence, whereupon he provides another line of reasoning for the same conclusion. You refute that, and the process continues ad nauseam. You soon get the feeling that the hoax believer doesn't believe his conclusion because some trail of evidence led him there. You get the idea he believes it because that's what he wants to believe. He retrospectively constructs a superficial argument to justify the belief intellectually. That argument isn't necessary to his conclusion, so refuting it has no effect on his beliefs.

Then you realize that the moon hoax is only one brick in a wall of conspiracy-related beliefs. He believes in the brick because he believes in the wall.

The problem is that there are legitimately interesting questions associated with some of these conspiracy theories. But the lackluster pseudo-intellectual decoys offered by the conspiracy theorists turn off legitimate researchers who might be interested in the question and actually have a prayer of answering them by means of properly conducted inquiries.

Squirm
2002-Jan-25, 08:07 PM
Jay: In a strange sort of way, believing in far-reaching conspiracies makes them happy.

This doesn't sound like me. I just want the truth. The truth will make me happy. Right now I feel like I've got an itch but no hands in which to scratch it. Like I'm searching for a persons name whom I've temporarily forgotten yet it's forever on the tip of my tongue.

They believe in just about every controversial proposal that's ever been made: UFOs, mind control, the occult, crop circles, the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, etc.

I only subscribe to this and the death of John F. Kennedy. The UFO stuff is a load of codswallop! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

ToSeek
2002-Jan-25, 08:22 PM
On 2002-01-25 12:27, JayUtah wrote:
Maybe it's an English-speaking thing. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Sure, why not. Remember that the government Americans were most suspicious and distrusting of was the British monarchy under the house of Hanover. Hence their efforts to set up a government in which the opportunities for corruption were limited. In the larger sense, Americans were Britons dissatisifed with their government. They just chose a different way of expressing their dissatisfaction and distrust.

The notion of distrusting government is one reason why Americans (and Britons too) would fall in with the conspiracy crowd.


There are also some Hindu fundamentalists (http://krishna.org/Articles/2000/08/00082.html) who think that the Moon landings were a hoax, for what that's worth. But then they also think that the Moon is farther away than the Sun, which I find really incomprehensible.

James
2002-Jan-25, 09:38 PM
On 2002-01-25 15:22, ToSeek wrote:

There are also some Hindu fundamentalists (http://krishna.org/Articles/2000/08/00082.html) who think that the Moon landings were a hoax, for what that's worth. But then they also think that the Moon is farther away than the Sun, which I find really incomprehensible.

They think that the moon is orbiting 800,000 miles farther out than the Sun. Um, wouldn't anything orbiting 800,000 miles from the Sun be pulled right in?

EckJerome
2002-Jan-25, 10:24 PM
On 2002-01-25 16:38, James wrote:
They think that the moon is orbiting 800,000 miles farther out than the Sun. Um, wouldn't anything orbiting 800,000 miles from the Sun be pulled right in?


Um, no.

It may be that such an unusual orbit (that close to the sun) would be affected by the solar environment, but the body would not be "pulled right in."

Not that I agree with the Hindi.

Eric

WillemV
2004-Sep-15, 01:50 PM
There are also some Hindu fundamentalists (http://krishna.org/Articles/2000/08/00082.html) who think that the Moon landings were a hoax, for what that's worth. But then they also think that the Moon is farther away than the Sun, which I find really incomprehensible.



These people are not Hindu fundamentalists, but persons who have poorly understood what the issue is about and are parroting unverified findings of others -- much like most moon hoax advocates.

Likewise, you haven't done your homework in regards to your assessment that they "think that the Moon is farther away than the Sun", otherwise you wouldn't find it so incomprehensible.

The cosmological view from the ancient Indian scriptures is based on the ecliptic plane, which was referred to as "bhu-mandala" or the earthly realm (of which our particular planet is but a small part). Measured from the ecliptic plane, the moon is further away than the sun. It does not refer to the distance between the sun and moon and the Earth globe. Those distances are given in the scripture called Surya-siddhanta and correspond well with the modern scientific values.

Cheers.

- WillemV

sts60
2004-Sep-15, 02:38 PM
Jay: In a strange sort of way, believing in far-reaching conspiracies makes them happy.

This doesn't sound like me. I just want the truth. The truth will make me happy. Right now I feel like I've got an itch but no hands in which to scratch it. Like I'm searching for a persons name whom I've temporarily forgotten yet it's forever on the tip of my tongue.

