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The Bad Astronomer
2003-Jul-24, 11:48 PM
Hard on the heels of a UK paper reposting Aldrin's comments on the flag, the BBC posts this about the hoax (http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/solarsystem/earth/moonvote.shtml?displayresults=1&configfile=space_m oonvote.xml#vote). I find their support of the Apollo missions rather weak; they could have stated the case far better.

Pinemarten
2003-Jul-25, 01:39 AM
I agree. When I just checked the poll it was only 60/40 in favour of reality. Is education in Britain a hoax?

freddo
2003-Jul-25, 01:50 AM
I can accept them trimming the article to relatively small size - that's journalism. What is particularly bad about this is they do not assert anything - they do not commit to a particular answer. Also their answers just don't have enough detail - or the main thrust of the anti-hoax evidence has been misinterpreted:



The Apollo astronauts claim their flags had horizontal poles across the top, which kept them extended. The flags were rippling because the poles had been twisted.

They've sort of merged two points into one here. The flags were rippled (not rippling - implies motion) because the horizontal bar was not fully extended (first a fault - then on purpose). The flags were waving in some video from Apollo because the astronauts were manipulating the pole.



Shadows from a point source appear parallel when projected onto a flat surface. However, the surface of the Moon is uneven. Could this be enough to make the shadows appear to point in different directions?
Talk about gutless. This point would be fine if it looked like this.

"Shadows from a point source appear parallel when projected onto a flat surface. However, the surface of the Moon is uneven. This causes the shadows to appear to point in different directions."
I changed 5 words and the point firms up a lot more - admittedly still brief but infinitely better than the BBC.



Photography experts point out that the Apollo photographs were taken during the lunar day, and lit by the Sun. The Moon has no atmosphere, so the sky still looks black, but there is plenty of light to take photographs. Therefore, the astronauts appeared brighter than the stars in the background. The stars are there, but just too dim to be seen.

Too convoluted - i understand what their saying, but only because I've heard it explained before. Once again their point rephrased:

"Photography experts point out that the Apollo photographs were taken during the lunar day, and lit by the Sun. The sky appears black as the moon has no atmosphere, but there is plenty of light to take photographs. The astronauts accordingly needed to adjust the exposure on their cameras to correctly expose objects as bright as an astronaut's suit. The stars are there, but just too dim to be photographed."

Not really enough space to get right into the full detail - including pointing out that there are photos of stars from the moon - and the difference between what you can see, and what you can photograph - but the point has been shored up.



Radiation from the Van Allen belt would kill any astronaut that spent enough time there. But the Apollo craft didn't spend long enough there for the astronauts to get a fatal dose. NASA point out that astronauts on the Space Shuttle still pass through this belt with no ill effects.
This is sort of OK, the tone of the phrasing still suggests that the Van Allen belts are the deadliest force known to Man, but I can excuse that here.



Photographic experts argue that light can reflect from bright objects nearby. In particular, they point out that the bright white spacesuits worn by the astronauts could have reflected light into regions of shadow.

Argh! Missed the main point, and didn't commit to the conclusion. Okay, firstly the spacesuits did (not could have) reflect light onto regions of shadow, but they missed the biggest reflector of all... The Moon itself! When I was first learning of the Apollohoax it was the single biggest lightbulb moment I had - of course the Moon reflects light! This also gives the ensuing explanation for how the suits themselves were fill-lit.

Finally - two HBers from the bottom of the page:


"How is anyone supposed to believe that a space-craft with the total computer power of a pocket calculator made it to the moon and back?"

Doesn't understand that's what the computer on Apollo was - a fancy calculator. Is he trying to assert you can't complete a mathematical equation with a pocket calculator?


The astronauts claim that the lunar dust was plentiful, very fine, pervasive and got attached to and into everything. In the lunar photographs there is no evidence of this dust. The footpads of the LEM and foil coverings are pristine and clean.
Just plain wrong - I've seen pictures of the footpad with a small amount of dust on it - but the main reason for the lack of dust is the lack of atmosphere - when the source of disturbance (LM engine) is right next to the footpad, and dust will only follow ballistic trajectories, don't expect dust to get on your footpads.
Also - saying "there is no evidence of this dust" is pretty stupid. Every single photograph from the Lunar Surface (except sky shots) shows the Lunar Regolith. :lol:

Donnie B.
2003-Jul-25, 11:37 AM
Shadows from a point source appear parallel when projected onto a flat surface. However, the surface of the Moon is uneven. Could this be enough to make the shadows appear to point in different directions?
Talk about gutless. This point would be fine if it looked like this.

"Shadows from a point source appear parallel when projected onto a flat surface. However, the surface of the Moon is uneven. This causes the shadows to appear to point in different directions."
I changed 5 words and the point firms up a lot more - admittedly still brief but infinitely better than the BBC.
I have to nitpick even further here, because the first phrase is wrong, too. Shadows from a point source do not necessarily appear parallel, even if the surface is flat. In fact, the only time they do is when the angle of illumination is at right angles to the angle of view (and when the objects casting the shadows are all similar in shape, orientation, etc. -- such as a row of fence posts). A simple thought experiment demonstrates this: imagine two poles three meters apart. You're looking between them, and the sun is directly in front of you. The shadow of the left-hand pole will be angled to your left, and the right hand shadow to the right.

So let me propose this wording: "Shadows from a point source can appear parallel when projected onto a flat surface, under some conditions. However, the surface of the Moon is uneven. This causes the shadows to appear to point in different directions. Perspective can do the same thing."




The astronauts claim that the lunar dust was plentiful, very fine, pervasive and got attached to and into everything. In the lunar photographs there is no evidence of this dust. The footpads of the LEM and foil coverings are pristine and clean.
Just plain wrong - I've seen pictures of the footpad with a small amount of dust on it - but the main reason for the lack of dust is the lack of atmosphere - when the source of disturbance (LM engine) is right next to the footpad, and dust will only follow ballistic trajectories, don't expect dust to get on your footpads.
Also - saying "there is no evidence of this dust" is pretty stupid. Every single photograph from the Lunar Surface (except sky shots) shows the Lunar Regolith. :lol:
Not to mention the fact that the dust that got all over their space suits, mostly on the legs, is perfectly obvious on the photos too. I believe that at least some of those suits are still in storage, and still have a coating of lunar dust.

Jason Thompson
2003-Jul-25, 11:45 AM
OK guys, why not get over to the BBC boards and start putting them straight then?

I've added my vote to the total, dragging things slowly more towards the reality of the moon landings. The trouble with the votes, of course, is that most people who are really interested in such things believe in the hoax, whilst those who know it actually happened tend to dismiss the argument and don't vote!

Donnie B.
2003-Jul-25, 11:45 AM
Okay, I'm out of nitpick mode now... and I agree with Phil. The BBC article is very weak. As freddo demonstrated very well, every single point they make against the hoax is softened and waffled.

I think this is a case of their trying so hard to be "fair" that they give undue credence to the hoax position.

Glom
2003-Jul-25, 12:00 PM
Also, don't underestimate malicious skewing because people vote to be anarchist nurks. The demented thing is that is where Patrick Moore's site is and they don't link to the episode of The Sky at Night where Sir Patrick debunked the whole thing.

"And now on Channel Four, a documentary into why youth seem to be losing their skills of logic and learning, followed at ten by Big Brother."

Donnie B.
2003-Jul-25, 12:43 PM
Heheh... nicely put, Glom.

Mellow
2003-Jul-25, 12:58 PM
I'm almost embarassed by the BBC's weak stance on the subject. I know that they have some remit to be even handed in these things, but their responses to the hoax arguements are sooo poor.

I'm genuinely surprised that they have done such a poor job on this.

captain swoop
2003-Jul-25, 01:13 PM
Also, don't underestimate malicious skewing because people vote to be anarchist nurks. The demented thing is that is where Patrick Moore's site is and they don't link to the episode of The Sky at Night where Sir Patrick debunked the whole thing.

"And now on Channel Four, a documentary into why youth seem to be losing their skills of logic and learning, followed at ten by Big Brother."

Don't forget that the BBC will try and stay 'neutral' even when it's stupid to do so.

Unless it involves bashing the govt and it's on Radio 4.

tjm220
2003-Jul-25, 04:14 PM
Voted yes though it is still ~60/40 in favor of the moon landings being real.

girlgeek
2003-Jul-25, 05:38 PM
I voted yes also, but the 60/40 split is still holding. How sad if it were accurate.

In my opinion the BBC is not being neutral. Their assertions for the US not having gone to the moon are MUCH stronger than their wimpy possible explanations for the US having done so. It looks very biased to me.

girlgeek

Karamoon
2003-Jul-25, 08:55 PM
TBA wrote: I find their support of the Apollo missions rather weak; they could have stated the case far better.

Neutrality is very important for the BBC. If you think their support of the Apollo missions is weak then you should contact them and tell them so. If you state your case politely and if your point has merit then they may update their web page.

That's been my experience, anyway.

Archer17
2003-Jul-25, 10:42 PM
I voted yes also, but the 60/40 split is still holding. How sad if it were accurate.