They believe in just about every controversial proposal that's ever been made: UFOs, mind control, the occult, crop circles, the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, etc.

I only subscribe to this and the death of John F. Kennedy. The UFO stuff is a load of codswallop! <IMG SRC="/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">

"I only subscribe to this..." Er, which "this" do you mean? And, you "just want the truth" about what, exactly?

As for the "searching for a person's name" part, I get that feeling too... but I chalk it up to advancing age. :P

And, welcome to the board, WillemV!

Ilya
2004-Sep-15, 03:03 PM
A lot of people in the Third World always assumed the whole thing was staged in Hollywood, or never even heard of the Moon landings in the first place.

SiriMurthy
2004-Sep-15, 03:21 PM
A lot of people in the Third World always assumed the whole thing was staged in Hollywood, or never even heard of the Moon landings in the first place.

Why blame the people from the "third world" when the "educated" people from the "first world" believe it. In fact, they are the ones who started it. [-X [-(

ToSeek
2004-Sep-15, 03:24 PM
Likewise, you haven't done your homework in regards to your assessment that they "think that the Moon is farther away than the Sun", otherwise you wouldn't find it so incomprehensible.


How else are we supposed to interpret the line, "The Vedas state that the moon is 800,000 miles farther from the earth than the sun"? Evidently, they're wrong, but I don't see that we have the responsibility to review the original material to check that since they're supposedly the authorities.

SiriMurthy
2004-Sep-15, 03:30 PM
Likewise, you haven't done your homework in regards to your assessment that they "think that the Moon is farther away than the Sun", otherwise you wouldn't find it so incomprehensible.


How else are we supposed to interpret the line, "The Vedas state that the moon is 800,000 miles farther from the earth than the sun"? Evidently, they're wrong, but I don't see that we have the responsibility to review the original material to check that since they're supposedly the authorities.

It is left to one's interpretation of a religious text. This is the proof that any religious text whether it is the Bible or the Vedas, there is always a problem taking the transcripts for granted. They don't always add up and more often contradict themselves.

Moreover, Vedic Sanskrit is so different and complex compared to colloquial Sanskrit that deriving meaning and interpretations is not easy.

This is just my opinion and I may be wrong.

JayUtah
2004-Sep-15, 04:22 PM
I think it's important to realize that the people responsible for republishing the Milne article under the Krishna banner have little or nothing to do with mainstream Krishna thought -- a condition which Willem has just brought to my attention. Minority factions of a religion often interpret the religion's canon in unorthodox and perhaps very misleading ways. And since most religious writings are expected to be considered symbolically, there is often no "natural" interpretation to fall back on.

It is the scholar's responsibility to ensure that his sources are reasonably representative, whether he plans to agree or disagree with them. Nevertheless innocent misrepresentation occurs for various reasons. Especially in dealing with religion you find varied beliefs even within the orthodoxy. And it's not always within the outsider's capacity to distinguish heresy from the orthodox; that is chiefly a subjective judgment of the group.

Nevertheless in this case it would have been possible for the outsider at least to discover that Madhudvisa's statements are contested by other Krishnas, requiring us to question whether his interpretations of Krishna writings are orthodox or representative. It is understandable that outsiders have a barrier to understanding Krishna organization and culture, but that should not necessarily translate into an imposition of ad hoc readings. We cannot avoid applying outsider interpretations because that's all we have. But we have to keep in mind that those will be tentative and likely in error.

Irishman
2004-Sep-15, 05:34 PM
Which is why it is important to try to frame rejections of specific statements to the person making that specific statement. Sort of like saying all christians are stupid for accepting transubstantiation when that is not a Protestant doctrine, but only Catholic. Or more on topic, argue that "Kaysing says...". Whether or not Ralph Rene or Percy or Hoagland agree with that is then irrelevant to whether the comment by Kaysing is true or false.

Irishman
2004-Sep-15, 05:36 PM
Of course this is more difficult when you are so much the outsider you don't even know the distinctions between the players. A Krishna's a Krishna's a Krishna, right? No? Oh, sorry. ;)

WillemV
2004-Sep-15, 07:05 PM
How else are we supposed to interpret the line, "The Vedas state that the moon is 800,000 miles farther from the earth than the sun"? Evidently, they're wrong, but I don't see that we have the responsibility to review the original material to check that since they're supposedly the authorities.