In my opinion the BBC is not being neutral. Their assertions for the US not having gone to the moon are MUCH stronger than their wimpy possible explanations for the US having done so. It looks very biased to me.

girlgeekI have to agree with girlgeek. While I (still) consider the BBC to be a top-notch source for news/information, I'm surprised at the overall tone of their presentation. I think the 60/40 vote is not indicative of the overall consensus though. Most people who believe in the Apollo missions (besides us and those interested in this sort of thing) probably didn't give it a second look. The hoax-believers on the other hand, probably tripped over each other to vote.

johnwitts
2003-Jul-25, 11:16 PM
"And now on Channel Four, a documentary into why youth seem to be losing their skills of logic and learning, followed at ten by Big Brother."

As an avid Big Brother fan (go Cameron!!!) who has been watching the broadband streams as near 24/7 as my job and sleep allows, I can say that the media is not above manipulating footage and ideas to promote an argument. Watching the BB housemates for so much time has shown me that Cameron actually deserved to win, although the Highlights programmes broadcast every night failed to show the true situation.

The BBC in the Moon Hoax case may just be trying to belatedly join the bandwagon. Anyone who knows anything about Apollo knows it's a load of eyewash, but how many people know the first thing about Apollo? No one I know has the faintest clue, and they're not interested in finding out either. That's fair do's really. I don't give a stuff about football, so I don't care either way who wins or loses. In fact, there are lots of things I don't really care to know, so why should others be expected to know about or care about Apollo?

ignorant_ape
2003-Jul-26, 06:51 AM
QUOTE : " Is education in Britain a hoax?"

NO ! and i still have the scars to prove it
:evil:
YRS - APE

R.A.F.
2003-Jul-27, 04:46 PM
I think this is a case of their trying so hard to be "fair" that they give undue credence to the hoax position.

Especially in their use of the phrases, the astronauts claim, and photographic experts claim. Whats with all this claim business? Sounds like the BBC is trying to give equal weight to both sides of the argument...which, in this case, is just poor journalism.

freddo
2003-Jul-28, 02:38 AM
I think this is a case of their trying so hard to be "fair" that they give undue credence to the hoax position.

Especially in their use of the phrases, the astronauts claim, and photographic experts claim. Whats with all this claim business? Sounds like the BBC is trying to give equal weight to both sides of the argument...which, in this case, is just poor journalism.

True. It's all very well to approach an article on this topic with a sense of objectivity - but the fact remains:

Debunking the ApolloHoax is a slam-dunk! HBers arguments initially appeal to common sense, but even a quick examination of these claims will show these arguments are illogical and often contradictory with what is observable here on Earth.

Objectivity is A-OK. But what the BBC have done is tantamount to watering down the pro-Apollo argument to the same level as the HBers... This serves to give anyone reading the article the impression that this is the best we have to offer. This is a terrible misrepresentation, and very damaging (as the poll on that site is reflecting).

BBC dropped the ball. Plain and simple.

JayUtah
2003-Jul-28, 05:14 AM
I can see where the BBC would want to attain a certain credibility by not appearing to ally too closely with any one side of an argument. But what if one side of an argument is patently absurd? That is a detriment to credibility. If I argue, for example, that the Battle of Hastings never took place and was, instead, an elaborate modern hoax, would the BBC give me equal weight? Would they give equal weight to a theory that William the Conqueror was, in fact, an alien from Zeta II Reticuli?

Now to the many Americans unfamiliar with the Battle of Hastings and its role in English history, these two theories don't seem patently absurd. (Except, perhaps, for the second one.) That's why it's important for the BBC to point out the fact that those well versed in English history would consider either of those theories completely outside the bounds of reality. If the difference between well-educated, factually-endowed scholars and crackpots is blurred, the public interest is not served.

Glom
2003-Jul-28, 12:03 PM
The BBC is not in the best situation at the moment. They have become the mortal enemy of the government over this whole doctor bloke, they have become the mortal enemy of most of the British public by starting up Fame Academy again, and now they are the mortal enemy of us.

BTW, has anyone written to them yet?

Jason Thompson
2003-Jul-28, 02:12 PM
>>BTW, has anyone written to them yet?<<

Yes, I have. No response as yet though.

Papermache Prince
2003-Jul-28, 02:29 PM
The BBC is not in the best situation at the moment. They have become the mortal enemy of the government over this whole doctor bloke, they have become the mortal enemy of most of the British public by starting up Fame Academy again, and now they are the mortal enemy of us.

BTW, has anyone written to them yet?Could you explain that "doctor bloke" reference? Thanks.

Iain Lambert
2003-Jul-28, 04:23 PM
Dr. David Kelly, a scientist who spoke confidentially to a BBC journalist to express his reservations about the case the Government was making for going to war in Iraq, who was subsequently revealed by MI5/No. 10/Geoff Hoon (depending on who you speak to) as the source. He took this rather badly, and was found dead shortly after his name was revealed, presumably having commited suicide, but the conspiracy-mongers think he might have been killed. The Guardian's summary (http://politics.guardian.co.uk/kelly/0,13747,1002607,00.html) will fill you in on most of the details you'd want, but they aren't the Government's best friends either, so I'm sure some would argue bias.

On a completely different note, Glom is totally incorrect. Ainslie rules.

Eric McLoughlin
2003-Jul-30, 02:31 PM
When the moon landings were actually happening, the BBC comitted a huge amount of their own resources to the coverage of the missions. In fact, they continued to show live transmissions of the moon walks when the American networks had lost interest. I would love to hear the opinions of the old BBC Apollo team (James Burke etc) on these "conspiracy" debates. I would asssume they make their blood boil, like they do me.

Prester John
2003-Aug-02, 05:55 AM
Important to be neutral? rubbish. what next is 1+1=3 vote now.there is no coherent argument to suggest that the moon landings did not take place. What a waste of my money.

Alex W.
2003-Aug-02, 08:17 PM
The "This Morning" program on ITV (one of the BBC's main competitors) memorably had a UK moon hoax guy on who showed the errors in the photos, then at the end, said something along the lines of:

"Well, of course, this only proves that the photos were faked- they probably would've wanted good publicity shots, and there was the risk of film being damaged in transit. The moon landings almost certainly took place."

I spat pot noodle all over the TV in shock. :D Great guy.

Glom
2003-Aug-02, 10:47 PM
Who wants to bet This Morning couldn't give a toss about having a debunker on? Where's the ratings in having someone tell the audience that everything is normal? No. Conspiracists get attention because they are strange, and strange is appealing. :evil:

Mind you. It is ITV. At the rate they're going, they'll do anything for ratings.

numbskull
2003-Aug-30, 12:25 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about this story. Although the BBC has a legal and constitutional obligation to be fair and unbias in its reporting and presentation, I think they just slipped up on this one.

After all, if you look at their space pages (http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/) and their science pages in general, they are excellent.

I think it more likely that they were trying for the light-hearted story which is a long-standing tradional of theirs. They simply presented it too seriously.

Perhaps we should all write to them: http://www.bbc.co.uk/feedback/bbci_comment.shtml

kylenano
2004-Mar-19, 08:05 AM
I know this is reviving an old topic, blame the BBC! They've included this in the latest 'Science & Nature Newsletter' dated Thu, 18 Mar 2004 17:34:44 GMT


** DID WE REALLY LAND ON THE MOON? ** Conspiracy theorists say that the Moon landings were an elaborate hoax in an attempt to 'win' the US-Russia space race during the '60s. What do you think? Watch the experts being interviewed and read the evidence, then cast your vote. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/solarsystem/earth/moonvote.shtml

From the number of votes, I guessed it had been there some time, though I don't remember seeing it before. But I'm puzzed as to why they have the put an old page in a newsletter that's supposed to be about current events, programmes etc. They don't mention any TV or radio broadcasts about lunar conspiracies in the next few days.

SpacedOut
2004-Mar-19, 11:55 AM
The results of the poll are amazing:

Vote
Did we really land on the Moon?

Current results:
Yes (11363 votes) 59.0%
No (7884 votes) 41.0%


](*,)

frogesque
2004-Mar-19, 01:24 PM
:( Sadly the BBC is not the great institution it used to be. It's domestic operations are wholey funded by licence fee and the only other revenues are from dummed down programs sold on the international market. It also took a stance againt the Gulf war, not popular with a government that commited troops, money and credibility to the invasion/liberation (depends on your own veiwpoint). The government aslo controls (very tightly) the purse strings of the BBC through the licence system and as with all things it doesn't bode well to upset your paymaster.

Glom
2004-Mar-19, 01:26 PM
Add another action to the list of their treachery. When is the BBC going to learn that a crackpot is a crackpot is a crackpot. Their opinions are not equally valid. It is not bias to not give an even handed treatment of crackpots.

gethen
2004-Mar-19, 02:09 PM
Using the same standards, would the BBC present an article in which "evidence" that Planet X is about to hit us is given equal weight with the evidence of science and our own eyes? Objectivity is not the willingness to accept any statement without question. This strikes me as irresponsible journalism--one step up from the tabloids.

captain swoop
2004-Mar-19, 02:12 PM
How did they take a stance against the war?