I'm sorry ToSeek. I do owe you an apology for my rudeness. I guess I was more reactive than responsive. After having read so many arguments about how the hoax advocates fail in researching and verifying their claims, I kind of expected the other side to at least verify. :wink:

As SirMurthy mentions, Sanskrit is most definitely not a language easily understood (BTW, colloquial Sanskrit is spoken by an almost negligible amount of people). The ancient Sanskrit texts are therefore always linked to successions of masters and disciples to ensure that the original message and meaning remains correct and unchanged. There exists a threefold system of "checks and balances" to guarantee that texts and teachings are authentic. There is no space for interpretation, without it moving into the realm of conjecture -- which is unacceptable.

Besides conjecture, overgeneralization and ambiguous translations account for most of the confusion caused by quotes from ancient Indian texts, especially in regards to science. "The Vedas state that the moon is 800,000 miles farther from the earth than the sun" is a good example of such overgeneralization. There are only four Vedas. Those Vedas proper do not discuss astronomy. Astronomy is discussed in sub-scriptures called Vadangas and in the Puranas. Those who are familiar with the roughly 500 various scriptures may sometimes refer to them collectively as Vedas out of lazyness, but for the layman this only causes confusion.

Likewise, the Sanskrit terms Bhu, Bhu-mandala and Bhurloka are routinely translated as Earth, which is not exactly what they refer to. The Vedas (yes, I am overgeneralizing here :P ) divide the known realm into 14 planetary systems, of which the 7th is the earthly realm. Within that earthly realm our planet takes up only a small spot. The proper name for this planet used in the ancient texts is Bharata Varsa.

Bhu, or Bhu-mandala, refers to the ecliptic plane and most measurements are relative to this plane. The cosmic setup as described in, for instance, the Bhagavata Purana is a flat representation of the entire solar system, somewhat similar to an atlas map being a flat representation of a planet.

In this way, you'll find many scientific concepts in the ancient Indian scriptures that are ambiguously translated and therefore make little sense, not the least because many do not have an adequate English translation to begin with. Most Sanskrit words have different meanings depending on context and grammer, and this is why it takes about ten years to master the grammer alone. For instance, the Puranas mention that the cosmic creation is essentially made up of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. These would be straight translations of the Sanskrit proper. However, in context of creation they refer to the four phases of matter (Solid, Liquid, Gas, and Plasma) and Space. Likewise, the smallest particle described in the texts, paramanu, is routinely translated as "atom" because during the time of the British occupation of India, when most Sanskrit dictionaries were initiated, this was the smallest particle known. However, paramanu literally means "supremely small" and refers to the smallest material particle period.

The cosmography and astronomy from the ancient Indian texts is extremely complex and elaborate and does require careful study to understand -- particularly in relation to the findings of modern science. Many ISKCON devotees have not done this and do not do this because of their focus on the spiritual aspects of the texts. Others read a little of it, and as we all know, a little knowledge can be more problematic than no knowledge at all. So some of those, unfortunately, do take their ignorance out there and make all of us look like idiots.

Please have mercy... :roll:

- WillemV

ToSeek
2004-Sep-15, 08:42 PM
How else are we supposed to interpret the line, "The Vedas state that the moon is 800,000 miles farther from the earth than the sun"? Evidently, they're wrong, but I don't see that we have the responsibility to review the original material to check that since they're supposedly the authorities.

I'm sorry ToSeek. I do owe you an apology for my rudeness. I guess I was more reactive than responsive. After having read so many arguments about how the hoax advocates fail in researching and verifying their claims, I kind of expected the other side to at least verify. :wink:

Well, those quoted obviously think that the Moon is farther away than the Sun (how they explain solar eclipses is beyond me, however). But I don't think anyone is jumping to the assumption that this is a mainstream Hindu belief, any more than we think Christian creationists are representative of Christian belief.

In any case, it was interesting to learn more about the background behind the claim.

JayUtah
2004-Sep-15, 09:17 PM
We normally verify. That presumes we know how to verify, but within a few minutes of your e-mail I was able to find web sites, etc., that at least showed conflict between the fringe and the mainstream. Even if I don't know how to get to mainstream Krishna views, that conflict alone is enough to warrant narrowing the scope to individuals. But the deeper question is knowing when verification is necessary. There has to be some suspicion of ambiguity that motivates verification, and it's easy to get into a mindset where the picture looks very clear and unmistakable. Being efficient creatures, we don't expend effort where we believe it serves no purpose. That's where the skill lies in research -- knowing when it's profitable to question the apparently obvious.