Not blindly broadcasting everything demanded by the govt and showing alternative viewpoints isn't taking a stand against anything.

Same for the complaints about the moon hoax. it's the BBCs job to report.

ToSeek
2004-Mar-19, 02:37 PM
The results of the poll are amazing:

Vote
Did we really land on the Moon?

Current results:
Yes (11363 votes) 59.0%
No (7884 votes) 41.0%


](*,)

I wouldn't worry about it. Someone who knows what they're doing can easily stuff an Internet ballot box.

SciFi Chick
2004-Mar-19, 03:29 PM
Dr. David Kelly, a scientist who spoke confidentially to a BBC journalist to express his reservations about the case the Government was making for going to war in Iraq, who was subsequently revealed by MI5/No. 10/Geoff Hoon (depending on who you speak to) as the source. He took this rather badly, and was found dead shortly after his name was revealed, presumably having commited suicide, but the conspiracy-mongers think he might have been killed. The Guardian's summary (http://politics.guardian.co.uk/kelly/0,13747,1002607,00.html) will fill you in on most of the details you'd want, but they aren't the Government's best friends either, so I'm sure some would argue bias.

On a completely different note, Glom is totally incorrect. Ainslie rules.

I don't think suspecting foul play automatically makes you a "conspiracy monger." I mean, let's remember that it only takes 2 people planning in secret to break the law to have a conspiracy, so conspiracies happen. It's the people who think all governments are evil or believe thousand of people can pull off a conspiracy that are conspiracy mongers.

As for the BBC, I am truly shocked by this nonsense.

SpacedOut
2004-Mar-19, 05:18 PM
I wouldn't worry about it. Someone who knows what they're doing can easily stuff an Internet ballot box.

I know - Just that I expect that kind of thing to show up on WWN not BBC - If it was ballot box stuffing I'd hope that someone at the BBC would recognize it and yank the poll. I thought that the BBC viewed themselves as a "real" news organization.

Not that WWN isn't... :wink:

Glom
2004-Mar-19, 09:42 PM
How did they take a stance against the war?

Not blindly broadcasting everything demanded by the govt and showing alternative viewpoints isn't taking a stand against anything.

Same for the complaints about the moon hoax. it's the BBCs job to report.

I thought the BBC's handling of the war and their own Hutton turmoil was first class.

Their handling of the Apollohoax in this case was not. Their duty is to report, but they didn't do that duty because they failed to report on the extensive and complete debunkings out there. They merely offered some crappy sound bite that gave a disproportionate balance to the Apollohoax.

The war was an issue of legitimate debate. The Apollohoax is not. The BBC's desire for objectivity has clouded them to that fact that not everyone deserves to have their opinions held in the same legitimate regard. As Jay says, not all opinions are created equal. In the case of the war, there were legitimate opinions on all sides. There were good arguments for action and good arguments against, or at least there were if you took a closer look and peeled away all the conspiracy theories and non sequitors from both sides.

In the case of the Apollohoax, there are not legitimate opinions on all sides. The conspiracists are wrong. There's nothing more to be said on the matter. They are wrong. Every attempt they've made to develop and nurture a good argument has fallen flatter than a skyscraper on the surface of a neutron star and hasexposed their ignorance of Apollo, their lack of understanding of even the basic principles of science, and their complete disregard for the rule of logic. The BBC would do well to realise this.

It's just the Newsnight spread on the nuclear issue raised in IF... the Lights Go Out. Proposing nuclear power was an engineer from the Royal Academy of Engineering, someone who might actually know what he's talking about. Opposing nuclear power was the boss at Greenpeace, a luddite organisation that specialises in ignorance and hysteria about all things technological and industrialised. But the BBC put the crackpot and the scientists opposite each other and claimed their opinions were equally valid.

There is something to be said for a proportionate coverage of the different sides of an argument.

JayUtah
2004-Mar-19, 10:57 PM
The "validity" of an opinion tends to be judged by many naive people simply on the basis of its having been formulated and expressed. Every opinion is "valid" in the sense that our paranoia over denying freedom of speech suggests we shouldn't reject a view without due consideration. This is a legitimate understanding of validity, but unfortunately not one that has any practical use. If all ideas are initially equally valid, then there is no such thing as absurdity.

If "validity" is judged on the basis of how well one's opinion fits known facts, how well it analyzes and interprets observations, and how objective it is, then opinions clearly do not have equal merit. And it is upon that sort of basis that absurdity is judged. We know that some opinions are simply absurd, especially those that are contrived for purposes such as reductio ad absurdum. Reason cannot exist without the concept of absurdity, and absurdity implies the existence of a gradation of merit in opinion.

R.A.F.
2004-Mar-20, 12:48 AM
If all ideas are initially equally valid, then there is no such thing as absurdity.

Hmmm...that would make a very good signature.

soupdragon2
2004-Mar-20, 02:01 AM
I think that some of the posts on this thread are missing something. Can we really blame the BBC for 41% of Brits voting for silliness?

You know the old saying? Don't shoot the Messenger!

In a democracy the govt and the media should reflect public opinion, shouldn't they? So if 66% of Brits believe in creationism, or that they have been abducted by aliens, they should at least get their own game show? We could sell it to the US and reinvest the money in education.

You are the weakest link. Goodbye. (Woo-woos, that is, not Americans. :-# )


I wouldn't worry about it. Someone who knows what they're doing can easily stuff an Internet ballot box.

Valid point. Most online polls merely set a cookie to prevent multiple voting, but a simple line of code can get around this!

Glom
2004-Mar-20, 05:29 PM
I think that some of the posts on this thread are missing something. Can we really blame the BBC for 41% of Brits voting for silliness?

It's not the poll, it's the coverage they did. That's was very poor and gave far too much pixel space to the wackjobs.


Most online polls merely set a cookie to prevent multiple voting, but a simple line of code can get around this!

BBCi don't do that I think. I managed to play dirty with the poll about whether or not we should keep nuclear power. I voted about ten times without fuss. Mind you, thousands of people voted in that poll and the result was 3:1 in favour of keeping it. =D> However, someone else could have seriously spammed the poll.

soupdragon2
2004-Mar-21, 10:41 AM
It's not the poll, it's the coverage they did. That's was very poor and gave far too much pixel space to the wackjobs.

I say again, 'Don't Shoot the Messenger'! In a democracy their entitled to a fair hearing if they represent 40% (?) of the vote. If their ideas are reported fairly, they can be dismantled fairly, one by one.

SpacedOut
2004-Mar-21, 12:23 PM
It's not the poll, it's the coverage they did. That's was very poor and gave far too much pixel space to the wackjobs.

I say again, 'Don't Shoot the Messenger'! In a democracy their entitled to a fair hearing if they represent 40% (?) of the vote. If their ideas are reported fairly, they can be dismantled fairly, one by one.

soupdragon2 - you're missing the point - that fact that a "respected" news organization gives both sides an equal representation automatically misleads many people to believe that both sides are equally credible. The "fact" that 40% believe in the hoax is skewed because the BBC mislead its readership - the poll is in response to their article - not the other way around - they are guilty of generating the news instead of reporting it. There is a significant difference.

In this case, there is overwhelming evidence that one side is correct and the other is garbage but that information was suppressed by the very fact that the hoax got as much coverage as the truth.

Glom
2004-Mar-21, 01:22 PM
A respectable news organisation has no business giving such lies and snake oil the time of day.

soupdragon2
2004-Mar-21, 08:44 PM
Clearly we are on dangerous ground when we decide to censor viewpoints based on 'expert' testimony. This runs contrary to all democratic principles, like it or not.

In this instance I obviously agree with the broad astronomical viewpoint, but the lunar conspiracy bods have also called in 'experts' to support their case!

Any credible media organisation has to be seen to avoid censorship and strike a sensible balance of opinions? False opinions are thus exposed and can be dismantled.

Just look at the the whole WMD fiasco, especially now we have the benefit of hindsight! The experts were well wide of the mark, apart from the few who resigned in disgust. The BBC recently got their fingers burned on a related issue I seem to recall.

Ut
2004-Mar-21, 09:10 PM
Clearly we are on dangerous ground when we decide to censor viewpoints based on 'expert' testimony. This runs contrary to all democratic principles, like it or not.

I'm not sure where you get the idea that the news media is a democracy. You expect a respected journalist to give you an unbiased viewpoint, not a democratic one.

We censor viewpoints based on 'expert' testimony all the time. It's done in the courts (http://www.wisinsal.org/WIA_LT6_SB49.htm) every day.


Under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, expert testimony is admissible only if:

1) The testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data;

2) The testimony is a product of reliable principles and methods; and

3) The principles and methods can be properly applied to the facts of the case.

Clearly, there's a wide range of interpretations avaliable here, but this is limiting. Expert testimony may only be given by someone who is approved by the courts as an expert witness. The usual qualifications for an expert witness are that of a formal, specialized education, training, and experience in a given field. Note the lack of democracy. Every man is not equal.