I question whether it's possible to read without interpretation. Granted there is the overt activity where someone says, "I think this passage intends to mean...". And that's frowned upon in some religions. But noted author Peter Gomes, writing vis-a-vis the Christian Bible, roundly disputes that one can separate the activity of reading from the activity of interpretation; essentially that to read is to interpret. And then he goes on to illustrate the pernicious and harmful beliefs that come from unconscious interpretation whose existence is never acknowledged and therefore whose effects are never confronted.

Add to this the admitted difficulty of the original language. A similar dilemma arises in Islam, where the Koran is not considered authentic if translated out of Arabic. Yet non-native speakers of Arabic can have only a flawed understanding of the language. Thus a considerable barrier is erected to accurate understanding by non-native speakers. A different dilemma faces Christians, few of whom are conversant in the original languages of the Bible. Thus translations abound, giving rise to loftily-worded but epistemologically ineffectual declarations of the Bible's ultimate authority in some version or another.

I believe it is far easier to face the issues of translation and interpretation -- implicit or explicit -- head on and accept the limitations that each entails. Holy writ in whatever source has no practical value unless its meaning can be drawn into our context and equated to our experience. This necessarily entails interpretation, and often translation.

My conversation with Madhudvisa or one of his adherents convinced me that their movement harbors a deeply-seated distrust of "western" science. This is echoed by many conspiracy fans, who prefer other cosmologies. However in his case I'm inclined to ascribe his rejection of western science more to his conspiracist leanings that to anything associated with Krishna. He argued along the lines of western science being empirical and observational in nature, and therefore both flawed and fallible. Since its authority derived from observation, it could not extend beyond the limits of observation.

I asked, naturally, for the justification of faith in his cosmology, which he had already suggested derived from his writings. In Christianity, assurance in the correctness of scripture derives from one of several lines of potential authority. One view places the church as infallible and the Bible's inerrancy deriving from its acceptance by the church. In other views the Bible's authority is axiomatic -- simply a declaration of faith occasionally (if circularly) supported by self-references within the writ itself, but more strongly argued on the basis of personal supernatural evidence: a "witness" of some sort. A third view attempts to establish authority by empirical validation of the Bible's setting and circumstances, arguing that it tells a verifiable story and therefore it is true. (This approach, however, leads to some of the most egregious pseudoscience ever committed to paper.)

So I was expecting a justification congruent with one of those methods with which I was already familiar. The gentleman argued that his scriptures were to be considered authoritative because they had been empirically verified! So I was left stunned by what appeared to be a double standard in which the fatal flaw of one system is simultaneously the saving grace of another.

The question of empirical validation then necessitates an appeal to some epistemological system that is independent of the belief system. This fringe group has apparently seized upon the hoax theories deriving from essentially snake-oil salesmen as a valid science upon which to bolster their cosmological interpretation. In this case, the devotees mistakenly believe that western science has disproved its own conclusions -- namely, that empirical examination proves the falsity of the moon landings. Since the group rejects the authority of western science, invoking western science to refute itself is circular at best.

At this point in the conversation it became clear that reason and logic would not win over this crowd and so I relegated them on my site to essentially a footnote.

Bob B.
2004-Sep-16, 02:12 PM
The pattern of debate goes like this. The hoax believer states his conclusion. You ask for evidence, which he provides. You refute the evidence, whereupon he provides another line of reasoning for the same conclusion. You refute that, and the process continues ad nauseam. You soon get the feeling that the hoax believer doesn't believe his conclusion because some trail of evidence led him there. You get the idea he believes it because that's what he wants to believe. He retrospectively constructs a superficial argument to justify the belief intellectually. That argument isn't necessary to his conclusion, so refuting it has no effect on his beliefs.
Excellent description, Jay. On all but a few occasions this describes my experiences exactly. The only thing I might add is that after a couple rounds of refutations the HB often runs away never to be heard from again. I guess they just don't want the hear anything that challenges their beliefs.

DALeffler
2004-Sep-22, 10:05 AM
I guess they just don't want the hear anything that challenges their beliefs.

I think the reason they go away is not so much the challenge presented against their beliefs but rather how much more satisfying it is to talk to others that are willing to listen and agree with their position on the argument being discussed.

It can be a nicer feeling to be looked upon as knowledgeable and wise, even when you’re wrong, than it is to be looked upon as an amateur among professionals, even when you’re right.

IMHO,

Doug.

JayUtah
2004-Sep-22, 02:38 PM
If you consider the theory of conspiracism as ego reinforcement whereby the conspiracy theorist creates a new reality in which he is the hero, then intrusion of genuine expertise eliminates the illusion.