The only opinions allowed to be given in a court of law are those of an expert witness. From that alone you can see that viewpoints are censored, as well they should be. An uneducated opinion can be a dangerous thing.

freddo
2004-Mar-22, 12:36 AM
It's not the poll, it's the coverage they did. That's was very poor and gave far too much pixel space to the wackjobs.
What Glom said.

Forget the poll, the article itself quite sucked:

http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=120221#120221

soupdragon2
2004-Mar-22, 12:58 AM
We censor viewpoints based on 'expert' testimony all the time. It's done in the courts every day.

Good analogy. Imagine the scene in a court. On one side we have the woo-woos, and on the other the astronomers.

Both sides call their 'experts' and present their cases. The Jury make their decision based on what they see and here.

The BBC simply provide a window on the court room, and the viewing public are the jury.

(And hopefully the woo-woos are destroyed! 8-[ )

freddo
2004-Mar-22, 01:34 AM
Good analogy. Imagine the scene in a court. On one side we have the woo-woos, and on the other the astronomers.

Both sides call their 'experts' and present their cases. The Jury make their decision based on what they see and here.
In this instance the analogy falls over in a big heap. Instead of the two sides being able to make their arguments, we have a third party that comes in and paraphrases each explanation. This is risky in itself, but what the BBC has done in this case seriously diminishes the clarity and impact of the pro-Apollo argument. This is worse IMO, as it gives an impression of incompetence.

So this:


The BBC simply provide a window on the court room, and the viewing public are the jury.

Is not really happening. Instead the BBC is telling you what's going on inside the courtroom, and asking you to make a judgement based on a chinese whisper. Not so flash.

JayUtah
2004-Mar-22, 01:38 AM
Clearly we are on dangerous ground when we decide to censor viewpoints based on 'expert' testimony.

Viewpoints are products in the marketplace of ideas. Some ideas are solid products while others are gold-painted watches and glass diamond rings. Some ideas are put forth not to expand the boundaries of human understanding, but to deceive for personal profit and inflate the importance of their proponents.

Just as a real marketplace benefits from consumer advocates who test products for suitability, skeptics test ideas for suitability. And just as gold-painted watches don't last very long in a real market place, so do poor ideas fail quickly in the marketplace of ideas. Don't think of it as censorship; think of it as market forces.

The problem with free speech is that our devotion to it -- which is laudable -- has given undeserved credibility to ideas that otherwise would have been relegated to the intellectual scrap heap. We're so careful not to preclude any ideas that we avoid precluding even those born out of ignorance and malice.

Censorship is bad. But that doesn't mean it's okay to err in the direction of the opposite extreme; it's just as bad.

This runs contrary to all democratic principles, like it or not.

Yes. Expertise is, and should not be, democratic. The laws of nature are not open to debate and do not seek re-election.

...but the lunar conspiracy bods have also called in 'experts' to support their case!

Such as?

Any credible media organisation has to be seen to avoid censorship and strike a sensible balance of opinions?

Agreed, but what is "sensible"? Equal time doesn't work; it presumes that a question can be answered in the same time it takes to ask it. For example:

Claim: The lunar module was obviously unstable.

Answer: The lunar module is quite stable.

Left at that, the viewer has no way to judge which opinion is best founded in fact. It seems to be one person of indeterminate knowledge disagreeing with another person of indeterminate knowledge. To show that one opinion is based on a better understanding of engineering design and the relevant physical laws than the other, the answer must be accompanied by some description of the properties of mass, moments of inertia, etc. That takes time, and it's usually not very interesting. With practice, I can describe the necessary laws of physics in about 30 seconds, but that's about three times as long as the unit attention span of the typical television watcher.

It only takes a second to hold up a "jewel" and say it's a diamond. It takes longer to describe what a diamond looks like under a microscope, and to actually perform the test. What is a sensible test for a gold-painted watch? What is a sensible test for a glass diamond ring? Should it have time limits?

False opinions are thus exposed and can be dismantled.

And once exposed and dismantled, it can be discarded. These ideas have been disproven for a long time. There is no more merit in them now than there was 25 years ago when they were first proposed. Just because someone else digs them up, gives them a fresh coat of gold paint, and parades them around for public view doesn't give them credibility to be reconsidered.

The [WMD] experts were well wide of the mark, apart from the few who resigned in disgust.

Divided expertise is part of expert testimony, and possible bias is also a part of expert testimony. Just because other factors intervene and muddy the waters doesn't mean expertise per se is useless. And just because some questions are open to interpretation doesn't mean all are. Newtonian dynamics hasn't changed in 400 years. So a claim based on redefining it -- or worse: in complete ignorance of it -- isn't a legitimate alternative viewpoint.

Ignorance is not a viewpoint.

Jason Thompson
2004-Mar-22, 11:12 AM
Just to give some idea of how justified the objections to this BBC article are, let's examine some of their evidence. A link to a page of evidence breaks down the more common arguments (i.e. the ones so thoroughly debunked by simple common sense and minimal research that one wonders how anyone still thinks they are valid arguments for a hoax) into a 'claim and response' style presentation. In this case the claim part represents the hoax argument, and the response is the 'defence' if you like. The first one is unforgivable.



Claim:
There are many photographs of US flags on the Moon. In many shots, the flags appear to be waving. But there is no atmosphere on the Moon, so there is no breeze for a flag to flutter in.

Response:
The Apollo astronauts claim their flags had horizontal poles across the top, which kept them extended. The flags were rippling because the poles had been twisted.

No mention of the fact that you can't reasonably state that something is moving based on a static photograph. No mention of the fact that numerous photographs taken minutes or hours apart show the flag displaying exactly the same pattern of folds and ripples, therefore indicating that it is not blowing in a breeze at all. No mention of the fact that the astronauts' 'claim' about the pole across the top of the flag is supported by large amounts of documentation, and can be seen in the video of the astronauts setting up the flag.

In short, they are giving equal weight to a claim with huge amounts of supporting evidence and a claim based on a faulty premise, and making the solidly supported response sound the more dubious of the two by their phraseology and omission of information.



Claim:
Look carefully at the shadows in the Apollo photographs. Hoax believers point out that, when you have a single light source, very far away, (as the Sun appears on the Moon), shadows should all be parallel. They claim that shadows pointing in different directions are evidence of nearby or multiple light sources - as you would get in a film studio.

Response:
Shadows from a point source appear parallel when projected onto a flat surface. However, the surface of the Moon is uneven. Could this be enough to make the shadows appear to point in different directions?

So close, but then undermined completely by the question at the end.

They then include three further arguments which they do a better job of debunking.

On the front page of this idea they include two statements for the hoax and two against it, taken presumably from their messageboards.



Bob Builder - "How is anyone supposed to believe that a space-craft with the total computer power of a pocket calculator made it to the moon and back?"

Malcolm Bond - "The astronauts claim that the lunar dust was plentiful, very fine, pervasive and got attached to and into everything. In the lunar photographs there is no evidence of this dust. The footpads of the LEM and foil coverings are pristine and clean."

Harry Faulkner - "I still believe it was real. And just think what a coup it would have been for the Soviet Union to have been able to show that it was all faked. If they had even so much as a whisper that it was faked - and their intelligence was very good - they'd have screamed 'fake' at the top of their voices. They never did."

Geoff Pollard - "The conspiracy theorists always ignore one important factor... the moon rocks that were brought back. These were distributed world wide to the scientific community and universities for evaluation. Surely if they had been faked then someone would have blown the whistle by now."

Note that the comments selected in support of the hoax idea bring up two more material objections, neither of which are addressed anywhere on that page, thus making it appear that there are no answers forthcoming to those objections.

And the final insult:



Astronauts
Armstrong and Cernan

Watch an interview with two astronauts who claim to have been to the Moon.

Again, their choice of words makes the astronauts sound more dubious than they deserve. Careful consideration of the words used could have avoided this altogether, simply by inviting the visitors to the site to watch an interview with two astronauts involved in the Apollo program. Such a neutral phrase would be much more becoming of an organisation like the Beeb.

I have voted in favour of the Apollo program each time I have visited that page, and I have e-mailed the website to express my dissatisfaction.

Impartiality and freedom of speech do not mean anything more than permitting opposing viewpoints to be freely expressed. They certainly should never be taken to mean skewing presentation to make each viewpoint seem equally valid when one argument is supported by reams of material evidence while the other is based on faulty premises and ignorance. The presentation of this site almost seems as bad as allowing two people to use numerology to prove either that 2+2=4 or 2+2=5, but omitting the bit where the bloke who thinks 2+2=4 proves his point by putting two objects next to two other objects and showing beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has four objects every time he does this and invites the readers to do the same to prove it to themselves.

Glom
2004-Mar-22, 01:42 PM
What it comes down to is the confusion of what freedom of speech means. Freedom of speech means anyone can say what they like. However, this is sometimes taken to mean that anything anyone says is valid. A dumb idea is a dumb idea is a dumb idea.

With regard to the offending article, do you notice how the conspiracists points are stated as fact while the debunkers points are stated as the claims of the astronauts. How is this unbiased? The treachery.